Sunday, November 4, 2007

New York Marathon 11/4/2007 (SUB 3 BABY!!!)

New York City - if I can make it there.... well -you know the rest.

I saw those words on the airplane ride to New York and they just connected me to the marathon - got my blood boiling. Just put the last cherry on top for my excitement to run the NYC MARATHON - the largest and most famous US Marathon!!

Flew in night b4. Walked a little too much in streets of New York, studied finish a bit to get my wife the perfect near finish line spectating spot and work out logistics. First trip to nyc and I was a but in awe.

Pre race went smooth. Walked thru Manhattan 4 am to catch bus-amazing the downtown activity at that time - many more than just marathoners walking around. Bus to start went smooth - runners are such cool people to hang out with and the 6 hours to the start seemed to fly by. Tried to hang out by the worship tent for the planned meeting with other runners but that strategy was clearly doomed from the start-no where near specific enough with 40,000 runners camped out everywhere. Sorry to whoever tried to find me. I did spend a fair amount of time sitting by the tent, cell coverage was near always busy so no luck making contacts that way either. There will be other opportunities. Made it to start as excited as ever. NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!!

Race strategy was programmed into my garmin - I really didn't know how fast I could run so I didn't have a specific time target other than to be sub3, but I didn't know how far under and no number held any significance down to maybe 2:50 but I didn't feel that to be in the cards considering hills and crowds - maybe a possibility for Houston but not New York.

Garmin workout program for the race:

Mile 1 between 6:50 and 7:10 (up hill)
Mile 2-6 heart rate between 163-167 (first 10k my hr runs a little faster so I thought a little higher up front would even out pace.)
Mile 7-16 heart rate between 162-165
Mile 17-26.2 go by feel with pace alarms at 6:30 and 7:00. Intent was to pour it all on within reasonable constraints.

I also taped a mile-by-mile pace plan for 2:55 to my watch but I didn't end up looking at it.

First 2 miles were very difficult to pace correctly.

Mile one I was a bit fooled by an inaccurate garmin watch and ran a bit faster than I wanted. Satellite reception on bottom level of bridge is very poor.

Mile 2 was by heartrate with an eye on pace but pace was still screwy on lower deck again ended up faster than I wanted and that heartrate zone was a bit aggressive for a downhill mile 2.

Mile 3-16 flattened out so I could start setting a more reasonable pace slowing things a touch thru mile 3/4 with minor adjustments for grade changes. I did absolutely no hill training whatsoever so I completely trusted in maintaining within the heartrate alarms and sped up or slowed as I bumped into one. I found I started looking forward to the uphills as it meant I could shorten my stride a bit-almost felt like a break even though my heartrate said I was putting in same effort. Reverse for downhill-it meant high turnover push. In Boston I did the reverse by pushing the uphills and cruzing the downhills - I think the nyc strategy was a more efficient use of energy. Crowds were great-whenever I started weakening I'd scan the cheering faces and draw strength. A somber and wholly appropriate note held up by a small boy read "In memory of Ryan Shay" the elite runner who died the day before in the Olympic Trials.


Whole race was pretty much passing people and each time I approached a dense group I hoped to find Lance but I never saw him. I noticed my 10k time was only 4 seconds faster than him by chip time but I suspect I was more like a minute behind him then as my chip was 1.5 minutes off gun time. He had great race smashing his prior time by 12-13 minutes so I really had no shot at him.

Side note - I was sipping on accelerade I was carrying every mile marker which seemed to upset my stomach just a little-it foams up as it's shaken in the bottle so I can only imagine it does that in my stomach too (I had been experimenting with it for a couple weeks thinking a little protein might be helpful in the later miles but not in training on any thing like marathon effort for long distance-I don't think I'll use that again).

Ok so mile 16 is about the top of the bridge into Manhattans-I rather liked the climb as it let me slow my stride down a bit but then I had to run down the other side into Manhattans. This is a big crowd screaming point-its kinda like nyc's version of Boston's Wellesley only co-ed. Very loud and easy to encourage to be even louder - I had some fun here. Settled onto first street and started looking for my cheering squad (my kids, nieces, brother and sister who traveled in from out or town to encourage my run). Anyone who has been at this point of the race knows the crowds are packed so to some amazement - I actually saw them! It was encouraging. I traded my accelerade bottle for a poweraid bottle they had for me and ran on.

