Category Archives: tcs new york city marathon

Tips for running the NYC Marathon.

A week or so ago, a friend of mine from middle school asked for tips for running the NYC marathon and I happily wrote him a monster of an e-mail all about my favorite race. As a lifetime New Yorker and a four-time NYC Marathon finisher (2009-2011, 2014), I know this race. I have actually had very detailed dreams of running this race (not exaggerating, I was once told I was talking in my sleep and calling out the mile markers). This race is a part of me. 

nyc-marathons2014 NYCM Recap

2011 NYCM Recap

2010 NYCM Recap

Because my friend is probably not the only person looking for some advice this week (it’s marathon week, baby!), I’m taking that e-mail and putting it out on the interwebs. 

Tips for Running the NYC Marathon


  • If you haven’t already done so, put your name on your shirt. People will call your name out and it will be all sorts of amazing. Because people will be screaming your first name all day, it may be hard to recognize when it’s someone you know screaming your name. Ask friends/family to call you by your last name if they can’t get your attention.
  • On that note, know where your friends/family will be ahead of time and most importantly, know which side of the street they will be on. I cannot stress the importance of the side of the street more.
  • If you don’t already have throwaway clothes for the start line, get them now. Ask friends/family for old sweats/hats/gloves/whatever. Everything at the start line gets donated. If you want, use old baseball socks as throwaway arm sleeves. Cut the feet off and put them on your arms until you feel warmed up and then drop them along the course. This has helped me during marathons that are in-between weather.
  • For the start, it’s a good idea to bring something like a garbage bag to sit on, even if you’ll be in a tent area. If it rained the day or days before, it will be muddy, so bring extra garbage bags to sit on, wear old sneakers that you won’t mind parting with and then switch into your race sneakers last minute or cover your sneakers with bags so they don’t get muddy and wet prior to the start. Also, bring yourself some toilet paper. It’s not uncommon to see people standing on the port-a-potty line with their own roll of TP.
  • Come up with a plan/strategy for when things got rough, I’m thinking specifically for 5th Avenue before the park. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, this is the worst part of that course. My first NYCM, this is where I told a random stranger that I wanted to quit. My coach for the 2014 NYCM told me to come up with my strategy for this section early and it helped. I focused on who I had tracking me and who was waiting for me in the bleachers and I literally repeated their names in my head for the entire mile. My good friend last year tried to focus on her husband but it wasn’t working for her so she switched to mentally baking cookies in her head and spent the mile working out the recipe. Figure out a plan for this spot and then figure out a back-up plan.
  • Come up with a meeting spot with your friends/family for after the race. Do not count on cell service being good at the finish line. If you can, avoid the family reunion area and pick another part of the UWS or UES (I heard from a NYRR staff member that they will have East side access for the first time this year). In 2014, I met my family in front of the Jack Rabbit on 72nd near Broadway. Pick a street corner, pick anything, as long as it is a specific location


