Friday, November 27, 2009

Rainy Day Run

Today's Run: Linear Trail. 44 degrees. 4 miles; Splits: 9:03; 8:51; 8:57; 8:44. 35:35; 8:53/mile average pace.

I wasn't going to let the rain prevent me from running today. After walking outside to my car, I decided to do a wardrobe change from shorts to long pants (I guess I was in denial that it was 44 degrees and raining) I drove to the linear trail. I decided to run 4 miles, since in my mind 3 miles wasn't going to be long enough, and 5 miles was going to be too far on a rainy day. Great logic, huh? Just as I was about to leave my car, the rain increased in intensity (Meaning it started pouring). I turned on my mp3 player, put on my hat, and left the cozy confines of my car to start my run. I was surprised to see that I wasn't the only brave person (fool) who was at the trail. About 1/10 of a mile past the start is a wooden bridge. Today the wooden bridge wasn't draining so well. I had no choice but to run through the puddles on it, so with 3.9 miles to go, I already had wet feet.(Side note: My new shoes from RoadRunner Sports shipped today). Ahead on the paved trail I could see lots of puddles just waiting for me to run through. It became a challenge to avoid as many of them as possible by either zig zagging around them or running on the crushed cinder on the right of the trail. After about half a mile I was warming up, with the exception of my red hands. Oops, forgot to wear my gloves. Part of me being in denial that Tuesday is December 1st, and it gets cold in Connecticut. I wasn't looking at my Garmin, since that involved moving my long sleeve and exposing more bare skin to the cold rain. At 8/10 of a mile I crossed a street, and the puddles were pretty much gone on the trail. At mile 1 Garmin beeped, and a quick slide of my sleeve revealed a 9:03 split. It was faster than I expected. Around this time the circulation improved in my hands, and the rain had decreased in intensity. I was warm and in a wet running rhythm, and actually enjoying myself. The remaining 3 miles went well, including the last 8/10 back dodging puddles. My average pace per mile overall was actually under 9 minutes (8:53), which I certainly didn't expect on a cold and rainy day. Overall, I ran by four women walking, one man walking, one man jogging, and one pony tail bouncing woman running. Every one of them had a smile on their face, as did I. It had been a while since I've run in the rain. I have to say I really had fun, but I know I enjoyed the hot shower I had afterwards even more.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


My son has been sick and traffic was horrible last night, so I didn't drive 30 miles to enter the Manchester Road Race. I didn't register earlier for it since I was waiting to see how well I'd recovered from the NY City Marathon. As much as I enjoy running on Thanksgiving with 10,000 (Update: 14,000 this year) other runners along with 20,000 spectators in an event that's locally televised, it wasn't meant to be this year. I'm OK with that. Family comes first. My son's feeling better, and I get to go to the in-laws house with my family for Thanksgiving dinner rather than meeting everyone there. Things happen for a reason. It was meant for me to spend all day with my family and relatives. I think I'll go register for my next 5K race right now though! Happy Thanksgiving everyone. P.S. To help myself feel better, I just ordered a new pair of Asics GT-2140 from RoadRunner Sports. My current 2140's have almost 600 miles on them, plus RoadRunner Sports has a great sale on everything right now. I also ordered the reflective armband you see below since it's dark here at 4:30 p.m. now.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

One More Marathon???

Today's Run: Road. 48 degrees. 3.52 miles; Splits: 9:13; 9:08; 8:57; 4:32. 31:50; 9:02/mile average pace.

It was cold and getting dark, but I managed to get in a short run. I wanted to have one last run before the Manchester Road Race on Thursday. I ended up being overdressed. Since it was 48 degrees, I decided that shorts weren't an option. So I reluctantly wore my long sleeved top and pants, and a hat. By the halfway point my glasses were fogged and I was sweating way too much. I rolled up my sleeves and put my hat in my pocket, which solved the overheated Rick problem. I felt so-so for the first part of my run, but once I cooled off I felt great. My split times were slower than I would have liked to see, but most important to me was how I felt when I finished: great. I was going to drive to Manchester (CT) to register for the Thanksgiving race, but at the last minute my son started to feel sick. So he's in bed watching tv, and looking kinda green. Tomorrow is the last day I can register. I have a feeling I'll be watching the race on tv instead of running in it. I guess me missing the online registration happened for a reason. As long as my son feels better soon, then I'm ok with not running the race. I always worry whenever he's not feeling well, since he has Muscular Dystrophy.
In a happier note, my wife and I have been trying to plan a 4 day vacation for the two of us. We went from going to Las Vegas to now possibly going to Disney World. She's an accountant, so we'd have to go during the first part of January. The dates she happened to pick are at the same time as the Disney World marathon. I checked their's already 94% filled. Problem is getting a hotel at that time is difficult and expensive. Is it a coincidence, or is it meant to be? Is there another marathon in the future for me??? We shall see. I guess I shouldn't have said "never again" as far as running another marathon. IF we can work out the travel arrangements, and IF it doesn't get filled, then what the heck, I'm going to run it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Feels Like I Ran a Marathon Today

