2004 New York Marathon (11/7/2004)



New York Marathon



Click here to skip through the article and go straight to the photos.

My New York Marathon experience had it's low points and high points. Overall, it was a pretty cool experience running one of the most famous marathons in the world. Just one more item that I can remove from my "things to do in my lifetime" list.

My New York experience started at a somewhat low point. I was on a limited budget so I stayed at a New York hostel at a cost of $35 per night. Not bad considering the location - Upper Central Park west area. After shuttles, trains, subways and a grunch load of walking I arrived at the Hostel - no thanks to any help from New Yorkers. My marathon experience would have been better if it weren't for those pesky New Yorkers. Every rumor I had ever heard about New Yorkers was true. After attempting to ask directions from New Yorkers on the streets and subway stations, no one really seemed to want to help. People seemed to back off as if I was trying to mug them. I quickly found out that if someone was friendly to you it was because they were tourists or money was involved. Making eye contact with New Yorkers was bad omen and you would quickly look away if your eyes did happen to meet someone else's on the subway. Walkmans/MP3 players are big in New York. Just another method to avoid communications with a human while riding the subways or walking down the streets. Anyway back to the Marathon.

Pre Race:
The morning of the race was pretty cold. We got bussed to the starting area early in the morning. The wait is a little shorter than the Boston Marathon pre-race wait. You can easily get a decent nap before it's time to warm-up. I tried to bundle up with the little gear I had and took a short nap on the grass underneath a tent. When I couldn't take the cold anymore, I got up and found a nice cozy spot in the sun which was already shining. My pre race meal consisted of a bagel, two power bars, and lot's of Gatorade spread out over the morning. One last thing I like to take before a race when it's available is a little caffeine. A small cup of coffee with plenty of sugar gives me just the right amount of caffeine boost I need before a cold race.

Starting line:
I was really amazed at how close I was to the front at the starting area. As you can see from my photos (below), the elite runners were not too far up in front of me. It seemed like it was a long wait before the starting gun went off. Runners were well hydrated from the look of the street below our feet. We had plenty of speakers before the start - Former mayor of New York Giuliani said a couple of words. The star spangle banner was sung especially nice. Once the gun went off, it only took my a few seconds to pass the starting line timing mats and we were well into the 2004 New York Marathon.

During the Race:
I started off at a decent pace and felt like I could maintain. It was a good pace for enjoying the sights of New York and the runners along the course. I took plenty of pictures knowing perfectly well I was adding valuable seconds to my marathon time. I maintained essentially the same pace until mile 22 when I entered Central park from the north. I started having some signs of fatigue, most likely due to low weekly mileage in my training program. It really didn't place any pressure on me because I was here to enjoy the experience of running New York. I was not about to put myself through any form of extreme punishment to finish this marathon. I was satisfied with my time at the finish and felt that I had obtained a respectable time for a "fun run marathon". I had never done this before for a race and I managed to enjoy the experience of running the New York Marathon, relatively pain free.

Post Race:
The post race amenities at the finish was a big disappointment considering I was running one of the most famous marathons in the world. It was pathetic. Here's basically what happens: You finish the race, they take your chip, you get a mylar blanket, they give you a tiny bag with an apple and a banana and some kind of nutrition bar, and they chute you out of the finish area like a herd of cattle going for slaughter. I asked one of the volunteers, "Where's all the post race food?" and they reply, "Didn't you get a plastic bag with food?" That's it! a banana and an apple. I was hungry and a banana and an apple was just not going to cut it. I guess I'm spoiled from the Houston marathon with breakfast provided by HEB at the GRB convention center. This was pathetic. I would have expected more from one of the most famous marathons in the world! NOT HERE. I felt like I was just kicked in the ass and sent home. Where's all the GLORY from finishing a marathon.

Post Race Party:
The post race party and dance at a local club was also pathetic. I felt like I had just entered a nursing home for the elderly. Did all these old folks run the marathon, did I go to the wrong place, maybe it's an AARP only party? Did these people run the marathon? Well, at least they had the marathon video playing on two very large big screen TVs. NOT! The video kept breaking up and no editing whatsoever was done on the video. All the advertising commercials were left in - the local news people kept interrupting, then they would go to normal TV commercials. It seemed like some schmo had just learned how to work a VCR and had just recorded the local news coverage of the race on his 13" TV and then came in to play it. They eventually just cut the race coverage video and went to something else.


Final Comments:
The only thing I have to say about the NYC marathon is that the race directors need to take some lessons from the Boston marathon race organizers on how to put on a marathon maybe even the Houston marathon race directors.

Would I do New York again you ask? Hell NO. It's good for one time and that's it.


All New York Marathon photos taken by Pete Gaytan, webmaster, photographer and marathoner, except for the ones that I'm in the photo - duh!