  • Start slow – holy hell just go so damn slow. Don’t weave on the bridge. If you do this right, your first two miles should be your slowest.
  • When you get into Brooklyn and the crowds start to thicken, it may get emotional. It’s okay, just don’t speed up because of it.
  • You don’t want to add any extra mileage by weaving. The course is measured exactly 26.2 miles from the middle of the street (marked by a blue line that may be faded by the time you start). Unless you’re super familiar with the course, running the tangents isn’t a good strategy here. When in doubt, run in the middle of the street. Run only to the side when you know you have a family/friends on that side.
  • These miles are generally flat with some rolling hills and the crowds are good. Enjoy them. No lie, this is probably the best you’ll feel (physically) all day. Be smart and run slow. Your legs will thank you.
  • This area is typically not so crowded so it’s a good place to see people.
  • Be careful to conserve your energy here because you’ve got the 59th street bridge ahead of you.
  • People walk on the bridge and/or slow down significantly, try not to get frustrated and definitely do not weave. Get around slower folks by moving just the bare minimum amount to get by them.
  • Forget your pace and focus on exerting the same amount of effort that you were before the bridge. Having people on 1st Avenue is good because it gives you something to look forward to on the bridge. I’ve used the bridge to focus on who is waiting for me and that if they’ve been tracking, they know I’m getting close.
  • It’s exciting and too easy to pick up the pace on 1st Ave. Try to keep yourself in check and maintain pace. There is a steady incline and lots of miles ahead.
  • You’re only here a short time but the Bronx typically has good crowds so enjoy the atmosphere.
  • Concentrate on the fact that you’ve only got one more bridge and then you are in the final borough!
Manhattan/5th Ave
  • There’s no way around it, the closer you get to Engineer’s Gate (where the course turns into Central Park), the more everything is going to suck.
  • Having people here is good (it’s where I always stand to cheer!)
  • It is a nasty, no-good, horrible, slow incline up 5th and into Central Park. Use your strategy to get through this little rough patch. If it doesn’t work, use your back up. If that doesn’t work, come up with a new one. Anything. Focus on the person’s feet in front of you and count their steps. Think of the finish line as being the turn into Central Park. You just need to get to the park.
Central Park
  • THIS. I could cry just thinking about this. You are in the most famous park in the world, running the best marathon in the world. You have people waiting for you at the finish line or people at home following your every step and waiting to see that you have finished.  This is a huge fcuking deal.
  • When you get to the bottom of the park, you exit out and run along Central Park South. I’ve made the mistake of trying to pick it up here thinking I was close. I was an idiot. The finish is still far enough away. Soak up the crowds and focus on that turn back into the park.
  • When you get to the 800m mark in the park, that’s your time. Pick it up, leave nothing out there. You will feel like you’re barely going anywhere. Last NYCM, I picked up my pace and had you asked me then, I felt like I was running 12 minute miles. Turns out, I was at an 8:30. Nothing feels normal at this point. Just move your damn legs as fast as they can. You can do anything for 5 more minutes.


For everyone running, ENJOY THIS RACE BECAUSE THIS IS AS GOOD AS IT DAMN WELL GETS. Love every second of this day and of this city. It’s a 26.2 mile party and you’ve got a VIP pass.

As for me, I’ll be out there next year running my heart out. This year, I’ll be on the sidelines cheering my heart out. Happy running, NYC 🙂

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Filed under marathon, marathon tips, new york city, running, tcs new york city marathon

I didn’t put my name in for the NYC Marathon…

First up, workouts from last week:


Also, a big CONGRATS to Jill who won my giveaway for a FREE Spartan Race!


I always use a random number generator to pick giveaway winners so I never know who is going to win.. and it made me really happy how excited Jill was about winning. She has already used her free code to register for a Spartan Race in Ohio this spring! Good luck, Jill!

I didn’t put my name in for the New York City Marathon…

It was hard not to register. It was so difficult to let Sunday pass me by and know that I was giving up the NYCM this coming November.

you dont even know

I love this race. I’ve run it 4x. I threw a temper tantrum and cried in a bagel store in 2013 when I didn’t run it.

i just want to runnn

But I also know that I’m unsure if I want to train for a marathon this summer.

seriously unsure

And I know that I want to train hard for a fall half-marathon.

in this outfit too

And I know that if I change my mind about a fall marathon (I am going to try not to!), there are countless other amazing marathons on the east coast that I’ve yet to run.

no criticizing if i hit register on a fall marathon

I’ll just have to find a way to numb my pain on November 1st.

total nycm denial

I love you, NYCM. And I’ll be back for you. But this year, I’ll see you at Mile 23… with a sign in one hand… and very likely, a drink in the other.


Did you enter the NYCM lottery? Do you have guaranteed entry?

Who watched the SNL 40 episode on Sunday?! SO GOOD! Read about my first and second times at SNL with Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon.


