ING New York City Marathon - Run

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New York City, New York
United States
New York Road Runners
50F / 10C
Total Time = 3h 36m 15s
Overall Rank = 6435/ 50304
Age Group = F35-39
Age Group Rank = 182/3242
Pre-race routine:

Got up early to tape up my legs with KT Tape....left knee and right calf. Enough niggling that it concerned me on both counts, but not enough that I thought I couldn't do my race just fine. Stretched and rolled a little before heading out with friends to drive to the start. I didn't eat anything except a GU gel this morning, since last year I had trouble eating my usual peanut butter sandwich. I had some tea to wake up.

Got to the start with about 25 minutes to spare before the start corral opened, so I got my stuff together, dropped off my race bag, used the porta potty one last time and headed to the corral.

Event warmup:

I sat down in my starting corral and tried to keep warm (easier on the ground, surrounded by a LOT of runners). Listened to the 3:30 pace leader lay out his strategy for his group and debated whether I wanted to keep up with them even for a portion of the race. Then a woman came up to me and asked if I was in line for the bathroom (they had in-corral porta potties....fancy!) and I say no, just sitting here waiting. She looks uncertain what to do with her bag and I say, "I'll keep an eye on that for you if you wanna go stand in line." She says, "Oh, that'd be great." Upon second glance, I realize it's Christy Turlington. So, yeah. Just watching a super model's race bag while she pees. NBD.

The wait didn't feel long at all. I chatted with some runners from London and massaged my calf. It didn't feel so great. Soon, volunteers were yelling at us (yes, yelling) to get up and the crowds were being fed onto the bridge. I stretched while we stood around waiting for the elite and wheelchair starts, people tossing their throw away clothes up onto the buses parked next to us, making it a game by trying to hit the runners in the blue corral on the other side. I kept my sweats on until about 5 minutes before and then stripped. Ugh. So cold. I was glad I'd thought to wear my arm warmers (full disclosure: men's soccer socks with the feet cut off) 'cuz I was doing this puppy in shorts and a T-shirt. I set my Garmin, readied my iPod (to play Lisztomania as my first song over the bridge) and waited for the start. The Howitzer (really? A Howitzer?) salute boomed and we were off.

  • 3h 36m 15s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 08m 15s  min/mile

My lofty goal (I'll admit it was lofty) was to do somewhere in the neighborhood of a 3:32. I wasn't entirely sure I had that in me considering the knee issue that had cropped up the last three weeks of training. But my long runs were solid and I felt shaving a couple seconds per mile from my best should be doable. Either way, I had nothing to lose on this race, so I figured if I blew up, I blew up. The only thing I wanted to protect myself from was a dumb injury that would 1. Mess up a trip we're taking in a couple weeks to New Zealand and Australia that would involve backpacking and 2. Somehow threaten running my best race in Boston 2014. Basically, my motto for today was not "run smart" but rather, "don't run stupid."

I had several friends out on the course to look for (this is new -- usually it's just poor little Dan on his own for hours but this time there were groups at several locations) so I figured I would push, but enjoy the race and the experience and look out for familiar faces.

We sped across the bridge, a surreal experience as the sea of marathoners spreads out before me, an NYPD helicopter hovering at eye level next to us.

The 3:30 pace group was directly in front of me in the start corral. I figured I'd hang with them (or rather, keep them in my sights, let's not pretend I was running WITH them) for as long as I could. I didn't expect to be able to keep up.

Crossing the bridge was great. I decided to keep everything under 8 for as long as I could. My knee was behaving fine -- in fact, it didn't bother me the entire race, and I am a total convert of KT Tape. It's amazing. I did feel slight twinges in my right calf, but it wasn't terrible or distracting. I just knew it was there and was being mindful.

I kept the pace solidly under 8 for a while, my Garmin ticking away the miles at 7:45 pace, telling myself to push a little going up and down the hills, nothing that felt like my absolute edge but still in the neighborhood of that. I ended up running alongside (and then even at one point, passing) the 3:30 pace group. I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to them, but it was good knowing they were nearby.

At Mile 5, my friend came up behind me and gave me a tap on my shoulder. In 2011, we ran the first several miles together and then I took off (he was still recovering from an ultra two weeks before). This year, we were in different corrals, so it was a fun surprise to "run" into each other. He was drenched with sweat. "We're flying!" he said. "Absolutely," I replied with a grin. We both had a similar attitude -- let's just see what happens if we push. Instinctively, without talking about it, we knew we wouldn't run together -- either one of us would speed the other up or slow the other down and we just wanted to run our own races. We high-fived and he took off again. I didn't see him again until the finish.

