Riley Temple was wrapped in what looked like a giant sheet of aluminum foil. He had just finished a three-hour 46-minute run through some of New York's meanest streets lined with some of the world's most enthusiastic people.

Now he was marching in a thick column of spent marathoners, all of them wrapped in these silver space blankets against a chill breeze and most of them looking as dazed as survivors of an earthquake.

"My feet hurt. My legs are sore. I feel wonderful," said Temple, a 33-year-old Washingtonian who in real life is a government attorney. Today, he was a New York City marathoner.

Sixteen thousand men and women from 50 states and 68 countries ran today in a race that began in 1970 with just 126 people.

About 200 of the runners were from Washington, Maryland and Virginia. Most of them were running after private goals. But a few, such as George Malley of Glenn Dale, Md., and Arlington's Laura DeWald, sprinted across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the start of this country's largest marathon with legitimate expectations of staying with the leaders.

"I have a two-hour and 30-minute marathon in me," said DeWald, a 25-year-old graduate of Washington and Lee High School in Arlington and the University of Virginia. DeWald, who holds the U.S. record for women in the 20-mile run, quit her job as a civil engineer this summer to train full time for the 1984 Olympics. Today that goal seemed a long way off.

"I made an early mistake by not sticking to the lead pack of women," said DeWald, who finished 18th with a time of 2:43.57. "By the halfway point I was feeling worse than I usually do. For the rest of the race I just wanted to finish."

Malley surprised the field by placing seventh in 2:13.29. The 27-year-old DuVal High School and Penn State graduate is not an unknown, having set the U.S. record for the half marathon in Philadelphia just last month. But this was his first marathon.

Doreen Albiston was hoping to set a personal record today. The 35-year-old computer specialist from Falls Church said she was trying to better a 3 1/2-hour run.

"I started out a little too fast and had to walk for a while," said Albiston, who crossed the finish line at 3:49.00. There was one consolation. She didn't lose her steam where her friends were waiting to cheer her on.

"Luckily I was running when I passed them."