2010 NYC Marathon Race Report

11.9.2010 | 2:36 pm

If you’re going to do a marathon, it’s a really good idea to have an idea of why you are doing it. Because otherwise, the misery of the event is simply too much to bear.

For example, are you doing it because you’re really fast and think you can place well in your age group? Or because you want to prove (to yourself or others) you’re capable of going that distance? Or because you just really love to run?

Maybe because you want the t-shirt?

For me, the answer to all of these questions is “no.”

The reason I wanted to do the NYC marathon is because the idea of running through the streets of NYC, along with 40,000+ other people, with screaming crowds lining the streets for (nearly) the entirety of the event, sounded like an experience worth having, even if it hurt a lot.

Oh, and also because the Runner wanted to run it, and I didn’t want her to think I’m a sissy.

A Little Bit About My Pre-Race Training

The 2010 NYC Marathon marks the third marathon I’ve done (note my choice of the word “done,” as opposed to “run”) this year. It also marks the third marathon I’ve done this year without having successfully trained for that marathon. This time, I came to the race with a sore right knee and an aching left hip.

And in short, I was not able to run at all until about a month before the race, and then I worked up to a painful hobbling 14 miles maximum distance.

So what could go wrong?

Hanging Out With Team Fatty NYC

IMG_1503.JPGThe day before the race, The Runner and I met with LiveStrong’s Colleen Legge and a few members of Team Fatty NYC at Nike Town, for a pre-race breakfast fuel-up. I’ve got to say, I loved talking with others from Team Fatty, especially because most of the other guys had similar aches and pains as mine. There’s no more sympathetic audience in the world than a group of people with matching excuses.

Weirdly, none of the women complained about running injuries. I’m sure that was just coincidence, though.

Then, later that evening, we all got together at a restaurant for dinner to continue our pre-race fueling. Here we are, modeling the Team Fatty NYC tech t’s Pearl Izumi provided for us:

My Photo_53.jpg

And then the night after the race, we all got together at the LiveStrong party and ate again: post-race recovery fueling, you know.


Don’t you find it peculiar that Team Fatty always eats when we get together?

Nope, me neither.

And you’ll just have to trust me that it was the weird lighting in the room that resulted in everyone looking horribly sunburned in that last photo.

Pre-Race Recon

It’s probably a fair statement that neither The Runner nor I are experts at NYC public transportation. It is probably furthermore another fair statement that both of us have a terrible sense of direction.

So, to compensate, we spent a big chunk of Saturday afternoon trying to figure out what our route to the starting line of the race should be — how we should get to the subway, which subway to get on, which direction we should be going, and where we should get off.

And, I’m happy to say, it took us only about an hour to find the correct station. And a couple of wrong choices for which subway to take.

But by the end of the day, we were confident that we knew how to get to the ferry to Staten Island, in plenty of time for our assigned 5:45 ride.

By the end of that day — the day before the race — The Runner and I had walked eight miles, and my right knee was killing me. As in, stepping up onto a curb hurt.

I had grave concerns about whether I could possibly even walk a marathon the following day.

Getting There

So, fast forward to 5:00AM on Sunday AM. We arrive at the subway station, ready for the R train to pick us up.

Unfortunately for us, we didn’t count on the fact that the R train schedule is a lot less frequent on Sunday at 5:00AM than it is on Saturday afternoons.

And so — along with several other runners — we waited for our train for 45 minutes, meaning that we had missed our ferry before we ever got on our subway.

And I had a feeling the ferry captain wouldn’t hold the boat for us.

As it turned out, though, everything was just fine. We arrived at the ferry just in time for the 6:15 departure. Meaning that we spent 45 minutes in the warm subway station standing and waiting that we would have otherwise spent outside in the cold.

And we still got to the starting area two hours before our wave of the race began.

Waiting There

The Runner and I were slotted to be in the second wave of runners, in the orange group. Which meant that we — along with untold thousands of other runners — had a couple of hours to wait outside until our 10:10 starting time.

