I knew I'd get to the marathon eventually, which was pretty well defined as fall of 2014-fall of 2015. After Baystate last year, I saw the time qualifying options for NY and if I got in, I'd run NY in the fall, otherwise I'd wait. I got in and was told around April, so that's what I spent this fall on. My preparation was very good in some areas (nutrition plan), but lacking in a couple areas (long grinding workouts at marathon pace).
Got up at 4:30 on race day, had a pack of pop-tarts, and Dad drove me over to the Staten Island Ferry, got to the Blue village pretty easily and found a place to sit. When they opened the corrals, I saw Mat from WMDP, so we sat down and chatted there with some experienced marathoner from Arizona. We were starting to get very concerned when they were calling wave 2 to the corrals when wave 1 hadn't left them yet, and we hadn't moved towards the start 15 minutes before the gun was supposed to go off, when we saw the other wave 1 starts moving. However we got to the line on time for the start (which was delayed by 2 minutes), and we were off.
The first mile, I was wiggling through the people who had gotten to the front of the corral, and near the top of the bridge, the winds were blowing so hard that my left leg was getting blown into my right. Went 6:10, 5:40 the first two miles, and I felt like I was going a bit too quick through the first 10 miles. given the windy conditions. The Pulaski bridge was very windy too (at halfway) and over the 59th street bridge, I ran a 7:25 mile (slowest of the race) I was really worried when that happened, but I knew that there would be a lot of energy from the crowd on 1st Ave.
In the lead up to the race, and after having watched the race a few times on TV, I knew 1st Ave could be the trickiest part of the race. If things were going well, I knew it was too early to let the crowd pick me up and start flying, I needed to keep control. However, after the slow mile on the bridge, I decided to use the energy to get me back to a respectable pace. I think the 1st Ave crowd saved my race, and they kept me going up on into the Bronx (of course still slower than I was going down 4th Ave earlier).
The Bronx was a complete blur, there's only a mile up there, and there were a lot of turns, then before I knew it I was on 5th Ave coming back south. Here, I saw lots of people entering the death march, but the wind was finally at my back, and I was still pretty well fueled. I just needed to focus, keep pushing the tempo, and getting past people. At this point, I knew 2:40 was well out of the question (I knew that when I saw 7:25) but started doing the math for 2:50, and used those times to focus on.
None of the hills after 20 miles bothered me as much as I thought they would, but when I got into central park, I started getting stabbing pains in my quads and the right side of my chest. I knew I only had 10 minutes or so of pain to go, so I just kept driving through those, and got to Central Park S. At Columbus circle, I turned and surged hard up the hill, because I'd forgotten that it was over 600m to the finish from there, not like 300m, but I got through the finish ok, and was satisfied with how I'd raced today.
I thought coming into this race that there were two options. Either I'd run really well, then have to say, "Shit, I'm good at these, I guess I need to run them more often", or I'd run really badly, then have to say, "Shit, I'm not that bad at these, right?" and need to run another one soon for redemption. Somehow, I think I caught a middle ground, and was satisfied with how I battled, but I'm not chomping at the bit for my next one.
Looking forward, I think I need to spend some more time running hard long runs, and easing my mileage up. I think if I can run a good track season this Spring, and a hard XC season next fall while inching up to training in the high 70's-mid 80's, I can start prepping for Boston 2016.
I battled well, and respected the distance, I hydrated well, and fueled reasonably well. I think since my stomach handled the Gu's pretty well, I may try 5,10,15,20 for gels rather than 6.5, 13, 19.5, especially since I was feeling pretty tired for a bit before I took a Gu. I'm also a taller/larger runner, so I probably burn through calories a little quicker than most runners at my ability.