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The 2019 New York City Marathon: Race Report (Read 68 times)

LRB


    Completed in 3:26:26

     

    This was my seventh marathon and my sixth marathon finish (DNF 2015). I actually haven't run one since 2016 so it had been a minute.

     

    I've always struggled with the distance usually running the last 4 - 5 miles in a steady de-gression fashion. I sought to address that for this race by increasing both the length of my long run pre-MRT, and my volume. That began last December when I ran easy for 12 consecutive weeks at 50+ miles per week. I transitioned to speed in the spring and already had multiple 14 - 16 mile runs under my belt and a 20. I ran a shit ton of speed all summer all the while continuing my 14 - 16 mile long runs, a first for me.

     

    When it came to training for this cycle, I spent the bulk of August and September running long and running a lot. The previous month's volume and long runs served me well as I was eating 18 and 20 mile runs like they were race day bagels, recovering easily from them like I had never done before. By the time October rolled around, I was pretty beat up but ready for the challenge of training at race pace for the final 4 weeks. Three of those runs were extremely difficult but came on legs that had been put through the shredder. I was really down about the whole thing until the last run a week out when my legs finally showed some life. With 16 weeks of work under my belt (two 15s, four 16s, two 18s, two 20s and a 21.5) and lots of hills, I felt confident and ready. Having walked during each of my last three  marathons, I also had some demons to slay.

     

    Oddly enough, I hadn't really given much thought about the actual race until about 3 weeks out. It was at that point where reading some of the horror stories regarding the course had me freaking the F out. Studying the course and course strategy didn't help matters, as everyone everywhere recommended going for a negative split. While I excelled at doing that at middle distance, it was not something I was good at at the marathon distance. I mean, you're talking running slow when your body wants to run fast, then running fast when your body wants to run slow. Looking back, had I studied the course earlier in the year, I would have extended the warmup period for my race specific workouts. Something to the tune of 6 - 8 miles instead of my usual 2 - 4 miles. But I didn't, so I didn't. Blerg. As it was, I accepted the challenge of holding back for the first half of the race. Also on my to do list was to eat my gels, not surge past runners when congested, and hit the lap button on my watch 26 times geezus (I had read that turning off auto lap at New York was a good idea, spoiler alert: it wasn't!).

     

    The taper was good for my mind, body and soul. My hydration and nutrition were on point and the only hiccup was some kind of cold virus race week Wednesday. No biggie, I ate all of the greens in the produce section both cooked and raw and took a crap ton of vitamins and booted that bitch right out of town. I was tired on Friday night but by race day morning, everything was in go mode.

     

    This was my third consecutive point to point marathon and by now, I'm an old pro at the process; get up at stupid ass o'clock, get on a bus, find somewhere to chill once off of it and then wait. It really isn't all that bad. You plan it all out and then do it, done. New York City Marathon hack; take your heat sheet or plastic bag that you were lying on from the staging area into the coral.

     

    The race day forecast leading up to the big day was indeed "perfect", except, by the time the cannon sounded it was already way too warm for a marathon in my opinion. The first bead of sweat dripped off of my big head shortly after mile 1 so that tells you all you need to know about that. My saving grace is that unlike Boston, where the sun is in yo face the entire time, here, the sun was at our backs.

     

    Mile 1 up the bridge was spacious and not too difficult at all. I remember thinking that my legs felt great. Going down was not too much of a big deal either. I was a little behind pace at this point but didn't fret because I was supposed to make it all up on the back half.

     

    Then as I settled in, looking to ease on down the pace ladder, the weirdest thing happened; just after mile 3, a mother fucking hoard of runners came through from the right off of a street like a stampede of rhinoceroses! What in the unholy fuck?! There must've been a thousand of them in a steady stream, it was awful. In the front of them was the 3:30 pace group, and they proceeded to run one hundred and twenty-five abreast and completely block the route. I spent the next mile trying to get through without surging to no avail. Finally, completely frustrated and over it all, I jumped a barrier and went over to the left side of the road where the orange coral was running! In hindsight, I should've crossed over immediately, but I am an abider of rules and fought with it internally like an idiot. Stupid.

