Photo courtesy of Time Out New York
A race that once only attracted less than 150 participants is now one of the largest and most well known marathons in the world. This year, ambitious athletes from all over the globe will gather in New York City on November 4, 2018 for the marathon. This race is one that cannot be taken lightly, as it puts the body through a series of physical andemotional tests.
Friday November 2, central park hosts the opening ceremony that will kick off the weekend. Clubs, U.S organizations, and professional runners entertain the crowd. A fireworks display put on by Poland Springs, will light up the sky and excite the millions of people who have come out to witness this weekend. There is also the parade of nations that celebrates the culture and diversity of the event. During this ceremony, runners share their stories and celebrate making it to NYC.
Anticipation might be one of the most frightening parts of the race. As the body’s anxiety increases, so does a person’s heartbeat. Palms sweat, legs begin to jitter and ears ring just waiting to hear that start signal.
Finding your groove. Once that horn goes off, runners must find the balance between surviving through the large crowd and not tiring themselves out during the first few miles. Getting the body down to a consistent pace is key to not only completing the race, but also achieving a runner’s goal time.
If a runner trained and prepared well for this race, mile 3-7 should feel like a high. Legs are feeling good, breathing is not too difficult and steps seem to be easy. At this point, an athlete should be enjoying the views, people and still feeling like completing this 26.2 mile race is within their reach.
The Turing Point
The middle of the race is when the body starts to deteriorate. This point tests whether the body has been fueled with the proper nutrients. A runner’s diet before the race should consist of high-carb foods such as pasta, rice, and bread. Consistent fluids of water and energy drinks such as Gatorade, are just as important as the food consumed. Timing is key because the body should have all foods properly digested. Many runners begin to lose momentum at this point because the energy in their body is running out which results in dizziness. Volunteers line the course passing out water to make sure runners can keep pushing through this point.
It is very common for most runners to experience “the fall” during mile 20-24. At this point, limbs are beginning to lock up and the body is experiencing fatigue. All, if not most of the nutrients consumed before the race are now burned off and the true physical test begins. This is when the body goes into overload and finds power in muscle and breaking down fat tissue. Many athletes question whether they are capable of completing the rest of the of the marathon. For those runners that find themselves unable to do so, a sweep bus travels along the course to pick up those defeated by the race.
Just when the fire seems to burn out, those last few sparks a runner has carry them to the finish line. Many say that they feel a burst of energy that comes from getting to those last few miles. The countdown begins and the finish line does not seem so far out of reach. Crossing the finish line lets out a wide range of emotions. Tears, smiles, excitement and exhaustion all sink in. Some runners will collapse and even vomiting is quite common. Finishing a race of this length is an accomplishment in itself, but for some runners, it is about redemption and victory. The video below shows some of the top finishes from the New York City Marathon.
The Cool Down
After running for such a long distance, a cool down period is important to bring the body back down. Heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure need to drop at a manageable pace. After crossing the finish line, runners are directed by staff to continue walking an additional two miles through Central Park to not only provide this cooling down period, but also bring the runners back to where they can collect their belongings.