And that two hours was an excellent period of time to consider exactly how well The Runner had prepared for this event.

The week before, she had gone to a used clothes store and bought us very warm clothes — heavy track pants, big thick ski coats — for us to wear. She then supplemented all this with heavy gloves, hats, and hand warmers. Look at how attractive we are in our finery:


As a result, we were comfortable and relaxed while others all around us shivered in whatever they could improvise.


Mostly variations of the “wear a trash bag and get into a fetal position” theme.

The Start

Eventually, it was our turn to get into the runners’ corrals. We shed our heavy coats and track pants, stuffing them into bags to be redistributed to people who need them. I’ve got to say, I’m going to miss that coat.

We shuffled off, slowly working our way to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Over and over, I kept thinking — and saying, probably to The Runner’s annoyance — the following two thoughts:

  1. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that there were so many thousands of people all wanting to run a marathon. Sure, I had known before that there were 40,000 people doing this race, but until you’re actually in the sea of people, the hugeness of that number of people doesn’t really hit home.
  2. My knee hurt.

I held my phone up as high as I could, trying to get a picture of this endless sea of people:


Per tradition, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” was played on the PA, a cannon fired, and we began.

At that point, the difference between what the race looks like up close and what it looks like from above is really striking. The MTA captured a time-lapse video of the start of the race that really looks incredible:

From our perspective on the other hand, the first couple of miles is all about dodging the coats, hats, blankets and gloves people discard as they warm up.

Getting Into The Running Rhythm

By the four-mile mark, The Runner and I agreed: our hats, gloves, and long-sleeved jerseys were too warm; we were overheating. So we stopped, removed our gloves and hats (leaving them on the side of the road), and tied our long-sleeved jerseys around our waists.

We started running again, only to stop a moment later: with our Clif Shots (our gel of choice) in the jersey pockets, there was way too much bouncing around. So we took the gels out and went back to the run, just holding them. I had three in each hand, figuring I would start sucking one down every three miles, beginning at mile five. My gels would be my countdown mechanism. When I got down to the last gel, I’d be down to the last three miles.

The Runner ran ahead of me, usually about five feet in front, dodging and passing people — the crowd never ever thinned out during the day; there were always people close in front, behind and to the sides of us.

And it was then, at about mile five or six, as I ran behind The Runner, trying (successfully, at that point) to stay with her, that something occurred to me. Something so surprising that I ran to be alongside The Runner and blurted it out:

“My knee. It doesn’t hurt. At all.

“Seriously?” She answered. “Well, I’d better get as many miles out of you as possible while it feels good, then.”

And — for whatever reason — my knee didn’t hurt for the whole run. Even as the rest of me discombobulated and I began to make whimpering noises, my knee felt fine.

I’m pretty sure I have — at least in part — Pearl Izumi and their awesome running shoes to thank for that.

Before long, we settled into our marathon routine: we would run to each aid station (which happened every mile), then walk through the aid station, drinking a cup of Gatorade.

Sights and Sounds

Honestly, I was feeling good. Around mile ten, The Runner said, “the miles are going by so fast!” And she was right. We were both overwhelmed by the surreal feel of the race — a constant, huge crowd cheering encouragement, a constant, huge crowd running alongside us, a city I have only ever seen choked with cars now filled with runners — that it often felt like we were just being carried along, witnessing something much, much too big to fit in our brains.


By mile fifteen, though, I was cooked. The Runner would get further and further ahead of me — not because she intentionally wanted to drop me, but because it’s just as hard to run below your natural pace as it is to run above it. Each time she slowed for me to catch up, I’d gasp my thanks.

“We’re here to see this together, not race it,” she replied. And besides, while she waited for me to catch up, she had time to take all the pictures I’m posting here today.

I’m a lucky guy to have her.

Musical groups — some rock bands, one gospel choir, one bagpipe band — were all over the place, performing both for the running and standing audiences.


