Monday, November 2, 2009

2009 NYC Marathon Race Report - Going Through the Motions

The 2009 NYC Marathon was my 3rd official NYC Marathon. I say 3rd because I ran it as a bandit most of the way through from in 2005. And of all three official races, I'd have to rank this as number three and least eventful. But more on that later. My experience for yesterday's race went something like this...

4:30am - Wake up, get dressed. Pack all my race day weapons which consisted of 5 roctane gels, a small bottle of water with lots of added table salt. For breakfast at Fort Wadsworth, a Clif builder bar and pineapple flavored Vita-coco.
5:00am - Left my apt to knock on neighbor's door who also ran the race. Other neighbor comes home with about 15 others in their Halloween garb.
5:30am - Our bus departs for Staten Island.
5:50am - 9:10am - Got to Fort Wadsworth early enough that neighbor and I claimed a semi dry spot in a tent.
9:15am - 10:20am - Waited with hundreds of increasingly frustrated runners who couldn't get into the starting corral for the wave. Not good energy usage IMO, so I tried to stay calm as others around me threatened to push the fence and screamed at officials. I ended up starting with wave 2 when I should've been with wave 1.

The Race
10:27am - I cross the starting line and I'm off! Love the adrenaline of a marathon start, especially in NY. Unfortunately, it wasn't completely there for me. But that helped since mile 1 is ALWAYS supposed to be slow. Covered the uphill on Verrazzano Bridge in 8:28.

Miles 1-4 - I knew to take it easy, but man, I felt like it was too easy because of the traffic. A lot of weaving. I think most people were running 8+ min/mile while I was trying to maintain 7:30's. Some guy along mile 3 blew his nose in front of me, and for some reason, the snot flew up and chunks of it landed on my forehead. Most disgusting marathon moment for sure.

Miles 5-10 - Somewhere around mile five, I started to feel the weight of my legs. From past experience, I realized then that the race was going to be longer than I thought and that I'd have to battle to the finish. I expected a fade at the finish and adjusted my time goal from 3:20 to 3:30. BTW, I've ALWAYS loved running through Ft. Greene and Lafayette Ave's even more so that 1st Ave. in Manhattan. Loud, proud spectators and the lively live gospel music by the African-American church at the latter part of the stretch is so awesome it makes me want to walk so I could enjoy more of the atmosphere. But I ended up averaging about 7:40's in this stretch because of the crowd.

Miles 11 - 15 - This is the part of the race that I know nothing about in terms of location. Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Long Island City and a part of Queens. Still enjoyable running through a different part of the city though. I admonished a couple of able looking runners who were walking, and they started to pick up the pace. Legs definitely felt heavy going over the Queensboro Bridge, covering the span in 8:08.

Miles 16 - 20 - Exiting the Queensboro Bridge made me fall initially fell in love with the race. It's the closest I'll ever experience to playing the Super Bowl. Stadium atmosphere of spectators. The rush provides an energy boost for a couple of miles. Miles 17 and 18 were 7:13 and 7:28 respectively. I thought of trying for a sub 7 mile but decided it wasn't worth the effort. I didn't want to pay later. The latter part of this block of miles, I just wanted to keep my legs moving, particularly over the orange carpeted bridge. There were portions where I wanted to slow down and walk heading up to the Bronx, but my wife put this

on the back of my shirt. I couldn't be seen walking with that on my back :-P

Miles 21-25 - Time to gut it out. I was sick of the gel's and the gatorade so I took in only water these last miles. Just kept telling myself to keep my legs moving and not to walk. From the Bronx, all I could think of was getting to Central Park and facing that uphill mile. It wasn't as hard as I thought. I moved as my fast my heavy legs allowed me, which were threatening to cramp everytime I sped up just a little. That uphill mile was 9:07! Slow, but I didn't walk. Also cramped up a couple of times once in CP, but slowing down a little more alleviated it.

Mile 25 - finish - As I crossed the mile 25 marker, my watch read 3:19:57. A quick calculation told me I needed to maintain an 8 min pace the rest of the way. "Piece of cake," I thought. It wasn't, but thankfully the downhill to 5th ave and the crowds along CP South helped. Once I got into the park, with 100m to go, I saw that I had 30s to spare. I was going to make 3:30. Official finish time was 3:29:55.

Rest of the story
It always amazes me that the moment that I stop running after 26.2 miles or so, everything hurts. I wish the adrenaline boost from the last 1/4 mile would last a little longer. It never does. The painful walk to the exit seemed to take forever, but I needed to keep my legs moving so I wouldn't stiffen up badly. And for whatever reason, I felt like shedding happy tears of accomplishment along this walk. I was just so grateful to have finished. Unlike my previous races where I was motivated by a time goal, it was more of a battle to keep my legs moving.

So why is this my least favorite of the three that I've done? Like I said, It felt uneventful. I ran the mileage and hoped to experience the race. Didn't quite happen. My heart wasn't there. I still had fun and appreciate everything about the event. However, I may need to take a step back and volunteer or spectate next year to readjust my perspective.

The P90X Effect
The other factor I've been wondering about going into this marathon was the P90X program I started about 35 days ago. Looking back, I think the P90X program helped me to get stronger for running, particularly improvements to my core and flexibility. I also think it helped me to pull off a respectable time. Ultimately, I believe it was my lack of mileage that probably slowed me down. My heart rate averaged 166 - a few beats lower than my marathon PR average. Good cardio but uncooperative legs. What I've appreciated more about the P90X program though, is that I think it has helped me to recover a lot faster. It has only been a day, but I had no problems going down stairs and can pretty much function normally. I'm glad that the marathon is over so I can focus just on P90X from now until end of this year.

Garmin Mileage splits
P90X Program

1 comment:

i am Susan said...

Wonderful race report. You did an amazing job. I've contemplated getting the p90X as I've heard so many good things. Speaking of good things of you heard of Youth Juice before.

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Good luck with the rest of your training. I am doing Las Vegas Marathon next Sunday and look forward to running along side Elvis.