Today's Run: Road/Linear Trail. 53 degrees. 5.2 miles; Splits: 9:04; 8:57; 8:59; 9:10; 9:20; 1:46. 47:16; 9:05/mile average pace.

Today's run was similar to yesterdays, with one big exception. I wasn't smiling the entire run. I was frowning from miles 4 to 5.2. I once again parked at the linear trail, and ran 3.7 of my miles on the road, and the final 1.5 miles on the trail. I started my run with some difficult hills, and I think that's what did me in by the time I reached the trail. I had my "lead legs syndrome" for the final mile and a half, even though I was on the flat trail. Now, five hours later, my ass muscles hurt, my legs hurt, and I feel like I ran a marathon today. I guess my body is still recovering from running two marathons in the past six weeks. I may shut it down until the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving. I'll see how I feel tomorrow. Once again, it was warm enough to wear shorts, but I doubled up on the tech. shirts. I actually was too hot by the time I was finished, even though it was only 53 degrees. I truly enjoy the calmness/serene environment of the trail, especially this time of the year. There aren't a lot of people there, just enough so I always see someone while I run. That's it for today...short and to the point. I hope everyone had a great day of running. :-)

6.2 Miles of Smiles

Yesterday's Run: Road/Linear Trail. 51 degrees. 6.2 miles; Splits: 9:24; 8:55; 9:13; 9:12; 9:03; 8:56; 1:39. 56:22; 9:04/mile average pace.

I was going to take it easy and go for a 5 mile run on the Farmington Canal Trail yesterday. Since I'm three weeks post NY City Marathon, and my next two races are 4.75 miles and a 5K, there was no use pushing it. My goal for the rest of the year has been to ease back into running, work my way back up to running faster five mile and less runs, and most importantly to enjoy running again. Yesterday's run was a good start. Although my pace was slower than I wanted to run, it felt great. I parked at the trail and immediately changed my plans to running randomly on the roads near the trail, and then rewarding myself by completing my run on the trail. I still had a five mile run in mind, but also knew I could trick my brain to run further by running the road part before the trail. It worked. I love wearing my Garmin since I don't have to plan out my run ahead of time. I can run wherever I want, and so I did. I ran down side streets, through two condo complexes, and along back roads and through neighborhoods. I waved or said "Hi" to everyone I saw, and most people responded. I made sure that I listened to the songs that are on my mp3 player from your suggestions three weeks ago. I LOVE the songs you guys suggested, and they provide more motivation for me as I run. It was great to wear my NY City marathon long sleeved tech. shirt, and shorts. I had a stupid, goofy smile on my face the entire run. Yes, I had that much fun. Plus I ran on November 21st in Connecticut wearing shorts. That was an extra bonus. I think I'm finally OK since my last whiny post. Thank-you everyone for your comments. I needed to vent, you guys commented, and I feel better. Running is fun again. I'm looking forward to the Manchester Road Race (4.75 miles)on Thanksgiving, along with 10,000 other runners and about 20,000 spectators. It's a very crowded run, but I'm in a seeded area closer to the start, so I should be ok. I've gotten good at navigating through the crowd of runners there the past two years. I'm hoping to beat last year's time, but I'll have to see if my legs agree. As long as I have fun, then that's all that matters. Maybe I'll have a shirt made with some weird saying and wear it on Thursday. Anyone have any ideas? Happy running everyone, and I hope anyone out there running the Philadelphia Marathon today does well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Running on Empty

"Running on - running on empty
Running on - running blind
Running on - running into the sun
But I'm running behind"