Every mile, I’d look forward to my walking rest at the aid stations. But, as the race went on and more and more people were stopping at each aid station, the number of cups and spilled water / gatorade became comical — there were places where you were more wading than running.


Once bananas were added to this wet mix, things got really messy. And I found out — for the first time in my life — that a banana peel really can be dangerously slippery.


The night before the race, The Runner and I took a Sharpie and inked our names on the front and back of our running shirts. She wrote “Lisa” on front and back; I wrote “Fatty” on the front and “I am Fatty” on the back. You know, so people wouldn’t think I was calling them fatties.

As a result, throughout the day, people on the sidelines would yell, “Go Lisa! And…Fatty?”

Almost always followed by laughter.

What, you think my name is funny?

Team Fatty Gives Me a Boost

By the time I got to mile 15, I was slowing waaaay down. And by the time I got to mile 18, I started fixating on one thing: early in the morning, Philly Jen — co-captain of Team Fatty Philly (whose recently-biopsied tumor is not malignant — YAY) had texted me, saying that a group of them would be waiting at around 117th to cheer us on.

And there they were. With Reeses Peanut Butter cups and everything.


I was amazed at how re-energized seeing this awesome group of friends made me. I ran on behind The Runner with renewed energy and purpose.

For about another half mile anyway.

To the Finish Line . . .

By the time I hit mile 23, I was completely beat. I was taking much longer — and slower — walking breaks, and feeling embarrassed about how much I was slowing down The Runner, but not really able to do anything about it.

Also, by mile 23, I no longer had an appetite for my final Clif Shot. It remained uneaten.

But by mile 24, I knew we were close, and I put whatever little I had in reserve into trying to finish strong. I was so happy that the race organizers had been so thoughtful as to put in increasingly small landmarks: Final 3/4 mile, final 1/2 mile, 400, 300, 200, 100 yards to go.

The Runner slowed down, let me catch her, then took my hand and raised it high. We crossed the finish line that way, together.

Then we stood in front of a picturesque trailer and had our photo taken together.


4:37. A reasonable time — I guess — for someone who hadn’t been training at all until a month ago. And I’m happy to say that I was faster than both Jared the Subway Guy (5:13) and Al Roker (7:09). So take that, other people famous for being fat.

. . . And Beyond

But once you cross the NYC Marathon finish line, you’ve still got some serious work ahead of you. Namely, to get back to the hotel. And with 40,000 people racing and countless spectators, taxis, cars, and public transportation are all pretty much out.

So we walked back. Two miles. And change. And when you add in our walk to the after-race party and back and our walk to Chipotle’s to get enormous post-race burritos, that’s about 31 miles The Runner and I put into our feet that day.

Now it’s two days later. And getting up or down a set of stairs is still a big production.

Our next marathon? Ogden, this May. Maybe — just maybe — this time I’ll actually be able to train through and run the whole thing. That would be a nice change.

Regardless, though, The Runner has made it clear that this time, she is not waiting for me.

I suppose that’s fair.


  1. Comment by Lisa | 11.9.2010 | 2:51 pm

    That is so amazing! Good for you!

    One of these days I want to run a big race like Chicago or NY…just for the experience of running in a huge city with so many people!

  2. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 11.9.2010 | 2:51 pm

    Sounds like it was a great day! And Fatty, keep the ’stache!

  3. Comment by geraldatwork | 11.9.2010 | 3:19 pm

    That is terrific. Great she waited for you.

  4. Comment by Orbea Girl | 11.9.2010 | 3:30 pm

    I know exactly what you’re talking about. I did the London marathon some years ago and could not get over the sheer number of people taking part. I remember it took almost 30 minutes just to get over the start line. There was a fabulous atmosphere throughout the race generated by the wall to wall spectators and the entertainment along the route. Maybe it’s time I did another one. Well done to both of you.

  5. Comment by Philly Jen | 11.9.2010 | 3:36 pm

    We loved seeing you and Lisa on the course!

