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NYC Marathon 2009 Race Report

November 3, 2009 8 comments

What a day, What a day!  I have been looking forward to November 1st 2009 ever since I completed the NYC marathon in 2008.  I was happy to have my first marathon under my belt but KNEW I could do better.

After a year of waiting and 6 months of focused training the day was finally here.  Goal-Qualify for Boston Marathon.  I’m 35, so I needed a 3:15.  And I found out, when they say 3:15, they mean ALL of the 3:15…meaning they will accept up to 3:15:59.  OK good to know, lets hope I don’t need that.  I was wearing the 3:10 pace band, that is my ideal goal.  If I fall a little short I should have enough room to get a BQ.

The night before I was actually able to sleep.  I watched about 4 innings of the NY Yankee World Series game and finally decided to lay down after setting my clock back and setting three alarms for 5AM.  I got lucky with the race day transportation.  Instead of having to catch the 5:30AM Staten Island Ferry, my club, Brooklyn Road Runners offered a team bus.  That bus was scheduled to leave Brooklyn at 6:15AM, so I jumped at that opportunity!  That meant 1 extra hour of sleep (or restless, wide eyed staring at the ceiling, which is what it actually was)

I woke up at 4AM and pretended to sleep for another 45 minutes until I was just too excited and got out of bed.  All of my stuff was packed from the night before.  I mixed up 2 servings of R4, grabbed a couple bananas and checked the weather forecast for the day.  It said Hi 59, partly cloudy, with possible rain at 7am and 9am.  Current temp was 50.   I was out the door at 5:45.  Since Nate’s apartment is on the way, we met up and continued our walk to the bus (about 1.3 miles for me).

I was expecting an van or some sort, but it was an actual bus.  A yellow school bus to be exact.  We climbed aboard, said hello to all the groggy yet excited faces.  Some we knew from training runs, most we didn’t know.  John S, Scott M, Ricardo, Scott R, were all there, the core of our weekend run crew.

We waited for any stragglers and left a little late.  Supposed to leave at 6:15am, ended up leaving at about 6:25am, which is fine, should be a quick ride this early in the morning out to the bridge.  Unknown to the passengers, we needed to pick up a couple people on the way.  So we pull up to the corner of the pick up location and only 1 of the 2 people is there.

A frantic lady enters the bus and asks the driver if he can drive an extra block to pick up “Mike”.  Confusion and anxiety sweeps through the bus, well sweeps through me anyway.  What is going on?  Who is this lady?  Why are we stopping? We aren’t “late” but I just want to get to the island and get settled.

The situation with Mike is, he was concerned, since the bus was running late.  He went back to his house to get Steve’s phone number, (Steve is the bus organizer).  When Mike left for his house, the bus arrived, his friend was at the bus stop corner and started to panic because the bus driver wouldn’t drive into the neighborhood to get him.  Yada, Yada, Yada.  Long story short.  Mike finally shows up a couple minutes later, and we are on our way.  No harm done.

We finally make it to the bridge and there is a line of buses literally spanning the bridge.  Bumper to bumper traffic jam of buses, we FINALLY make it to the drop off point at about 7:15am.  I feel good.

We all say good luck to each other and split up to our color coded corrals, I am blue, most of the others are green-local competitive corral.

I get into the main area, alone, by choice.  I need to relax and focus, I don’t really want to chat with anyone.

I get out a garbage bag to sit on, find a vacant spot on the wet curb and take a seat.  Listening to my Ipod “psych-up” mix, trying my best to relax and be patient and still.  Conserve energy.  At this point, I just want to check my bag, warm up a little, get in my corral, and START already!!  But, I need to be patient, it is only 7:30, still over 2 hours to go.

At 7:45 I decide to explore a little, to familiarize myself with where I need to go.  First I grab some hot tea and use the restroom.  Speaking of which, I never waited more than 30 seconds for a Port-O-John.  I’ve heard horror stories about other marathons.  NYC definitely had this covered.

What could have been improved was the map of Fort Wadsworth (staging area).  There were plenty of maps on kiosks but there was no “You Are Here” on the map.  This made it hard to figure it out.  Plus, for blue bibs, there were a couple kiosks with arrows that directed me (and several 1000 others) down a dead end to a NYRR official that told us to go back and around.  It was confusing because I could see the blue baloons but the maze of fences and barricades made it challenging at best for the mice to find the cheese.