I have been running. I've run 4 of the past 5 days, for a total of 16 miles. Not a lot of mileage, but due to it getting dark early and not having any long distance races in the near future, it doesn't really matter. My times are ok, anywhere from an 8:39 per mile pace to a 9 minute per mile pace. Slow, I know, at least for a short distance. Problem is, I have PMS. Yes, PMS: P ost M arathon S yndrome. Ever since I ran the New York City Marathon, running just doesn't mean as much to me. I spent six months preparing for it. I raised nearly $2700 for Autism Speaks, due to the generosity of you guys and friends, family, and co-workers. Now that I'm two plus weeks post marathon, I'm in a running funk. I'm still stuck on my slower than anticipated finishing time. I could have done better; I should have done better. At least I've read the race reviews and read how other runners also had slower than expected times. That helps me feel better. But I'm so stuck on my 4:39:31 finishing time. I didn't want it to end that way. I wanted to PR with a time of 4:22:18 or better. Even a 4:30 would have been ok. As much as I want to accept the 4:39, and keep saying it's only a number and I'm happy I finished, truth is, I'm not happy. NY was supposed to be my grand finale; my race of all races. Dammit, I can't let go. I feel like I let myself down, and even disappointed you guys. All my training, all my run-walk-run reading and training, and I did worse than I did in the 2008 Hartford Marathon. My PR is from that marathon. I didn't train nearly as hard, hit the wall at mile 18, felt like crap the last 8 miles, and still finished 17 minutes faster than I did in NY. During these past weeks I've weighed the pros and cons of training for another "one last" marathon. The cons outweigh the pros. I always go with my gut feeling. I know that deep inside I don't have the desire or motivation to train for another marathon. I don't want to be held captive by a training schedule for six months. There aren't any marathons close by in the near future, so I can't even give it one last marathon run before my distance training and endurance disappears. I'm done venting and complaining. Moving forward, I'm probably going to sign up for the Manchester (CT) Road Race on Thanksgiving. It's a 4.75 mile race that I've run the past two years. It has about 10,000 runners, and it's as claustrophobic as the NY City Marathon was. Actually, it's worse than NY. Smaller roads with a long uphill for the first mile. A hill that a lot of runners end up walking. Last year I was able to maneuver around all the slow pokes and finish in 39:56. The race is televised locally, and taped on NESN. Plus the crowd is fantastic. I'm watching the weather forecast, and if it's going to be a decent day, then I'll enter it. I need motivation. I need reasons to run. This will be a start.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NY City Marathon: Conclusion

