|Runners posing with race swag at the Expo|
I was at the Expo when the doors opened. If you want guaranteed entry to the TCS NYC Marathon for
the following year (in this case 2015), one needs to participate in (and I'm pretty sure, cross the finish line of) nine NYRR qualifying races as well as volunteer at one race. For the past three years, I've volunteered to hand out bibs at the NYC Half Expo. It's a great way to get psyched up for the race, meet runners from around the country and act as an ambassador for our great city (and running organization).
This year I chose the first shift on the first day of the Expo (Thursday 9AM - 3PM). Handing out the bibs was pretty uneventful until someone came over and asked if I wrote a running blog. My first time being recognized (thanks for making my day Lauren)!!
I got to know the people around me doing the same job and we had a great time talking race strategy, past race PRs and just general Running Nerd type stuff (you know, things you can only talk to other runners about). Overall it was fun. So after my shift I picked up my number and shirt and walked the Expo floor for a bit, but I was so tired from not sleeping the night before and being on my feet all day, I just needed to go home and crash.
After having been out to dinner with my regular running group the night before (and a guest star from my childhood), I got down to Central Park South and checked a bag. In the truck went my down jacket, a dry shirt and an extra hat. The day before the race was 50 degrees in NYC. But Sunday, it was closer to 20 at the start with a high of 32 predicted. Talk about bad timing.
But I was prepared. I had what i like to call my "throw-away clothes." This race consisted of the poncho the NYRR handed out after the 2013 NYC Marathon, over the Heat Sheet I saved from the 2013 NYC Half and a hat I saved from the 2010 (?) Midnight Run - I joked to someone that I was a walking advertisement for the NYRR.
At any rate, I was ready for the race. I laid out my strategy for all the world to see but I was still a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to stick to it.
But I did - more on that below.
As is usually the case for me, I got out of the park as soon as I could. Since the course was new this year with runners heading out the north end of the park for a quick out and back, I think it was actually less hilly. At any rate, my 10K split (just after you get out of the park) was the fastest I've ever clocked for a 13.1 race. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to sustain it, but I kept my cool and concentrated on not thinking bad thoughts.
|Heading south on 7th Avenue|
|The Freedom Tower mocking runners|
When we turned onto 42nd Street and headed out to the West Side Highway, it's always a surreal experience to see traffic on the south side of the street. Most drivers smile and wave or honk in what I assume is solidarity. But every once in a while you see someone seething behind the wheel and, I'm sure, cursing the runners.
Sorry man, westbound traffic on this fine day consists of almost 21,000 people motoring on thousands of pounds of pasta not fossil fuel.
The headwind wasn't as bad as I thought and by the time I got to the West Side Highway, I was feeling pretty good - better than I thought based on how fast (for me) I was running. The course takes us north for a block and then a quick U Turn to head south.
This is where the Freedom Tower started mocking me.
Well, it wasn't and eventually I did pass it.
|The sun peeks through building as runner pass the Freedom Tower|
From there, it's a slight uphill with just about 800 meters left until you cross the finish line. When I finally passed the 400 meter mark I remember thinking I wouldn't be able to hold my pace to the end. It amazes me how fast I can go from feeling great to wanting to stop dead in my tracks and quit.
Progress, not perfection I guess.
When I finally did cross the finish line I was cooked. My quads were sore, I was soaked with sweat (despite the cold) but I was as elated as I was when I crossed the finish line at my marathon PR. I proudly wore the medal home where it hangs in a prominent place with my others.
|Runners in Heat Sheets head south to meet family and friends|
As a side note, I was a little surprised looking at my Garmin to see that I kept my pace between 7:20/mm and 7:40/mm. I was lucky enough to have Garmin send me a 620 to review. I was really happy with how the watch tracked my mileage and pace. None of the GPS watches I've worn are perfect and I really like the Garmin layout, design and features. I'll be writing a full review before the end of this week.