I finally figured it out.  I spread out my garbage bag again and changed into my “corral gear” which consisted of my racing shoes and my throw away warm ups.  Because of the cool temp and wind I decided to go with the beanie hat instead of the billed hat, arm sleeves, calf sleeves, throw away gloves, and I was good to go.  Put on one more layer of vaseline and headed over to the UPS trucks.

When I got to the UPS area, they called last call for 1st wave to check baggage.  That gave me a little shot of adrenaline…Am I running late??  How did this happen?  It was 8:20, I’m fine.  But where the heck are the corrals?…It wasn’t any use to follow people because there were people of all colors and all waves going every which way.  So I took a breathe, re-read the map, and headed toward what I hoped was the corrals.

For someone who is directionally challenged, I was shocked at how easily I found my corral, AND it hadn’t even opened yet!  It opened as I arrived there and I was one of the first in the corral, I secured a spot on the curb and sat down with my Accelerade bottle, and water bottle, time is 8:35.  I was able to sit still until about 8:50, then I started to get fidgety and wanted to warm up a little and stretch.  I got up did a bit of jogging in the corral, which is fairly small and filling up quickly.  I looked in the corral behind mine for John Hindy, but couldn’t find him.  I started to worry that I was using too much energy warming up.  I saw many people still sitting and couldn’t help but think they knew better.  It was now 9am, I took my 2 caffeine tablets, and my salt tablet, ate 3 Shot Bloks and drank about 5 oz of water.  At this point about 1/3 of the people in the corral are standing at the front, jockeying for position already, 1/3 are still sitting, and 1/3 are jogging and stretching.  I’m in the jogging and stretching group.  I feel like I’m in some kind of war camp because this speaker is blaring an instruction loop in 5 different languages…”This is the start for wave 1, please dispose of garbage and clothing in receptacles provided…”  Finally a horn sounds and everyone moves toward the rope at the front of our corral.   And we wait, speaker still screaming.  And we wait.  The speaker stops.  Thank you.  Oh, I spoke too soon, it starts again, now with Wave 2 instructions.  And we wait.  9:20, we are finally released again, we shuffle about 600m to the real start into a canyon made of double decker buses.  Runners immediately start shedding warmups, wadding them up and throwing them to the upper deck of the buses.  If they don’t make it, they fall on the head of the unsuspecting runners near the buses.  I keep my warmup pants on until the last minute, I will run the first 2 miles in the jacket.  I try my best to stay warm and loose.  The National Anthem is played, Mary Wittenberg says a few words, Mayor Bloomberg says Good Luck and without further ado, the canon blasts and we are off!  Kind of.  We shuffle up to the line in walk/jog fashion.  I learned my lesson last year.  Easy up the bridge, use it as a warm up.  Meanwhile, there are people bobbing and weaving, irritated that all these people are in the way.  I was comfortable, relaxed.  Making sure no one tripped me and watching for discarded clothing on the bridge.  I noticed an unusually large number of guys urinating off the side of the bridge.  Seems like a big time waster, but if you gotta go, you gotta go, I guess.

NYC 2009 CT 1st Ave

Me--Mile 22.5 Fifth Avenue NYC 2009

I had a pace band on provided by NIKE, set for 3:10, it was terrain specific, but didn’t really allow for a fade at the end.  In hindsight I should have worn the band from mymarathonpace.com .  Live and learn.

I will talk about each section of the race with mile splits and how it compared to my pace band goal and ( ) will have the +/- over or under the goal pace cumulative time.

Mile 1- 7:58  Goal 7:58

Mile 2-6:45  Goal 6:48

VERY pleased at this point.  I am tuned in and perfect thru 2 miles which is very important to start properly.  It shortens the race.

Mile 3 7:04 Goal 7:13

A little quick

Mile 4 7:04  Goal 7:13

Mile 5 7:00  Goal 7:10

Mile 6 7:09  Goal 7:07

Really enjoying being my 2nd NYC marathon at this point.  Brooklyn has the BEST crowds AND it’s pretty flat.  Good combo.  Water stops early in the race are pretty packed, but not too bad, since people are still running through and not walking or stopping like later in the race.

