Sunday, November 6, 2011

New York City Marathon 2011

In brief, it was a lovely day for running. Sunny, high 40s and low 50s, and I finished in 2:45:50, shaving 1:55 off my PR

set in Philadelphia last fall.

5k splits I got off the tracking web site:

5k    20:07
10k    39:49     (19:42)
15k    59:29     (19:30)
20k    1:18:58    (19:27)
half    1:23:14
25k    1:38:57    (19:59)
30k    1:57:46    (18:49)
35k    2:17:47    (20:01)
40k    2:37:42    (19:55)
finish    2:45:50

I was did not go into this race expecting a PR because my training did not seem to indicate I was fit enough for a serious shot at it. Although I had a pretty solid summer and September where I managed to squeeze in a little more mileage than the same period last year, I had a rather miserable October where I had trouble finishing some key workouts, and decided to start cutting back on mileage early due to residual fatigue that seemed to refuse to go away.

As far as racing, I had a somewhat disappointing 17:30 5k in early September, and an encouraging 18 miler on rolling hills that I ran in 1:53:49, or 20 seconds faster than last year, despite a day with 100% humidity and high 60s temperatures. I am now thinking the big effort that day may have played into my struggles in October.

Anyway, given that I was feeling miserable most of the last month, I tapered early and hoped for the best. Being that the NYCM is a massive race and a logistical nightmare, I was forced to take the 5 am shuttle from the medowlands, and arrived in the start vollage by 6 am. I then spent a couple of hours sitting/laying on the grass in a tent as a bunch of boorish Frenchmen and other foreigners stepped on me as they moved around the bodies of runners that were stacked like firewood. Not a fan of this nonsense.

Anyway, after a couple of hours of this nonsense I got up to go use a portajohn and drop my luggage, only to realize that I misjuged how early I would need to do all this. I had to scramble to make it to my corral before it closed, and wound up having to miss any sort of warm up.

Eventually, they brought us to the start. And we stood there, packed like sardines, for a good 45 minutes. Joy. The one

bright spot was seeing the pro men's introductions. These little guys jogged through the crowd of ligned up runners and gave out some high fives. Geoffrey Mutai had a giant smile, and looked like he was skipping along. I loved that.

Anyway, after all the usual pleasantries from the Mike Bloomberg and Mary W, we got under way about 6 minutes late :rollseyes:. I decided I would take it easy up Verrazano bridge, and came through the mile 6:50-ish or so. I was careful on the steep descent off the bridge, and did that downhill mile in 6:10. I wasn't feeling great, during the opening miles, I suspect due to having to skip my warm up. It wasn't until around 4-5 miles when I realized that I was actually feeling pretty good.

Despite feeling good, I chose to resist the urge to push the pace too much for the next few miles, and concentrated on staying relaxed and running low 6:20s for the next few miles. There were many bands lining the streets in Brooklyn, and the crowd support was amazing. I have never experienced anything like that before. The miles clicked off very quickly, and after the 8 mile mark or so, I started to push the pace on the flat and slightly downhill sections just a little, but not too much, because I knew the Queensboro bridge was looming around the 15 mile mark. The section from 10k to 20k generally had nice, level terrain, which allowed me to make up some time and brought me to the half at 1:23:14, and still feeling decent, though starting to tire.

The section from 20k to 25k took us over the infamous Queensboro bridge. Here, I just eased back and tried to save my legs. Once we got off the bridge and hit 1st avenue, I kind of threw caution to the wind and used the downhills to really push the pace. I clicked off 3 miles in 6:01, 6:03, and 6:09, which really did a number of my quads, but brought back on pace for 2:46. I think the insane crowds on 1st avenue defilitely played into my decision here.

From 30k on, my legs felt pretty horrible, so I did slow a little. Pretty much just tried to stay within myself because my legs were starting to feel like they might give out at any moment. The last 5 miles were definitely very difficult, especially with the climb up 5th avenue. The same climb that I used headed in the other direction on 1st avenue to put myself in PR territory. My quads were not functioning too well at this point. I managed to keep it around 6:25 until I made it to mile 25. There I did some math in my head, and realized that I might have a shot to dip under 2:46, which I did with a 5:56 26th mile. I did not make the new NYC marathon guaranteed entry standard by 50 seconds, but I am still really happy with a PR I never expected, although I am sort of disappointed that I chose such a quad buster of a course this fall. Maybe I would have had that 2:45:00 or better on an easier course. Oh well.