yesterday was my seventh nyc marathon! only 8 more to go before i reach that magic number of 15 and will have guaranteed entry to future ones without having to enter the lottery or rack up scored races the year before. michael achieved that impressive 15th nyc marathon yesterday! congratulations michael! emmy reached that magic number nyc marathons ago! awesome! and yesterday was also kate's first nyc marathon! congratulations kate!! what a great day it was to run a marathon. well, i should temper that sentiment with one caveat - it was way too windy out there for me. but let me start at the beginning.
as i've done for the last 4-5 years, my trip down to fort wadsworth was via the westchester road runner bus that departs from white plains high school. i woke up at 5 (and loved that extra hour courtesy of daylight savings time) and rushed around to pack up my stuff. a more sensible person would have packed up the night before. i opted to fall asleep around 9 and grab as much rest as possible :D i needed it because of the all the walking i did to and from the friendship run, and the side trip down to the blind tiger ale house afterwards.
despite all the rushing around, i only managed to forget my cliff shot blocks and gu! i got to white plains high school around 6:20 and got on the second of the three buses lined up for the trip. emmy, hiro, and yuki were on that bus as well. the trip down to staten island went smoothly until we reached the staten island express, where we hit some major traffic. we were on that bus for almost 2 hours! in fact, including the walk down to the runners entrance and security check, it took more than 2 hours to enter the athletes village!
but the big surprise of the day was easily meeting up with my friend todd at the security check-point! it was a shock, if only because i had sent him an email the night before about having finally tasted a "bloody beer" at the blind tiger ale house! he and i were there last spring for a rogue beer tasting and never managed to make it back on a weekend - when they mix that special bloody mary/beer concoction!
since todd was in the blue corral, we didn't have too much time to catch-up on news. in fact, there was so little time for socializing, that aside from a stop at the dunkin donuts truck for coffee, it was straight to baggage drop-off and then to the green starting corrals. there was no time at all to look for kate, susan, or michael. in fact, before i could even catch my breath, it was time to line up on the bridge. i was relatively close to the green start line, but i barely heard the star-spangled banner and the few brief words from mary wittenberg. i did hear the howitzers go off - always cool!
it took me 30 seconds or so to cross the start line. but once the field of runners opened up on the roadway, the wind asserted itself. the otherwise perfect weather was marred by an incredibly annoying headwind - and it seemed to get stronger as we moved across the bridge. that bit of unpleasantness was quickly offset when i caught up to emmy a third of the way across the bridge. my first mile was an 8:11 - not only slower than the 8 minutes i had hoped for, but much harder than anticipated because of the headwind.
the next mile was downhill, but still into the wind and took 7:06. again, thanks to the headwind, it took way much too work. if the wind didn't die down a little, it would be a long day. after a 7:52 mile 3, the rest of 4th avenue went by in a series of 7:30's until the merge at mile 8, where that mile passed in 7:54. still, the 8 mile split of 1:01:28 was right where i wanted to be - but the wind wasn't making it easy. i reached mile 10 in 1:16:50 and the half at 1:41:08 - both splits were right on target to come in under 3:30.
at this point emmy and i split up as we crossed the k.... bridge. even though we both slowed the pace, i wouldn't see her again until mile 19 - at the north end of first avenue. my next five miles were all above 8 minutes, in fact. the slowdown got me to mile 18 in 2:21:21 - still on target for a sub-3:30, but the wind - and the constant uphill climb on first avenue had taken its toll. in mile 19 i began that involuntary slowdown - ushered in by a bleak patch of mental wilderness.
when emmy caught up to me i had slowed down noticeably, and told her i was feeling cold and beaten-up. not a healthy combination. i had my throw-away shirt tied around my waist since mile 2 - not wanting to toss there because the possible wind chill at this very point in the race worried me. i was very close to putting it back on. the only thing that prevented me from doing that was i didn't want to stop my forward motion. if i stopped there, it would have been tough to get moving again. mile 19 took 8:40 - and even though i was still moving forward, each mile would get slower and slower.
miles 20 and 21 were a pair of 8:53's - and, amazingly, if i could pull it together, still had a shot at a 3:30! but i knew it had slipped away with a 9:05 mile 22 - with 2:57 on the clock, i'd need to get in 4.2 miles in 33 minutes. doable under some circumstances, but here - where i had seen my last 8 minute mile an hour ago - very unlikely. as if to hammer home that depressing fact, mile 23 slipped by in 9:42 - my last running mile. the next 2 miles included some walking, and were 10:22 and 10:14, respectively. i was desperately hungry by that point - sick of water and gatorade.
as if my prayer was momentarily answered, a father and his daughter gave me a twizzler. a mile down 5th, along central park east, a woman gave me two pretzel logs, and someone standing a few feet away gave me another two twizzlers. i was in heaven! amazingly, it snapped me back to attention and i finished mile 26 in 9:12! the last 2/10's came in 1:50 and i finished in 3:38:13. not too shabby, and i felt a wave of relief sweep over me having gotten it done.
probably the most unpleasant part of the day was coming up to the first ups truck and seeing the number 50,000 - it almost made me cry! i was in no condition at that point to walk down to 18,000 to retrieve my bag. how ironic to run 26.2 miles and then, minutes later, struggle to reach the baggage truck via walking! but halfway there i was pleasantly surprised to see emmy waiting for me. "i knew you couldn't be too far behind me," she said. emmy had rallied and finished in 3:30 flat!
then, after i collected my bag - and we continued on to get emmy's - we ran into a nyrr photographer, doug, who was taking portrait shots of the finishers. so after he took our photos, i got in one with him. after emmy got her bag we exited the park and found ourselves at 85th street and central park west! this was doubly amazing - having walked this far north from the finish at tavern on the green was one thing! now we had to walk south to lincoln center at 63rd street to catch the return bus!
luckily, that long walk downtown was broken up by a stop for some starbucks coffee for emmy and then a dash inside the westside brewery for a draft cape ann fisherman's pumpkin stout for me! we caught the 3:30 bus back to white plains. the ride was much easier (and more direct) than morning trip to staten island. by 4:30 the bus pulled into the parking lot of white plains high school and within 15 minutes i made it home and was watching the giants-dallas game :D
here are my pre- and post-race photos, with more links to the great race photos taken by emmy, kate, and michael.