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....


  1. What a great recap, although I'm sorry it wasn't the race you were looking for. I think we all have those, some of us more than once. :) I wasn't selected to run this year but have all my fingers crossed I get to run in 2011. Hope to meet you at some point!

  2. Marathons are so hard on us-- both physically and mentally. Good job finishing the race-- "beaten, but not defeated." I like that.

  3. Thank you both for the kind comments! Sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I have started training for another Colorado Marathon on May 1st. If either of you are interested, I am big into these days. Some really cool running friendships have developed for me. Unfortunately, I don't blog as much as I used to. Anyway...thank you again for taking the time to read my blog and I wish you both the best!


  4. Run For Environment on 4th August 2013, Sunday, 6.30 Am. Venue: Bala Quila, Alwar, Rajasthan. Bala Quila is a 1000 year old heritage fort on the lush green Aravali Ranges in Alwar City. 7 Km long run for saving the environment. Register at