First, congrats to Alan, Jim H., Kenn V, Denny W., and Mandy for their great races at IMF.
Second, the NYC Marathon is a great race in an amazing place. The organization is superb and all endurance athletes should run this at least once.
2:58:28. Am I satisfied? With the day and the experience, definitely. With that time, definitely not. I worked it today though, so what you see is what you get.
I knew coming into this race that I was way under prepared. No need to beat a dead horse. September and October were wash outs in terms of training. I knew that if my energy and cardio fitness would come around by race day (after that brutal virus last week), then the one thing that would get me at some point would be my structure. Basically, did I deserve to be on the starting line today? Sure, I earned my way there, but training wise, no.
A huge thanks to Paul Moyse and Randy Chamberland. I tagged along with them this morning and it made the experience that much easier and that much more enjoyable. We took an organized bus out of Stratford that dropped us off at the Verranzano around 7:30am. Then, we had to just wait until our start time at 9:40. Runners are way different than triathletes and here, there were 40, 000 runners. They were lying around everywhere, making it challenging to just walk without stepping on someone. Everyone had throwaway clothes on, so it looked like a big homeless convention at the starting line. People are sleeping, changing and peeing everywhere. Above all, everyone was just trying to keep warm. Then you are ushered into your corral. Paul, Randy and Gus were in the same color corral, but were in the C corral, and I was in D. With 1000 runners in each corral, I wasn't thrilled about this, so I followed Paul and Randy through the security gate into their corral, pretended like I belonged there and barely flashed my bib number with your corral assignment listed on it. Problem solved. This helped a bunch, because when the gun sounded, it took only 20 seconds for me to cross the starting line.
We had a huge headwind over the Verranzano and it's very crowded, making the first mile slow - a 7:30. I then settled into a very comfortable pace and was clicking off 6:30's. I went through the 1/2 way point in 1:25 and cardio wise, it felt easy, but structurally, I had some signs showing that the last part of the race was going to hurt. I didn't go out to hard. The pace felt easy, but the hips and it band on my left leg were starting to act up a bit. If I had been running slower, it probably would have been worse since I'd be out there longer. The Verranzano Bridge was really cool, then you run through Brooklyn into Queens. The crowds are simply awesome at this race. The course is lined the whole way with cheering people and lots of bands, the only exception being the Queensboro Bridge around the 16 mile mark. Thank god for the crowds, because otherwise, this course though Brooklyn and Queens is fugly.
Lisa and Baker came in and were tracking me on MyAthlete - the only way to spectate this race. With the amount of runners and the amount of fans, you'd never see each other. I spotted them in Brooklyn at a cool spot around the 8 mile mark. Hitting the incline on the Queensboro bridge, i was really beginning to feel it structurally. This part of the course, as Paul warned me, was tough. It's an incline and dark since you on the lower bridge level, and quiet since there are no fans. However, coming off the bridge into Manhattan is amazing! The crowds on first ave yelling and cheering are the most impressive I've ever witnessed in a race.
The last 8 miles were painful. Again, my cardio or wind, felt fine. In control and relaxed. It was my hips and more so my left ITB that were screaming. My pace slowed as I felt my form go to shit. At the 25 mile mark, I saw Lisa and Baker and then had to stop and walk - it felt as though my left ITB was going to snap. I walked for four depressing minutes, then I looked at my watch and had a little self talk that went something like "come on you bastard! If you don't go under three your pathetic!"
I crossed feeling as though you might feel if you squelched on a bet and the bookie and his thugs took it out on your legs with baseball bats. I snagged some Tylenol from the med tent and borrowed a cell from a nice lady to give Lisa and Baker a meeting spot. From there, we headed back to the car, stopping for some burgers and black and tans.
This was my marathon debut. I have run a bunch of marathons in IM's but never a stand alone. Many athletes had told me that they feel running a stand alone marathon is harder than racing an IM. Their philosophy being that the harder pace of a stand alone marathon is extremely challenging and painful. I was curious to see if this was true. I mentioned that I wanted to really experience this race, but at the same time, I raced hard, despite my slower time. That's the only way I know how to race. I have to say that those who feel a stand alone marathon is harder than an IM clearly haven't pushed hard enough in their IM race. There is no comparison! Yes, a marathon is very challenging and it beat the hell out of me. But it's only three hours versus nine, and you don't have the nutritional issues that you experience in an IM. Sorry, but as hard as a marathon is, an IM is WAY harder. Paul was telling me before the race that he's often criticized for taking races out to hard. I responded that I feel most race too conservatively. I've said it before - you don't know how far you can hit it if you don't swing for the fence once in awhile.
Now, I'll get myself healthy and give Boston a fair test and see what I can really do.