Water stop execution can be tricky.  First off, Gatorade and Water cups were basically the same color, so I really had to pay attention.  I didn’t use Gatorade since I had Shot Bloks, I needed water to dilute them in my stomach.  I usually ended up taking 2 water cups.  One early in the line and one near the end.  This way I would get a solid 8oz+ after the spillage and inconsistent content of each cup.  Some were full, some half full.

Mile 7 7:09  Goal 7:11

Mile 8 7:14  Goal 7:18

I see my fan club for the first time, Alex, my fiance’ and my Dad visiting from California.  I swing over to them and ask if they are getting the Athlete Alert email…YES, everything is running smoothly.  And I glide away, feeling very comfortable.

Mile 9 7:24  Goal 7:19

Mile 10 7:10  Goal 7:06

Mile 11 7:17  Goal 7:22

Holding steady.  I see a couple guys talking that are running same pace as me.  One guy has “NYC VIRGIN” written an his calves.  I ask him what time he is shooting for and he says “3:10”.  Perfect, me too.  I’ll hang with these guys.

Mile 12 7:14  Goal 7:09

Mile 13 7:25  Goal 7:20 (-18 sec)

Half Marathon 1:34:51

Right on the money.  Ok, now the work begins.

Mile 14 7:22  Goal 7:09  (-3 sec)

Mile 15 7:41  Goal 7:32  (+6 sec)

John Hindy caught me at about 15.5 right before the bridge, which is ironic because we ran the last 11 miles of the course together about 3 weeks prior starting at the base of the Queensboro bridge.  Hindy was a welcome surprise.  I knew an ideal goal for Hindy in his first ever marathon was to qualify for Boston 3:10:59 or faster (he’s 27 years old).  So to see him right on pace at 15 was exciting.  I was feeling some left quad soreness, just above the knee toward the inside.  It didn’t really hurt but it seemed to be fatiguing faster than the right side.  Everything else checked out except for some upper back tightness but that was minor in the big picture.  Seeing Hindy took my mind off the task ahead, and that was a nice mental break.  We got over the bridge but I didn’t come down the bridge as fast as I wanted.  I think I was using the downhill as a bit of a recovery.

DSC_6286Hindy 22.5 Miles

Mile 16 7:39  Goal 7:09  (+36 sec)

We got down to the “crazy 1st Ave crowd” who were just as quiet as last year.  Hindy and I pumped our arms to get them fired up and they did end up cheering.  But I felt like they were looking for inspiration instead of the other way around 😦  Maybe they were saving THEIR energy for 4 more hours of cheering…

Mile 17 7:15  Goal 7:13

I knew we had to push a little to get back on pace.  Ran a good mile, right at goal pace.  I was happy with that.  Don’t need to get it all back at once.

Mile 18 7:15  Goal  7:09

Really in the zone now, running with a familiar face.  My fan club (Dad and Alex) were at 110th just before mile 19.  I got a new Accelerade bottle and gave the remainder of my other to Hindy.  I know we have to start to dig down a little now.  Get in and out of the Bronx and its 5 miles to go.

Mile 19 7:24  Goal 7:13

Mile 20 7:32  Goal 7:18  (+1:08)

That Willis bridge was a tough one.  Small but painful, uneven footing.  Slower than I wanted.  A minute over pace, but I still feel good about it.  Seems like the next water station will never come.

Mile 21 7:41  Goal 7:11  (+1:38)

After MANY turns in the Bronx (a few more than last year due to course change) we are over the Madison Bridge and back into Manhattan.  I can feel the finish now.  I’m thinking 5th ave, Marcus Garvey, 5th Ave, Central Park, 59th, Finish.  Easier said than done.  AND my overage is creeping up, I have to “stop the bleeding”  Time to refocus.

Mile 22 7:29  Goal 7:11

Around Marcus Garvey Park, which, for some reason is one of my favorite parts of the course.  Maybe because we are almost done 🙂  Hindy is pulling away, but I push to keep within earshot so I can still yell to him to keep it up.

Mile 23 7:47  Goal 7:18

Right after 22 I see my fan club again.  I forgot they would be here!  I’m starting to hurt.  My feet are so sore I try to curl my toes on my right foot for some relief and my toes, arch and achilles cramp up.  NOOOOOO!  OK relax, I straighten my toes back out, try to regroup, my achilles is still tight, relax.  Ok, better.  Sorry toes, it won’t happen again….I hope.  I glance at my fiance and Dad and shake my head.

