10 Reasons I’m Excited To Run The New York City Marathon

The New York City Marathon has played a small role in my life since I moved to New York City five years ago.

The first time I watched the marathon was long before I was a runner myself. A coworker was running it and I remember thinking that was the coolest thing ever. I had no idea whether she was fast or not (she was), and I didn’t know how far a marathon was. I had no concept of whether running 26.2 miles would take her one hour or 12 hours (I’m pretty sure she came in with a solid Boston Qualifying time).

I had just moved and I didn’t have posterboard, so I made a sweet sign with a lone Sharpie and a piece of cardboard. Strong work, Feller. Way to show your support.

I loved watching the marathon that year, and I trekked from my apartment in midtown up to 1st Avenue to watch the runners cruise through mile 17, and then moved over to 5th Avenue to see them coming up what seemed like a brutally long hill.

Oh yeah, that looks like a BLAST! At least the foliage is nice.

I never thought to myself, “This is something that looks fun. I should try this someday!”

But each year after that, I made sure I was around that first weekend in November to spectate the marathon.

I don’t know this guy, but when he ran over to high five his family, I lost it. I CRY AT EVERYTHING. Mostly running-related things. And romantic comedies. And that episode of “Saved by the Bell” when Zack just wants to take Kelly to prom dressed as Romeo and Juliet, but she wants to break up with him to pursue a relationship with Jeff From The Maxx. What a whore. Also a tearjerker of an episode.

It was especially fun watching the year my roommate at the time was running it as her first marathon.

I spotted her AND got a sweet action shot. Best spectator ever? Probably.

The year Meghan (former roommate) ran NYC was the first time I thought maybe I, too, could conquer 26.2 miles. I had gotten more into running and had a half marathon or two under my belt at the time.

So the next year — 2011 — I became a member of New York Road Runners and gave the “non-profit” club all my money as I embarked on the quest to run nine NYRR races and volunteer for one in order to gain automatic entry to the 2012 New York City Marathon.

Instead of volunteering at a race, I volunteered at the marathon expo and it was the funnest thing ever. Maybe not EVER, because it was at 6 AM or something, but it really was a pleasant experience.

The “qualifying” process burned me out quite a bit since I was training for my own first marathon simultaneously. I quickly grew sick of the crowds at NYRR races and my bank account was depleting rapidly. And this was just to get into the marathon: I knew that even once I got my 9 + 1 out of the way, I’d still have to actually train for the marathon — and pay the skyrocketed entry fee.

It’s been a long road to the New York City Marathon, but I’m finally 19 days away from running the dang thing.

There have definitely been times over the past few months when I didn’t think I’d make it this far, and my training was far from ideal. A lot can change in 19 days, but right now I feel strong, healthy and ready to run my way through New York City’s five boroughs.

I spy a Jack Rabbit Sports T-shirt underneath that guy’s jacket…

I’m a little nervous and a lot excited. But let’s just talk about the reasons I’m excited…

1. It’s going to be a friend-filled experience. Not only is my best friend, Becky, coming up from Charlotte, NC, with her tall new husband to watch the marathon (he’s never been to NYC!), I’ll also have two extra-special friends out on the course with me. (OK, maybe not with me with me, but they’re running it, too.)

Actually no, you HAVEN’T seen this photo before. Nice try. It’s brand new.

Last year, Emily, Lauren and I had a “best weekend ever” weekend when we watched the marathon from the sidelines. This year, the three of us will all get a much better view of the course because we’re all running it. I’m so excited to have them in town for a few days, and I don’t even care that cramming five people (three girls + one boyfriend + one husband) into a one-bedroom apartment seems completely illogical. It’s going to be fun and Brian has already agreed to cook our pre-race meal.

At least he agreed in my head. I actually can’t remember now if we’ve had this conversation or not… BRB, texting Chef Brian to confirm…

Plus, having two seriously-seasoned marathoners by my side at the expo, the night before the race and on the chilly ferry ride out to Staten Island will probably keep my nerves slightly more at bay. Or maybe not.

2. I’ve run hundreds of miles in New York City, but I’ve hardly run any of these miles. The majority of the course is new territory for me. I’ve heard great things about the streets (and crowds) in Brooklyn, and I’m psyched to get my tired butt over the Queensboro Bridge and onto 1st Avenue where the spectators will be screaming and cowbelling. I love that the one part of the course I am familiar with is the finish line. I’ll get to turn into Central Park at Engineers’ Gate, where I enter the park every day, and from there I know exactly what to expect in the final few miles.

