The 2006 NYC Marathon wasn't quite what I expected.
My goal was to break 4 hours. I was confident that I could do it based on some of the long runs I had late in my training. The key would be not to go out too fast.
I lost that key on the way to the start.
Race Day: I had trouble sleeping in the days leading up to the race. On Saturday night, I was tired at 7:30pm but thought it was too early to call it a night, but my wife said to give it a shot. Good suggestion. I went out like a light and woke up at 2:30am feeling pretty well rested. I enjoyed a leisurely morning with a cup of tea and some cereal. And some Gatorade later on. Decided against using the subway and called a car service to take me to lower Manhattan to the buses.
The Race: I arrived at the buses at 5:20am, got right on a bus, and headed out to Fort Wadsworth. I arrived there by 5:50am and found a tree to hang out by right in front of my corral. It was cold. My toes went numb. I got up and checked things out around the green corral and tried to stay semi-warm. I ate a bagel and a banana and hydrated until 7am. Then I listened to a couple episodes of Phedippidations on my iPod. I checked my bag around 8:30am and started to stretch. I felt cold but loose at the start.
I followed my group up the road to get ready for the start. I saw some guys sneak up a hill and followed them to see what the start looked like, and decided to stay (not a good idea to be up near the start with the fast guys). National Anthem was sung and BOOM, we were off. I was across the start in about a minute. I reminded myself to go out steady. Not too fast, not too slow. Then I proceeded to forget this.
Here are my splits. I planned to run between an 8:55 - 9:05 pace.
- Mile 1: 8:59 - Perfect (but didn’t take into account the slowness of the first half mile due to congestion.
- Mile 2: 8:04 - WTF? Put on the brakes! Now!
- Mile 3: 8:37- Better, but still too fast. Slow down.
- Miles 4 & 5: 17:24 - Hey, dumb%$!! You are going to crash and burn.
- Mile 6: 8:44 - Okay I can live with this. It feels pretty good. Saw my friend Kirtley. Nice boost.
- Mile 7: 8:44 - Excellent. Time to settle in.
- Mile 8 & 9: - 18:30 Whoa, slowing down. Pick it up a little. Saw my wife and daughter. Did the secret handshake.
- Mile 10: 8:58 - Great. But why do I feel like I just want to lay down and take a nap. And have a Big Mac and fries? Is this a bad sign? And my legs are really sore.
- Mile 11: 9:11 - Careful
- Mile 12: 8:56 - OK, back on track, but feeling it and getting concerned.
- Mile 13: 9:23 - Now very concerned. Getting low on energy and still have a long way to go.
- Miles 14 & 15: 19:11 - Starting to fade, but still have time in the bank. Approaching the Queensboro Bridge and my legs are close to cramping. I stop at the entry to the bridge and stretch out my hamstrings…feels so good. Man were they tight. I had planned to take it real easy over the bridge. It killed me last year. This year I would show some respect.
- Mile 16:10:39 - Respect and then some.
- Miles 17 & 18: 18:45 - Fading but still holding…I think. Saw my friend Nicole at 60th Street and my friend Jon at 98th Street.
- Mile 19: 9:23 - It's official, I’m fading and I’m in trouble. Put on my iPod Shuffle and crank it.
- Mile 20: 9:31 - Trying to hang on. Turn up the iPod…like that’s going to help.
- Mile 21: 10:39 - The wheels are coming off.
- Mile 22: 10:30 - Hang in there.
- Mile 23: 11:12 - OMG, wheels have exploded…complete blowouts.
- Mile 24: 11:52 - Having a complete melt down mentally and physically. Actually considering walking the rest of the way in. I’m having a pity party for myself.
- Mile 25: 11:52 - Finally decide to suck it up and meet my secondary goal of breaking 4:15. Start running. Almost home.
- Mile 26 & (.2): 10:08 (2:21) - Not bad, but definitely better than 11:52. This was the stretch down Central Park South. Was looking for my friends Sean and Randy. Thought I’d see them at 6th Ave or 7th Ave, but couldn’t find them. Thought I missed them. I get near Columbus Circle and hear my name over the song that’s cranking in my earbuds. It’s Sean and Randy with some raucous cheering. Excellent! Really pumped me up to take me home. My wife and daughter will be right around the corner. There they are. Hugs and kisses. Then a short run to the finish, and this mess is over!
Final Net Time: 4:11:37 (Time on my watch was 4:11:43)
Post Race: Then came the Marathon Death March to our bags. I was really glad to have the race over. And felt like an idiot for going out so fast and blowing it. The positive note is that I met my secondary goal and beat last year’s time of 4:39:54! So that was good. I started walking and just like last year my lips and fingers started to go numb. I found a medical person, and she gave me some salt. Last year I was feeling better in a couple minutes. This year, not so lucky. I started to get really light headed and dizzy. I had trouble walking. The medical person took me to the med area where they put me on a cot with my head down and my feet up. This allows the blood to get back to my head. Next thing I know I can’t feel my hands, my whole face is going numb and tingling and I’m freezing. I’m shivering so hard. They moved me to the tent where it was heated. Laid me down and covered me with blankets and started rubbing my arms and legs. I kept shivering. I just wanted to cry. Finally I started to warm up. I told them I thought I could get up. Getting to my feet was agony, but I made it. They wrapped me in some more heat sheets and sent me on my way. I made it to my bag truck, got my things and went to find my wife and daughter.
We got together and made our way home on the subway. My wife made the observation that there seemed to be a lot more spectators this year. I thought the same thing. Locations that were single file last year, were two, three and sometimes four deep this year. I suspect it was the Lance factor, but by the time I was coming through, Lance would’ve been long gone. It also seemed to me that it was much more crowded on the course. Much more jockeying for position and bumping and shoving. Who knows. I’m just glad this one is over.
I plan on doing NYC again next year. I’ll see how the training goes, but I might just try to enjoy next year and not get so gung-ho about a particular time. I had a more enjoyable race last year. It was all business this year and that wasn’t much fun. Now, if I had broken four hours, who knows…
Thanks must be given to my wife and daughter. Their support means the world to me, and I couldn’t do these races without them. Also, thanks to my friends for being on the course and cheering me on. You have no idea what a boost it is to see and hear you. And thanks to my friends who are much better runners than me, who are very and kind and helpful. Always willing to pass on excellent advice, like “Don’t go out too fast!”
So what’s next? Definitely some pigging out and resting. I’m giving myself until Friday of this week to eat and drink whatever I feel like. And then it’s back on the healthy wagon for me. Last year I celebrated all the way to the New Year, and I couldn’t fit in my pants. I had gained 20lbs! Not this year.
Thanks for hanging with me.