Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New York City Marathon Race Report

Well, I have had a few days to digest everything. I am going to try to be as honest about the whole experience so that I can learn from the whole thing and hopefully move forward as a runner and as a person. I have spent the last 22 weeks trying to prepare for this one event, and I was as ready as I believe I could have been. I put in the miles, and did the work. Let me be clear, everything that I talk about from here on out was MY choice. I am not trying to make excuses or lay blame anywhere. But this is my blog, so if you read it, you have to put up with my view of things...

The day before the marathon, I met the runner from the UK that had contacted me. His name was Ian and I will be honest, he is one of the coolest people I have met. His outlook and sense of humor are really something. He had asked originally if I wanted to get together that evening. I told him I did not because I was planning on going to the pasta dinner in Central Park. I honestly thought I had paid for it, but when I didn't see a ticket, I figured I would just try to go with it. Those of you that know me, can attest that I am a creature of habit. When I make a plan, I need to stick with it. We ended up doing quite a bit of walking and searching for a place we could get into to have a bite. His friend Kathryn asked what else I would be up for. I said pretty much anything. That was probably a mistake. I should have had pasta...pasta is what I eat....I also eat very early...and we ended up eating a lot later than I had originally planned on. The conversation was very good and I really am quite fond of Kathryn and Ian.

The second mistake of my trip would probably have been about the rooming switches. My friend Ria had graciously said I could bunk with her the night before in her hotel which was close to the subway to get to the start. So after she and I split up with Kathryn and Ian we had to get back to Queens. Any other night would have been ok, but with getting back a couple of hours later, and still having all my preparation to do, I never really felt settled.

The next morning was cold...and I mean cold. If the marathon was held right outside my door and I just got to stretch and run, it would have been perfect. But since it was an hour + getting there and then like 3 hours out in the hellish wind I was not set up to really be on. I had to scrap what I was planning to wear and go with tights and a long tech shirt over my shirt that I had pinned my bib on. This proved to be a pain once I warmed up and with the bleeding chaffing that went on from halfway through the marathon to the end. I used the body glide...but the extra layer must have made more friction....back to that in a bit.

As I told people before, I was in the 43 corral of the third wave in the blue path. I prime starting spot. It took a lot of jostling to get to where we needed to be because Ian jumped back a wave so we could run together. His calmness really did help my nerves. We were standing directly under the announcer and got to hear God Bless America by a singer from the was pretty awesome.

Once he was finished, they gave the start and we were off. I had planned on a 9:45 first mile to get the legs moving, but not too fast. I hadn't run since Wednesday and that was probably another mistake. Even the opening pace felt a little off somehow. Not too fast, but not quite right. Ian was amazing about just letting me set it. When the first mile clicked off, we were right at 9:42. Right about on target. After here was where I let stupidity take over.

I should never have tried for an 8:30 second mile. I was trying to use the downhill of the bridge to our advantage, but my legs were NOT ready to move that fast. After all that time off I should have gone closer to a 9:00 and then see how I was feeling. We hit 8:28 which was what the plan said...but the plan was wrong.

After the second mile I kept the pace under 8:30...why the hell did I do that? Simple...I got caught up in the energy. I was high fiving just loving everything that was going on. Last year, it was Brooklyn that made me fall in love with this marathon, and I wanted that feeling again. Instead of being prudent, I was impulsive. And it did not take all that long to see the error of my ways. Ian kept saying what his split were and we kept going under, and so I tired to pull back a little in miles 5 and 6. 8:42 and 8:58 respectively. I took my second gel at mile 6 knowing that I was already starting to feel it a little...6 miles in....

Miles 7 and 8 were both under 9 but the times did not seem to be making sense on the pace band. I am not sure if I messed up some math somewhere, but where we were at stopped jiving with the overall times. Something else to occupy the already worried thought I was having.

I really tired to correct in mile 9, but went overboard a little and ended up turning in a pretty slow mile. Mile 10 seemed back on track, but I was starting to really labor to keep the pace going. 11 and 12 were BOTH over 9:00 and part way through 11 I could already tell my day was done. The legs started to feel heavy, and my breathing was becoming labored. Ian was trying to keep my going but he still had a lot of pep going and at one of the water stations, we ended up getting separated and I knew I couldn't make up the difference. My long journey was just beginning.

In hindsight...I should have just reset at that point. I hadn't been listening to my Ipod and I am a rhythm runner. I always use the same playlist for the same parts in my run. I should have started back with a 9:45 mile and just said hey: "4 is probably out, but I can have a decent pr." But I didn't. I told myself about all the hard work and how much a wanted to attack the Queensboro Bridge partway through mile 14. I was still moving along at a shuffle, but I kept telling myself that I could not walk...not until the top of the bridge.

I somehow willed myself up that SOB without walking, but I was going so slow I should have saved the energy. Once at the summit I walked a bit to try to get my crap back together, that was the beginning of the end. My left calf started freaking out on me, and by the time I was at the bottom of the bridge where all these people are cheering, I was meagerly inching along. It was quite demoralizing. I was looking for Ria, but at that point my brain was not thinking so clearly and I couldn't remember where she was going to be standing.