3. New York City feels like home now more than ever. This is my city, and this is my marathon. I mean, it’s yours, too, if you live here and if you’re running it. We can share. But I’ve lived in NYC long enough now that — sorry, Mom — it feels like my home city. When I’m traveling and people ask me where I’m from, I tend to say New York without thinking about it. I’ll always be from New Hampshire, but now my home is here, and I can’t wait to run my hometown marathon.

My last apartment was right on the marathon course. The commute to spectate wasn’t so bad.

4. I’m trying to prove that Crohn’s disease doesn’t always completely control me. Running this marathon — after months of being sick — will help me prove that point, if only temporarily.

5. I bought my marathon outfit weeks ago and I’ve been dying to wear it. On November 4, I’ll finally get to remove the tags from my new red shirt. I have no idea why, but when I first decided to run the marathon, I knew I wanted to wear red. I’ve never owned a red running outfit. This is obviously a very big deal. Legwarmer colors TBD. The fashion editor at my office is working on this task for me. She’s great.

6. I want the shirt. I realize the cheesiness and pathetic-ness of this statement, but it’s true. I never ever ever wear race shirts. The only one I’ve been known to wear is the Bronx 10-Miler T-shirt, which I wear around the apartment every day.

I wore my Bronx 10-Miler T-shirt for the first time the day of the race and have worn it just about every day since then. It’s oddly soft.

But I want the long-sleeved NYCM technical shirt. Now that the temperatures are dropping, more people are running in long sleeves, and I swear every person I see in Central Park has a marathon shirt from the past three years.

Every person, that is, except for me.

So I want that shirt. I want to be cool like everyone else.

7. I’m stronger mentally than I’ve ever been. I feel like there’s a chance that Brian is reading this and that he rolled his eyes at this statement. But I swear, I’m in a better emotional place than I’ve been leading up to past races.

That’s a cute face. Frame-worthy for sure.

Remember the Las Vegas Half Marathon in December? Remember how I trained and I was in great shape despite a Crohn’s flare-up in the middle of training, and remember how I traveled all the way out to Vegas ready to PR?

And remember how hard I bonked on that course? Remember how I went out too fast, and how I freaked out and how I got tired and how I stopped to use a bathroom at mile 8 even though I probably didn’t really need it?

And remember how I beat myself up for days after that race? I cried. I was disappointed in myself. Dare we all agree that I overreacted ever-so-slightly?

After that race, I took a significant break from racing. I didn’t sign up for another race until this past September, and I went into that one with an entirely different, entirely more mature (yeah I said it) mindset.

And that’s the mindset I’ll carry with me on NYCM day. A race is just a race. I’ll do my best. It’s a simple strategy, really.

SEE WHO’S LEADING THAT PACK? Only my favorite runner ever, Buzu. I offered to pace her this year, but she said she’s all set. She’ll probz come over for dinner afterward, though. BESTIES!

8. It’s going to be a heck of a way to wrap up a heck of a year. I hate being so whiny, and I swear 2012 has had plenty of positive moments and happy memories. But overall, I look back on 2012 and recall a great deal of frustration. It’s been the most stressful, exhausting year I can remember, and I hated being sick and missing out on so much. If I can finish out these last two and a half months of 2012 feeling healthy and in control of my life and my body, I’ll confidently — and honestly — say that 2012 was a good year. Hold me to it.

9. The finish line. The space blanket. The medal. The “I just ran a marathon” feeling. The post-race “I get to eat everything in sight now” celebration. All of it.

10. I’ll finally get to “be a part of it.” At the start of the marathon, rumor has it they blast Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” as runners begin heading over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. You know the words: “I want to be a part of it…New York, New York!” I can’t wait to hear those words and to truly, finally, be a part of it.

I remember reading this post from Lizzy listing all the reasons the New York City Marathon is so great. And she must mean it: Boston dwellers don’t often compliment New Yorky things!

The excitement and energy surrounding this marathon is always palpable, but I’m always on the outside of it. And that’s been fun. Spectating is sometimes more fun than running.


But not this year.

This year, I’m a part of it.

We’re going to make fun memories, NYCM. Get excited.

ANY OTHER NEW YORK CITY MARATHONERS FEELING THE EXCITEMENT? Tell me why. What makes you want to run this marathon? Or, you know, if you’ve got another big race planned, tell me why you’re running it. What makes it special and awesome and exciting? Also, GOOD LUCK!