     

    Anyway, I am not certain if that is where I lost the race, but dropping 20 - 30 seconds there didn't help matters. If nothing else, it totally killed my flow.

     

    I was able to get back with it but dodging runners became inevitable. People would cross in front of me at water stations and then suddenly stop. At other times, runners were drifting left and right like they were sight seeing, literally just lolly gagging around. And still others would just appear in front of you out of nowhere. There was just a thicket of runners and it never let up. I surmised while running that if you had anything of importance to race for, New York isn't the place to run. YMMV

     

    I ate a gel at miles 4, 8 and 12. That one at 12 was tough to get down but I did it. It was sort of a small victory actually!

     

    I was lapping my Garmin at the mile markers and the 1.01 splits weren't making any kind of sense. There were times when the pace window was stuck on my watch for an entire mile so I was running by effort for most of the race. I suppose had I had a better feel for what I was running, I would've done better. Oh well.

     

    I crossed the halfway point about 5 minutes off pace. I wasn't ready for that! I kept thinking, how in the hell am I supposed to make that up?? I just don't know what happened. I wasn't hurting but in hindsight, I guess I just ran the first half too conservatively.

     

    Sigh.

     

    The much maligned bridges weren't so much tough as they were long. You just seemed to be climbing forever. The one at mile 15 was where I first noticed people walking. One after another after another and another. Damn. Sorry bros.

     

    I must say that after hearing all about how there is this "wall of sound" waiting for you at mile 16, I was really looking forward to it, but it was a letdown. Don't get me wrong, it was loud, but in my opinion, Brooklyn rocked that bitch. No other part of the course compared. If was as if there was a band or DJ every 500 feet. They totally killed it, but again, that is just my opinion.

     

    I had some more weirded out splits during this stretch some not even registering a full mile but by then, I just stopped trying to figure it all out. In hindsight, I should have just left my watch on auto lap and at least then the splits would have been true and represented the pace I was actually running.

     

    Miles 17 - 21 was where I was supposed to get some time back and I tried, it just wasn't enough.

     

    I didn't eat my scheduled gel at mile 16, opting instead to take some Gatorade. I took some more at mile 18, I think. Somewhere during mile 19 however, I felt like I was beginning to lose some steam. I got a little worried then remembered I had two gels, so I took one out and squeezed it into my mouth where it sat for probably 100 hundred meters while I was trying to decide when to swallow it. It was beginning to affect my breathing so I just closed my eyes and swallowed hard; GHACK!!! It was fucking awful! Not the taste so much as it was just this big ass blob of sugar my brain wanted no parts of but my body needed. It was perhaps the difference between my 3:26 and who knows what would have been had I not got it down, so big props to me!

     

    Crossing over into mile 20 the reality that I wasn't going to reach either of my goals hit me hard. It totally sucked. In the past, this where I would check out and start the long slow fade to the finish. On this day however, I decided I wasn't going to do that. I put my head down and just kept digging and digging and digging and digging.

     

    The mile markers were now seemingly taking forever and particularly during miles 21 - 23, I really, really had to focus to keep things together. I was in that dark place where marathon runners go to die but was determined to get out of it without completely losing my shit and boom, I did it! At that point we were in Central Park and I actually smiled, albeit briefly.

     

    It's a rough road when all the months and weeks of training have flown out the window and you are just running to salvage whatever you can from the scraps that are left that day. Ideally, I would've have been running my fastest miles here, zooming past people on my way to a great finish. I was passing people but that was because they were slowing down. Still, the fact that I was able to keep it moving meant something to me. In the end, it wasn't the race that I had hoped or dreamed for but it was a race nonetheless.

     

    After crossing the 26th mile marker, I just kind of let it soak all in. I wasn't concerned with finishing photos or flying across the finish line. At that point, I was just proud that I hung tough when the going got tough.