    Jenni’s race report gives some of the flava from the sidelines:


    And yes, my recently removed Evil Peanut has now been officially demoted to mere Naughty Bean status. Thanks again to everyone for sharing your support.

    It’s cake time!

  6. Comment by DavidV | 11.9.2010 | 3:43 pm

    Nice job Fatty and Lisa. I’m ont a runner, but I love to read about your adventures.

    Which is harder, a marathon or Leadville?

  7. Comment by Mayhemnsuz | 11.9.2010 | 4:38 pm

    Awesome Fatty and Lisa — you two are a heckuva team! And to Philly Jen, SO HAPPY to hear your bean is merely Naughty.

  8. Comment by Anonymous | 11.9.2010 | 4:43 pm

    You didn’t talk to Sal Masekela?

    But really it is amazing how many famous people go to that super race.

  9. Comment by evil3 | 11.9.2010 | 4:44 pm

    yet again I forgot to add a name for my post (really can you make it a requirement to type in a name for those forgetful people like me?).

  10. Comment by asmathews (Alex) | 11.9.2010 | 4:51 pm

    Great job!

  11. Comment by lmc81224 | 11.9.2010 | 5:15 pm

    I was SO proud to be a part of Team Fatty!! In-between crys of appreciation for the NYCM experience I truely truely enjoyed the day. I’m not as sore today as I was yesterday and am actually considering trying another 26.2 someday thanks to YOU! Thanks for getting it together… Lisa, the other Lisa…

  12. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 11.9.2010 | 5:28 pm

    I still don’t get it. Oh well.

  13. Comment by Kathy McElhaney | 11.9.2010 | 6:12 pm

    Great report! My dreams of a marathon are fading in the distance as I put more time on my mountain bike. I would have never thunk it!

    And Philly Jen, YAY! YAY! YAY!!

  14. Comment by Marilyn Wheatley | 11.9.2010 | 6:14 pm

    Great job and glad to hear the good health report for our Philly co-captain Jen!!

  15. Comment by bahama mama | 11.9.2010 | 6:27 pm

    You’re in NY, you’ve burned a million calories and you refuel at Chipotle’s?

  16. Comment by Geo | 11.9.2010 | 6:34 pm

    Running a marathon. Chalk that up as thing 25,243 man has done so a woman will not think him a wimp.

    And you forgot to mention you did better than one of the greatest distance runners ever, Haile Gabrselassie, who was a DNF.

  17. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 11.9.2010 | 6:44 pm

    Great Job Fatty and Runner. I watched on TV and was looking for you two. Love the video of the waves going out. I’ve done two Marathons……never again! I’d rather ride my bike, thank you very much.

  18. Comment by Jenni | 11.9.2010 | 9:10 pm

    Anyone else check out Race Across the Sky?! Unreal. Rigid singlespeed has never held more meaning to me than right now. Great great movie.

  19. Comment by Nurse Betsy | 11.9.2010 | 10:13 pm

    Jenni, saw it in Seattle….Race across the sky was amazing. really enjoyed it.

  20. Comment by Maggi | 11.9.2010 | 10:18 pm

    There were a couple Team Fatty Philly folks hanging out at Mile 12, too– but we almost missed you and Lisa! You were in the thick of the pack, and were passing us as we caught sight of you and screamed.

    (You’ll note that mile 12 was just before Peter Pan Bakery [awesome donuts!] and mile 19 was just before Patsy’s Pizza. Team Fatty plans well!)

    Congrats to you & Lisa on a great run!

    Btw – just saw Race Across the Sky, and am once again blown away. Way to go, Fatty!

  21. Comment by NYCCarlos | 11.10.2010 | 5:58 am

    Doh! I can’t believe I missed you. I had other things to tend to, so I can’t really be upset, but I’m still baffled that at 3 different stops, with you running the same pace as my girlfriend until the 3rd stop when you were only about 5-7 min. behind her, I didn’t see you once. Oh well… I guess I’ll have to come cheer in Ogden…

  22. Comment by Barb | 11.10.2010 | 6:28 am

    Congratulations! This is exactly how I feel at the ATX Challenge every year…..I’m a runner that dusts off my bike each October.