Filed under giveaway, marathon, new york city, tcs new york city marathon, weekly workout wrap-up

Exactly how I trained for the 2015 Dopey Challenge…

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how I trained for the Dopey Challenge so I figured I’d finally write down exactly what I did and my advice for anyone wanting to run 48.6 magical miles themselves one day.

2015 dopey challenge

How does one prepare themselves for a weekend of 48.6 miles + countless other miles of walking around the Disney parks? My simple answer: run a fall marathon. For a more detailed answer, keep reading…

Dopey Challenge training Step 1: Train hard for a fall marathon.

For me, the easiest part about training for the Dopey Challenge was that I essentially didn’t even think about it until 7 weeks before the actual challenge. My mind was focused on one thing and one thing only: PRing at the NYCM (which I did, btw – woohoo!).

nycm finisher!

I think my biggest piece of advice for someone wanting to tackle the Dopey Challenge is to pick a fall marathon and train hard for it. The NYCM was my goal race for the year. It occupied my mind (so I was never busy worrying about running 48.6 miles!) and at the end of it I had a shiny new PR and was in the best marathon fitness of my life (hey, thanks Coach!).

Dopey Challenge training Step 2: Recover before starting a reverse taper.

Recover! I trained for 16 weeks for the NYCM and it was easily the hardest I’ve ever trained for any race in my life.  My body needed to rest so I made sure to give it some extra TLC before beginning a reverse taper (increasing distance each week). I went for a 90 minute full body massage, I spent many days relaxing on the couch and going for easy walks, I even went to bed one night at (gasp) 6:45pm. No, really… I fell asleep before Jeopardy came on.

Giving your body adequate time to recover from months of training and a 26.2 mile race is essential for getting to the starting line of the Dopey Challenge healthy and ready to run.  Even if you feel great (which I did within a day or two of NYCM), be mindful of what you just put your body through and take it easy for a while.

Dopey Challenge training Step 3: Maintain distance fitness and get to WDW healthy.

After the NYCM, I knew that I needed to let something go to get to WDW healthy and not completely burnt out on running. For me, that something was speed. All of my running workouts were done at whatever pace felt comfortable that day. After months of tracking paces and stats, this was a welcome change and kept me sane the weeks leading up to the Dopey Challenge. My only goal was to maintain distance fitness so that I knew I could complete the distance of the marathon (and then some) in January. Speed? Not necessary. No pressure running FTW!

My actual Dopey Challenge training:

A couple of months ago (right before running the NYCM), I had posted a tentative training schedule for Dopey. I made some changes prior to starting but the general idea was the same:

  • Limit weekday runs and increase indoor workouts like spin and yoga (hey, it’s cold and dark here in NYC during the winter)
  • Run both Saturday and Sunday to get used to running on tired legs
  • Give myself a solid 3 week taper and max out with an 18 mile long run (for NYCM I used a 2 week taper and maxed out with a 22 mile long run)

Below are the exact workouts I did beginning the day after the NYCM and ending with the Dopey Challenge:

Dopey Challenge training

Training didn’t go perfectly – The first weekend in December had a lot going on and I didn’t do my planned 14 miler, I got sick the week of Christmas and significantly decreased my workouts and mileage (that 4.5 mile “long run” was supposed to be 10 miles, for example). But, as always as usual, listening to your body and giving it what it needs (rest, in my case) was more important than a number on a training schedule. Note: this knowledge did not stop me from freaking out about my taper period. 

I’ve said it in many posts now since having completed the Dopey Challenge… it was the most fun I’ve ever had and it was easily the best I have ever felt while running a marathon.

What I think I did right:

  • Recovered properly from NYCM
  • Removed any pressure to maintain speed fitness
  • Created a training program that maintained distance fitness but also didn’t burn me out from running (for NYCM, I ran 4-5 days a week)
  • Ran smart throughout the Dopey Challenge.
  • And most importantly… had fun!

[bctt tweet=”Want to run the #DopeyChallenge next year? @DErunnerNIAL shares her best training advice: ” via=”no”]


Favorite fall marathon? GO.

