the nyc marathon tune-up 18 miler was my second weekend back testing the race waters as i work my way back from the anemia set-back. last weekend, at the staten island 6 hour run, i put together decent 20 mile and marathon splits in my first race back. splits aside, my primary goal had been simply enough - just get back on the road and rebuild my mileage base. this time around, i wanted to push the pace a bit and start inching back toward speed work.
i hadn't run this particular race in a long time (since 2003 maybe?). in fact, when i last ran it, the race was actually 20 miles and held in the spring! that version was significantly easier, in my opinion, than the current, 2 mile shorter version! the original 20 mile layout - if i remember correctly - consisted of 4 loops of the inner 5 mile course (and skipped the harlem hills). this version is 3 loops of the entire park (and includes the harlem hills). as a small concession, starting the run at 102nd street gets the first trip up those hills out of the way immediately.
but course logistics aside, the horrible weather conditions were the real concern. with humidity well over 90% and fog that stuck around well into the morning, it would be a tough 18 miles. each trip south, down the west side of the park, i couldn't help but be amazed at the site of the upper reaches of the office building skyline straight ahead draped in fog cover. but gripes about the weather are pointless.
rob, emmy and i drove down to the race together, but once we headed over to the start i lost sight of emmy for the entire race and only caught sight of rob twice during the race! aside from a quick shout out to ruth before the start - i didn't recognize a soul during the race. pretty lonely, soggy, dreary - feel free to toss in your personal bleak adjective of choice here - morning to run 18 miles in the park.
despite the rather slow and cautious start in the first mile, 8:18, i dropped my pace to roughly 7:45 for the remainder of the first loop. i got back to 102nd street in a respectable 47:09 and set off on the second loop with what turned out to be my fastest mile of the race, 7:35. at the top of the hill, just before the 7 mile split, i caught sight of rob and said hello. he told me emmy was up a head, putting away miles at a 7:30 pace! wow!
i kept up my string of 7:45's through mile 9, and slowed (because of digestive issues) to 8 minutes for mile 10. my split at 10 miles, 1:18:18, was a 7:50 pace. but i had to pull over for a bathroom break in mile 11 - and it would be a struggle to finish the 18 in under an 8 minute pace. mile 9 (9:44) which included the bathroom break, was my slowest of the race. but the humidity had crept up on me and my remaining miles bounced between 7:57 and 8:46 (cat hill).
i caught up to rob again just before mile 15 - he had passed me during the pit stop. my split for 15 miles, 2:00:21, had just inched the pace above 8 minutes (8:01). the final 3 miles were a struggle - cat hill was a psychologically daunting climb for me at that point (8:05, 8:46, and 8:03). i finished in 2:25, an 8:04 pace, relieved to get it done. i caught sight of emmy as i headed over to the chip return. after rob finished, we all regrouped at baggage and took the shuttle bus to tavern on the green for the post-race brunch.
the brunch was easily the best part of the morning - ha. but, seriously, this run was a solid effort for me and i'm very happy to be back to road racing (albeit with a slightly slower version of my old self, for the time being).
here are my race photos.
here are my photos from the brunch.
check out emmy's race report and photos!