Race Recap: NYC Marathon
November 21, 02016
Alright, so this post is about two weeks late… but I have a million excuses for that, not the least of which is that (even though it was only two weeks ago) the New York City Marathon is not even the most recent race I’ve run.
But I ran it.
I finished it.
I experienced every single mile in foot killing, calf cramping, brain crushing, soul breaking joy-filled-agony, plodding through the streets of five NYC boroughs.
It was a long day. From hotel door back to hotel door, I was gone and on my feet for the better part of thirteen hours.
I met lots of people. A few I shared conversation with. A few hundred thousand I passed in blur of running, a day filled with the endless noise of a quarter million spectators mashing against the quiet effort of fifty thousand participants.
If you haven’t seen the video yet, it’s mindfully over-the-top, but I think it captures the frantic build-up and epic mood of the race:
There were more hills than I had expected, both up and down, the elevation never seeming to stop changing whether it was a massive climb over a huge bridge or just a slight incline up or down a city street.
My leg cramped up pretty bad at 28k. That was a worst-case scenario that I was ready for… but hopeful to avoid. My muscle didn’t comply with my advance planning and careful prep, however. I hobbled a good five klicks before I found a BIOFREEZE station and slathered a handful of that goop on my calf.
Momentum was tough to find, too. There were people. So. Many. People.
Having trained in the remote and quiet asphalt trails of Edmonton I knew there would be people, but it was in such contrast that it really became a performance factor. Even just stopping to stretch out my cramping calf muscle, I was inches away from cheering crowds trying to (unsuccessfully) motivate me through my pains. And then to find a reliable pace and path to the finish in the bustle of people was a little bit like trying to get to the airport in rush hour: Possible, but more frustrating than one might hope.
It was an amazing experience, of course. Would I do it again? If I didn’t have to run the race, sure.
After three marathons I’m pretty solidly convinced that the marathon isn’t my bag… or at least I’d need to do a helluva lot more training next time, and that’s simply not compatible with my life right now.
In the end I rolled across the finish in less than five hours: not amazing, but factoring in the fact that this will go down as one of the most difficult races I’ve ever run, I’m happy that I finished standing up to be honest.
Over the few days I was in New York and doing race-type things, I took a lot of video and a handful of photos.
Race Recap Video
I carried with me a little cube-like GoPro Session for the whole race and caught some shaky video of the start and the course. Of course I was #tiredAF two-thirds of the way through so the videography got sparser and less watchable, but it's a great memory regardless.
Recovery Mode End:
One Month Since Race Day
December 6, 02016
It’s been a month, almost to the hour, that I stood in the corral of the NYC marathon staring down the forty-two klicks of inevitability that lay out before me.
Two months ago I was in panic mode.
Today I am feeling the weight of the race fading into the rear view, the recovery from the effort simultaneously not nearly as bad as I’d imagined, at least physically, but at the same time like climbing over a mountain of post-marathon motivation drain.
You put your heart into something like a marathon whether you intend to or not. It takes a conscious effort to reach into the future and plan every step, every force of will, every calorie consumed, every invisible wall. And then in a moment, after the most grueling morning of your life, you step across a line painted on asphalt and … it’s done.
You shuffle from the finishing corral, and just as abruptly the thing you have been building towards, yearning to accomplish, aching (literally and spiritually) to complete is just over.
So, your body recovers. Your muscles resume their average workload. Your time is no longer packed with carefully measured distances to accomplish. And rest no longer seems like a dirty word.
But your head is still out there, swirling, fighting to find a sense of that grand importance of accomplishment that you left back there, spread thin across the pavement. That takes, maybe, a bit more than a month.
Panic Mode Start:
One Month Until Race Day
October 6, 02016
This is about where it gets real.
As I write this it is October 6. Exactly one month from this morning I’ll be standing, or waiting –or maybe actually running– somewhere near, over, under, across the bridge pictured above starting into what will be the first few steps of a 42.2 klick adventure through the streets of New York City.
The NYC Marathon.
The bucket list race.
The thing I’ve been training for over the last ten years, most of the time not even realizing this is why I’ve logged nearly ten thousand klicks since I started this running-thing, this time-consuming, life-changing, body-breaking, soul-mashing hobby.
It’s getting quite real. Did I mention that already? Sorry. It’s hanging right out there, constantly reminding me with every waking moment, every moment that I’m not running, not training, not pushing my fitness to a level of absolute confidence where I feel with absolute certainty that I’m absolutely not going to collapse on a foot-pounded asphalt road somewhere in the bowels of Manhattan.
As much as I know –feel it in my gut with more certainty than most things I know– that I shouldn’t put all my hopes and fears into one single event, on one single day, in one awesome but just-a-place place… as much as I know that: I am.
It’s real. It’s this thing I gotta do. These miles I gotta run. Somehow. Anyhow. There. Then. Because.
Do you ever feel like you’re in over your head a little bit? I feel like I’m in over my head right now: not a lot over my head, and not a lot of the time. Not on good days. Not after a successful training run, or an unexpected tempo, or a purposeful moment of self-reflection and meditative introspection. But sometimes. Sometimes I look at the scope of this thing, the work involved leading up, the tens of thousands of other people who are probably monumentally more ready than I am and think…
This thing is getting very real.
September 14, 02016
I’ve settled on my fuel plan for New York. I’ve been training with this product called Infinit Nutrition, trying out a couple of their sport drink blends on my longer runs (which are now consistently up in the high twenties for distance.) My completely unscientific assessment is that (a) I’m feeling better between runs (recovery) than I remember feeling between runs last time and (b) they don’t give me the gurgles in my tum-tum. On that anecdotal evidence alone, I ordered a customized formula from their website, tweaking the mix to what I think I need to balance out the last few nagging doubts in my training for the home stretch, and bring it home to the NYC finish line in November. The only thing that’s got me worried now is what kind of documentation I might need to carry a small bag of white powder across the border later this year. It’s sports drink. No… really.
My course data from New York's Marathon may differ from your experience because there are multiple starting gates, but after that first bridge the three corral paths merge into one route for the rest of the race.