     

    Running hard when you've failed to achieve your goals is a tough way to run. I had failed at achieving my goals but I didn't fail at everything. Marathons are hard. I did my best. The 3:26 is actually my second fastest marathon time so there is that. I'd like to think I can build off of this cycle and race. I didn't cheat myself a single time this entire year. In fact, if I did nothing but duplicate everything that I did, I should be in a stronger position come next fall...

     

    The walk through the finishing chute was littered with a sea of runners collapsing left and right, some cramping up, others throwing up. We were immediately given a post-race bag of fluids and snacks and a heat sheet, then walked about a half mile to get our ponchos or checked bags. That walk took FOREVER. I got a poncho and once given it I took off my cold wet shirt and heat sheet and found heaven inside of it. It felt amazing!

     

    I had not planned on a specific means of transportation post-race so I just began to walk. And walk and walk and walk and walk and walk and walk. Some 44 blocks all told. From the middle of Central Park all the way to 45th Street. From a crowd of hundreds of runners, to dozens of runners, to a few runners, to just me. It was kind of fitting actually given where I invariably find myself in running and in life; by myself, the lone poncho.

    So_Im_a_Runner


    Go figure

      I enjoyed the read - your coffee time was well spent this morning.

       

      The throng of humanity you described sounds pretty miserable. I've never done a mega-race, and that sort of description is exactly what concerns me. It's hard enough trying to coax your body to run at full speed without having to worry about finding a clean spot for your foot to land.

       

      On the plus side, and as you mentioned, you did the work, ALL the work. If you stack that with another good training cycle and pick a race a little more conducive to having your best performance, that PR of yours will be quick to fall. And, in addition to the combined training, it sounds like you learned some things here that are going to stick with you and carry you along (mostly referencing nutrition and the ability to keep running on tired legs, which is an art in my book).

       

      I'm sorry the race didn't go exactly as you would have liked, but you have the right attitude about it, and I have no doubt that you'll go exactly as far and as fast as you set your sights on.

      Trying to find some more hay to restock the barn

      onemile


        First of all, your dedication in preparing for this race was most impressive. You really killed it with consistency this year!

         

        I didn't really experience a problem with congestion like you describe.  But I think somehow it ended up that I was running slower than everyone around me and they were all zooming past me .  I did experience some of that annoyance at the aid stations with people swerving in front and slowing and even stopping.

         

        And yeah I remember it felt so good for me to FINALLY get to central park!

         

        And most importantly, great job staying in it when things weren't going as hoped. That is what it's all about!


        delicate flower

          Really nice job battling, LRB.  It's tough when you know things are getting away a little, but you did a great job of salvaging what you could.  Any day you can walk away satisfied with your effort is a good day.

           

          I won't bother you now for all of the logistical details.  However, I am friends with a couple who ran it and they took a rickshaw back to their hotel instead of walking FORTY FOUR BLOCKS ARE YOU SHITTING ME.

          <3


          Bad Ass

            Sorry the race didn't go as well as you wanted, but you know, marathons, gah.  I think you learned a lot of things from the training and this race particularly, nutrition-wise, etc.  You will definitely feel the results of all that training on your next races.

             

            Great job nonetheless!  Congrats!

            Damaris

            LRB


              I am friends with a couple who ran it and they took a rickshaw back to their hotel instead of walking FORTY FOUR BLOCKS ARE YOU SHITTING ME.

               

              lol

               

              55,000 steps and 36 miles for the day according to Garmin.

               

              I don't know, it was roughly 65th street when I finally cleared the madness. By that point I needed to be committed I was committed. 

              onemile


                 

                lol

                 

                55,000 steps and 36 miles for the day according to Garmin.

                 

                I don't know, it was roughly 65th street when I finally cleared the madness. By that point I needed to be committed I was committed. 

                 

                oh I meant to respond to this ridiculousness with, why on earth didn't you just take the subway?

                LRB


                  First of all, your dedication in preparing for this race was most impressive. You really killed it with consistency this year!

