Hokie Love in the Big Apple: NYC Marathon Race Report

I cannot believe it has been two  months since I ran the NYC marathon.  I would say that I have been remiss in my duties to report about a race a significant ast the NYC marathon but life is life and it has been busy.  I am sure my memory is a little fuzzy but at the same time I am sure details will come randomly as I composed this award worthy prose. 

Well, it all started on the Friday morning before the race and I decided that a good 7.5 mile technical trail run was in order.  It was awesome and amazing.  Now just earlier in the year I would have never even thought of running in the week before a marathon but lately I find that the itch is too much and there is no reason to fear a good jaunt.  Of course I went running on a ponds side trail after several weeks of rain.  So it was more an under water trail.  Eitherway, afterwards I cleaned up as much as I could, packed up, wrote a post or two, and got to trekking toward northern New Jersey.  I got to my Sisters’ place in Ramsey around 7 and waited for everybody to get home from work.  finally, my youngest sister came home and I found out that she was huge.

  Later I found that Ramsey, NJ is so far north that I could have sneezed and missed it all the way to Sufern, NY.  Either way, my sister Marie a NYC veteran and I discussed the plan for the getting me to the Expo.  She has already been so I was on my own.  It was okay, I am a big boy and can get around. 

Well, after being attacked by Marie’s one-eyed cat overnight.  Actually, he just cuddled next to me and demanded that I scratch his head for about 2 hours.  I got up around 6am put on the most awesome running shirt every (wait for it) and got a bus pass to the Port Authority.   From the Port authority walked to the expo.  I was almost derailed when I stumbled into the “America’s Got Talent” cattle call.  As much as I wanted to prove that I truly do sound like Lauren Hill and meet David Hasselhoff I figured that the country would have wait for my talents.

I found the Expo and it was fantastic.  It was the standard herd me to your designated number, color, sex, speed, hair color, and ,of course, shirt size sub group just to make sure you have the actual ability to run the race and receive a time when the day ends.  Eitherway, the expo was okay.  It was dominated by the Asics area but since they sponsored the joint they get a big display.  I test drove the Mizuno Wave Nirvanas and the new Saucony’s.  I was really disappointed when I found no Pearl Izumi set up.  What was even worse was not Laura Bars.  Despite these draw backs it was a lot of fun.  I got swag, tastes some nasty coconut water stuff, and the powerbar balls were awful.  As is mostly the case with these kind of things.  They may work at the energy thing but it is hit or miss about them being edible.  I did get a bunch of water and Gatorade and info on every marathon around the world.  I even found out about the Reykjavik Ultramarathon.  I am not sure if I can run 30+ on streets but I will find out.  The the best thing ever happened.  I went by the Runners World booth and bought the “Runners Rule Book” and performed a Slug sighting with Bart Yasso.

My day was made but I had to get something for Rae and then I picked up some arm warmers at a killer price.  That about did it.  I grabbed some more stuff and headed back to the Port Authority Bus station for the trip back to Ramsey.  While I waited I ran into the weirdest one footed pigeon.  It was freaking me out. 

Well, we fast forward to the night and preparations for the big day.  It is funny that several people had made great preparations to ensure that they got to bed very early like Laura at Absolut(ly) Fit and the Sun Runner.  I on the other hand sat down with my Sisters and their mother and an ate dinner and proceed to converse for several hours till the clock said 12:30.  At that point I actually attached my tag to the shoe, pinned my number to the Jersey and counted out my e-gels four times to make sure I had enough.  I set my alarm on my phone to play Cake’s “The Distance” at 0400.   I had an extra hour thanks to what I believe to be Congress’s only good act in the past 10 years when they changed daylight savings time to November 1.  I got up at O dark 30 and got ready.  Marie and I took the bus to the Port Authority to some random Subway to the Staten Island Ferry. 

I saw the statue of Liberty and once on Staten Island we bussed it to the next drop off and walked a couple of miles to the staging area.  I got pictures of me and the bridge and dropped off my bag and made my way to the start line.  It was all good and boy was the crowd big.

