NYC Marathon: Five Lessons Learned

The New York City marathon is a grand affair, with approximately 45,000 runners testing the limits of their minds and bodies across 26.2 grueling miles. The crowds, of course, dwarf the participants, turning the process of getting a look at the action into something of a sport itself. Everybody has a secret strategy, it seems, for getting a peek at the pained looks of determination that have come to characterize this event.

I attended my first NYC marathon last Sunday, probably the only person without a plan but with the help of a local pro who’s attended several times and even volunteered. What followed was certainly counter-intuitive but a valuable learning experience – and for once from success rather than failure. We landed right along the fence at mile 26 in Central Park, a prime viewing location. So, as you think about next year, here are five lessons that will be helpful to you in making the most of your non-running marathon experience.

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1. Later is actually better: we didn’t get to the park until after 1 PM. Sure, I missed the battles for first place. Nonetheless, I witnessed the personal victories of runners who sought to complete the course, which is no small feat. The crowds lined up only a few hundred yards from the finish line (which requires a special pass) but rotated fairly regularly. So, be patient, and you’ll wind up with a front-row spot.

2. Make space for kids: it isn’t fun when you can’t see the race. Take some time to enjoy the spectacle, but keep in mind that other people want to do the same thing. For children especially, nothing compares to a place up front – they can’t see over adults. If there are kids behind you, make sure they get in front: you’ll be part of a truly memorable experience for them.

3. Have an exit plan: it isn’t easy to get in and out of Central Park on race day. Gates and fences control the flow of people and make room for runners and race officials. Keep track of where you can go. Otherwise, you’ll run into several dead ends before leaving. Needless to say, this can be frustrating.

4. Don’t make the runners do all the work: at times, the spectators were surprisingly quiet. The runners, however, waved their arms, cheered and smiled … even with 26 miles and five boroughs having passed under their feet. Help them out! After all, they’ve earned it.

5. Go to the southwest corner of Central Park: the runners enter the park for the home stretch at Columbus Circle. You can’t get right up to the road in the southwest corner of Central Park, which makes the spot less than ideal. Because of this, fewer people are there, making it easier to get an unobstructed line of sight on the action.

NYC marathon runners urged to focus on the race, fight the urge to tweet

You’d think running 26.2 miles would demand all your attention, right? Apparently, the lure of connectedness is so great that a runners’ group is putting the word out to resist temptation. Sean Haubert, who manages social media for the New York Road Runners, which organizes the ING New York City Marathon, told the NY Daily News:

“People need to focus on the race,” Haubert said. “There are people running ahead of you, tying a shoelace or someone may throw a cup your way.”

This is good advice, since some runners are already planning their status updates. Arturo Barcenas, for example, told the NY Daily News:

“I’m already thinking about my updates like ‘NYC Marathon, here I go again’ or ‘I’m in one piece,'” Barcenas said of his Facebook page. “Maybe if I get a quick break I can tell my friends ‘I hope I do better than last year.'”

So, how hardcore are you? Would you be able to run a marathon without letting your friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter know where you are and how you’re doing? Leave a comment to let us know!

[photo by Randy Lemoine via Flickr]

New Planet Magazine: Journeys Issue

PlanetGetting my hands on the latest Journey’s issue of Planet last month was a journey in itself. I’m a Planet junkie – an addict and so the moment word lets out about the release of the quarterly glossy I first squeal with excitement, do a flying drop-kick, regain composure and head to the nearest Border’s Books & Music to pick up a copy. The Spring 07′ issue features a number of well-written pieces spanning the globe from Iraq to Bologna, Italy through Valeria’s digital diary and Omak, Washington where an annual Suicide Race takes place. I must say the Omak suicide race really grabbed my attention and while I won’t be signing up to win the cold-hard cash anytime soon being a potential spectator may or may not be all too bad if I’m ever in the area. Additionally there is a divinity piece on marathon monks which is equally captivating. And when you’re ready to sign off on global arm-chair traveling and into the latest in pop-world-culture take a peek at what Ms. Charlotte Gainsbourg has been up to and look out for her new album if you like that sort of sound.

Link Traveling to Dubai

DubaiEverywhere I click on the web it seems I keep seeing Dubai, Dubai, and Dubai. Is now the time to go or what? I feel as though I’m missing out on something BIG here and the chances of me jetting over in the near future are very slim. Yes, pity me, please. Anyhow I thought I might as well offer an opportunity to explore some of what I’ve been hearing or reading about Dubai lately through some of the links found below just in case someone setting out to do some hardcore Dubai travel planning soon.

  • Dubai Shopping Festival – Looks as though the DSF for 2006 is taking place right now, but if you plan well and save tons of money attending the 2007 event should be a breeze.
  • Feel like running in the desert oasis anytime soon? Registration for the Dubai Marathon on January 12, 2007 doesn’t close until New Year’s Eve. Get out there and run!
  • Gridskipper points out an excellent spot to mix, mingle and sing a song or three during karaoke. Karaoke in Dubai? Yes, they sing and make a fool of themselves here too.
  • Dubai International Film Festival – Sadly this event ends on the 17th of December and don’t say I didn’t tell you it was approaching. I did my part.
  • Perhaps you’re trying to find a nice last minute destination for the Christmas holiday. Why not consider Dubai? From this Go World Travel story I found not too long ago, the writer shares her dazzling surreal X-Mas experience in the UAE.

Marathon Tours

Ambassador BridgeOnly 17 days remain between now and the moment in which I’ll run my first 26.2 mile full marathon in Detroit. Am I excited? Heck yeah, you bet I am. And you probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you this, but I despise running. I hate the high impact and grueling feeling it has on my knees. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the sense of community and spirit amongst runners, the feeling of achievement and most certainly the opportunity to go places, but it’s so hard for me to remain mentally positive when my body is wondering why I’m pushing it the way I am. Anyhow, what I’m trying to say is if you’re in Detroit or Windsor on October 29, come out and cheer me on! I’ll need the support.

Moving right along now that I’ve managed to squeeze my own shameless promotion into the plug, I suppose I should point running loving individuals or people who may want to get into the sport to this Marathon Tours site. First off, if you’re truly a marathon fanatic you’re probably already aware of this site, but even then I encourage you to check it out and start planning some serious marathon trips. Perhaps you’ve exhausted some of your options, favorite races, scenic routes or whatever. Why not run Antarctica or Dubai? To be quite honest it’s destinations like these and doing some so crazy that may keep into all this running jazz. Seriously, how cool would that be? Marathon Tours makes it easier if you’re looking to head abroad and check out the local scene in places like Iceland, Jamaica, Stockholm, Kenya and Australia. With all the other prep going into the race I’d imagine their services to be a huge load off one’s plate.