I saw my bf and friends at Mile 8 -- the crowd noise was tremendous, like so loud I couldn't hear my music at times. But I spotted them in the crowd and blew kisses as I ran past. It was around 10:30 in the morning and they were on their third full mug of hard hot apple cider. It looked fun.


Things were a bit of a blur going through Brooklyn. I looked at signs, I looked at faces. I cursed the wind.

I started feeling the effort I was putting in around the Pulaski bridge -- it wasn't bad, but I knew I was going to start slowing down soon. But I pushed on, curious to see how long I could hang on. For the first 6 miles, My Garmin was giving me 7:42 - 7:48 as my mile splits, but now I was looking at 7:50 - 7:55's which I knew on the always-measured-longer-than-your-Garmin-thinks race course meant I was probably creeping closer to 8 min/miles. I told myself to dig in to bring it back down.

My moment of "This race is over for me" happened on the Queensboro Bridge.

I was feeling pretty solid going up the bridge, but suddenly I felt the strangest sensation in the back of my right leg, like something was flapping inside of it. It didn't hurt (this should have been a tip off that nothing was actually wrong) but I briefly thought I had snapped my hamstring. I gasped, hopped, stopped, jogged, limped, tried to pick up the pace again and silently freaked out. Did it hurt? Sort of? I don't know! What IS that?? I had a hamstring tendon problem two years ago and it took FOREVER to heal. I just didn't want that for Boston (or for New Zealand) -- so I told myself to take it easy.

I slowed down considerably on the bridge -- which is also where my Garmin lost signal (I didn't realize this until much later). As I crossed into Manhattan and 1st Avenue (again like the last time I did this race with the silent crowds at the bottom...seriously? Give me SOMETHING, people!), my watch told me my new average was 8:16. Looking back at the splits above, obviously that's not what happened. I slowed to JUUUUST over an 8 min/mile. I was still on track. But the hamstring scare and believing my goal time was already gone helped me to slow down further. I stopped trying as hard as I might have had I known what my real time was. I didn't dig in. I just went. Strange how your mental state can make or break a race.

And in the end, I'm weirdly OK with that, because I think it may have saved me from actually doing something stupid. My hamstring hadn't ruptured or anything dramatic like that -- I think it was just the preview of a possible cramp. But who knows, I could have been on the verge of pushing too hard. I slowed and the weird feeling disappeared and so I ran on.

At this point, the 3:30 pace group dropped me like a hot potato. I think they were running a tad slow for their finish time initially, and I think their leader realized this at mile 17 and significantly picked up the pace (well, I also significantly slowed, so it's relative, I guess). Anyway, I saw them take off and knew I wouldn't be keeping up with that.

I didn't realize my watch was completely wonky on the mileage until around mile 19 when I passed a race mile sign and my watch said something like 17.47. I couldn't figure out the math of how far to the next mile. If I looked at my pace band at the right moment upon passing a mile marker, I could figure out how I was doing. Otherwise, my pace was a mystery to me. So I just focused on the crowds and kept smiling. The crowds were tremendously loud, pushing four deep on the barricades along the street. Unbelievable.

My legs were definitely feeling tired. I THINK I may have had another gear in me if there'd been a real PR or a sub-something attempt looming over me. But there wasn't, so I allowed myself to give in to the fatigue.

The one thing I definitely got right this time that I'd failed at quite miserably in Vermont was eating GUs on schedule. I didn't even wait to feel hungry -- saw the time on my watch and said, "Yay, snacktime!" And when I started eating it, I GULPED it down, not taking tiny little bites here and there, trying to test the waters to make sure I felt like eating it. Nope. No messing around this time. Down the hatch it went.

I needed that energy, though, more than I thought I would. I forgot how terribly uphill 5th Ave was and had the unpleasant reminder by seeing that sea of bobbing heads rising above me. I soldiered on, one foot in front of the other. Saw SO many runners (fast looking runners, too) stopping to grab their calf, their hamstring, grimacing in pain. I think the cold weather was taking its toll. I thought I might chuck my arm warmers by the halfway point but never did. The wind was strong enough that I gasped out a, "C'mon, really?" during one gust up 5th. It certainly didn't help. I began counting down the blocks to the entrance of Central Park. Another set of friends would be waiting to cheer me on there. The relief in cresting the hill and making that turn is indescribable.

As I rounded into the park, I did my usual "even if I were running 10 min/miles, would I still hit a respectable time" math -- as that is the ONLY math I can do when running. Turned out I would still probably finish faster than my last NYC Marathon. I decided that was an acceptable thing to push for at this point.

