Monday, November 03, 2008

New York City Marathon 2008

8 seconds. I never thought I would need the full minute of 3:10 in order to qualify for Boston, but there it was, staring me in the face. All the positive thinking in the world is not enough to overcome what you really need to be running with at that point: fear.

The race had obviously not panned out quite like I hoped, but in the end hope is not a plan. Of course I had hoped to go through 16-18 miles fairly comfortably around 6:10-6:15 pace. I didn't see that being terribly out of reason given PDR and how I felt there running much faster. 6:18 pace is 2:45, and while I knew it was a reach, I felt like I could do it. If I couldn't, at least I wouldn't slow down to much over 2:50. Worst case 3 hours. Boy, I was way off.

I haven't woken up this many times during the night in a while, and was definitely anxious as I was up before the alarm. Thanks to my dad we got a ride right to the Fort, which was awesome. It was a pretty cool scene, and definitely well organized. It was also super windy and not terribly warm. Jake and I chilled out with this dude from Colorado, who appeared to be quite fit and looking to go low 2:30s. It was time to go into the corral, which was really cool. I was in the first wave and was mad close to the line. The cannon went off, amidst the speakers playing "New York, New York" and off we went to traverse the Verrazano Bridge.

Everyone talked about how hard the first mile is, uphill, lots of people, but I didn't really think it was that bad. I weaved through a few folks and found some space and hit the mile somewhere around 6:40. The view is pretty awesome if you take the time to look, and running over the bridge was one of the things I was most excited for. The downhill mile on the other side was pretty awesome and I cruised through 2 miles in 12:18 (5:38). At this point I found a little group to run with, there were three of them that were clearly friends but also had really poor running etiquette. I think I clicked my watch a little early on mile 3, which made mile 4 a little long but was at 18:59 through 5k and 4 miles in 24:30.

At this point I was feeling good, knocking out 6:15 and 6:07 for the next two (10k was 38:12, so 19:13 5k split. All this time though, as good as I felt aerobically, my body just felt trashed. The race was really hard on my hips, and the wind wasn't helping. Just after mile 7 (6:13) I felt the onslaught of mudbutt, so I ditched into the bathroom. I managed to get feces on my shorts and hands, which was disgusting. After the 2 minute stop I was back on my way, and after the 8 mile split (8:15) I was back into two miles at 6:13 (1:03:48 at 10).

So in my head I'm thinking, okay you just ran 1:01:48 for 10 miles, which is right on 6:10 pace. You're doing great, keep it up. Then mile 11 happened, and I'm not sure what happened. I just slowed down. 6:34, to be exact, and then picked it up a little bit for mile 12 (6:26). Mile 13 was 6:40, so it was apparent the wheels were well on their way to coming off, but I was still at the half in 1:24:15.

I knew I was slowing down, but figured I could at least go 1:30-1:35, and get under 3, but something was definitely up. I was out of it, and my body was shutting down. I was having stomach trouble and my legs just felt broken. Miles 14-16 were really slow, as I went over two bridges and back into Manhattan (22:52). I was still at 1:46 at 16 and thought c'mon buddy, let's go.

Zero jumped in for a little but it was really tough having him there being as fresh as he was, and it was tough for me as I crawled up First Ave. I still wasn't doing terrible yet, as the next couple of miles were 7:43, 7:50 and 8:00. It's amazing to think of how one's body shuts down like this. I figured I wouldn't be in serious trouble til this point, and definitely didn't think I'd cross over 7s, let alone 8s.

Then the real trouble started as I crossed another bridge into the Boogie Down - 8:16, 8:22, 8:20, 8:42. At this pace it was now clear that 3 hours was out, 3:05 was out, and Boston was questionable. Zero jumped back in and was helping, but I was in all sorts of misery. All I wanted was to get into Central Park and feel good, wave to my family and friends and come in with some energy. This was not to be. I saw Kootman and Pereless, but couldn't even respond.

The death blow was really mile 24, which was largely uphill and 8:58. Real trouble now. I knew I had one shot to get under 3:11, and that failing was not an option. Running 3:11:00 would have made the effort not even worth it, so I sucked it up and went. With 2 miles to go I was at 2:52:35, so under normal circumstances you would think no problem. Well I was having a problem, and the next two miles were 8:25 and 8:08. I was now at 3:09:09 with .2 to go. Could it be done?

Fortunately for me and those around me, I was able to "kick" it in with a 1:42. Only about 42 seconds slower than I would run for .2 at the end of a 10k, but whatever, it got me under 3:10:59. I walked through the finish and was freezing, like hypothermic style. I went into the medical tent and tried to get warm, my legs seized up, I smelled like feces - it was terrible.

I finally got walking again and met up with the squad, and then met up with my parents and walked some more, took the subway to the train, rode the train home and was exhausted. At least my subway and train trips were free.

Most important take away: it's great to have great friends, so thanks to everyone who supported this endeavor, whether you were there or not. But a lot of credit is deserved to those who were there, so thanks to my parents (especially my dad for his driving and help) and my bro, Kootman, Pereless, Vic and Bobber (from high school team) and then ZERO for running with me, and the indefatigable squadron of Melissa, Arjun, Alyssa, Brennan, Jen and Sara Spears for their efforts. It was really awesome to see you all out there and know you were rooting for me.

Not like what I've done is that big a deal, certainly people do them all the time, but you guys have been to all the shittiest races I've ever had (which have all happened this year mostly).

Mad props go out to a few people I saw yesterday who had great races, first being Jake, who took the last 24 weeks to train as seriously as anyone and it paid off with a 2:42:59 debut marathon; Brian Shea, who thought he would go 2:55 and wound up dropping a 2:51; Maggie Guiney who passed me at 14 and while that killed me, she did go 2:54; and Matias, who is one of the more amazing athletes I know, who ran a pretty even split 2:38 and change.

It was really hard, I got schooled by another race but as always, learned another lesson. For Boston it'll be time to TCOB (take care of business) and run a little bit smarter. I kind of wish I had run a first marathon prior to this one, just to have the pressure taken off a little. NYC has been such a big part of my life as a runner and is the most important running race I can think of. Boston is big for Americans; New York is big for the world. Everyone knows New York. So while I haven't committed to next year's race schedule, this may wind up back on the docket if I have good fortune.

Race #24, the most I've ever done in a year.

1 comment:

gladfelter said...

Great job Elf. Don't be so hard on yourself - I ran 3:43 my first time around. Feel great about your marathon, except you crapped on yourself. At least you didn't run 11 or 12 minute miles.