Any future Dopey Challengers?!?

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a FREE Spartan Race anywhere in the country!


Filed under disney, marathon, running, tcs new york city marathon, walt disney world marathon

When you wish for a PR: TCS NYC Marathon 2014

It is now a few days after the NYC Marathon and let me tell you, I am still BEAMING from this race. I fell so much deeper in love with this city on Sunday.. and damn if I don’t feel good about a 13-minute PR on a tough course, on a tough day, in the city that I love. (I’ll let you in on a secret- last December, when I went to the Times Square New Years’s Wishing Wall, I wished for “a PR in the city that I love.”)

Marathon Morning:

  • There were problems with downtown 1/2/3 trains (“problems” as in they just weren’t running) so I hopped in a cab to pick up Jess to head to South Ferry terminal (Thankfully, by the time my family got into the city, the trains were actually working or my mom would have cried).
Marathon runners at South Ferry Terminal

Marathon runners at South Ferry Terminal

  • I’m so glad that Jess and I went to the start line together. It really helped in calming my nerves to have her with me. We sat on the ferry, got on the bus, and talked about all sorts of silliness before getting out at Ford Wadsworth with the perfect amount of time for a port-a-potty stop before getting in the start corral.
ready to get our ny on

On the SI ferry

Start – Staten Island & Verrazano Bridge

  • I cried during New York, New York (yet again).
  • The bridge was not as windy as I expected. It was definitely windy but I didn’t feel it was any worse than in 2009 when I ran the length of the bridge with my hand on my head to keep my hat from blowing off.  The thing that was pretty bad up there was that all of the throwaway clothes and bags that people dropped were whipping around and getting under runner’s feet. NOT SAFE, PEOPLE.

Brooklyn: Miles 2-13

5k in 29:38 (9:32), 10k in 58:53 (9:29), 15k in 1:28:37 (9:32), Half in 2:04:30 (9:30)

  • The goal with these miles was to keep the pace between a 9:20 and a 9:35 pace. #nailedit
  • I knew my mom, John, and Nikki would be on the left side near Mile 8 so I made sure to stay close to the left even though I did my best to stay in the middle of the road for most of the course (Pops cheered from home as he’s still recovering from his knee replacement). I saw mom first and heard her scream my last name so I was able to give them a huge smile and a wave. (Marathon spectating tip: Call out your runner’s last name. EVERYONE screams their first name, by calling out their last name, it will catch their attention better).
  • The lovely Nicole was spotted not long after and she had an awesome sign for me! I saw her first and screamed “Nicole!” like a madwoman until she saw me. Gabrielle, you will be happy to know that her sign requested I “shake it.”
  • I almost missed them but Emily was quite persistent in her screaming so I was able to spot my friends Emily and Mallory in Brooklyn as well! This was right before I started crying on the course…

Queens: Miles 13-15

  • I was supposed to pick it up at this point and aim to keep my pace between a 9 and a 9:20. In listening to my body, I knew I’d be much more comfortable hovering on the slower end of that. I readjusted my plan and told myself to aim to keep my pace between a 9 and a 9:35 based on the mile I was running and what felt “comfortably hard.”
  • My amazing ex-coworker and always friend, Madeline, and her kiddos were in LIC. They also had a sign for me. GAH SO MUCH LOVE!

My squad in LIC!

Manhattan: Miles 15-19 

25k in 2:28:01 (9:32), 30k in 2:57:12 (9:30)

