ING New York City Marathon - RunMarathon

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New York, New York
United States
New York Road Runners
45F / 7C
Total Time = 3h 58m 14s
Overall Rank = 12367/37899
Age Group = F30-39
Age Group Rank = 924/4436
Pre-race routine:

Woke up at 5:30. Made sure it was actually 5:30 (daylight savings). I had an english muffin with PB and two cups of coffee, put on multiple layers and headed out to the Staten Island Ferry. I took an Uncrustable with me but ended up not wanting to eat again prior to the race. I had a gel 20 minutes before the start, drank about 2/3 of a 32-ounce G2 and a tiny bottle of water. I felt ready to go.
Event warmup:

It's a marathon! You have miles and miles and miles to warm up. Prior to crossing the start line, warming up consisted of huddling inside my makeshift mylar tent in 38-degree weather. I got a call from mr2tony (Tony) wishing me luck, it was a nice surprise (thanks Tony!).
  • 3h 58m 14s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 05s  min/mile

Most people know I've had a challenging few months. I missed a lot of training due to a broken shoulder and battled injuries throughout the training I managed to do. I had no idea what to expect from this race and it ended up being the best race I've ever had.

It was about 40-42 degrees at my wave start and sunny. Aside from some brisk winds, the weather was actually perfect once you got warmed up. I've had a chesty cold the past two weeks so breathing was a little labored, but I was able to keep it relatively comfortable.

I started in Wave 2 a little after 10:00. Even with waves the start was so congested it took me about 20 minutes to cross the start line. The first mile is spent weaving in and out of people on the Verrazano Bridge trying to find a comfortable place. People throw clothes down and people trip on them. People stop to take pictures and people run into them. You have to really stay alert, but you can't forget to enjoy the views: thousands of other runners on that bridge with you, Manhattan to the left and the Atlantic Ocean to the right. This was my third NYC Marathon and the view never gets old.

I hit a decent pace, 9:19, but it was slower than the 9 or under I was hoping to average. I had recently reduced my goal from sub-4 to 4:15 to deal with the reality of my situation, but deep down I still wanted the sub-4 and a 9:00 pace would get me there. I enjoyed the downhill of the bridge and the gradual thinning of the runners to get to 8:05 on mile 2. I did the next 6 miles comfortably at an 8:45-8:59ish pace and was feeling good. The first 10 miles of this race are literally a blur. You pass through incredible Brooklyn neighborhoods with more spectators and music than you can imagine. Because I was watching my pace so intently, I had to remind myself to enjoy it. Because regardless of my finish time, I wanted to have fun in this race.

I knew to look out for jmk-brooklyn (Jonah) and his son Sebastian around mile 8. Unfortunately the crowd was ridiculous near there so I couldn't see them. Luckily Jonah was able to yell and get my attention so I at least got to give a quick wave and hello. I owe Jonah a donut now. I was sad to find out that mburkhart (Michelle) was also out cheering and saw me, but I didn't see her. I guess with so many runners and over 3 million spectators it is hard.

I continued to maintain a sub-9 pace through the half-point except for two miles at 9:09. I was well on track for a sub-4 finish with a little buffer even. I was feeling great. And then the bridges came. There is a bridge right at the half-way point that I don't remember sucking so much. But it made my legs tired. You get about two miles to recover, then hit the mother of all bridges, the 59th Street. To say this one sucks is an understatement. I went from cranking out sub-9s comfortably to a very humbling 11:00. The incline is a mile and it sucks the life out of you at a very critical time in the race. People start dropping like flies at that point. I was able to redeem myself with a fast downhill mile and the second you hear the roar of the crowd on First Avenue, you get a little kick in your step.

First Avenue is unreal. The crowd is several people deep and there are bands and cheering stations lining the entire stretch. It's like a massive block party only you're not invited, you're the entertainment. This is the last place on earth you want to be shuffling, walking or looking miserable. But it's also mostly uphill so you have to be smart. I stayed in the middle so I didn't feel compelled to interact with the crowds, but was still drawing energy from it.

My pace was still great, but the pain was really setting in around mile 18. I was prepared for pain after 20, but not this early. It was unsettling. When I hit mile 20 I had slowed to a 9:38. I was able to rally a bit on the next two, but I was suffering. Miserably. My 6-minute buffer had dwindled away and a sub-4 was looking unlikely. Upon this realization, I took about 4 walking steps at a water station thinking I should go ahead and give my body a break. What was the point of pushing through so much pain if my goal wasn't possible? But after 4 steps something inside me said to get going again. It was too soon to give up.

The final stretch of 5th Avenue was unbelievably crowded due to the spectators squeezing the course into a tiny path. They mean well, but they have no idea how hard they are making it for us to race. I had to push past runners and spectators to keep moving ahead. There were a lot of walkers at this point. A lot of defeat. The urge to stop and walk with them was overwhelming. But I kept pushing.

I hit mile 23 at 3:29:44 and did the math. I was in a world of hurt, but if I had enough left to keep up the pace and maybe pick it up a bit, I could make the sub-4. I got to 24 at 3:39:05 and 25 at 3:48:09. I had 12 minutes left to cover the final stretch. Under regular circumstances, this would be no problem. But at the end of a marathon, sometimes your body just won't do what your heart and mind want. I watched tons of people quit over the last 5 miles, people who trained and had goals as well. So I didn't feel it was a done deal. I still had a lot of ground to cover.

We hit Central Park South, the final stretch before the turn back into Central Park and the finish. At this point I was running faster than I had in the entire race, covering 25-26 in 8:22. The pain was gone and I couldn't think of anything else but that finish.

The turn into Central Park is a narrow path. Runners were stopping to take pictures and have fun with the crowd, but I was on a mission. I had to shout out for people to move and had to really push hard to get through. I had just minutes between me and my goal. When I reached the 200 yards to go sign, I knew it was mine. I screamed, jumped up in the air and had a little Usain Bolt-style moment of celebration before crossing the finish line. I got tons of support from the crowd because you'd have to be blind not to see how much it meant to me. I finished with 1 minute, 46 seconds to spare.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Not a single thing. I'm going to be smiling about this race for a very long time.
Post race
Warm down:

They make you walk for miles to get out of Central Park. The walking felt good and gave me a chance to call friends and family who couldn't be at the race. I wasn't able to eat or drink anything, not even water.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Breaking my shoulder, not doing enough long runs due to the broken shoulder, catching a chest cold the week before the race. The cold kept me from taking deep breaths so I had some side stitches that took awhile to shake. But seriously, who cares. Sub-4 is sub-4 and I set a marathon PR by 57 minutes. I really couldn't have done much better. I'm thrilled.

Event comments:

The NYC Marathon is a really special race. It's crowded and the start logistics are a pain, but the payoff is worth it.

I got a tremendous amount of support from my BT friends over the past few months as I struggled with injuries. You guys encouraged me not to give up even when things were pretty rough. I thought of you when I felt like giving up on my goal and it kept me going. Thanks to all of you for helping me end my season in the most memorable way possible.

Last updated: 2008-06-29 12:00 AM
03:58:14 | 26.2 miles | 09m 05s  min/mile
Age Group: 924/4436
Overall: 12367/37899
Performance: Good
Course: Start in Staten Island, cross the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn, through Brooklyn to Queens, across the 59th Street Bridge into Manhattan, north to the Bronx, back into Manhattan, then into Central Park and the finish by Tavern on the Green.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5