(My wife jokingly said it took me longer to type the 3 part marathon report than it did to run it. I think she's right)
Just after mile 2 the Blue line (me) and red line runners took a left onto 92nd street, while the green line runners stayed running straight ahead. I was running down Fourth Avenue on the right side of the road, and the red line runners were keeping us company on the left. I was still feeling cold, and cursing out the two NY weather reports I had watched earlier that said it was going to be around 60 degrees and partly sunny. They hadn't mentioned it being windy, and as I stated earlier, I wasn't dressed warm enough to battle the wind. Short sleeves and a tank top just weren't doing it. I was still feeling good, and continuing to interact with the crowd. Garmin beeped, and I had run a 9:37 mile 3. It was time for me to eat 2 of my orange flavored GU Chomps. I had three bags of them in my pockets (24 chomps total), plus a BerryBlast flavored PowerBar. My nutrition plan was to eat two of the Chomps every thirty minutes, plus the PowerBar at around the halfway point. At about 3 1/2 miles, the green line runners rejoined us blue line runners. From that point until mile 8, things were getting too crowded for me. My run-walk-run (rwr) race plan, based on Jeff Galloway's recommendations, was to rwr my first five miles at a 10:17 per mile pace. My marathon finishing time goal was 4:30. I decided that I was going to skip the scheduled walk breaks until mile 6, to help me regain time that I was going to lose at the water stations every mile because of the large amount of runners. I was going to be walking and drinking anyhow, so I figured it would even out. Mile 4 split was a 9:56, mile 5 a 10:00. Although I hadn't realized it, I was ahead of my 4:30 goal time at this point. I was doing a good job at this point of keeping a good pace and walking and drinking. Miles 5 to 8 I was supposed to be increasing my speed. I kept a steady pace, and reached mile 6 at 9:57. The crowds were still cheering loudly and yelling encouragement to me. However, it was time for me to stop "running stupid" (no walk breaks), and start following the plan. I started my first one minute walk break. I was now going to run for four minutes, and walk for a minute, at least until mile 18. Problem was, the fantastic spectators of NY didn't know that I was walking for a reason. For the entire minute, I heard way too many encouraging words of how I could do it, and to keep going. Damn, I hadn't thought about that. I was looking like a slacker, at least in my mind. I resumed running, and reached mile 7 at 10:16. Somewhere between miles 6 and 7, I decided to get rid of my hat. It was a freebie that I had received a while ago in exchange for the less than flattering review I wrote about it. The hat tended to make me sweat too much during warm day runs, and even though it was cool, I was sweating too much with it on. I left it perched on top of a fire hydrant. I'd like to think it found a good home somewhere, and no, I don't miss it! I was already having difficulty with the crowded street as I said earlier, and also now with coordinating my walk breaks as close as possible to the water stations. Mile 8 split time surprised me: 10:40. About this time the 4:30 pace people and their purple balloons disappeared from sight. To make matters even worse, the red line runners were merging with us. From mile 8 until the finish, we were all going to be running together. I was getting claustrophobic, and I was wasting time and energy avoiding the slower runners. Also I realized that I was still not warm enough, and the grey sky and cool winds were getting the best of me. Although I was drinking lots of water, I felt as if I wasn't sweating enough. Weird, I know. I took my one and only bathroom break (Here comes TMI) with several other runners behind a school bus parked on a side street. The porta potties were out of the question. Too few, and the lines were too long. My zig zagging around runners and increased pace resulted in a 10:09 mile 9 split. Not fast enough. From miles 8 to 18, I was supposed to be running at a 9:55-10:00 per mile pace. With the rwr, it would still average out to about a 10:17 per mile pace, and keep me on goal for a 4:30 finish. It was time for me to do some problem solving. First, how did I feel? I still couldn't warm up enough, nothing hurt, but my legs didn't quite have the "spring" to them that I'm used to. I hadn't had my morning cups of coffee like usual, and had switched from GU Vanilla Bean Gels to the Chomps for fear of having the stomach cramps and (TMI again) diarrhea I had after the Hartford Marathon. I think, looking back, that if I had had my coffee and a few GU Vanilla Bean Gels, it may have helped. I may have also done more harm than good by testing my rwr 3 weeks earlier in the Hartford Marathon. I don't really know for sure. I also was resigned to the fact that the crowded conditions were going to work against me. I regretted having changed my estimated finishing time from 4:30 to 4:45 after the Hartford Marathon. It probably cost me a chance to start in wave two instead of wave three. Again, who