My eighth New York City Marathon is in the books. Short version: the 3:39:13 finish (8:23 pace) at the 2009 edition was a mild disappointment because I wanted to run a sub-3:30 (and was on that pace through the halfway point). That time was exactly one minute slower than my 2008 finish (3:38:13)! Excluding the Nipmuck Trail Marathon (4:46:54), I ran two marathons faster (Long Island and Maine) and two marathons slower (Albany and Self-Transcendence) this year. Regardless of the time, it was once again a great event and the NYC Marathon continues to be my favorite race - of any distance!
The longer version: the day began with a dark, drizzly drive to White Plains High School where I got on a Westchester Track Club bus for the ride to Staten Island. Emmy and I rode in together. The ride was long and uneventful, but the rain stopped en route. By the time we arrived at the athletes’ village, it looked like it would be a dry, overcast day (perfect running conditions)! Highlights from Fort Wadsworth included free hats from Dunkin Donuts (but no actual donuts), meeting Alicja and Nick at the Achilles staging area, and meet Shannon in the starting corral.
As it turned out, Shannon and I would run a good chunk of the first half together! We started out in the last green corral and managed to work our way up a few corrals as the runners were brought up to the bridge. I’m not fond of the lower level start, but had it been raining I would probably have appreciated the dry first mile and a half. Despite moving up, it still took us over a minute to cross the chip mat at the start! We took the first mile easy and avoided the temptation to weave in and out of the crowded field. The first mile took 8:38.
Mile two, gravity assisted, came in at a brisk 7:23 - and then we settled into a roughly 7:40 (give or take) pace. A high point for me was seeing my mom at Bay Parkway and 4th Avenue. We reached the 5 mile split in 39:11 and hit the 10K mark in roughly 48 minutes. Just after 7 miles (54:26) we caught up to Emmy, who had started in the local competitive corral, and we three ran together for a few more miles. I reached the 10 mile split at 1:17:44 but my first sign of distress was upon me.
At mile 12 I peeled over to the porta-johns - but since they were all occupied, I decided to keep moving and use one at the next mile. I took that mile 12 (and slightly slower pace) to eat a package of power gel shots. Just before the Pulaski Bridge I made the first of two bathroom stops - that mile (13) took 10:06. I reached the half marathon split in 1:44:45 - still clinging to the possibility of a sub-3:30 finish. But my second half miles eventually crept to 8 minutes, I would readjust my target to a sub-3:40 finish.
I reach 15 miles in exactly 2 hours (2:00:28). I’ve never had much luck on First Avenue, and this time around - with a strong headwind - was no different. I had lost sight of Emmy and Shannon at 12 miles, but at 18 miles I ran into Susan. She told me Emmy was just up ahead. Not only did I not catch sight of her until the finish - but I also couldn’t find Rob, who was at mile 19 cheering us on! Still, once I got on the Willis Avenue Bridge I was relieved to have First Avenue done and over with - phew.
Just across the Bridge, I reached mile 20 in 2:42:38 - and soon found myself in a porta-john for the second time - argh! Mile 21, the slowest of the day, took a whopping 10:56! I also noticed the third course change - the added distance in the Bronx. The earlier two (merge point west of Brooklyn Academy of Music and an extra block before the left turn from the Pulaski Bridge) weren’t as interesting. At that point I just tried to keep it together for the run down Fifth to Central Park. Miles 24 and 25 were especially tough (9:11 and 8:56, respectively). I reached 25 miles in 3:29:05 and was confident of squeezing in under 3:40.
I crossed the finish in 3:39:13 - and noticed a girl who finished seconds ahead of me pull off to the side and puke! What I didn’t notice (and only learned about when I got home that night) was a reporter from NBC news trying to get my attention for a couple of words. But a lot of people watching on t.v. did notice - haha! Had I only know, would have tried to look a bit more presentable! After getting my medal, I met up with Luis (volunteering) and Emmy (who had run a 3:31). Shannon finished just ahead of Emmy, with a PR of 3:29!
Then began the grueling death march up west drive to the baggage trucks. This has to be the toughest part of the day - run a marathon, only to walk another one to get dry clothes! Somehow I missed seeing my friend Steve (volunteering) as he handed out food bags. Not only was it a long walk to my baggage truck (21,000), Emmy’s was the very last one (600)! Eventually, we made it out of the park and met up with Rob at 85th Street and Central Park West!
We had a lot more walking in store (return buses left from 62nd Street, across from Lincoln Center). That southbound walk was tempered by some cold beer at great little place on 67th Street, between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. Last year our post-race rehydration was done at the West Side Brewing Company. The South Hampton Publick House IPA I had definitely took the edge off those post-race bonus miles.
here are some of my race photos.
here is emmy's race report (and some photos).
here is shannon's race report (via runners world forums).