24 June 2016

TGNY100k: An Amazing Way to See 100k of NYC, While Running

TGNY is a must for any NYC-based ultrarunner. Whether you run, pace, volunteer, cheer, it's an amazing experience to be part of.

American 48-hour record holder Phil McCarthy puts on this glorious race. TGNY 100 miler starts and finishes in Times Square; the 100k version starts in Times Square and runs the exact course until Forest Park, Queens, where it finishes. And it's so much fun.

The reason it's so much fun is that it's an opportunity to see NYC in a very, very different way. I had no idea that there were so many parks in NYC until I ran this race. There are tons of amazing parks. You run from one to the other. Sure, there are some sucky sections, but the awesome sections more than make up for it.

We start at 5am in Times Square...and then run north into Central Park!

And then we run alongside Morningside Heights Park, and then eventually ending up at the river. Wait, I can't detail everything. There's just too much. Here's a map, and I'll give you the highlights:

  • The race is pretty low-key and cheap. Phil only provides Gatorade and water and watermelon, but the volunteer provide the rest - and they are pretty wonderful. I wasn't eating a ton, but there were a lot of great food options there.
  • Van Cortlandt Park, Alley Pond Park - yes, we are trail running in NYC!!!!
  • When else can you stop a race and HULA HOOP?
  • When else can you discover someplace so freaking cool to run in your very own city?
  • I hate the Triboro Bridge. But when you get to Queens, how wonderful.
It's funny - I ended up running pretty much the whole thing solo. I was planning on running with Ray, but he ended up having stomach issues and we were far apart pretty early on. Being alone meant I spent more time on the directions - there are turn by turn direction sheets, plus for the most part, there are arrows spray painted on the sidewalk (but not always), so it made for challenging. I pulled out my phone twice to verify that I was going in the right direction.

It felt good to get to Orchard Beach. I knew I was around the marathon mark, so that made me feel good, plus, the out and back allows you to see people.

I ran alone, but I was never bored. I looked for other runners, and rarely saw any. I was at one of those awkward "it's just me out here" moments. I found peace within myself.

There was the new entrance to Randall's Island from the Bronx, which was more like a road than a bridge - and it was really nice. Way better than in the past. On Randall's Island, my ankle hurt a bit. I decided to walk for 10 seconds, and OF COURSE I have to see a friend then. It was Matt, who was pacing Stephanie. He was so full of cheer in the most amazing way, and I tried to cheer up on behalf of him. So then I began running.

And then I got on the Triboro Bridge to Queens. This is the stuff nightmares are made of. I began trying to calm myself down, but of course was panicking like crazy.

And then - my yoga teacher Amanda was proud - I began chanting to Ganesh. I chanting repeatedly, and it helped me get over the bridge.

Post bridge, I ran with a group for the next five miles. They had their friends, and were uber cheerful. But then at the next aid station, they were dwadling, and I took off. I figured they'd catch me soon because the pain was starting to kick in; they didn't.

I began taking more walking breaks. The pain was so intense that I found myself audibly moaning. I was in a suffer-fest.

I ran. I walked. I drank water. I was thirsty. I was hot. I was getting sunburned. I was out of shape. Why was I doing this to myself? Where was the fun? Where was everyone else?

At the last aid station, a runner finally caught up with me. A French guy, "Sylvain, like Pennsylvania." I ended up running with him until the end. He pushed me, we chatted, it was so nice.

The last bit, we took off. And then - where was he? He wasn't near me...I ended up finishing almost a minute ahead of him, sure he would be crossing the line with me. 

And then I sat down, exhausted. I drank a bunch of water, stepped on and broke my sunglasses, and took off my shoes. New blisters. Lovely. Not my best, not my worst. 12:54.

A shower, some food, some water, more food...

And I was pretty good the next day.

Ultrarunning, thank you for having me back. I'm so glad to be here again!

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