knows? Also, my music wasn't an effective motivator. The good thing about the noisy crowds and about 100 bands along the course was it was exciting and motivating. The bad was for the most part I was unable to hear my music. At best I could hear bits and pieces of my songs, and the songs all of you suggested. Don't get me wrong. If one of you songs started playing, I did my best to relate it to my situation, and say "thanks" to all of you. So your efforts to help motivate didn't fail. I also was losing some of the crowd support, which was by choice. I started taking my walk breaks towards the center of the road, instead of along the shoulder, where the crowds were. I never did get over the "guilt" of walking and not having people understand why. At miles 8-9, I was feeling like a defeated man. The initial excitement was wearing off. I wasn't feeling so psyched. I had a "left brain" moment of realizing I still had about 18 miles left to go. I wasn't even halfway, and I was cold, and it was my last marathon FOREVER, and I wasn't going to break 4:30, and I had no chance of getting a PR, and STOP!! Time to suck it up. Ignoring left brain became a priority. More obstacles, and a 10:19 mile 10, followed by a terrible job on my part figuring out a rwr that coincided with the water station, and a 10:59 mile 11. Getting mad helped, and a longer run before walking resulted in a 9:50 mile 12. Bad planning again, more obstacles (slow runners), and a 10:55 mile 13. It wasn't helping having thousands of slippery empty water and Gatorade cups to navigate through at the water stops. It seemed like I was running and walking on ice at times. At times the water wasn't poured, and I would wait for my cup(s) of water. Blame it on the massive amounts of runners/obstacles. I reached the halfway point,around the Pulaski Bridge in Queens, and did another left brain dumb thing, as I've done in my previous three marathons. I asked myself if I felt like I could run the distance I just completed; in other words, did I have enough left to finish the marathon? Another mental checklist, and my worse pain was slight pain coming from one toe on each foot. No sign of cramping-I guess I was drinking enough water. Everything else was status quo from miles 8-9. Mile 14, 10:54. Mile 15, 10:45. My split times were slow and depressing. Unknown to me was that the Queensboro Bridge and it's long, gradual 100 foot incline lie ahead. I had read about it, and how it causes runners to quit while running up it, since it's late in the course and a long, gradual incline. It didn't really occur to me that I was on it until I was about a third of the way across it. When it sunk in, it was too late. No amount of planning or problem solving was going to help. Most people started walking. I never walk up hills. I usually thrive on running inclined surfaces. The walkers were spread out and across the entire width of the narrow bridge. I found myself stopping, walking, and trying to get around and between people. Some of them were dropping off to the walkway on the left side, where other runners were resting and getting medical help. It was nearly impossible to do any running, and I was frustrated. As we headed down the deck of the bridge, Garmin beeped, and displayed a 12:15 mile 16 split. Talk about disheartening. Looking down and off to the right of the bridge, I could see down to First Avenue in the Bronx. It was a repeat of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge experience. Thousands of spectators were still out and about, cheering everyone as they left the bridge and turned right. Even though I knew I wasn't going to get a PR or break 4:30, it helped. At that point I vowed to beat my Hartford Marathon time of 4:43. I needed to have something to shoot for. I was not going to let all the obstacles, the cold, and the lack of a "spring" in my gait stop me from reaching my new goal. The pressure was on, but in a lessor, fun way. Between miles 16 and 17 I was offered a wet sponge, as was everyone else. For some reason, even though I was still not quite feeling warm, I took it. I guess I was copying everyone else. I took off my glasses, wiped my face with the sponge, and quickly threw it away. I was too cold, and the water smelled "fishy." GROSS! Miles 17-19 continued on First Avenue, and I was again having difficulty with my 4-1 rwr ratio, but in a good way. I was running between 4 and 5 1/2 minutes before walking for a minute. Blame it on ego and the water stations being at varying distances. Mile 18 was a 10:40, mile 19 a 10:33. I knew I had a good chance at beating the 4:43, and as I said earlier, also knew that 4:30 was a lost cause. I was looking forward to saying "Hi" to Michelle, who I had met at the Autism Speaks dinner the night before. I was supposed to see her and her friends as I crossed Willis Avenue Bridge just before mile 20. I knew that seeing them would help give me a lift. As I crossed the short bridge, I looked to my right, where she said they would be. No luck. So much for seeing a sorta familiar face. Around that time, I started feeling the beginning of cramps in not one, but both of my upper leg muscles (Gluteus