New York City Marathon 2010
My 7th (6th consecutive) New York City Marathon is officially in the books. My unofficial time, according to my watch, is 5:09:57. I am happy with this effort considering I had no running mileage between April and October. I did not start to train for the NYCM until Oct 7, consisted of 1x12M, 3x7M and a scattering of 4M’s and 3M’s. In other words, less than 60 miles of running in less than 1 month to get ready for the Marathon. Add to the fact that I stopped during the marathon several times to say hello to family and for every picture worth occasion and I’d say my time was darn spiffy. I certainly ran better than last year, which I attribute to running with intelligence and being injury free.
Waiting for the start of the marathon is always uncomfortable. It’s difficult to wait around in a crowded area, with no sun in 39 degree temps. There is no room to stretch and barely any room to sit down. I am reminded of the cattle or chickens that are forced to live in overcrowded conditions while they await their slaughter. You just do your best to pass the time and try to remain warm. Luckily, I was in the first wave of runners which left at 9:40am, so my wait time was less than most.
Honestly, I should not have been in the first wave, which I believe was supposed to launch the faster runners. My wave time was based on past race performances and the time I predicted I would finish. When I signed up, I figured I could do it in 3:30, but that was long before I became injured with Plantar Fasciitis and took off from running for over 6 months. In any event, I lined up in the middle of the first wave and took my sweet time to get moving. I stopped on the bridge several times to take pictures and for the first time really didn’t care how long I was taking. Truth was at the moment, I wasn’t feeling so good and doubted I could even finish the marathon. I dilly dallied on the bridge, taking pictures and by the time I started to get moving again, almost all the runners from the first wave had passed me. It was a very odd feeling. I was running completely alone on the Verrazano Bridge. Usually I am surrounded by 10’s of thousands of runners. I felt as though the sweep van might come at any moment and take me off the course.
As I made my way off the bridge, I was still almost completely alone. I’d pass the occasional straggler and I would wonder what was causing them to be so slow when they were in the first wave. I didn’t even have anyone in front of me to follow on the course, which made me rely on the course markings and the barricades to know which way I was to go. Now this may not seem significant to you, but to be running completely alone in a race of 45,000 runners, running alone is completely bizarre. I just kept making my way forward, anticipating the arrival of the fast runners from waves two and three. I was about 4 -5 miles into the marathon, when the first runners from wave two started to pass me. I began to feel better, as the feel of running the NYCM started to return to some semblance of normality.
By the time I passed mile 6 and started to approach the meeting point of where my family was waiting to see me, the pack of runners had thickened enough that I felt like I was actually in the NYCM and not a lone exhibit walking down a gauntlet of spectators looking at a freak. I asked my wife to bring me some items that I forgot to take with me and also gave her a bunch of clothes that I was wearing. Having shed down a significant amount of clothes and taking a caffeine pill to wake me up immediately changed my state of mind and body. I started to loosen up and began to run very well. My pace quickened to approximately 10 min/mile, my heart rate settled in and I began to feel physically and mentally good. The doubts as to whether or not I could finish began to melt away with each passing mile.
Being in no rush at all to finish, I didn’t worry about taking breaks along the course. These breaks were all in order for me to get a picture of something I found interesting. Here are a few of them…
The one thing I will say about my endurance efforts this year, is that I’ve learned how to tolerate the passing of time. It’s as though I don’t notice that the clock is ticking as I always seem to be making progress and my slow pace does not bother me. I guess you learn that from sitting in a saddle for 18 hours in a day and crawling up 25 mile hills at only 4-5 mph. As long as I have the sense of moving forward, I feel ok and keep on moving right along.
And moving right along is what I did. I made it from Brooklyn to Queens, Queens into Manhattan (where I said hello to my mom at 63rd Street), from Manhattan into the Bronx and then back into Manhattan again. Once back in Manhattan, I knew I was home free and ran with a smile on my face all the way down 5th Avenue and into Central Park. I knew I was running at a comfortable and relaxed pace as my face wasn’t clenched, nor was my jaw. In fact, I think I had a smile for most of it. I was very pleased with myself for running so well on pure effort and training memory alone. My finish certainly wasn’t attributable to the fewer than 60 running miles I put in over the previous 3 weeks. My 7th NYC Marathon Medal is probably my most satisfying, if only because I proved to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to do. Now I just have to figure out exactly what it is I want to do next.