70 Responses

  1. Ali – Just stumbled across your blog – okay, I searched for a blog about the NY marathon – because I’m getting excited about running my 3rd NY Marathon. I signed up for my first one unsure – unsure I’d be able to run that far, run fast enough, stay healthy and even if I did, I was unsure I’d like.

    With 3 marathons already under my belt, I’m getting ready to run NY again this year, see the sights, read the signs, compete (about 2 hours behind) Olympic and record holding athletes, hear the roar of the crowd for all 26.2 miles (okay it does get eerily quiet on the bridges – which is an awesome point to reflect on how awesome your accomplishment is) and cross the finish line (this year with my wife who’ll be running her first). I’d be surprised if I don’t have tears of joy, accomplishment and happiness in them again!

    Congrats and great job on the training – all the best on 11/4!

  2. I’m getting excited for the NYC marathon by just reading your post! I definitely wore my chicago marathon shirt with pride when it was over. I want to make a shirt that says…will run for swag : )

  3. Ali-
    Good luck running the marathon this year! It will be my first. I remember seeing you last year at the NYRR’s race right before your were going to run the Hampton marathon…(I was the woman with the afro that wished you good luck…can’t imagine that you remember me) I have been out of training for the last two weeks due to ITBS but I am feeling much better and cannot wait to run! I’ve had to adjust my finishing expectations but that is okay I just want to have fun and finish smiling. Doubt I will see with with all the crowds and due to the fact that you are a million times faster than I am but I hope you have a great race. I get giddy just thinking about it.

  4. Forget the New York Marathon, can I get a list of 10 reasons WHY I’M EXCITED TO VISIT NEW YORK CITY, period? Cause I will be there in….3.5 days. So far I have 37 reasons I’m excited so I will try and whittle it down to 10. One reason, obviously, is the potential for an Ali meet-up…

  5. I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!! I want to cry everytime I think about how amazing the NYCM is. It’s that great. I’ll be out there cheering! Enjoy it, girl!

  6. I am so excited for you to run this race! It really sounds like you have such a deep relationship with the race and the city. Have a blast – every step of the way!! 😀

  7. oh new york!! i really DO want to take part in that marathon before i kick off! lol. but really, i’ve had SO many people tell me the energy and entire experience is unlike most other marathons…sooo exciting u get to be a runner this year!

  8. I told Gian to wear his American flag shorts for you (unless you want to borrow them – but I told him you’re set there). I may have obtained a cowbell while in Minnesota – hope you like cowbells in your ear!!

  9. One of the reasons I LOVED Chicago Marathon is that I ran right around my neighborhood and my running routes during the marathon!!! How cool is that?!?!? And I got to run through areas of Chicago I’ve never been!! I am so excited to hear about your New York City Marathon journey!!

  10. I have no intentions of ever running a marathon, but I am so excited for you. Go out there and enjoy yourself. Also, it’s ok if you cry because watching marathons make me cry like a little school girl, and I can’t explain why. Weird yes, but still ok.

  11. So happy you will be running this race. That is how I felt when running the Chicago Marathon. However, done with that and am working on running half marathons in different states.

    I can’t wait to hear about your race!! Hugs to you.

  12. Good luck, good luck! I read the article in the NY Times about the NY RR and was stunned (stunned!) to read that the NY Marathon entry fee is like $250. Ouch! But it sounds as if it might be worth it, no?

  13. You’re going to love this race, and reading this post I’m so excited for you!! I ran NYCM in 2010 (my first marathon) and this has me feeling those same happy/excited/awesome butterflies in my stomach again. I’m thinking it might be time for another marathon.

  14. I lived in NYC for a year and a half. It was a dream of mine. I am not an American citizen so because of the visa I couldn’t stay more but I LOVED every minute of my life there which included watching the runners entering Central Park at the NYCM last year (less than a month before I had to leave). I was alone. I knew nobody on the course. But, it was such a feeling ! I sweared to myself that, one day, I’ll come back to NYC running this marathon and entering Central Park, this place I loved so much.
    So hopefully, I’ll be a part of it too one day and I hope you’ll give me advice 🙂
    GO ALI !!! (does it count if I cheer you up from another continent ?… ;-))

  15. I have to say, New York downer that I am (I lived there for two years, so this is based on something!), marathon day really is something special. I’m sure it will be amazing!