  23. Comment by Rob L | 11.10.2010 | 6:38 am

    Congrats on finishing Fatty and Lisa! I’ve heard those storys about the before and after walks about NYC and Chicago before also. Great photo’s in this and the past few entries!

  24. Comment by rich | 11.10.2010 | 8:21 am

    Great write up! Had I not been a runner when I was younger, I would almost believe you when you say that it was fun…..
    Great job and congratulations!!!

  25. Comment by MattC | 11.10.2010 | 8:58 am

    Wow..that video is something. I guess the 1st wave is the elite runners…but the 2nd wave…just AMAZING! I’d call it a tsunami! Hard to fathom being IN that mass of humanity.

    Way to go Fatty…you’ve done something I don’t ever plan to do a few times now…and you are going back for more (thank you, may I have another? comes to mind). I guess you SS riders are tough. I like my gears and I like my knees. You’re still a young’un though and can get away with it for now…hope you don’t do actual damage to your knees (you’ll find out in a few years)…not everybody is cut out to be a runner.

    And as always, way to go Team Fatty…what an awesome group of people we are!

  26. Comment by Casey | 11.10.2010 | 9:12 am

    Good job on that whole marathon thing and whatever, Fatty. But what I really want to celebrate is YAY for Philly Jen! Great news!

    Seriously, it’s really cool that you guys got to do the NYC marathon. I’m proud of you all.

  27. Comment by Alison Wonderland | 11.10.2010 | 9:42 am

    Yay For Jen!

  28. Comment by GJ Jackie | 11.10.2010 | 10:10 am

    WOO HOO, Jen! Sitting here dripping tears of happiness for you.

    And Fatty, you are one crazy man for punishing your body the way you do. Are you gonna train for anything ever? If I tried to do what you do, I’d be in a full body cast by now.

  29. Comment by Squirrelhead | 11.10.2010 | 10:18 am

    Awesome write up Fatty and big thanks to the Runner for the photos. I am not a fan of running but I am working on that. Hopefully one day I will work up to a marathon but right now I have more interest in being on my bike.

  30. Comment by Rob M | 11.10.2010 | 10:22 am

    This is a great post.

    And,the best part of this post is the news about Philly Jen.

    Very happy for you, Jen.

  31. Comment by Lori Scheel | 11.10.2010 | 10:22 am

    “I’m a lucky guy to have her.” Yes, Elden, you most certainly are! Well done on both accounts :)

  32. Comment by Uphillbattle | 11.10.2010 | 11:15 am

    YAY For Philly Jen! So happy that your news is good! Stay well!

  33. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 11.10.2010 | 1:22 pm

    Congratulations both of you! NYC sounds awesome.

    I’m planning to do Chicago in 2011 – my first marathon. You should do a Team Fatty Chicago Marathon run! I’d be in!

  34. Comment by Simon the TFK Bloke | 11.10.2010 | 2:24 pm

    Congratulations Fatty and the Runner!

    I was the dude greeting runners and holding the doors open at SI ferry. You looked genuinely surprised that someone recognized you. Or maybe I just woke you up form your pre-race sleepwalking. Either way it was awesome to meet you both.

    Keep up the mighty fine work brother!

  35. Comment by Turtle Mafia | 11.10.2010 | 4:03 pm

    I’m sorry Fatty, but everytime I see you in that ’stache, I instinctively reach for my wallet and put it in my front pocket. That and I have a craving for PBR (maybe Natty light)

  36. Comment by Zlatko | 11.10.2010 | 4:19 pm

    Love the way you turned “could’ve slept 45 minutes more” into “got to spend 45 minutes in warm station instead of cold start area”;)

  37. Comment by AngieG | 11.10.2010 | 4:45 pm

    Oh Yes PHILLY JEN!!! I am so happy to hear the peanut got demoted to naughty.

