Posts Tagged ‘Marathon’

2009 NYC Marathon, Part 2

I felt pretty good when I got up for the race at 4:00 AM on November 1st. Things seemed to fall into place easily. My legs felt rested, my stomach was settled, and I was completely ready for this marathon. The rain was tapering to reveal near-perfect weather and the 4 train miraculously dropped me off at Bowling Green with just enough time to make the 6:00 AM Staten Island Ferry before the doors closed. And with each of us being assigned to a different color start village, my two brothers and I found a dry neutral spot in the center to chat and work through breakfast before we needed to go to our separate corrals. An easy Sunday morning with merely 26.2 miles ahead of me.

The marathon started perfectly. I stayed conservative in the first couple of miles and finally settled into a steady pace once I reached 4th Avenue in Brooklyn. I was aware that my pace was 10 to 15 seconds per mile faster than my target time, but I was feeling good about it and decided to maintain that speed. I hovered around this pace pretty consistently until I approached the Bronx – when my legs started to feel a bit heavy. By mile 21 I was stopping to walk every now and then. At mile 22 I realized that I could slow down to 10-minute miles and at least still come in under 3:30. After the water station at mile 24 my legs started to feel jittery and I suddenly noticed that I was starving. I finished my GU Chomps and alternated between running and walking (sometimes laughing out loud at myself in the process) until I finished in 3:31:08, more than a little disappointed with how quickly the race got away from me at the end.

Okay, so I didn’t make my goal time of 3:20:00. In fact, I was pretty far off. A big part of me really wanted to blow last year’s marathon time completely out of the water and I knew I had the training behind me to do it. What can I then say about all those months of focused training, of becoming one of those unemployed runners apparently creating stiffer competition, if I didn’t do as well as I had hoped I would? Well this is why I’m still proud of my accomplishment:

  • I still PR’d by cutting a minute and twenty seconds off of my 2008 finishing time.
  • Overall it was a stronger run than my first marathon. It took me longer to hit The Wall, and even then it wasn’t nearly as bad. I also found that I had far more emotional strength to battle the doubts and funny thoughts that run through your head when you push your body to such extreme limits.
  • I’ve started to figure out what kind of nourishment works for me on race day. This year’s menu: peanut butter pretzels and water for breakfast; GU Chomps and water only during the race. It still needs some tweaking so that I can avoid the jittery legs I had after mile 24, but I’m starting to understand how nutrition affects me.
  • I had much more awareness of my pace and I have developed increased comfort in recognizing the limits (or even the possibilities) of my training.
  • Speedy recovery. Physically I felt strong from the moment I crossed the finish line and I feel nearly back to normal only two days later.

As runners we often focus so much on speed and time. How fast am I going? Did I PR? But there are so many other things to consider when you think about your performance in any given race, and the reasons I’ve given above are just some examples. No matter the speed, it’s important to remember that pushing your body to cover 26.2 miles using only the power of your own two feet is an immense accomplishment whether you run, jog or walk.

Congratulations to everyone else who completed the 2009 ING NYC Marathon!

(And I’ll see you out there again next year.)

marathon medal

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2009 NYC Marathon, Part 1

Less than 24 hours to go until the start of the 2009 NYC Marathon – and I’m finally starting to get excited. There was something in me that was rather nonchalant about the whole thing starting sometime early in my taper. Then I went to the expo at the Javits Center on Thursday to pick up my race number and the excitement finally kicked in! Here are a few pictures:

expo1

Welcome banners at the entrance

expo2

Inside the expo

expo3

Bart Yasso, racing icon and Runner's World Chief Running Officer, signing books. Meeting him was a highlight for me.

And then I woke up to another thrilling sight yesterday morning – the Blue Line painted along the course:

Blue Line

The Blue Line marking the marathon route

Everything’s in place, I feel pretty good, and now I just have to make sure I get some rest, load up on carbs, and set several alarms to make sure I get up early enough tomorrow morning to catch the Staten Island Ferry.

Just Follow the Flags

On my way out to do some laundry this morning, I noticed something exciting that I don’t recall seeing yesterday. It’s like Christmas morning for the New York runner:

Marathon Route

The blue-orange-white banners marking the path of the ING NYC Marathon route have been installed on lampposts – and with the countdown to race day now in single-digits the air in the city is becoming electrifying.

Time to Taper

The true reward of all those months of training comes at that moment when you cross the finish line at the end of 26.2 miles and you recognize your huge accomplishment as you proudly hobble over to accept your medal from a volunteer, have your picture taken, and warm up with a shiny Mylar blanket.

But the SECOND best reward that comes from all those months of training is the three-week taper period before the big race. What does this mean to me? Cutting back on mileage, sleeping in a little longer, being a little bit lazy and maybe eating whatever I feel like eating. Bring on the cookie dough ice cream. Enjoy it, because it’s the quiet before the storm. And right now I am enjoying it!

I finished my last long run this past Sunday with my running club. As we do every year, three weeks before the NYC marathon we start in Park Slope and run the last 20 miles of the course. Along the way we have dedicated teammates stationed every few miles at water stops, helping the rest of us get through that last major training run. We end in Central Park at Tavern on the Green, and those who feel like pushing it a little more can tack on an extra two miles by running the lower loop and then some. For me it was very strong this year. I ran with good company, stayed on pace, and felt like I could easily tackle another 4.2 miles. Exactly the kind of place you want to be in three weeks before the big day.

And now I’m in the taper zone. Suddenly it’s a different world with new challenges.

I remind myself that it’s important to stick to your plan and fight the urge to run the extra miles you are used to. This will give your body time to rejuvenate and be in the most well-rested shape it can be in for race day. So with a decrease in mileage, that opens up my calendar quite a bit. What do I do with my extra time? Cross train a bit with some swimming, and then maybe spend a little bit more time on the job search…

The Haribo Experiment

Around mile 13 of this morning’s 20 mile long run, two of my teammates and I decided to stop by a bodega at West 155th Street to get some Gatorade before we crossed into the Bronx at Yankee Stadium. I was getting a case of the shakes while running up the hill and knew that I wouldn’t be able to get through the next seven miles without putting something solid in my stomach – and gels were not going to do it for me. I’m usually pretty picky about what I consume during a run but I took a chance on the first palatable thing I saw – a bag of gummi bears. Somehow they spoke to me.

I knew I was taking a risk. Either it would make me sick within the next mile or it would be the perfect sugar boost to power me through the rest of the run. I ate the whole bag and washed it down with blue Gatorade. It was pretty darn tasty.

It turns out that those adorable little German wonders worked well for me. I finished the long run in pretty good time, averaging about 8:00 per mile. And not once did I ever think that I would vomit, which is a great sign. It’s funny what you crave during big workouts. Another member of my team has since urged me to give Clif Shot Bloks another chance – they’re not as cute as gummi bears but I’ll give them another try on the next long run.