  16. I am so fricken excited for you (and envious)…I ran it last Nov 2011, and it feels like it was only a month ago that I was out there! I cannot wait to cheer you on from Oz and track you online like my husband did for me last Nov! You are going to crush it, lady! I love living this all over again vicariously through you.

  17. I LOVE this post…it makes ME want to run NYC. It reminds me a lot about why I wanted to run my first (and only) marathon in London years ago when I lived there – that feeling of being part of it, of celebrating the gorgeousness of a city I love…and the space blanket too. I’m SO excited for you and all the other NYC runners, and so flipping jealous as well, in a nice way!

  18. PLEASE promise me you’ll tear those tags off, wash the shirt, and wear it once before Nov 4. “Nothing new on race day” – don’t find out the hard way and rub yourself raw!!!! Have fun!

  19. I hope you have an awesome race, but the experience of NYCM is so much more than just running 26 miles. Running through so many parts of this amazing city, feeling the energy of the crowds as they cheer you on, finishing in your own stomping grounds…. I’ve never seriously spectated the race before, but so many people I know (and bloggers I don’t know) are running that I’m looking forward to a day of scurrying around to cheer them all on.

  20. I LOVED this post! I’m SO excited for you and will be out there cowbelling and screaming as loud as possible!!! I love marathon Sunday! It’s my favorite day to live in NYC. I spectate EVERY YEAR! You got me excited to volunteer at the expo too. Come Friday, I’ll be there 😉 Best of luck! I KNOW you are going to ROCK it!!!!!

  21. Not only am I excited to run the marathon, I’m so super excited to spend some days in NYC!! Went and bought my Fodors book yesterday and I’m studying up like a good tourist!! 🙂

    This California girl is thankful you’re sharing you’re home!! 🙂

  22. aww YAY. i am excited for you! and i dig the happy place you are in about it! STAY THERE and have fun! 🙂 also stoked for the pre- and post-race meals that brian will be cooking you. when do i get the ball recipe? come on now.

  23. I’m so excited for you! This is going to be my first year as an in-person spectator, and my first NYC marathon to watch since finishing my own first 26.2 in Maine last month. (Holy cow, I still can’t believe I did that.)

    I might not know you in person, but you’re a New Yorker and a voice on the Internet that I really like and admire, so I’ll be out there as part of your cheering section on Nov 4, lady.

    You’re going to rock this thing.

  24. yay! I’m also running the NYCM, and also got in through 9 + 1. CANNOT WAIT! It’s my first marathon! I decided I needed to do it after watching my brother run it 2 years ago in honor of our grandmother who raised us. Seriously, it made me tear up watching all those runners that day. I can totally relate to a high five causing tears! I may or may not be sobbing at my desk right now…

  25. I am getting teary eyed reading this post. That’s weird. I know the part where you’re all “This is NY and it’s my city” gets me b/c I am from NY and moved to Seattle 5 years ago and desperately want NY to be my city again. No offense Seattleites, NY is my favorite ever! Also, I’ve been following your blog and love it and it’s been such a part of my running experience and so I get all excited for you, internet “friend” whom I’ve never met. I cannot wait to follow you these next few weeks leading up the race. You’ll kill it. You always do – even when you think you don’t.

  26. I am doing my 9+1 this year (3 more to go!) and this post got me excited for next year (despite the fact that i ran a half on sunday and my first thought when i finished was that i couldnt possibly fathom running that entire thing again)

  27. I ran New York last year for the first time and I agree with everything you’re saying here. Having promptly moved out of New York, and not being able to run this year, I’m particularly jealous of you and the new experiences you’re having in a city that’s already home — I had those last year and they were so much fun!

    The only thing I don’t understand is the “eat everything in sight after the race thing” — I was too nauseous from eating too many Gu packets and too exhausted mentally last year to eat much of anything after the race! Do people really eat a ton after their marathons?

    Good luck at the race; I’m sure it will be awesome!

  28. I get choked up when I think of the NYCM and I’m not even running it (and I’ve never watched in person)! There’s just something very cool sounding about the whole experience. I’m excited for you to get the chance to run it!!

  29. I feel the same way about my hometown marathon, Philadelphia, that I’ll be running next month. I can’t wait to see the city in a way I never have before, even after living here (almost) my whole life. I remember working at the race expo in 2004 and telling one runner, who was trying to convince me to run in 2005, that I could never run a marathon. In just over a month that will change! Good luck!

