Competing in his second New York City Marathon last month, 28-year-old Daniel Masterson reaches the 21st mile. A feeling of worry begins to set in as his body starts to cramp while he runs under intense conditions — with humid temperatures reaching 70 degrees.
Would he persevere through the pain and finish? Would he join the nearly 50,000 people from all over the world who completed the 26.2-mile feat?
The New York City Marathon — considered the largest marathon in the world — returned this year to full capacity without any COVID-19 restrictions for the first time since 2019. The race began at 8 a.m. on an unusually warm November day and after intense training, Masterson, a fifth-generation Bronxite, was ready to hit the ground running and represent his borough.
Masterson’s workout regimen in the four months leading up to the marathon included six days of training per week with the New York City Dashing Whippets Running Team. During a typical week, he ran 60 miles and managed a healthy diet, which consisted of pasta, chicken, eggs and tuna.
But his journey started several years earlier.
A lifelong baseball athlete — Masterson played at Beacon High School in Manhattan and for Division I University of New Hampshire — he decided to switch paths and pursue distance running in 2018.
“I picked it up, and I just fell in love with it,” he said. “Running helped me personally as well (as) with managing stress and stuff.”
A self-described high-energy, anxious individual, running brought Masterson to a neutral level of thinking and living, he said. And three years after deciding to become a distance runner, Masterson entered his first-ever full marathon in 2021, finishing 112th overall out of 24,949 runners. However, as he crossed that finish line, he felt he had more to prove — fighting self doubts about his ability.
“There’s not many people like me — lifelong baseball guys that are from the Bronx — distance running,” he said. “It is not really that much of a thing. So, I always felt pretty much like an outsider.”
Even with his placement in 2021, he felt unsatisfied with his performance and thought he had more to prove. But his finishing time in the 2021 marathon guaranteed Masterson a spot in the 2022 race. He said a major factor to success, something not realized in 2021, is preparing mentally, remaining calm and relaxed, and managing stress.
As the gunshot kicked off the 2022 NYC Marathon on the morning of Nov. 6, Masterson took off, taking in the “magical” environment as strangers, friends, teammates, training partners and family members cheer him on from the sidelines.
Then, fear set in for Masterson. His body began to cramp near miles 21 and 22. With the humidity and temperature, his body started to lose water and sodium at an increased pace. Eventually, he said he took a sodium tablet, which are generally used to replenish the sodium lost throughout sweating. Feeling down with his current momentum, he noticed a joyful, energetic little kid with his hand out ready to high-five him.
“I just felt that energy, gave him a high five and just tried to just keep that vibe up,” he said. “It’s so easy to start to feel sorry for yourself late in a race. I somehow managed to keep that relaxed and calm posture (and) mentality through it.”
Growing up on City Island, he said he accredited his strong, non-quitting mentality to the Bronx. With newfound energy and motivation, Masterson crossed the finish line with a time of 2:39:49 and a pace per mile at 6:06, placing 99 out of 47,746 participants.
“I’m hard on myself,” he said. “This is like the first race in four years that I’m proud of. I’m proud of it. And it feels crazy.”
“I pride myself on that because, in four short years, I was able to get up to a level really quickly through really just grinding and hard work,” Masterson said.
With his placement, Masterson now dons the moniker, the fastest Bronx man.
“When the news came in — I mean I love the Bronx,” he said. “To be able to do something positive in representation of that … was great. I feel like I’m just getting started.”
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