Maximus?) started cramping in the back part. It was time for me to slow down and drink more water, both of which I did. I've had leg cramping problems in my left leg in two of my previous three marathons (Not Hartford 3 weeks ago), and I attribute it to not drinking enough water. So mile 20's split time was a slowest 11:04. My leg cramping issues were increasing after mile 20, and there wasn't water to be found nearby. I was very close to having full blown double leg cramping, and I could tell it was going to hurt like hell. I didn't know what to do, other than to slow down to a slow jog and walk. Just when I thought it was going to happen, a woman appeared from the side of the street. She was holding bottles of Poland Spring Water. They were bottles that she had bought, and she was glad to give me one. I thanked her profusely. I couldn't believe she had appeared out of no where, almost like (you can laugh) a Guardian Angel. I drank the water, and it helped a great deal. I passed the 21 mile marker at 11:17...slower yet. I then started to wonder if beating 4:43 was going to happen. My legs were now feeling better, but not well enough to increase my speed too much. Mile 22 came and went, at an 11:06 split. The cramping and everything I keep mentioning (cold, obstacles, etc) certainly didn't help. I knew that I was getting close to Central Park, as we were now on Fifth Avenue. Mile 23, and an 11:10 split. I was mad about another 11 minute plus split. Eleven minutes? I knew I was better than that. I looked for my last hope (I thought) of familiar faces to cheer for me. The Autism Speaks cheerleaders were supposed to be around the mile 23 area. Once again, no luck. I didn't see or hear them. I asked myself whether I was indeed going THAT slow? Central Park was now in my sight. I knew that even though the finish line was in Central Park, I would still have about 2 1/2 miles to go once I entered the park. I didn't want to try to increase my pace too soon. But I also didn't want to look like a quitter or a DNF candidate either if my leg cramps resurfaced. Mile 24; 10:58. FINALLY, despite a huge amount of slow runners and walkers, and possible leg cramps, I had run a sub 11 minute split. I looked at my Garmin, did a quick calculation in my head, and knew I had just under 30 minutes to run what would turn out to be 2.65 miles according to my Garmin, or 2.2 miles marathon distance. For whatever reason, my Garmin loves to torture me by telling me I'm running more than a marathon distance. Either way, I knew that as long as I didn't cramp and have to walk for a long period of time, I was going to beat my Hartford Marathon time. I decided to run for 5 or 6 minutes, walk for a minute, and then run the last mile and a half without walking. I wanted to finish strong, and was hoping my leg muscles would cooperate. I turned off my music, and off I went. Shortly after, I thought I heard someone yelling to me from my right. I was far to the left of the road, and I took a quick look to my right, and listened again. I again thought I heard someone calling "Dad," or something. Still not seeing anyone I knew, and at this point just wanting to get the marathon over with, I increased my speed. Later on I found out I had heard my 27 year old daughter yelling, and that she even was sprinting along the side of the road outside the tape trying to get my attention. I wish I had seen her and my wife there. We had only planned on meeting after the race, so I really wasn't expecting them to be 2 miles from the finish. Mile 25 seemed to come a little easier, as my possible leg cramps had decreased. Another slow but less than 11 minute split (10:44). I had just over a mile to go, and I threw caution to the wind. I was so ready to finish the race, and end my marathon running career forever. I was thinking about the "bling" I would be getting, the goodie bag, seeing my wife and daughter, and how warm and cozy I was going to feel in the foil blanket I was going to get and wrap myself in. I went into an all out, run as fast as I could, tell my leg muscles to deal with the pain, finishing last mile kick. I was high fiving people, and doing some yelling. Goosebumps were taking over my body. I was nearing the finish, and holding back the tears. I vowed not to be crying as I approached and crossed the finish line. I was going to finish like a champ-with my eyes dry, my legs churning, my head held high, and my arms and hands raised above my head. Ahead was the finish line, and I could see the cameras. I veered to my left, so there was a clear shot of me, then back towards the center towards another opening. Dammit, I was going to make sure that #44355 was clearly visible for the photographers. I neared the finish, crossed the finish line, walked several steps, and checked my watch. I had beaten my Hartford Marathon time by nearly 4 minutes. I was happy for that, but disappointed that I had finished in almost 4 hours and 40 minutes. A fitting finish to the day was I was now stuck in a sea of finishers, all heading to get our bling and goodie bags. But that's another post....P.S. Pics of me:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