Mile 17-24 the watch stopped alarming at me for slowing heartrate since I pre-programmed it to switch to pace targets instead of heartrate. I took off the heartrate strap and tucked it in my shorts remembering my last marathon where it seemed to give me a tightness feeling across my chest at the end that I did not want repeated. This was supposed to be the time to pour it on to the finish - but I didn't feel like adding more effort, actually I wanted to relax a bit, actually I wanted to relax a lot. I took a short walk break to down a gel and wash it down with some poweraid. Then pushed on - still didn't want to push hard knowing there was a long way to go. After a couple slow miles 18/19 I settled into a mental compromise to allow a "gallow-walking" approach walking the water stop enough to drink the water then make it up enough to keep the below the 7:00 pace alarm on my watch (I found the poweraid too sweet around 20 and chucked it but was still very thirsty so drank water to the end). Turns out the buildings screwed up the satellite reception on my garmin the average lap pace alarm was slower such that several of these miles I thought were faster were slower than 7:00 but I didn't know that. My 1st street cheering squad made there way into central park and I got some good photo poses for the cameras and videos and have a few high 5s then on to the final 2. They really covered some distance through the crowds!

Mile 25- I just love pleasant surprises. I was expecting hilly central park but I had no idea there was such a long downhill. I really enjoyed pushing down THIS hill and it seemed to go on for a very long time. Loved it.

Mile 26-recharged by the downhill and energized by this being the last mile - I finally found the desire to pour something extra on. Ran pretty fast for what seemed like a very long mile. Rounded the final corner and started looking for my wife. Looking, looking, looking - there she is-swoop in for a quick smooch then charge the final (uphill) stretch to the finish line.

Frog walked to get my bag ended up chatting with a 50 year old runner that came in near me - learned he hadn't run a marathon in 17 years (and he running sub3 on his first try back!). I couldn't just let this prodigy by without a couple more questions - apparently the prior pr from younger days was 2:12. Sheeze!

Meet up with the family and get the hearty congrats from them. After a while I started realizing how hard it is to be a spectator at a marathon - I think they where near as worn out as I was from all the walking to the cheering spots or even standing for 3 hours to guarantee the spot at the finish that my wife did. So what do we all do in our collective fatigue? We walk another 25 blocks or so back to the hotel. Half way we wised up to this futility and tried getting cabs but they were all full of runners who wised up quicker than us so we walked it all - it was probably good for my legs. Finally made it back, rested up a bit then caught a Broadway show (Lion King) after which I was SO ready for bed.

Monday and Tuesday were the tour days for us. Monday jog thru Manhattan busy streets was a fun adventure jog for a couple miles to get the kinks out of my legs. Tuesday I just had to have the experience of running all the way around central park naked trying to run in Ryan Hall's footsteps from Saturday's Olympic trials - my hero. (Naked means no electronic devices - no watch). Got some hang out time with the extended family before they headed out Monday afternoon then explored some more. I just love Broadway. Kids and I spent a whole hour just sitting memorized from each corner of Time Square at night. Climbed to the top of empire state building Tuesday - a bit cloudy but definitely worth it.

Post race lookback.

Although the first 5k was too fast at 6:17 pace, I'm not certain if the first 16 was faster than it should have been or if 17-24 was just not pushed hard enough. I more thinking the latter-I think I had the juice to do more but lacked the drive. I had no time target that was meaningful to me between 3 hour and 2:50 and I'd pretty much written off the 2:50 pre race (and still don't think I had the juice to pull that off). I think 2:50 goal could provide the drive for Houston should the marathon gods deliver a good day January 13.

Another point I found troubling was my thirst for water only for the last several miles. I think my Saturday night touring got me a little dehydrated - I stopped sipping on water at some point Saturday night which I think was a mistake as I noticed signs of not being fully hydrated Sunday morning. More likely the problem was that gel-poweraid combo at 19 – feeling reminds me of training runs where I mixed the Gatorade too strong - after a while I only wanted water.

Training I think was about a month too long. I can tell from my logs I ran that marathon pace with less effort a month ago so I think I over trained a little to this marathon - and the mental edge dipped a little last few weeks as well. 18 week training cycle is too long for me.

Wrap up-great race. I loved New York - the touring, the race, the weather was great, the visiting with family and I got my sub 3 hour marathon done and then some and feel great thinking I can do even better on the next race. I still find the mega-marathon to be most appealing capping of so much training in a blockbuster event just seems like the way it should be done. Although I've never done a small marathon so I suppose I should try that some day. But not for a while - does anyone happen to know which race is biggest in the world?

Thanks for reading.

Garmin thru NYC Marathon - it is interesting to see how screwed up the satelite signal gets - especially across the start bridge and the one into manhatten - then thru manhatten streets. Should I ever do NYC again - I think I'd use the foot-pod type watch instead of the satelite.