- What? NYC Marathon
- When? November 4, 2018
- How far? 26.2 miles
- Where? New York City
- Website: https://www.tcsnycmarathon.org/
- Strava activity: https://www.strava.com/activities/1946216302
- Finish time: 3:29:43
|B||2020 BQ time (sub-3:30)||Yes|
I used the NYRR Virtual Trainer program for this race. I got the 16 week “Moderate” plan. I dealt with a hip injury in June/early July, so I wanted to be a bit more conserative that I would usually. If I hadn’t been injured, I probably would have tried to go with Pfitz 18/55 instead. I averaged about 42 mpw over those 16 weeks, with one workout in the middle of the week (track work or tempo), and a long run on the weekend. I did 2 20 milers, one with a short 5 mile MP tempo in the middle. Most of my long runs were done 100% at easy pace, but there were 2 or 3 with short workout sections in the middle. Overall, I’m glad I didn’t try to push too much in training. My fitness still increased a LOT, and I would definitely feel comfortable doing my next training cycle at 55-60 mpw which I think would lead to even more improvement.
Woke up at 3:45 to get ready and catch the subway to the Midtown bus. Bus ride was super quick, thankfully, and we managed to get through the security checkpoint before everyone and their mother arrived. Staten Island is cold. Sitting around for two hours freezing (in sweats!) was not super fun. I definitely had a moment of regret. I was glad that I was in wave 1 though. Also, I think I set a new personal record for “men peeing outdoors” spotted while in the starting corral. After some difficulty, I managed to find my friend Doug (who GRACIOUSLY offered to pace me to a 3:30 finish) and we headed the start line.
The Verrazano Bridge is almost a mile long and almost 4% grade, and it’s the first mile of the race. I tried to stay conservative and not go out too fast. I was on the lower bridge, and I had heard rumors about runners getting peed on by runners on the upper bridge. This is true. I managed to avoid most of it, but I did indeed get some specks of pee on my forehead. I felt like I was getting the true NYC Marathon experience. I had done a little bit of course research, and knew that I should be trying to split the first mile at around 8:40 pace. I never saw a mile marker until mile 2, so my first two splits are estimated based on the GPS data. The rest of the race, I took manual splits at every mile marker so I didn’t have to worry about the buildings messing up the GPS data and telling me I was running 15 minute miles. Mile 2 was pretty much all downhill leaving the bridge, and I ended up going a little faster than I anticipated. My plan was to run by feel for the first ~20 miles, then start making sure I could still run race pace to the finish. At around mile 3, my wave (Green) merged with the Blue and Orange waves. There was a moment when I looked up and just saw the massive crowd of people ahead of me, filling the streets, and I got really emotional and grateful that I made it to the start line. Miles 4-10 were mostly a blur. We were ticking off solid miles, hovering around my goal pace of 8:00 minute miles. I felt super comfortable and didn’t feel like the pace was very hard at all, which I knew was a good sign. If I could stay relaxed and cruise until mile 20, I was hoping to be in a good place to avoid hitting the wall and finish strong. I took honey stinger gels at mile 5 & 10. Originally, I had a flipbelt around my waist to hold my gels, but at around mile 10 I was fed up with it and took it off and threw it away, stuffing the rest of my gels into my sports bra. We caught the 3:30 pace group somewhere in those miles, and we figured they must be going a little slow or trying to negative split the race, as they started about a minute ahead of us and we were still pretty much on track for a 3:30 finish. The aid stations began to get a bit more chaotic, with people darting in front of you to grab water and then immediately coming to a full stop to drink. I had to really practice my dodging skills, as well as making sure not to slip on all the discarded cups.