NY City Marathon Report: Part 2

Up the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge we went. The final wave of 14,000 plus runners made quite a noise on the bridge. I was on the right part of the bridge since I was running the blue line. To my left were the red and green line runners. I was almost overwhelmed with everything that was happening. There were runners around me, helicopters flying above with news photographers and security personnel, and fantastic views of the NY skyline, including the Empire State Building rising high in the distance. It was cold and windy. The wind was blowing so hard that I had to keep adjusting my hat (I forgot to mention I was wearing a running hat), and I feared that my race number was going to be blown off my shirt. The bridge was a 200 foot incline, and seemed to go on forever. I couldn't yet see past the top of the peak of the road. It was fairly quiet, except for the sound of 28,000 plus feet hitting the bridge. Oh, and of course the sound of the wind. It was difficult to hear the music on my mp3 player, so I upped the volume. "All Fired Up" by Pat Benatar (Thanks Carlee) was playing. I needed that song at that moment. I was cold. My short sleeved technical shirt and the Autism Speaks tank top, along with shorts and a hat, weren't keeping me warm enough. I regretted not wearing the long sleeved tech. shirt that Autism Speaks had provided. About midway across the bridge, Garmin beeped. 10:13 first mile. Whatever. I just wanted to get off the nearly two mile long bridge. I needed to reach the peak, and head downhill into Brooklyn, where there would be less wind and crowds of people to help me get warm. Finally, I was at the top, and could see what lay ahead. I saw lots of people, but being so far away still could not hear them or distinguish how many people there were. I picked up my pace, taking advantage of the long downhill. I needed to warm up, and I needed to see and hear some cheering people. As I got closer to the end of the bridge, I began hearing a noise. I couldn't figure out what it was. It sounded like rumbling, almost like thunder. But the sky was clear. I was confused. I turned down my music, and neared the bottom of the bridge. Ahead I saw a hand written sign being held up: Brooklyn (heart) NY City marathon runners. (I'm not sure if that was the exact wording). As I got closer to Brooklyn, the rumbling became louder. The rumbling noise was people cheering. Thousands of Brooklynites were lining both sides of the street, holding signs, ringing bells, clapping, yelling, and cheering. I have never heard so much cheering before, even at sporting events. What a great welcome into Brooklyn. Lots of people were yelling encouragement to me. That's the wonderful thing about having your name on your shirt. I was pumped. I had a mega adrenaline rush. I started high fiving and low fiving everyone who offered. Shortly thereafter, Garmin beeped: 9:14. Crap! Too fast, and I had already run two miles without taking a walking break. I was not following my run-walk-run plan...Tuesday: Don't Run Stupid-the final report of my NY City Marathon experience.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

