Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NYC Marathon 2011 - Race Report

Wow, I've completely neglected this site, haven't I?

There wasn't much happening on the running front, save several races and training for Marathon #4, which happened this past weekend. Hometown turf, both a blessing and curse. I didn't get that new PB I was hoping for, but I'm trying not to be too bummed about it. I sort of knew it was out of reach by mile 2, but that's how these things go.

What's different between training for this one versus the previous three, was that I had a group of people to train with including the husband. Four new-to-marathon-training folks to talk shop with. People in my immediate circle that I was able to share this experience with. That was fun. It was encouraging to see people go through the challenge of finding time to put in the miles, checking gear, nutrition and so forth. Anyway. The race report.

Went to bed around 10:30pm and woke up at 5:45am. C was already up. We downed some bananas and english muffins with peanut butter, and headed out the door by 6:15. At the subway station, we bumped into several more runners. This one guy asked us where we got our bags from, and after talking to him, we all realized that he didn't attend the expo to get his bib! Told him that his best bet at this point is to see if he can head to the runners village and hope to heaven that someone decided to bring it along for him to pick up. (Most of the NYRR races gave you the option of picking your race number the day of... For his sake, we hope he was able to!)

After taking a nice and easy ferry ride to Staten Island, we were packed into shuttle buses and hauled off to Fort Wadsworth to meet up with E, W and J. Luckily for us, we were all in the green wave, so we got a chance to hang out before the race. I downed some more water, nibbled on a bagel, and awaited our 10:40am start time. We actually got to see Amanda McGrory set a new course record in wheelchairs before we started our heat.

Then finally, after the first two waves, the canon went off one final time, and off all of us went. Maybe it was my nerves, but for whatever reason, I had an overactive bladder that morning. And even though I made a last trip to the porto potties right before entering the corral, I had to make another pit stop. Around the 2 mile mark, I made a not-so-good decision to wait on line at the first stalls I saw. That seriously took about 10 minutes. I debated whether to just get off the line or what, but I figured I would be in better shape if I didn't have to think about it later on. Saw C go by with several more people in line ahead of me.

Pleasantly surprised by E, W and P, who snapped this pic right after mile 2.

After the pit stop, I tried not to speed up, but managed to catch up to C around the 4th mile. Saw some friends around Bay Ridge, which I didn't expect, but it was a nice surprise. Saw a second friend near Park Slope, and yelled back that we miss him. (He was one of the original friends who was supposed to run with us.)

From then on, it felt good. Really good. Too good. I felt so good that I didn't check myself to slow it down. Coasted until the halfway mark. It was one thing when I ran NYC the first time, not knowing really what the areas were like. This time, I was running in my actual home territory, in my actual neighborhood of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, and I got caught up in the atmosphere. And by the time I realized it, it was too late.

After seeing a third friend with a sign in LIC, the second half came at me hard. At the 25K mark, I started struggling. I downed some pretzels before ascending the Qboro Bridge, but it wasn't enough salt. It was cold, and the wind picked up. I cursed myself for leaving the neck warmer and gloves in the bag. Somewhere on the bridge I felt my left hamstring and quad seize up, and I speed walked most of the way. I think everyone around me must have felt the same. No one said a word. It was all quiet footsteps and heavy breathing, (which was a big difference from the shouting and cheering at the Verrazzano).

Once I turned into 1st Ave, I felt a sense of relief... and dizziness. I tried to figure out why I was lightheaded, but then chalked it up to the fact that I didn't have enough electrolytes. Miles 16-18 were small rolling hills, which made me even more lightheaded. I seriously thought I was going to faint. My mind was all over the place.

Suddenly near the end of Mile 18, I saw some familiar faces. My mom, sis, brother and his fiance were there cheering. They had signs. I knew they would be there, but I was just so glad to have their support at that moment. And my mom brought me bananas! I stopped to give her a hug, refuel, and went on my way to tackle the Bronx after that mental boost.

Hugs and bananas!

Reaching the Bronx is physical challenge. But once you're in the Bronx, you know that's when the race really begins. That last 10k... The amount of sheer will and focus to move one foot in front of the other when your body is telling you to stop... If there's one thing I enjoy the most about putting myself through these grueling races, is the ability to achieve an extraordinary amount of mental toughness. For those hours, nothing matters but moving forward.

Heading along side the park on 5th Avenue was a blur. I had my head down most of the way and just zoned in on a slow shuffle. Past another friend. I tried to wave but I think it was a sad little hand gesture. I was hoping to catch GP, my old training buddy at the turn, but I didn't see her at all.

The last turn into the park was exciting though. My sis was there again with her sign at mile 24, and that gave me another burst of energy. You know the part in the movie, Monsters, where the kids screamed and all that energy gets bottled up to use? I felt like that with her screaming. I seriously don't think I've ever increased speed at the last leg.

Central Park was familiar territory. The end was near and I can feel it. Those park hills didn't bother me because I knew them well, and ran as many tangents as I could.

Last turn out of the park and onto 59th St was amazing with crowds on both sides, and Columbus Circle straight ahead. Along the way I had a lot of NYPD call my name, but near the last entrance, I heard a familiar voice, and saw my sis' cop friend. He didn't know it at the time, but that little encouragement gave me enough of a kick to catch and pass this guy with a chicken suit, (whom I've been trying to chase since Mile 16). Then I saw that 800m to go sign, I gathered what was left in the tank just hightailed it to the finish.

Okay. So I didn't get a PB on home turf like I wanted to. And from here on out, I am not going to look at any race time calculators because that just sets me up for disappointment. But in some ways, this was the best marathon ever, even if it was my second worse time. So many people I knew came out to show support. All the signs. The messages and texts. And best of all, four more people joined the ranks of being a marathoner, people who, two years ago on a drunken night out, decided they wanted to try running 26.2, and actually did it! I'm so proud!

At the finish, with C, W, and J. (E was already home by this time!)

My splits:

1 comment:

Tough Mudder said...

Wow, that was an awesome race. Congratulations for a great job well done. Looking forward always.