I kept moving up 1st Avenue knowing that this was going to be a long afternoon. I decided to eat or drink whenever I saw people giving out things. The calf was persistent and the pain had worked itself into my heel as well. I saw Kathryn at one point and told her I was done. She asked if I was going to walk the rest, and I said I would jog where I could....JOG....whew.....

Miles 16-20 in a lot of ways were the worst. The pain grew in areas....both legs....both calves....some quad pain. I just couldn't get going at all. I finally made the conscious decision that is this was going to suck, it needed to suck for a reason. I had to beat my time from last year...I knew if I didn't...I may not want to do another marathon after all my work. So I would try to find a groove and then keep at it. Every aid station would stop me because I didn't have the energy or the power to avoid the huge groups. for those later miles.

I did see Ria at some point around mile 21 I think and she asked if I was ok...I shouted NO and just kept moving. About a half mile later the apex of my suffering would appear. I started to stagger and finally dropped  on one knee. These amazing people rushed over to try to help me. This kind woman just rubbed me back...another held my hand...and a guy asked if I wanted him to work out my calf....they asked if I wanted to sit...I told them if I sat it was over....I tried to get up but kept was humiliation at its finest....finally on the third push up I was able to get to me feet and just go...the crowd around me meant a meant the world at that point.

The next couple of miles were bad, but I kept moving. I would get a little head of steam and then stammer. Just had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. This damn guy in a rhino suit kept running within my area and that added to my annoyance. Good for him though....

Central Park was pretty anti-climatic. I reached for everything I had, but there was just so little left in the tank. I would high five as many little kids as I could trying to get and keep moving. Up back along Central Park South where the crowds were huge I get moving along the walled area. When I finally turned to go back into the park, there was no big burst left in me. I continued on...

The proudest moment of the marathon for me came about 300-400 yards from the finish. I was going along and my left foot just surged with pain. My toes spasmed under my left foot and I couldn't move them. After a couple of step I thought I was going to break them underneath the weight so I stopped and the crowd kept trying to cheer me on...I took off my shoe and went going again. The people that saw me running with me shoe really cheered for me that last almost quarter mile. I am hopeful there will be a few pictures of me running with one shoe. Beaten...but not defeated....

The walk afterwards was so much harder than last year. I kept stumbling as the line moved ever so slowly to get the bags and around Central Park to the exit. I did not have the exuberant feeling that I enjoyed last year. I felt dejected. So many people knew of my not even come close has been hard to made the walk seem that much worse.

I have been feeling better about things the last couple of days. I have been doing a lot of walking around this great city and even went for a run in Central Park today. I am still in quite a bit of pain in certain areas. I am pretty sure I am going to lose four additional toe nails and my shins are just mad at all the walking, but I am none the worse for wear. In my mind, the things that contributed to my poor showing are: 1. TOO FAST 2. To many training miles run too quickly. 3. Not keeping to my schedule and my plan. 4. Not enough 20 mile (or 20+ mile runs, thinking Pfitz for the next plan) runs.

This one is hard to get over...but I will...I will shoot for a 3:45 in Colorado in May and I will keep running...because that is what I do....

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Night Before

Got in a bit later than planned, so this will be short. After the marathon tomorrow I will delve a little more into feelings and such. Almost overwhelming at this point. Feel a huge ball of things inside....excitement....anticipation....nerves....this is the first marathon where I have really expected something out of myself. I have trained about as hard as I could. I spent the time doing the things that should make be better as a runner. I was disciplined almost to the point of obsession in the pursuit of my goal of breaking 4 hours. The legs are a little tired from the walking, but not bad. I wished I had put in a couple of miles this morning, but that doesn't matter now. I will get what sleep I can and see what my body is willing to withstand. More importantly, I will push my brain to let me succeed and hit my goal. Worst case....anything under 4:00. Enough talk....time to RUN!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Marathon Week

I got a couple of runs in on Monday and then Tuesday. Today is the first day off of running I have had in exactly one month. I think it is a record for me. I am sitting at the airport and trying to find a room for tonight and tomorrow. Thought I made reservations at the place I stayed at last year, but they said I did not. So it should be an interesting night in the Big Apple for me. I am going to eat at a place called the Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden in Queens. Getting really excited to see it. Then I believe tomorrow I am gonna check out a Sculpture Park and Louis Armstrong's house. Although that is subject to change. Can't believe the marathon is in three days. Absolutely crazy how quickly it is approaching....

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New York City Marathon Get-Together for the San Fran Marathon

I received an email from someone with marketing for the San Francisco Marathon asking if I wouldn't mind posting some information for a gathering they are hosting on the 5th of November. I have never been asked to do anything like this before, so I figured what the heck. The details are below.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday...MARATHON WEEK!!!

The marathon is getting so close that it is constantly in my thoughts. I am worried I might have a little cold coming on, but besides that I am feeling decent. I will leave Thursday morning and arrive in the late afternoon NYC time.  I am starting to make a list of some things that I want to see while I am there. Not sure how much I will see before the marathon, but intend to hit the city all out starting on the Tuesday afterwards.