Saw my friends sitting along the wooden railings in the park, waved, blew kisses and knew it was time to finish this thing. I silently flipped off the Cat on Cat Hill with a "Nyah, I'm running DOWN you today, not up." It's easiest for me to run in the park because I know how far it is visually. There's no, "When does this END??" disorientation that I feel going through Brooklyn or Queens.

That said, the longest part of this race is running along the bottom of Central Park when we fed out onto 59th Street. The crowds were insane, and there was incredible energy all around us, but the Columbus statue is SO far away, a tiny little man on a pillar way off in the distance, you almost can't believe it.

Then the turn into Central Park, the familiarity of Sheep Meadow, the Park drive, the sidewalk, my stomping grounds, my weekend walk, my every day training run transformed into something special and miraculous -- the flags, the marathon banners, the bleachers, the crowds and the announcer all urging you on. The finish line looming over you in blue and orange glory. The push up that last mean hill, the last glance at the watch, knowing I'd just run my second fastest marathon and qualified for Boston 2015. Hands in the air in celebration, big smile and I'm done.

What would you do differently?:

I wish my Garmin hadn't died on the Queensboro Bridge (it lost satellite signal, so all of a sudden I was without mile splits that made any sense or had any idea how far to the next mile marker, etc.). Not that I could do anything different, but maybe had more faith I hadn't dropped off significantly in pace.

I will also reassess my training plan for Boston to shoot for a solid PR. It's possible this one has carried me as far as I can go on only three runs a week.

Post race
Warm down:

Walked. Ugh, that death march. For the first 5 minutes, which in fact feel like 30, I have icy hot metal coursing through my legs. No other marathoners friends I talk to have this, but it's what my body does post marathon. Walking doesn't help, sitting doesn't help, stretching does nothing. The only thing that helps is warm clothes. It's so intensely uncomfortable that I can barely speak. I sat down on the edge of the Central Park drive with some other runners, hoping I wouldn't get yelled at (I was politely but firmly told I had to move after two minutes). I guzzled the disgusting-totally-non-vegan-but-I'd-already-paid-for-it-with-my-entry-fee recovery Gatorade (that stuff is NASTY) because I figured protein would be good. I also knew the second I put on my warm clothes, I'd be fine, so I just decided to get up and walk.

Got to my stuff, changed (ah, blessed lack of icy hot metal feeling!) and ran into my friend who was getting his stuff at a truck next to mine and who had PR'd by 7 full minutes and pulled a 3:27:09! We walked to my bf's apartment, which is conveniently located five blocks away from where we got out of the park. Showered, drank some chocolate soy milk, ate some potato chips...and then had a beer. And a whiskey. And then went out for more. Best post-race activities ever.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Two things...
Thing 1. The 15 mph headwind was a bit rough.

Thing 2. Knee injury had me running in the pool and on an AlterG for the last three weeks of training. My last long run was a mess because of the knee, but probably more because I got a cold and felt m.i.s.e.r.a.b.l.e. during it. Lots of tiny things that added up to not an ideal race.

However, it's my fastest NYC marathon by 2 minutes and it's my second fastest marathon ever....AND I BQ'd for 2015 by 3:45, which I think is enough to get me in again.

All in all, I have very little to complain about and a good amount of information to think about how to improve my time for the next one.

Event comments:

It's one of the best marathons in one of the best cities in the world. Great course, great crowds. Definitely do it at LEAST once in your lifetime.

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Last updated: 2013-05-06 12:00 AM
03:36:15 | 26.2 miles | 08m 15s  min/mile
Age Group: 182/3242
Overall: 6435/ 50304
Performance: Good
DISTANCE and PACE PER MILE: * 5K -- 07:58 * 10K -- 07:52 * MILE 8 -- 07:53 * MILE 9 -- 07:54 * 15K -- 07:54 * MILE 10 -- 07:55 * MILE 11 -- 07:56 * MILE 12 -- 07:57 * 20K -- 07:57 * MILE 13 -- 07:57 * HALF -- 07:58 * MILE 14 -- 07:58 * MILE 15 -- 08:00 * 25K -- 08:01 * MILE 16 -- 08:01 * MILE 17 -- 08:02 * MILE 18 -- 08:03 * 30K -- 08:03 * MILE 19 -- 08:03 * MILE 20 -- 08:06 * MILE 21 -- 08:08 * 35K -- 08:10 * MILE 22 -- 08:10 * MILE 23 -- 08:12 * MILE 24 -- 08:14 * 40K -- 08:15 * MILE 25 -- 08:15 * MILE 26 -- 08:15 * FINISH -- 08:16
Course: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. Some hills. :)
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4