First off, about a week and a half before the race I was asked by Choose Cherries if I would represent them in the marathon . I accepted and planned the outfit (red top and red hat) for both myself and runnin around uptown. Fast forward, this is what I ended up with (instead of team red it’s team pink!):
Perhaps I should have known the day would be interesting when approaching the subway, I noticed a bunch of cops and a person covered up with a sheet. Yep, dead guy right at the subway entrance (found out later it was a jumper). Gah. Fast forward, around 820 I did a last port-a-potty stop before dropping my stuff and heading to the corrals. One problem: we hear as we’re being directed in a giant circle, that the corrals have closed for wave 1. Shit. I didn’t care too much but I knew my family didn’t have tracking! Since I was at the front of “wave 2” I asked a volunteer to use a phone and was told “oh, I don’t have one.” One minute later she pulls out a phone. Ugh. Special thanks to Leo for letting me borrow his phone! Finally after standing for a good 45mins (perfect before 26.2) we get to the starting line and the canons go off. Finally, my journey begins.
Being at the beginning of the wave made for a quick start which made for instant pacing to come into play. Brooklyn, just like last time, whizzed by and that first 10 miles went as planned. Paces were in check and nothing felt off base (and when it did speed up or slow down one of us would pull in the reigns). Having strategically placed family around the course helped as well (miles 5 and 8 in Brooklyn, friends at mile 14 right before the Queensboro).
Going over the Queensboro we still were right on target. Random: some British guy asks “what bridge is this” and upon response goes “this isn’t a very nice bridge is it?”. And then it started upon approach in Manhattan as AC had to stop briefly. First Avenue was a blast with rows of people and passing family once again. Then it was my old running team. And I remember hitting the Bronx and feeling like someone had punched me in the gut. My stomach was not in good shape. I remember turning to AC and just saying “ow.” Up to that point, I had 2 packs of sport beans (nothing unusual) and water (one mixed with small amount of Gatorade). Somewhere around mile 20 or so the 3:40 pacer passed us and I knew – things were not exactly going as planned.
Heading back into Manhattan I made a quick pit stop which may have been a saving grace. I still felt a little queasy but not as bad as the Bronx. I remember AC feeling pretty much the same (no need for detail on what was said). Heading up 5th avenue was definitely a triumph – it definitely helped to have someone to be there to keep me moving. It was not the hills but the hope the stomach would simmer down. Hitting the park I felt a lot better (may have been an orange and not drinking anything for a few miles?). I was able to bring it together and pull AC along through that brutal stretch (I remember saying something to the effect of ‘you’re a fighter’ ::cue Christina Aguilera). We passed a lot of people in the park which definitely felt good.
I saw my mom exiting onto CP South and knew a sub 3:50 was in the bag. I looked at AC and said “let’s go get you a monster PR.” And that we did. Finishing in 3:46:54 I scored a 20 minute course PR and AC had a 17 minute PR (her 2nd marathon).
I’ve preached to the choir that the marathon can be a crap shoot. One day it can be an amazing perfect experience but the next it could be not so good. I also look at each one as a learning experience. This one was a mental push. Though the splits are UGLY, I choose to be ignorant to that. I choose to look at the mental push and fight at mile 23 to pull it together. I choose to look at the fact a 3:46 is not satisfying.
I also think it was an amazing experience having someone to share the full 26.2 with (thanks again AC!). I did that for my first marathon in 2004. It’s tricky to find someone on the same page. However, we trained and ran races well together so it made it no problem. We knew each of our strengths and weaknesses (it really helped me through Harlem and I think vice versa in the park). The pact? Who cares if you can walk on November 8?
I have to say I actually feel the least amount of post marathon aches I’ve ever had (knock on wood). Most of my pain has been in my neck. The legs feel like they went on a long run . However, I do know there was no BQ or under on this day – maybe a minute or two? As I told AC, was it worth it to feel incredibly sick over that? Perhaps a few of you out there disagree but honestly it wasn’t going to make much of a difference on this day.
What would I change? I need to work out the nutrition kinks. I think it may have been a case of too much hydration that made my stomach heavy and the nausea (especially since it disappeared once I stopped taking water).
Moving forward? Recovery and I’m looking forward to a marathon free 2011. Yes, that’s right folks. No marathons. Next year is a year of speed. A year to work on finding that next gear which I think will propel me through that mental wall to get to that next level. I’ve already signed up for the NJ Half as a goal race in the spring. I’m excited to find more races to complement that (and find a new team as a home).
I’m sure there will be more thoughts to come…