3 Mile Monday - Chilly this morning. I bought some shorts at RunnersRoost and wanted to see how they might go in NYC. They need some time so they won't be making the trip but it was maybe a tad too cold for shorts. Oh well. Kept me fairly cool. Run was alright. Calves are a little tight so I have been spending quality time on them.

4 Mile Recovery - Blustery day outside. Feel bad for the Trick or Treaters tonight, thought they would have better weather. Pretty easy miles as I head into marathon week. Gonna put on my NYRR orange laces I bought to support kids running in NYC. Nerves have crept in a tiny bit, but I think that is a good thing, keep me vigilant and not getting too lax. Hope you all have a fun Halloween.

8 Mile Long Run - Maybe ran a little too fast with the running group, but it wasn't too bad so I just went with it. Last long run of the cycle. Weather was a little warmer, went with shorts and the long sleeve top because that is how I roll. Have really started enjoying running with the group, lots of good characters. Good run today. First month ever over 200 miles. Planning on it being the first of many.

4 Mile Friday - Please don't ask me about the pace...I had the watch on average pace for the whole run. On lap three I was getting angry that my lap wasn't under marathon pace so I kept turning it up. Guess I was under mp...doh! Besides for the inability to read my watch the run was solid. Weather is all I could ask for, brisk with little wind. Last long run tomorrow...8 miles. This has been a great cycle and as usual I am sad to be coming to a close. I feel like I have grown more on this one as a runner than any of the previous training cycles.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

Finally getting the Garmin set up the way I want it. The pace seems to be very touchy compared to my other Garmin. Wondering if I need to sync the satellites it chooses. The runs have been going pretty well overall. I feel like I might be coming down with something, but doing my best to fight it off. I have been really working on still working myself hard but cutting down the mileage. I want to go into New York City with fresh legs, but that fire that I have developed over this cycle. Nothing less than my best effort will do. Here are the last three runs:

Hal wanted a 30 minute tempo run...but the whole run ended up at 40 minutes. More ghostly pain in odd spots...but nothing two days in a row....rock on! I started fairly slow and tried to gradually build up speed during the second mile.The middle of my tempo I came away with a 7:37 I believe which aligned to being the third mile. Nice to bring up the pace a bit this late in the cycle. I like to remember what it feels like to run fast. It was cold, but very little wind....perfect!

Wednesday run was just a general four mile effort. Today was colder than yesterday, but I am quickly getting used to it. Started having some phantom taper pain down my left leg. Just going to dismiss it for now because it went away very quickly. The run was like most of the four milers, I am trying to hit the last two under my goal overall marathon pace of 8:55. I achieved that goal and feel pretty good about it.

Tuesday was the Mid Long Run, but at six miles, it was quite short compared to weeks past. A cold front has definitely blown in. There was even some white stuff on the grass areas. Run ended up turning into a progression run...which I think has become my favorite. There was another runner making loops in the opposite direction in the park...have seen him a few times....respect. Legs are a little sore, but pretty good. Once you get past those first few cold temp runs the rest of the season gets easier. I like the colder weather running because it feels a lot easier on my muscles. I don't get tired as fast, and I feel tough for always getting out there when it would be easier to sleep in.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thursday through Monday

Sorry I am behind at the moment. The issues with the Garmin kind of got under my skin. I have the replacement and I am now good to go. Here are my last several runs:

Monday - The wind was pretty wicked today. I was not expecting that. The run was alright beside for the wind. Hit my last two miles under MP. The temps are supposed to really drop this afternoon so we will see how tomorrow goes.

Sunday - Did a relaxed 5.6 mile recovery. Legs are a little sore and they are definitely feeling the miles. It did feel really nice to work out the kinks though. The weather was just about perfect for running. Almost wanted to do some more.

Saturday - Garmin made it 8.66 miles ;-) and I made it the rest. I thought I was over 12 by a bit. Turns out I was just a hair over 11. Very aggravating. I am so glad I have the new Garmin and will be able to use it starting on Sunday. Met the running group for the first 4 and then broke off and did my own thing on the greenway. Paces were pretty good I think. I am tired and sore, but so goes taper.

Friday - 4 miles seems like an odd distance to me at this point. I don't do a lot of 4 mile runs. The schedule is chock full of them next week, but it just isn't something I do much. My Garmin died....but it was a decent run all the same. I was able to get the last mile down under marathon pace. My body is tired so it is probably good that the real taper is beginning soon even though I will start to get a little crazier than I am now.

Thursday - Hill Repeats were on the schedule for today. So I got up early and headed down Pershing and in front of Okie. I needed to do 6 repeats and that hill is just about perfect with the distance and grade for me. Thought the pacing was a little better than it was for each repeat. My strongest was the third which struck me as a little odd. All were close in pace though. I would imagine a sign that I am getting used to the pace for that hill. Need to get stronger in the long run though and take some time off when I start doing hills again after NYC. The run home after was a little tougher than I thought it would be, but it was also a hard workout. Beautiful morning....

Thanks for reading!