Curious what it was like running the TCS NYC Marathon? Take a look into some of the Harlem Run leaders’ minds to hear what each part of the day was like…
Just passed the mile 26 mark, I can see the finish line, this is a dream come true. But why is the bottom of my left foot so itchy? It's 4:45am, Ali and JR had just raided my room. "It's marathon morning!" After 2 trains, 3 buses (one broke down), and a ferry, we finally reached marathon village. Now, what do they mean Wave 3 is closed? We somehow made our way to the start and there's the canon - this is it! What more can I ask for? I am running my very first marathon in the best city in the world alongside my best friends.
It was pretty difficult trying to put the brakes on my pace and emotion coming down 4th Ave in Brooklyn. Older folks cheered for me like proud parents and children cheered for me like I was a superhero. I didn't train for any of this. It was all smiles and high fives until the Queensboro Bridge, which destroyed my knees. I spent all of my time on First Avenue trying to recover from it.
As I crawled my way across the Madison Ave Bridge, I made a mental note to stop and make sure to give my mom a hug when I see her, my friends, and my team at Mile 21. As I turned the corner, I saw everyone looking for me and when they spotted me they were cheering so loud. I completely lost it. They said go Kai go! So I did. Sean jumped in and we flew down 5th Ave. The last 5.2 miles of the race turned out to be the easiest part of my race because I had a reason to race - Mile 21.
Running to Harlem...
Running up 1st Avenue, the sun started to shine. It was perfect timing, because I was quickly approaching Harlem where I knew I would see all of my friends' shining faces. I started to think to myself how different this year was from last. Last year, I ran the NYC marathon as the only member of Harlem Run. I had friends and family cheering on the sideline but this year I would be joined by almost 300 people in the community supporting me and the movement; my pace quickened. I reached for my phone and recorded a Snapchat video – “Harlem, I’m coming for you. Are you ready?”
Suddenly, I was in the Bronx and it felt like the longest mile of my life. With all of the twists and turns, I started to lose my excitement. When I looked over to my right and saw a good friend of mine walking, I felt a little pang of worry – would I be able to make it out of the Bronx and into Harlem still feeling good?
I rounded the last turn off of the 3rd Avenue bridge and I was in Harlem. I knew it because I was home, but also because of the sign someone held that said “WELCOME TO HARLEM”; I felt myself smiling bigger than ever before. As I approached the cheer station, I could hear everyone cheering my name. “ALISON! ALISON!”.
At that moment, any pain I had been feeling evaporated. I threw my hand up and didn’t know whether to stop and hug everyone, go faster, do a cartwheel! I can’t even put into words what it meant to have all of that support on the course. I flew by giving everyone high fives and stopped briefly to get water from my fellow captain and good friend, Amir. Sean joined me for the next few miles until 125th street. I couldn’t actually say anything (I had used all of my adrenaline at the cheer station) but having him next to me meant the world to me. Running can either be an isolating experience or one of connection and community. Harlem Run is the latter – and I am so grateful for that.
Mile 21 Cheer Station...
By: Amir and Raydime
We were up bright and early, stationed at 135th and 5th, starting at 8:00am. The fluid station setup was seamless and all volunteers were ready within no time. That left our cheer squad more focused on the task of re-energizing each and every runner who passed #Mile21. With our cheer station powered by Under Armour, and the help of Jack Rabbit and City Coach we were able to personalize 300 neon t-shirts to whoever was with us. With cowbells, thunder-sticks, confetti, our hands and feet, we made sure every runner and walker would remember the energy and love they received at #Mil21. It was a perfect location as they completed the latter portion of the full 26.2 miles. - Amir
I was so excited on Sunday morning that I woke up an hour before my alarm went off and started to get ready. The last couple of days, weeks, and months seemed to be all in preparation for race day. It was my first time being a part of the NYC Marathon even though I grew up in NYC. It always seemed so far removed from me and my block. I went from not knowing anyone who ran to now cheering on 50,000 brothers and sisters. I felt like I could relate to every single person hitting the pavement that day. I have yet to run a marathon, but every single person started their journey as I and so many others have. We all have that in common, putting one foot in front of the other. Despite our religion, economic, cultural differences, race, age, sex, we all started the same exact way.
I got to jump back and forth from mixing, pouring, stacking Gatorade at the fluid station to spray painting some words of encouragement while dancing and mingling with people at the #HRCheerStation. The first 300 spectators got a Jackrabbit cowbell and a bright UnderArmour shirt to ring in Mile 21 for our runners. They couldn't miss us. Our spirits were high and we made sure they saw and heard us. We let them know: we are here for you. From 8am when we moved in to help NYRR check people in to clapping and cheering the marathon finishers who were jogging, walking and slowly but surely making their way to the finish line. No one was left behind that day. On this day Harlem Run ran 50,000 strong... It was another successful Harlem Run. - Raydime
The Last Few Miles...
Never in my life did I ever think that I would consider running 20 miles “easy”, but on the day of the marathon, it truly was. I felt like I flew through Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and the first few miles of Manhattan. But once I passed the Cheer Station at Mile 21, everything suddenly became real. My legs and feet screamed in pain with every step I took. My core was on fire from having to hold me steady for the past 4 hours. My arms ached every time they swung up and down. Physically, I felt like a mess.
Then, the emotional exhaustion set in. Every doubt and fear that I had felt over the past four months about my ability to run a marathon came out with a vengeance. Anyone who has trained for an event like this can probably relate. Throughout training, you know objectively that you can do it, but there is always that nagging little voice in the back of your head that keeps saying to you, ‘What if you can’t? What if you fail?’ During training, it’s easy to silence that voice, but at Mile 22, it’s all you can hear… and it is deafening.
As I look back now, I don’t exactly know how I pushed through those last four miles. I think that ultimately what got me through was two things: first, the crowd – perfect strangers, screaming my name, clapping for me, and saying how proud they were of me. And secondly, my own will and determination. I pushed through the hardest task of my life and even though it was painful, I kept going until the end. I’ll never forget the agony I felt during those last few miles, but I’ll also never forget how great it felt to run over the finish line and to know in that moment that I was experiencing the happiest moment of my life.
When you think of a party, your first thoughts are always: music, DJ, drinks, and so on... Our #HRMarathonAfterParty not only included all that but most importantly, our 12 marathon finishers!! This joint effort to celebrate our runners came about through collaboration with Springs Moves. We had an amazing turn out: marathoners, members from several running crews all throughout NYC, and our regular Harlem Runners. Everything from the entrance, elevator ride, food, drinks, snacks, and dancing was perfection. However what left impressions in our hearts was the Ice Baths for the runners, foam roller stations, the popular HR cheering line and most importantly the surprised faces every runner had when greeted at the entrance.
The vibe was very soothing, relaxing, and created an environment that was very chilax. Everything from seeing the sunset on the rooftop to creating a soul train line made the night so special. The party demonstrated how we as a running family have created an environment of support not only for runners but most importantly our community. It allowed us to learn about community organizations such that provided and supported in various ways to make the party such a success.
As a native NYer, it was only right to go big or go home in celebrating our marathon runners. The amazing bond between cheering, volunteering, sponsoring and the runners was amazing to see at the party. The stories, the preparation and even the smiles made this day, November 1st 2015, a day to go into the books.
Who will be part of this journey next year, is the big question?!
Want an even MORE intimate look at the Harlem Run marathon experience? One of our regulars, Jeffrey, created a Youtube video that captured all of his special moments. Check it out!