PRE RACE: I was determined to make up for the fiasco that was Boston at the beginning of the year. Did my 18 week modified version of the Hansons plan(similar to the book, but faster than suggested speed/strength days and MP days with 1st 1/2 easy, 2nd 1/2 MP). I felt like I pushed myself as much as I could and it went well. I made elevation based pace bands for 3:12:30 (PR) and 3:20:00 (BQ-5). The weather and my state of mind the day before would determine which one I would use. I became convinced I had to go for the PR.
DW and I spent 5 days pre-race in NYC. We had a hotel near the finish line, across the street from the Lincoln Center. Spent the week mostly on my feet, getting little sleep, eating poorly and drinking too much. It was stupid and it was wonderful. The boys came in on Friday to join the nonsense.
RACE MORNING: I made two huge mistakes. Started by getting on the 2 instead of the 1 subway and not realizing it until it was too late for an easy transfer. Eventually got off, gathered myself, and walked to the nearest correct station and waited another 20 minutes for the correct subway. This delay caused me to miss the 5:30 ferry but I did catch the 6:00. While on the bus after the ferry, I realized that I had put on the wrong(slower) pace band. What was the matter with me? All I could think of was 8 minute first mile, 7 minute second mile, then try settle in to average ~7:18-7:20 overall.
The start waiting area and corral staging area are miserable zoos with crowds of people - it was a blessing to be late, as it was mentally draining to wait in this situation. If I do it again, I would purposely arrive even later.
After being released to the starting line, my mood improved. I was ready to 'do work', and ready to enjoy doing it.
RACE: The first two miles up and down the Verrazano bridge were wonderful in every way. Upper deck, left hand. I stared at the Manhattan skyline almost the entire time.
Brooklyn was mile after mile of an almost continuous block party. Sights and sounds that were overwhelming. Mostly just a vibe of people enjoying the day. It was great. My running was also going well, I felt like I settled in nicely. The kids came to mile 4 - saw them and it calmed any nerves that were still bothering me. Bathroom stop at mile 6.1 - I wish I could stop doing that. My only concern was the large buildings around mile eight seemed to make my GPS go a bit haywire - my pace was going to be tough to monitor. Running a PR purely by effort without data to back it up made me nervous, oh well.
The hasidic jewish neighborhood made for a great change of pace. It felt like a timeout/reset button. Queens was similar to Brooklyn. Overall a bit more subdued, which was probably a good thing.
SOP is to take gels before start, at 5, 10, 15, and 20 miles. I dropped one at 15 and made the snap decision to keep going and skip it. I was disappointed in myself for adding to the mountain of litter that marathons throw onto the streets.
The Queensboro bridge(mile 16) really brought everything to a fine point. It seemed to be an elevation gain for well over half the bridge. How is that possible? Being on the lower deck also made my GPS pace useless. At one point it read 10 minute/mile and made me very anxious. I was definitely fatigued and others around me started to slow down. I also first started to notice people reduced to walking.
Coming down into Manhattan onto 1st avenue was an incredible adrenaline rush. I knew DW would be on the left side but the crowds were huge here. And then there she was standing a foot taller than anyone around. Someone had helped her up on top of a post to achieve this - always my biggest supporter. I shouted to her and almost lost it. OK, back to work. 1st avenue seemed to last forever but I settled into my own thoughts again. Do work.
The Bronx was rather quiet and I started to struggle mentally. It was time to push the issue and push the pace. I can't possibly do this for 6 miles, but I can do it for 1 mile; I can't possibly do this for 5 miles, but I can do it for 1 mile... The uphill during mile 23~24 was a real grinder. Just get into central park and it will be OK. Once inside the park I felt incredibly focused. Do work.
I knew both DW and the boys would be near me in the 25th mile. If I could see them everything would work out. Yup, there they were. All I could do was smile and yell like some sort of lunatic. Unfortunately there is now video of this. As I hoped, everything became quite calm and I pressed all the way through the finish line. I wish I knew how many people I passed in the last few miles - it seemed substantial. I experienced the simultaneous truly awful/truly wonderful I can only find at the end of a marathon. Looked at my watch, and saw I came in just under 3:11:00.
--1 minute negative split
--2 minute PR
POST RACE: I felt exhausted and sore, but not nauseous as I normally do from that level of effort. It was great. I used the long walk out of the park to recollect. First bumped into the boys, and a couple of blocks later we found DW. It was overwhelming.
I recouped in the afternoon while the family walked the High Line park, one last concert for all of us at Lincoln Center, a few hours of sleep, then got up and flew home. The airline started handing out vouchers to finishers, and I was given one for having the fastest finish time on the plane.
One of the best weeks of my life.
UNBELIEVABLY sore by Monday afternoon, and it lasted for days. How many more times do I want to do this? I think I need to move on from the marathon PR obsession.