NY City Marathon Report: Part 1

Splits: 10:13, 9:14, 9:37, 9:56, 10:00, 9:57, 10:16, 10:40, 10:09, 10:19, 10:59, 9:50, 10:55, 10:54, 10:45, 12:15, 11:01, 10:40, 10:33, 11:04, 11:17, 11:06, 11:10, 10:58, 10:44, 10:03, 4:54. (Garmin thinks I ran 26.65 miles). Official net time: 4:39:31 (10:39/M)

I woke up marathon morning at 4 a.m. and stayed up. Since I had gone to bed at 9:30 p.m. and gained an hour of sleep due to turning the clocks back an hour, I was well rested. After showering, I got dressed and watched the weather forecast on two different channels. Both said the rain would end shortly, and it was going to be in the upper 50's and partly sunny. I decided to wear shorts, a short sleeved technical shirt, my Autism Speaks tank top, and of course my socks and running shoes. I was hungry, and had about 3/4 of a bagel, which I always eat before my marathon runs. I also made sure to drink enough water to be hydrated. Nutrition wise, I was ready. I had been carb loading the previous three days, and had a pasta dinner with bread the previous night. I had followed my training eating strategy perfectly. With two hours to wait until the half mile walk to get the bus, I continued to watch tv and pack my suitcase in preparation for checking out. Fifteen minutes before I had to leave, I walked outside to check the weather. It was cold and drops of rain were coming down. I went back to my room, put on my $10 WalMart hooded sweatshirt, $5 Walmart sweatpants, and poked three holes in a large trash bag for use as a disposable raincoat. Even though it was the morning after Halloween, I looked like I was ready to go trick or treating. I checked out of the hotel, left my suitcase there for pick up after the marathon, and started the half mile walk to the Autism Speaks charter buses. I had walked the half mile the day before, and knew it would take me 20 minutes to get to the bus. I had 45 minutes to do a twenty minute walk, so I was in good shape. Autism Speaks had warned us that the buses were leaving at 7:30 a.m. sharp. NY city is kind of spooky to walk through at 6:45 in the morning when you're by yourself. There's not a lot of traffic, and very few stores are open. I was feeling lonely, since my wife and daughter were meeting me at the finish line. I arrived at the buses at 7:05. I was assigned to bus B. No one from Autism Speaks had arrived, and the grouchy driver told me and a few other people that he didn't know which bus was B, and to get on the first bus since everyone else that arrived before us was already on the bus. I assumed that the first bus was bus A, but did as told and got on the bus. The great thing about having a private bus was that our departure time was later than most of the other means of transportation to the starting line waiting area. It was about a 30 minute ride, so we were scheduled to be there at 8:00. At about 7:25, a woman from Autism Speaks started roll call. She started alphabetically, so I knew at that point that myself and some others were on the wrong bus. Sure enough, she finished calling out names, and hadn't gotten to the "H's." Me and about 20 others had to tell her our name so she could write them down. That was followed by her going to what turned out to be bus B and comparing her list of names with the list on bus B. With 125 runners between the two buses, it was taking forever. I received a text message from Lindsay, of Chasing the Kenyans blog, telling me she had just arrived at Fort Wadsworth. Not only were we going to meet each other for the first time, but I also had two GU gels for her. I replied that I would be there around 8:30, which was good since her wave started at 9:20, and mine at 10:20. I still had plenty of time to meet her and give her enough time to get to the start. Finally at about 7:50 (so much for 7:30 sharp), we were on our way. The bus route was from NY City to New Jersey and back to New York again. Our drop off point was at a point a half mile from Fort Wadsworth, which was divided into three villages, green, blue, and orange. We were to be driven there and then go from our bus to our assigned village, which for me and Lindsey was blue. The bus ride was going well. There's not a lot of traffic in NY City on a Sunday morning at 8 a.m., plus there were closed roads so that the shuttle buses could get to Fort Wadsworth without getting stuck in traffic. Along the way we were passing by snowplows parked all the way across roads, blocking them. It was a weird sight. All was well until we came to the one and only exit for Fort Wadsworth. We were stuck in traffic. I looked at my watch. It was about 8:20, and we weren't moving. I still had 2 hours until my starting time, but knew that I only had an hour to get to the drop off point, walk half a mile, and locate Lindsey. I text Lindsay to let her know what was happening. People on the bus were getting restless. We still hadn't moved very far, and traffic wasn't moving any better. At this rate we weren't going to get to Fort Wadsworth with enough time to spare for the 9:20 wave of runners on the bus. We continued to slowly edge our way forward. I saw a police officer walk up and talk to our driver. He took out his walkie talkie, said something, and motioned to our driver. Ahead in the distance, to our left, two snowplows slowly started backing up. They opened up a hole big enough for our buses to drive through. We were being allowed to drive down the closed highway. Everyone on the bus let out a cheer. Every time we came to more snowplows, they backed up and allowed us to pass. We were getting the VIP treatment. A short time later, at around 8:25, we exited, parked, and got off the bus. It wasn't raining, but it was windy and cool, and the ground was soggy and muddy from the previous night's rain. I hadn't thought to wear an old pair of shoes, or to wrap my shoes in plastic bags. We passed by a large amount of porta potties, and there were thousands of runners walking to the three villages. I followed the blue signs, and fortunately it was the closest village. I called Lindsay to ask her where she was. While talking to her. we both realized that we were at the same UPS truck, except she was in the front, and I was in the back. We met, I gave her her gels and we talked for a few minutes. She told me she was still not feeling 100%, and wasn't sure if she would be able to PR. I told her I was hoping to finish around 4:30 (not a PR), but would be ok if I finished slower, as long as I beat my 4:43 Hartford Marathon time from three weeks earlier. She went to the UPS bag check, and then volunteered to show me where the water tent was, sine I was dying of thirst at that point. Stupid me hadn't brought water along for fear of having to use the bathroom on the bus. After getting my water, it was close to starting time for Lindsay. We said a quick good-by, I gave her a hug, and headed back to bag check to leave my bag. I wish we had more time to talk, but was glad I had gotten the chance to meet a blogging buddy. Lindsay girl, you rock! (Side note: go read her blog see how well she did). Shortly thereafter I heard a loud "boom." A puff of smoke lifted up towards the sky. I couldn't see the starting line, but I knew that Lindsay and 14,000 other runners were on their way. I silently said "Good luck" to her. From where I was, I could see the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in the distance. A sea of runners was on it. The first 1 3/4 miles of the marathon is run across the bridge. Twenty minutes later, another loud boom, and another 14,000 runners were on their way. The blue village waiting area was hardly crowded. I was twenty minutes away from starting. One last trip to the porta-potty, a quick check of my shoes (no mud, good)and I headed towards a hole in a fence, which lead to the area where I needed to line-up. I took off my sweatpants and my plastic bag raincoat, and left them among a pile of discarded clothing. All the clothing left behind was donated to charity. It was 10:10, and we were allowed to go through the narrow opening in the fence. As we started walking, I had no idea where the starting line was, since it wasn't visible. It was 5 minutes until the start, so I took off my sweatshirt, tossed it aside, clipped my mp3 player onto my shorts, and followed the crowd. We went down a hill towards a bunch of rental trucks. Off to my right, as we reached the bottom of the hill, were toll booths for the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. The tracks blocked our view as we walked, but I knew that once we turned left after the trucks, the starting line would be straight ahead. As I passed by the last truck, I was in awe. Ahead in the distance were thousands of runners ascending the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. To our left were double decker buses with police officers standing on top. To our right, a loudspeaker with last minute instructions blaring out. A countdown to zero, then the loud boom of a cannon. Out of the speakers came the voice of Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York." As we walked toward the starting line, I looked up and saw the police officers clapping. In front of me, a young couple kissed. I became emotional, and tears ran out of my eyes, and a lump was in my throat. Suddenly, it was time to start running. I looked up at the timer, and forty-two minutes and twenty-one seconds were on it as I crossed the starting line. My journey through the five boroughs of New York had begun. P.S. Pictures of me! Copy and paste the following (Sorry, I don't know how to create a link)
(I'm #44355)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NY City Marathon

Held, Rick #44355 0:30:41 1:01:53 1:34:07 2:07:22 2:14:34 2:24:29 2:35:31 2:41:37 4:39:31

It was difficult, VERY difficult. But I sucked it up and finished with my second fastest marathon time ever. What an experience...New York City sure knows how to cheer on us marathoners. I'm beat, so I'll have a race report in a day or two. Thank you Mel for your encouraging texts. I was able to meet Lindsay, from Chasing the Kenyans blog, which was cool. She did well, but I won't spoil it for her. Keep an eye on her blog for her race report.