First of all, congratulations to all finishers of the challenging Yonkers Marathon! And a big thanks to everyone supporting and cheering us as we raced!
Yesterday, I completed the hilly Yonkers Marathon while juggling, my first ever marathon. It felt spectacular! It took me 3:51:43, to complete the 26.2 mile(42.1 km) course. I wasn’t expecting completing in under 4 hours, not just because this was my first marathon but also because of all the hills. And some old injuries which occasionally give me problems. Most of the hills aren’t very challenging, the inclines are mostly gentle, except at the point where Main Street in Hastings-On-Hudson meets route 9 when the route loops back into Yonkers, between miles 4 and 5(17 and 18 during second loop of full Marathon).
The race was a combined full and half-marathon, so at the 8 AM start there were around 1,200 runners total, with only 196 doing the full marathon. Half-marathoners did one loop, full-marathoners 2 loops. My overall place was 86. It was really crowded at the start, in front of the Yonkers library in downtown Yonkers. Because I’m a joggler, I wanted to be toward the back and by the side, in case I dropped the balls. I dropped them 4 times.
The first few miles north on Warburton Ave were a breeze(it was 55 F or 12.7 C at the start) and is mostly a gentle incline. I decided to start slow, and it would have been difficult to pass many runners due to how crowded it was. At first the route is very urban, and kind of slummy, but it became increasingly suburban the further north we went. Between mile 2 and 3, there were some decent views of the Hudson(trees tend to block much of the view in the warmer months). Just after mile 3 it starts feeling rural, with lots of wooded park areas. Some of the houses in this area have great views of the Hudson. It was around this time that I had my first drop, all because I wanted to drink some Gatorade.
A little after mile 4 and we’re in Hastings-On-Hudson. This is a picturesque small town just north of Yonkers with a Bohemian feel to it and some historical sites. By this time the crowd of runners started to thin out and I was passing a lot of runners. Some were impressed while others felt bad about having someone run faster than them who is also juggling. There weren’t a lot of crowds along the path, mostly just water and Gatorade stations where everyone cheered loudy for the passing runners and usually louder for me(this made me feel a little uncomfortable at times since I don’t normally enjoy being the center of attention). The staff from NYCrunners, and the Boy Scouts handing out water were very helpful and supportive. The police were also great at keeping traffic from interfering with the race(the route isn’t completely closed to traffic). I always thanked them as I passed.
A little after mile 6 and I was back in Yonkers. I was still passing runners but not as much as before. Between miles 8 and 9 I mostly stopped passing runners, and the route went from pleasant suburban to ugly industrial. I tended to grab water or Gatorade every 2 to 4 miles, running while drinking(though not juggling, these breaks were always very brief).
From miles 9 to 10, some runners would pass me and I would occasionally pass some runners who decided to walk. It also became increasingly urban as the route approached downtown Yonkers. I started to feel a little tired by mile 10. The temperature was rising, and there was nothing blocking the sun’s increasingly stronger rays.
Miles 11 to 12 were very urban, and there were a lot of people out in the streets watching the runners and cheering us on. My right hip started to bother me around here though strangely started feeling better a few miles later. The route comes within a quarter mile from the Bronx(northernmost borough of New York City) which is to the south, and even feels like the Bronx at this point. The route then goes west on Valentine Street, and then turns north and away from the Bronx on Riverdale Avenue toward the area where the Marathon started at mile 13.1. The crowd support at the starting/finish line area was great, so many were amazed by the joggling.
The strange turn-around to do the second loop for the full marathon was a bit confusing when the head of the marathon explained it at the beginning, but luckily helpful staffers were able to show me and other runners the right direction to go in. I probably would have ended up in the Hudson river if not for their guidance.
The crowd support at the center of town, and the knowledge that I was 50% through the race was very invigorating. The crowd of runners had thinned out, since it was now only us full marathoners. It almost felt like I was doing a training run because of the few runners I saw ahead of me on the road, mostly in the distance. My speed improved and I passed several more runners between miles 14 to 18, but I would occasionally slow down to quickly recharge my batteries. By mile 18 I felt I had hit the wall, in part due to that steep hill on the edge of Hastings village I mentioned earlier. I dropped the balls a couple of times between miles 18 and 20, and was passed by some faster runners. Besides this, the temperature had risen to the upper 60s(20 C) and I felt it and started to sweat a lot.
It was pretty lonely after mile 20, with a lot of space between me and most other runners. I could barely keep pace with the runners 50 to 200 feet ahead of me, when I could see them, and walked for 1 to 2 seconds a couple of times in hilly areas. By mile 24.5, after one last incline, there were no more hills. It was all downhill toward the finish line!
I had my last sip of Gatorade and felt reinvigorated at around mile 25 when told there was just 1 more mile to go. My speed picked up. As I approached the finish line area there were a lot of people cheering me on. As I crossed the finish line I did one of my tricks, throwing a ball above the finish line banner and catching it on the other side as a coup de grace. The crowd loved it. Although I didn’t do it perfectly, I was surprised I could do it at all due to my tiredness. I don’t think I’ve ever been cheered for that loudly before. Of course, I am not the first person to joggle an entire marathon, this has been done countless times before.
As I approached the baggage area I felt like I was going to faint and a few staffers were concerned. I quickly recovered though felt very sore. I drank a lot of Gatorade and water and had a Cliff Bar.
I felt very sore after the marathon, and feel a little sore now. However, I managed to walk for a few miles after the marathon to get some exercise. I’ve been drinking a lot of tart cherry juice and blueberry juice to help me recover. I also drink some blueberry kefir juice, and I think drinking this the day before and the morning of the race may be why I had no digestive complaints whatsoever during the marathon. Ordinarily I would at least feel some stomach pain if running over 15 miles.
All in all, a great experience. Some people might like to believe vegans can’t run marathons. I had certain people laugh at me when I told them I would complete one – while juggling the whole time. Now, I am laughing at them. Of course, a lot of people laughed at me during the marathon due to my juggling, but it was more of a complimentary laugh. They were also laughing at the male runner dressed in a tutu, though it’s not a real marathon if there isn’t a man in a tutu running it. I laughed too, though laughed less and less when I realized how fast he was.
Alas, I couldn’t keep up with the runner in the tutu, but there is always a next time. I hope everyone does great at their races!
If anyone reading this has any good photos from the marathon, please email me.