My 2023 NYC Marathon Recap

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Marathoning is an intriguing, yet scary proposition. Since starting my competitive running journey off a bet nine years ago, I have always wanted to master running the marathon distance. Albeit not perfect, I took some positive steps to make my goal become more of a reality during this year’s New York City Marathon. 

Towards the beginning of my running journey in 2014, I opted to focus on the marathon distance. Through the process of training, I initially found more success at shorter distances. I had big marathon goals, though. Yes, I qualified for the Boston Marathon during my second attempt, but a few years of experience isn’t enough time to really figure the marathon out. I ran both Boston and NYC in 2017, however I vaguely remember the experience. While I did break the three hour barrier both times in 2017, I always remember struggling once reaching 18 miles.


I ended up running two disappointing marathons in 2018, struggled with two minor injuries, and ultimately stressed myself out. I trained, but stayed consistent—ultimately plateauing. I gained 20+ pounds and needed to break my running slump. I really studied how to improve during 2019, then COVID hit in 2020. During the summer of 2021, I accepted the responsibility to make changes to eliminate what held me back as a runner. I lost the weight I gained by changing my diet. As races began opening back up, I started one mile at a time with the 5th Ave Mile. After running a two second PR in the event, I set my sights on eventually giving the marathon another shot.

To run this year’s edition of the NYC Marathon, I qualified in January 2022. I completed a very chilly edition of the Fred Lebow Half Marathon in 79 minutes on the main Central Park loop. Fast forward to this year: I saw myself finally understanding how to successfully develop a training program that works. When I started training for the marathon this summer, workouts just clicked. I really improved in an organic way. Although I only peaked at 77 miles during my build up, a lot of those miles were of quality. Three weeks before the event, I ran a personal best of 16:28 (5:18 mile pace) for the 5k and placed second overall in Prospect Park. As I bridged the gap in making my lactate threshold more into my aerobic threshold, I felt ready to tackle the challenging marathon course. 

Heading into Sunday, it had been seven years since setting a personal record and six years since running the New York course. Again, intriguing, yet scary. Could I hold onto my goal pace for 26.2 of those miles? As I lined up towards the front, lower level of the Verrazano Bridge, I settled into my race rhythm to find out.

Once leaving Staten Island, I settled in and prepared for a long stretch of running in Brooklyn. The first 3 miles were relatively quiet for the local competitive corral. When the corrals began to merge around mile 4, it took a little more focus to judge my perceived effort relative to everyone else. Starting around that mile, the NYC marathon goes from quiet to very loud and busy! I found a pack to run with before making the right turn at BAM. As this group and other runners took off, I decided to hold back a little to conserve my energy. 

My family cheered at this section and my friend and 2012 Olympian, Julius Mutekanga, waited for me further up the road with my fluids bottle. The weather felt nice, but the sun made it a little warmer than ideal for 26.2 miles of racing. I took extra caution by dumping water on my head while making sure I took fluids at each aid station. I really dialed in my fueling in training and to my surprise, did well with taking in 60+ grams of carbs per hour. No GI distress! The fueling helped during the stretch in Williamsburg. I caught up and passed the runners who took off at mile 8 while heading towards the Pulaski Bridge.

I crossed half-way in 1:20:27, pretty much right on target. The decibel level went down in Queens and I could spot my friend, fellow musician and runner, Rossen, to my left cheering. I noticed that for the last few miles, my watch lagged behind in distance compared to the mile markers. This made me happy because it meant I’ve been taking the shortest distance on the course (NYC measures long.) 

Honestly, the Queensborough Bridge didn’t feel hard because I focused more on even effort, not on even pace. As I turned onto First Ave, I heard someone shouting my name really loud—I wish I knew who! As I hugged the corner to turn onto First Ave to head up to the Bronx, I focused on reaching 20 miles. The first avenue stretch took a long time for me mentally. I ended up crossing 20 miles in 2:04, a little behind my target, but well ahead to run a personal best. 

Running down 5th Ave seemed much shorter than I remembered it from 2017—most likely because this is where I bonked six years ago. Although my splits were gradually slowing down, I still kept a consistent pace—running sub 6:20 miles. I ended up passing runners I saw earlier in Brooklyn. However, running became really difficult when entering Central Park. My quads felt like Jell-O. My hamstrings were taking a beating, but to my surprise, I kept holding a steady pace.

At this point, I told myself not to punk out and steer from the hips. Just put one foot in front of the other. Run the final 5k like you know what you’re doing. As I approached 400 meters to go, I calculated in my head that I could finish under 2:46. I needed to push and sprint once re-entering the park. As I crossed the finish line I looked at my watch: 2:45:52. I just set a new personal best! While I set the standard pretty high and missed my A goal, I barely missed my B goal and hit my C goal of running my fastest marathon to date. 

2:45 is the starting point. Moving forward, I can take so much from this experience to run faster marathons in the future. I’m proud that I fought towards the very end, stayed within myself and didn’t stop once for the entirety of 26.2 miles. While I haven’t totally mastered this event, Sunday’s race provided me the confidence and motivation that I needed to run well for future marathons. Now, it’s time to reset and continue the progression. 

2023 New York City Marathon Official Results

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