Although she grew up near Boston, runner Shaleen Flanagan chose New York City for her first marathon in 2010—and then won that race just seven years later, ending a 40-year drought for American women in the open section.
But that wasn’t even her favorite marathon at the Big Apple.
“Of course, it was a massive win for me, my family and my team. But it was in 2021, when I ran six marathons in six weeks, the last of which was New York, and that was the most memorable one,” says 41-year-old Flanagan, a MasterCard Global Ambassador. She’s part of a roster of athletes that expands the company’s commitment to building its own health and wellness platform. “Being able to get back on track after the Covid-19 pandemic in the nation, the world and New York City has been incredible. It was a celebration of health and fitness and for everyone to come together again, and it was truly invaluable.”
This is far from the only priceless Flanagan moment in New York City. The marathon has done her so much over the years, from being at the starting line and listening to the unofficial city anthem being played over the loudspeakers, to having fans on the road cheering so hard that it made her body shiver while running, to seeing her little one. Build at the finish line in 2021. All these experiences and more cemented her belief that there is no race like the New York City TCS Marathon. And this is coming from a runner who has an Olympic silver medal.
Here, Flanagan shares her top tips for making this one-of-a-kind race just as memorable, regardless of running or center lineage.
Find out why
Flanagan’s most important tip isn’t about training, nutrition, or speed strategies, even though these are all part of preparing for the race. Instead, it is Mentality. She emphasizes that setting your goal before you reach the starting line is what will motivate you in difficult moments. That could mean there are 26 different reasons why you run, so you can think of one reason per mile, or one massive drive that could sustain the entire race – and either way, she suggests developing a solid answer to the question, Why am I running?
“Maybe it’s to inspire your kids, or for your health, or a sense of accomplishment,” she says. “There are many personal, meaningful reasons that come with running. Dig deep and have an arsenal of ‘reasons,’ because you will need those when you feel unmotivated to continue.”
Your unforgettable and priceless marathon
The best way to maximize your racing experience is to participate in the events surrounding the marathon, especially those that are open at Priceless experiences Available to registered MasterCard cardholders, such as:
Links with Shaleen Flanagan: Aside from the three virtual training sessions leading up to the marathon on October 23, there is also an invitation-only meet and greet in New York City on Saturday, November 5.
Marathon Gallery: Stop by the MasterCard booth for priceless surprises.
cheering area: Have your ardent supporters watch the race from the Mastercard Cheer Zones on Mile 8 and Mile 16.
Invaluable start: Your exclusive ticket to start the race before the pack, just like elite racers. You can reach this competitive advantage for 2023 in Priceless.com.
Consider your longer training, do a rehearsal
If the marathon is only two weeks away, chances are you’ve already had the longest training period. But if you’re looking forward to New York City for 2023, Flanagan’s advice is to make the most of those long rides in the months leading up to the race.
“The cornerstone of marathon training is those long distances,” she says. “These are racewear drills. Then you can order nutrition, hydration, recovery, and even clothing.” Flanagan says testing options like shorts and arm sleeves can be a boon to reducing chafing and keeping your body temperature regulated on race day. She adds that this is also the time when you can decide what’s best for warming up. For example, you might do better with an easy five-minute jog and some deep breathing than with a complex series of dynamic stretching exercises.
Experimenting with these variables will help you understand what works best for you in a race that stretches for hours. You may find in training that you need some kind of energy gel to go 15 miles, or that you experience more muscle soreness when you haven’t hydrated properly the day before your long run. Another advantage of trying dress code: It can help reduce stress before the race, because you know you have a plan tailored to you.
Know the way
Unless you’re the type who likes to be surprised by the twists, turns and hills along a racing route, Flanagan suggests taking a close look at the track so you know what to expect. For example, she says that the four bridges you cross during the New York City Marathon — Verrazano Narrows, Ed Koch Queensboro, Pulaski, and Willis Avenue — are the only significant hills you’ll encounter, which might be a relief if you don’t know the terrain well. You will also learn that once you reach Central Park, you will reach the finish line by only about 5 km.
“I love studying the marathon map because you can visualize what it will entail in advance,” she says, adding that knowing the major milestones can help give you a sense of progress during the race.
Keep focusing on where you are
Despite the cheering fans, the amazing views of the city, and the sense of camaraderie that comes from having thousands of other runners, you might still run into a wall at some point. That could be seven miles, 20 miles, or even within sight of the finish line.
Flanagan knows that feeling all too well – she had to stop and run one marathon just 800 meters from the finish, an experience she describes as humbling. Addressing the urge to quit smoking is often to focus on what’s ahead.
“In a marathon, as in life, looking far ahead can be overwhelming,” she says. “If you’re thinking about how much you have left, it could be a lot. Instead, try to live within the mile you’re in. Think about the one block you’re passing by, go to the next water station, or to your friend 23 miles away. .that breaks the marathon down into tangible bites that you can accomplish.”
Another tip to avoid a late crash: Don’t get out too fast. It’s common to get excited at the start of a race and let nerves drive your pace, but Flanagan says this can burn you before the end. She suggests maintaining an easier pace for the first half of the race and then slowly increasing your speed after that.
Embrace the priceless moments
Most of all, Flanagan says, is enjoying the race. This may sound obvious, but it can be all too easy to get caught up in your steps and record every mile with a grim determination. “Fully absorb the experience, and let it enter your heart,” she says. “It’s an exciting race. You run in all five boroughs, you have amazing support along the way, and there is such a connection to the city and the people.”
Just thinking about the starting line—with music playing, American flags waving, a screeching cannon fire instead of a gun as a launch—gives Flanagan chills. Even then, when you’re 26.2 miles from the finish, she’s already stacking up her appreciation for all the priceless minutes to come. Flanagan suggests taking advantage of the Priceless Start program, if you can. It lets you start on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, just like to the marathon toast, as they begin their journey to the finish line long before the crowds roll.
“It’s a fun and unique experience,” she says. “There is no such thing as the New York City Marathon. Be in the moment.”
This year, Mastercard is helping make the New York City TCS Marathon invaluable to runners and spectators. go to the priceless.com Watch the events before, during and after the race on November 6, 2022.
Elizabeth Millard is a freelance writer focusing on health, wellness, fitness and food.
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