Mile 24 8:27  Goal 7:20 (+3:34)  Total Time 2:57:31

Here is the hill, up 5th ave and into Central Park. Hamstrings on both sides are twitching I slow it down a bit to regroup.  Both achilles are twitching.  I actually stop to get a quick calf stretch on a curb.  I try to grab an orange from a lady and almost have it.  It is in my grasp and I fumble it to the ground.  The crowd lets out a grown.  I let out a grown, that attempt at eye hand coordination causes my hammys to ball up again.  Not a good idea.  Note to self, no orange grabs next time.  IM SO CLOSE TO THE TIME I NEED 2.2 TO GO.  I try to calculate what pace I need to be at 3:15:59.  I’m thinking, OK, 2:58 and I have until 3:16, two more 9 min miles and I’m good.  I can do it!

Mile 25 8:47  Goal 7:09

WOW!  I am really slowing down.  I can’t believe it is going to be this close and I can’t run any faster.  The downhill is KILLING my quads.  I am in the “marathon shuffle” and my stride is so short I can’t believe I’m still moving.  One step at a time. COME ON!  GET THERE!!

I see a Giant “1” sign.  OK, that must mean 1 mile to go…what’s the watch say.  3:08:00  I need an 8 minute mile after an 8:27 and an 8:47.  I’ve gotta dig down.  I didn’t just run 26.2 to be 3 seconds short.  I start to open up the stride a little, decent, decent, ok that’s enough.  My legs told me what the max speed was.

I turn on to 59th.  The turn did NOT feel good, all the cramps flare up.  Settle it down.  800 to go, 3:12 on the watch.  I can see balloons through the trees.  Just don’t fall, I tell myself.

Mile 26 8:01  Goal 7:18

Last 400 meters, all those tempo workouts, don’t fail me now!  COME ON!  I can taste it! 3:14:10 on the watch.  I know I have to hustle!!  Less than 2 minutes to go.  Pump your arms!  100 meters to go 3:14:55. EVERY-THING-YOU-GOT-RIGHT-NOW…Power across the line…check the watch…3:15:50…

YEAH!  YEAH BABY!  I pump my fist in the air.  It’s going to be close.  My watch and official time will probably differ, but I feel like :09 is a big enough buffer to make it.  Either way I am super proud of myself.  I left it ALL on the course and you can’t ask for anything more than that. (I’ve got to get the Brightroom Video.  I really want to see my finish.)

.2   1:30  (7:30 pace!)  Goal 1:35

Sure enough…official time

Final Official Time 3:15:53

Boston Here I Come!!

2506th out of 43375 Finishers

(Story continued below…)

Alex

My fiance' cheering me on!

DSC_6269

My Dad-All the Way from California!

Exhaustion set in quick.  “Are you Ok? Are you OK?” ,Medical staff swarm me.  “Yeah, Yeah, I’m fine, I need the aluminum sheet.”  I mumble out.  “The metal paper, food, I need to drink”  She points me to the direction.  She has none of those requested items.

A finishers medal is draped on my head.  Nice.  But still, none of those requested items.

I see Hindy up ahead and congratulate him on an Awesome first marathon (3:13:52).  I finally get my thermal blanket.  I’m freezing!  Food?  I need it.  Now.  We each grab 2 bags of “goodies”  I pound a Gatorade. And we continue our hobbled shuffle down the ever stretching mile of UPS trucks holding out checked baggage containing our warm dry clothes.

What seems like forever and a day later, we finally reach our trucks and get our gear.  One truck up I see Nate.  “Did you get sub 3?”  I ask him.  “Naw, 3:03:45, I fell apart in the last 2, couldn’t hold it.”

“That’s still awesome, is it your best NY?”

“Yup”

“Alright then. You rocked it!  I’m gonna be close to Boston, but I think I got it by 9 seconds”

“Sweet”

We get dressed and shuffle another mile out of the park and back down Central Park West to meet Alex and my Dad, while we eat apples and reminisce about our collective triumph.

Picture 4

Unofficial Results Brooklyn Road Runners Club

DSC_6274

Nate 22.5 Miles

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