Thursday, November 10, 2011
the 2011 edition of the nyc marathon was my 10th straight finish. i would normally add, "on my way to 15," which is no longer appropriate. while the nyc marathon remains my favorite race at any distance, the urge to ante up and run it every year has cooled off following the nyrr announcement that it would no longer recognize the runners w/15 or more finishers with guaranteed entries.
in an attempt to soften the blow of that disgraceful decision, it won't take effect until 2015. so, adding insult to injury, assuming i run it for the next 4 year, that would leave me with an underwhelming 14 completions - not good enough. as a practitioner of that dying art of "if you can't say anything good, don't bother talking...," i find myself at odds with my own views.
i can't say anything good about what i perceive as the incredibly myopic and self-serving behavior of the nyrr. and for anyone who cares about my view, i think it sucks! that's putting the most positive spin on it that i can (under the circumstances) muster. maybe sanity will return and the nyrr will rescind what i see as a insulting slap in the face to it's most loyal runners. maybe - but i aint holding my breath.
so, with that uncharacteristic negative rant out of the way, i can talk about the race - which began, as most of my nyc marathon have - with a drive to white plains high school. that morning, there was an extra bus (4 instead of the usual 3). andy, owner of the westchester road runner store that organizes the bus rides down to staten island, told me that he had a surge of interest in the last week - enough to book an additional bus! i sat on the last bus w/emmy, susan, and noonie. hiro and yuki were on one of the other buses.
in what can only be described as a monumental traffic jam, we would all find ourselves exiting the buses more than a half mile from the drop off points. the stand still traffic an on access road adjacent to the staten island parkway snared dozens of similar buses - and there were plenty of other runners who joined us on the unplanned walk to enter the staging grounds. it was well after 8 when we disembarked and, since we were in different villages, we soon went our own separate ways.
after a beeline to the baggage bus, i went straight my corral (the last one in wave one), reaching it with barely 5 minutes to spare before it was closed. despite all the stress of that awkward commute, i managed to get an unoccupied porta-john without a wait! talk about a reversal of fortune! then, once the ropes were dropped and we moved forward to the bridge, i found myself with 30 seconds of crossing the starting mats when the cannon went off at the start.
in a way, the stressful start didn't impact my plans. since i hadn't gotten in much training this cycle - low mileage as a result of a string of business trips - i had a goal to finish in under 4 hours. i also took my camera with me - something i haven't done at a marathon in years. i was very glad for the camera. but i could have skipped the fanny pack, which i wore in case i tired of carrying the camera in my hands. some of my favorites were on the bridge, and as we crossed into brooklyn. especially the hand-written sign, "yo, welcome to brooklyn!" that greeted us coming off the bridge :D
the only sad moment of the day came passing the spot my mom typically spectated from. she couldn't make the race this year - which was only the second time in 2 years! not a bad track record. i love running down 4th avenue - it's always a huge rush for this brooklyn boy. i didn't see any familiar faces on the course - a stark contrast from years past when i always managed to run a few miles with friends here and there. but at the halfway point, i did see todd, catherine and marshall ulrich cheering from the sidelines! that was a great positive boost of energy!
my half marathon split, 1:46:43, was way too fast given my conditioning. there was no likelihood whatsoever that i'd come close to a 3:30 finish. maybe 3:45, but even that was a stretch. i had been running consist 7 and 8 minute miles until that point. thereafter, they would become 9 minute miles - until the end of first avenue. once i crossed the willis avenue bridge and reached mile 20, my pace dropped down to 10 minute miles. i was still moving forward, albeit at a decidedly slower pace.
the highlight - if you will - of the second half (aside from crossing the finish) was checking out the couple who had gotten married at mile 22 - at marcus garvey park. it was fun watching the crowds wish them well - and it gave me another boost of energy. still the trip down 5th avenue, to central park, was the toughest stretch of the day. once we entered the park, there were just over two miles left to go - and the park itself is always good for positive energy!
i finished in 3:55:38, an 8:59 pace. it was my slowest nyc marathon finish - but i was still a happy camper. just after the medals, i ran into the first familiar face of the day, bette, who had finished just behind me. then it was on to reclaim my bag - which, in first, was located outside the park on the south side of the american museum of natural history! from there, on to the trrc after party - and some fantastic rehydration with captain lawrence pumpkin ale and smoked porter! all in all, it was a fantastic day!
here are my race photos.
here are my post-race, party photos.