  • I felt really good on the 59th St Bridge. Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to be the case with the other runners and I found myself behind a full wall of walkers.  This is not the first time this has happened to me on the bridge. I wanted to scream something along the lines of, “OMG doesn’t anyone train on hills?!?” But I didn’t say that… because I didn’t want to be a jerk… also, ya know, I wanted to conserve energy to run and not waste it on yelling at people.
  • Once I got off the bridge, I ran along the left side of 1st Avenue because that’s where all my people were gonna be. My family missed me as they stopped to get food and I was running too fast. Sorry I’m not sorry that I was running too fast, mom.
  • Luckily, about 10 blocks up from where my family was supposed to be, my beautiful cousin Maria was there and legit grabbed me so that I saw her.
  • Only about 10 blocks from where Maria assaulted me on 1st Avenue, I had my second assault of the day from my lovely coworker, Jenny. She almost missed me but overheard someone scream my name and then torpedoed herself after me and onto the course. Because she’s awesome, she had equipped herself with Gatorade and Honey Stingers just in case I needed anything. Love it!
  • As I approached Mile 19, I knew my unbelievably amazing coach, Jess, would be cheering from the sidelines. She snapped the below photo of me and I ran away from her so incredibly grateful that I chose her to push me these past 16 weeks. She is an amazing coach and I can’t believe how mentally and physically prepared I was for this race.
via @racepacejess

Mile 19 via @racepacejess

Bronx: Miles 19-21

35k in 3:27:32 (9:33)

  • These miles were a blur. All I could think about was getting back to Manhattan.

Manhattan: Miles 21-26.2

40k in 3:58:08 (9:35), Finish in 4:11:09 (9:35)

  • For me, 5th Avenue up in Harlem was the windiest it ever felt out on the course.  I kept myself moving forward, waiting for that steady incline near mile 23 that has totally ruined me in past NYC marathons.  I promised myself I wouldn’t look at my pace during the 5th Ave incline and would just focus on keeping a consistent effort.
  • When 5th Avenue got tough, I stepped up my mental game. With each step I repeated, “Mom, Dad, John. Mom, Dad, John.” I kept pushing because these people were tracking me and waiting for me. My tip for this portion of the race for anyone running is to think of why you’re running and who you’re running for… and do whatever you need to do to focus on that during this portion of the course.
  • Once I turned into Central Park at Engineer’s Gate, I had to step up my mental game even more.  The pace felt hard. I knew I could PR even if I slowed down. It was an internal battle with myself… slow down, feel a little more comfortable, and get a PR? Or keep pushing, feel uncomfortable (and possibly get increasingly more uncomfortable), and cross the finish knowing I left it all out there on the course? I am so proud that I chose to keep pushing.
  • SURPRISE! Sethy is spotted standing on a railing near Mile 25! I threw my hands in the air… 10 MORE MINUTES!
  • Once we turned back into Central Park, I envisioned myself running the “finish line intervals” Jess had me run in my workout earlier that week. I knew this finish line well and I knew I could pick it up.
  • Once I saw mom, John, and Nikki in the grandstands, I went absolutely nuts. PR! PR! PR!
Wheres Ang? Photo from the finish line bleachers!

Wheres Ang? Photo from the finish line bleachers!


  • Unlike last year when I started crying before I even crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon, I made it almost a full 2 minutes after the finish before bursting into tears.
  • The finish line exit is definitely not fun. Once you get your medal, foil, food and drink, it takes almost a full 30 minutes to get out of the park (especially with everyone doing the post-marathon hobble). They have the (non-baggage) runners walk up to 79th, exit the park, grab the fleece-lined poncho (SO awesome! I just wish we didn’t have to wait until we were out of the park for them), but then still have to walk down to 72nd before being able to get off of Central Park West. At one point I believe I whined, “just let us ouuuuuut.”
  • I celebrated with pizza and beer. And it was perfect. I love you, NYC.
4:11:09 (9:35 pace) - 13 minute PR

4:11:09 (9:35 pace) – 13 minute PR

I feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to complete my 5th marathon in this amazing city. New York is not an easy course by any means but it is so, so special. New Yorkers – you are the spirit of this marathon… and it is because of you that this race is the greatest marathon in the world.

A huge congratulations to all finishers and a huge thank you to all the marathon supporters out there.

nycm finisher!

PR in the city that I love: CHECK.


Filed under marathon, new york city, PR, running, tcs new york city marathon