                   

                  I didn't really experience a problem with congestion like you describe.  But I think somehow it ended up that I was running slower than everyone around me and they were all zooming past me .  I did experience some of that annoyance at the aid stations with people swerving in front and slowing and even stopping.

                   

                  And yeah I remember it felt so good for me to FINALLY get to central park!

                   

                  And most importantly, great job staying in it when things weren't going as hoped. That is what it's all about!

                   

                  I think the biggest problem for me was being about a minute behind where I should've been. Those 60 seconds ended up getting me stuck behind the stampede and into a coral I had no business being in so totally my fault.

                   

                  Thanks! I didn't really complain the entire summer, I just went to work every week and acted like I belonged.

                  LRB


                    oh I meant to respond to this ridiculousness with, why on earth didn't you just take the subway?

                     

                    Omg, stairs??

                     

                    LRB


                      Sorry the race didn't go as well as you wanted, but you know, marathons, gah.  I think you learned a lot of things from the training and this race particularly, nutrition-wise, etc.  You will definitely feel the results of all that training on your next races.

                       

                      Great job nonetheless!  Congrats!

                       

                      Truth!

                      LRB


                        I enjoyed the read - your coffee time was well spent this morning.

                         

                        The throng of humanity you described sounds pretty miserable. I've never done a mega-race, and that sort of description is exactly what concerns me. It's hard enough trying to coax your body to run at full speed without having to worry about finding a clean spot for your foot to land.

                         

                        On the plus side, and as you mentioned, you did the work, ALL the work. If you stack that with another good training cycle and pick a race a little more conducive to having your best performance, that PR of yours will be quick to fall. And, in addition to the combined training, it sounds like you learned some things here that are going to stick with you and carry you along (mostly referencing nutrition and the ability to keep running on tired legs, which is an art in my book).

                         

                        I'm sorry the race didn't go exactly as you would have liked, but you have the right attitude about it, and I have no doubt that you'll go exactly as far and as fast as you set your sights on.

                         

                        Thanks! Lots to build on and that is what I'll take into the dark and cold season. Just gotta pick an ideal event and right now I'm leaning towards the Monumental. I had all but decided on Chicago but logistically and everything else speaking, Indianapolis is a gem. Still weighing it so we shall see....


                        delicate flower

                           

                          lol

                           

                          55,000 steps and 36 miles for the day according to Garmin.

                           

                          I don't know, it was roughly 65th street when I finally cleared the madness. By that point I needed to be committed I was committed. 

                           

                          Was that a non-stop shuffle, or did you have to stop and rest at all along the way?  I'd have to stop and take a break.  That must have taken forever.

                          <3

                          LRB


                             

                            Was that a non-stop shuffle, or did you have to stop and rest at all along the way?  I'd have to stop and take a break.  That must have taken forever.

                             

                            I bent over in a half ass squat at stop lights which felt awesome to my hamstrings! I crossed the finish at 1:11 and plopped into my bed at 2:25 geezus. And most of that time was spent moving, save for the traffic lights.

                             

                            ETA: Stepping off of them 4 inch high curbs was torture though! lol

                            Half Crazy K 2.0


                              That sounds rough. I guess with 50,000 or however many people run that race, it's hard to not get swallowed up in whatever the crowd is doing. You put in a ton of work, I woulld think with a less crowded course, you would do a lot better. How far in miles was the 40 blocks? I'm so not a big city person.

                              GinnyinPA


                                Great race report Rick. You have a much better memory for what you were feeling mid-race than I do. By the time I'm finished, I just remember a few general impressions. It was a good read. I'm sorry it didn't go the way it should have, given the incredible work you've done this year.  I really hope your next one will repay all the dedication.  The huge crowd would have freaked me out. I get irritated just running through a few hundred runners at the start. That kind of mob would unnerve me.

                                 

                                re: the long walk. I can understand not wanting do the stairs. In Boston I took the subway and it was not fun going down the stairs and then up the other end. But I wasn't likely to find a taxi in the conditions.

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