  30. Thanks for this post. I’m also getting so excited to run the NYC Marathon for the first time. I hope it is an amazing experience for you!

  31. That Bronx 10-Miler shirt *is* weirdly soft!

    Good luck, Ali! I loved every painful minute of running NYC last fall, and cannot wait to run again in 2013. I’ll be spectating this year, probably right before Mile 21 in the Bronx! I’ll look out for you.

  32. I can’t even put into words how excited I am for NYC Marathon this year. I ran it last year, as well, and I remember it as one of the best days of my life! I felt so much support and love! I’m so happy it looks like you are healthy and ready to run it too, Ali! See ya out there! (So many exclamation points! Maybe I’m a little TOO excited.)

  33. Even though I am running NYCM again, the weeks leading up to it always make me miss being in New York to see the subway signs, run NYRR races as part of training, maybe catch a glimpse of an elite runner in the park….
    Even though I actually really enjoyed doing the 9+1 program, I can’t imagine doing it again now. I remember the good old day,s of 2009, when I never paid more than $17 or $18 per race!

  34. I’m so excited!!! And not just for the fleece lined poncho at the end 🙂 Last year I remember feeling like I was running an homage to the city and this year I’m excited to have that same “I HEART NY” moment.

  35. I’m surprised that you haven’t run the NYC Marathon before! I guess I assumed living in the city and being a runner, you would have. I hope you will have as amazing an experience as you are hoping for!! I would love to run this marathon someday.

  36. I had a VERY similar experience. In 2009, my best friend ran in the NYC Marathon on Fred’s Team. I didn’t know much about running but I was so excited for her so I came to the city to spectate (I’m from MD). I was so inspired by the crowds, the runners who represented every walk of life – different ages, shapes, sizes, colors, nationalities, etc. I even saw a blind runner!

    I went home and laced up my sneakers and haven’t stopped running since. I’m running in MY FIRST MARATHON, the Marine Corps Marathon, on Oct 28 THEN packing my things to head back to NY to support my best friend who is, once again, running in this awesome marathon. It’s such a great experience for anyone to witness. Good luck!! I will be out there cheering you all on!

  37. I’ve lived in NYC my whole life and have never watched the marathon, but this year I am SO EXCITED to volunteer as an Italian interpreter at the expo and finish line! Part of me is disappointed that I won’t be on the course cheering, but being at the finish line is going to be amazing. I’m also excited to do the 9+1 program next year to run our hometown marathon (and my first-ever marathon) in 2014.

  38. I feel the same way about running the Philly Marathon. I’ve almost always been involved in in somehow whether it was spectating, volunteering, or running in it. The crowds that come out and cheer you on are amazing, and make me cry every.single.time. I am with you on crying at everything – especially running.

  39. I’m really excited about it for a lot of the reasons you mentioned, but mostly because it’s my first marathon!! I can’t wait to hear them blast New York New York, and I can’t wait to see all my NYC friends that I never get to see because I live across the country cheering on the sidelines, and I can’t wait to finally get to call myself a marathoner!! I can’t believe it is SOOO CLOSE!!! 🙂

  40. The NYCM was THE best day of my life. Seriously, it was that good! BK was my favorite part, the crowds were awesome even though parts were too overcrowded, it was so fun. One thing tho, at least wear your new red outfit once before the race….say no to chafe!

  41. You just got ME excited for the NYC Marathon and I’m not even running it or spectating this year! But now you made me want to run it again. I am so excited for you, it really is in awesome race (at least the first 18 miles I can vouch for) and you are going to have so much fun! I also loved spectating it from right outside my own apartment two years ago. On years before that, I ignored it going right past my door and didn’t understand what a marathon was or why it was important. Times have changed!

  42. I am SO excited. NYCM is my first marathon and I can’t wait. I went for my last long run on Sunday am. When I returned 20 miles later (longest run ever, yeah!!) THEY HAD PUT THE MARATHON ROUTE SIGNS UP. Suddenly I was no longer tired from the run and now every third thing I say is something about the marathon.

  43. I really enjoyed this post Ali! Sadly I will not be able to run the marathon this year due to a herniated disc.. Maybe next year; who knows I try not to think about it!

    BUT I will be at the expo handing out bibs and I will be at mile 20 handing out sponges!!! So I will be part of the experience and cheering for you!

  44. Sweet post! Loved the history and attitude about getting ready to run the NYCM in a few weeks! I just qualified via 9+1 to run next year and am already getting nervous! Best of luck to you!!

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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