Miles 11-20: Somewhere around mile 10 or 11, we went through the Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. This is a really unique part of the course, as it’s almost completely silent and bare of spectators. I actually really enjoyed this part, as it gave me some time to take a mental break from the craziness of the rest of the course. It was also fairly emotional after the recent shooting at the synangogue in Pittsburgh. We hit the Pulaski Bridge at around mile 13. It’s not a long hill (only around 0.25 miles long), but the 4% incline is definitely noticeable. We split the half marathon point at around 1:44, right on track. I still felt pretty relaxed, and even the hills weren’t spiking my heart rate too much (I’m not good at hills… yet! working on it). A couple miles later, we hit the “hard bridge”: the Queensboro Bridge. It’s at mile 15, 0.75 miles long, ~3% incline, and completely devoid of spectators. Oh man. It was rough. We passed a lot of people walking on this one. I knew that once we made it over, we’d hit the insane crowds at mile 16, so I used that thought to propel myself forward. Mile 16 was also where my friends Aliza and Andy were waiting to cheer us on! That was a huge mental boost, and it perked my spirits up after the killer bridge. At around mile 18, I started to have really bad stomach pain. I have a fairly sensitive stomach (IBS, gluten issues, lactose intolerance, you name it), and I knew it wasn’t going to go away until I found a porta potty. I made a pit stop during mile 19, and it added around ~40 seconds to our time. I knew those 40 seconds could be make or break when it came to my time goal, and I really hoped it wouldn’t come back to bite me in the ass later. By mile 20, I wasn’t feeling great anymore. My right quad had started to hurt quite a bit, and it definitely felt like a lot more work to maintain race pace. I started to worry about hitting the wall and missing my goal. I had taken a gel at mile 15, and took my last gel at mile 20.
Miles 21-26.2: This is where the real race starts, I guess. Mile 21 and 22 passed fairly uneventfully, just grinding. I kept telling myself I just had to make it to the next mile marker, and that’s all that matters. No need to worry about the miles left after that until you get there. Mile 23 was absolutely one of the toughest parts of the entire race. It’s almost completely uphill, at around 2% grade. Doesn’t sound like much, but after 22 miles, it’s terrible. I still have no idea how I survived it. I refused to look up the street to the end of the hill, so far away. Just kept looking in front of me and concentrating on keeping pace. We were a little over pace on this mile, and I could tell it was going to be really close if we were going to make it in under 3:30. I started to prepare myself mentally for the chance of not meeting my goal. I knew I’d still PR, and I knew I had greatly improved my fitness over the past 16 weeks of training. I knew I’d be disappointed in myself if I gave up, and I decided that even if I couldn’t make my goal, I was going to give it everything I had until the last possible moment. Central Park was hard. I kept telling myself I had less than 2 miles to go, less than 1.5 miles to go, etc. I had tunnel vision for the last mile or so, just concentrating on keeping up with Doug. I stopped looking at my watch and just tried to run hard (but not hard enough that I’d be burnt out before I made it to the finish line). Once I saw the sign for “800m left”, I knew I had to push it. I told myself that 800m was only two laps on the track, and I can do that no problem. I checked my watch and I could tell that sub-3:30 was still possible, so I just ran with everything I had left. We crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch, and burst into tears. We made it in 3:29:43, 17 seconds under 3:30!
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“you don’t have to be so tough that it doesn’t hurt, you just have to be tough enough not to quit.” . after mile 22, all I wanted to do was give up. I had a million excuses running through my head: •“my quad hurts so bad, maybe I’m getting injured” •“I barely got any sleep Friday and Saturday night” •“I didn’t train enough” •“I’m just not good enough” •“I’m not going to make it in under 3:30 so I might as well just walk”. . all I could do was just focus on making it to the next mile. I promised myself that I wouldn’t quit until mile 23. Then mile 24. Then mile 25. And suddenly I was passing the sign that said “800m to go”. I poured out everything that I had left, not knowing if it was going to be enough to get me a BQ time. Crossing the finish line and seeing the time on the clock was extremely emotional, and I think I’ll be riding that high for a couple of weeks at least. Knowing that I didn’t give up and I didn’t quit on myself is incredibly empowering, and I’ll carry that strength with me from now on.
Lots of crying, lots of hugging. We made our way through the finish area, grabbing our medals, heat sheet ponchos, and plastic backpacks full of water and food. I split off from Doug after that, as I had the “post-race poncho” option and he had done bag check. I found my family, and started crying again while hugging my mom and my boyfriend. I watched my mom run the Boston Marathon in 2004, and ever since then I had a dream of running it myself while she watched. Telling her that I qualified was hugely emotional and meant so much to me. I’m hoping my 17 seconds is enough of a buffer to be able to register for 2020, but if not, I’m fairly confident I could run another marathon and get a bigger buffer if I chose a flatter, faster course and also did a more intense training plan. I’m still undecided on if I want to run another marathon next year though. I’m planning on getting back to doing more trail and ultra events for 2019 and 2020, so we’ll see. I definitely am tempted to see how I could do on a higher mileage training plan, however.