    Congrats to you and Lisa. I like the stache. It looks very daring and will likely explain the way people reached for their purses and wallets and gave you a wide berth as you passed.

  38. Comment by Clydesteve | 11.10.2010 | 4:47 pm

    Philly Jen – OUTSTANDING!!!!! – YAYYY!!!

    Fatty & Lisa – Great Job! – You guys blow me away!

  39. Comment by Joel P. | 11.10.2010 | 7:08 pm

    Awe come on now Fatty, throw Maggi and I a bone here. We must have given you a little energy at mile 12 because you and Lisa beat us to Philly Jen’s cheer station and we took the subway.
    Joel P.

  40. Comment by Barbara | 11.10.2010 | 7:20 pm

    I ran NYC in 1986, the year they experimented with handing out water in JUICE BOXES instead of cups. The volunteers at the rest stops had to unwrap and put all those little tiny straws into the boxes, and then we had to DRINK from those little tiny straws! Loved your picture of all the cups on the ground – now imagine juice boxes, many of which are half full because people gave up on trying to suck those tiiny little straws. If you stepped on one just right, it would explode. This “experiment” was not repeated in subsequent years.

    In addition to all the runners, and all the languages I heard all around me as I ran, the most impressive thing to me was the VOLUNTEERS who were everywhere and would do anything the runners needed. And when I crossed the finish line, 14000somethingth, one of them ripped off my tag (this was before chips) another put a medal around my neck, and another handed me a rose, read my bib and said, “Congratulations, Barbara!” I was damn impressed.

    Congratulations Fatty & Lisa! And congratulations on your two new nephews!

  41. Comment by Bryan | 11.11.2010 | 3:35 pm

    Fantastic Job! I hope my day at the Philly half marathon next weekend is as uneventful (no pain) as yours and the Runners. Its my first and am looking forward to the atmosphere that you described!
    I also went to see ride across the sky! What a great movie, and who did you pay off for all of the screen and narrating time?! Great Job!

  42. Comment by Dawn | 11.11.2010 | 8:19 pm

    Way to go! I follow AC (Life with Kona) and read her report. I think NY was her first marathon, and she referenced you, so I thought I’d read your account. You had me laughing out loud (no I wasn’t laughing AT you, I was laughing WITH you..oh wait..you weren’t really laughing…)

    Glad it ended well for you! What a great race! You did GREAT!!!

  43. Comment by Jamieson | 11.13.2010 | 10:20 am

    Just getting to read the race report today, congrats again on getting a very respectable time for the marathon.

    Great to see you again and to meet Lisa. Thanks for enjoying our city, and if you thought that 45k people running was something, you should see the 35k that are on bikes for the 5 Boro Bike Tour.

  44. Pingback by Blurg. « Solidscapes | 11.14.2010 | 10:09 am

    [...] gotten under my skin and I’ve really been thinking about trying to run a marathon next year. The Fat Cyclist ran the NYC Marathon last weekend with his girlfriend and wrote a great blog post about the whole [...]

  45. Comment by Scott | 11.15.2010 | 12:33 pm

    You walked past me that sat. morning before the marathon outside Carnegie Hall!. You were past me before I realized it was you. My bad!
    I would have loved to say whats up!
    Good Job with the marathon!

  46. Comment by Pedals Cycling | 11.18.2010 | 10:14 pm

    Congratulations on such a great run. Hope you can make it to Ogden!

  47. Comment by Beast Mom | 12.5.2010 | 12:38 am

    The Jared/Al comment is killing me. heh.

    Just read your ph app post. Guess you already have a route to gazillionaireism. Forget my water bottle suggestion.


  48. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Race Report: 2011 Ogden Marathon | 05.23.2011 | 1:30 pm

    [...] I followed that plan to a T. Which is to say, ever since completing (more or less) the NYC Marathon, I haven’t run more than once a week. And when I’ve run, it’s usually been for [...]


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