I heard the first wave start and saw people running across the bridge.  I was herded to the start line where each start was separated by lines of busses.  It was like the wall from Escape from New York.  This is where I made first mistake.  I put my foot up on the bus tire and retied my shoes.  On my second shoe the start gun went off.  Well, I set me clock on my phone and crossed the start line.  Honestly, for being the biggest race in the world the start seemed kind of small.  This was because I was I was on the bottom of the bridge where only one-third of the second wave starters were going.  It was kind of like a party as we weaved between each other.  The first mile went by without any trouble except I was still on the bridge.  The other part is that the clock had started with the first wave so I had to do math while running.  So Time minus 20 was oh this was easy.  If I finished at 4:20 on the clock I would have put on a 4 hour marathon.  Remember that.  Well, still things were going very well.  Just before I got off the bridge I remembered to remove my ear bud and heard the rumble from the top of the bridge.  I am glad I did not do this earlier because I would have run the record fastest two miles of my life.  It was almost scared me.  It was shortly after this point I got off the bridge and headed into Brooklyn where we met our first crowd.  It was a little sparse but a good crown none the less.  Actually before that I saw several “gentlemen” stopping at the base of the ramp from the bridge and emptied their bladders.

At that point I wondered if there was some study about how the bridges ramps tend to sink just a little every year and most around mid november than any other part of the year.  Either way, just after that the line of UPS trucks go by, that contained our bags of stuff to be transported to the finish line.  They honked and we waved.  Now I go back to the night before where my sister Marie warn me about 1st avenue in Manhattan and about how it seems to go on forever.  That is further along and she neglected to mention 4th avenue which happened to be about 80 miles long.  I mean we entered and that is where all the other starts joined together and then I understood the biggest race ever.  I thought I was crowded at Disney and at the Marine Corps Marathon.  It was a river of people that extended forever.  Here the crowd was amazing and here is where I started to get some hokie love.  I was of course wearing my Virginia Tech Bike Jersey and it is like bringing  my own personal support team.  People would see the VT and I would hear “Virginia Tech” and “Go Hokies.”  It is awesome.  But of course it was okay to a point when I realized that 4th avenue was never going to end.

In previous races I have tried to learn from each experience.  Sometimes I learn things but do not apply them.  Well, the one thing I have learned from my recent ultra running experience is that water and/or fuel is not something I need every mile.  I don’t train like that and I should not race like that.  So like at the slug events I have been to where there are 5k loops where I can rehydrate and fuel I decided would keep to that schedule and bypass the aid stations except for those on the 5k marks.  At least for the first half or 30k how ever I needed.  After that I knew that all bets were off and I would need to listen to my body more.  And I did.

Well, as the miles  went by and the crowd support was amazing and loud then the most deafening silence occurred when I entered the Williamsburg area Brooklyn, around mile 10, where there were spectators that had taken some sort of vow of silence.  I still to this day find it very hard to describe.

It was not long before I hit the halfway point and everything was going great.  I was feeling amazing and I hit the 13.1 mat on the Pulaski Bridge at 1:52.  Sure I was fast but it felt good and I was set up for a spectacular finish.  The next few miles went by pretty fast when I got to a spot just short of the 15 mile point and decided I would call to let people know where I was and the pace I was.  There were many including Rae and my sister Christina were out on course cheering Marie and I on.  This took several minutes because getting a call through was tough.  Well, with that taken care of I made the turn and there was the Queensboro bridge and I wished Queens behind.  The bridge was cool and though I had heard it was a hard incline to go up that was not the issued.  It was a bear of a down slope to come off of.  As I got toward that nasty downhill I heard this roar.  I must remind you that I am wearing an MP3 player but at this point I heard almost none of the music.  It was the 1st Ave crowd.  I had heard that the happy hour starts at 8am on Marathon Sunday and I believe it.  It was a wall of people lasting 3 miles.  I was amazing.  I could not believe the amount that this city has invested in the race.  I know now why they are proud of the event.  Unfortunately this is about the point where I was starting to fatigue real bad.  I was getting slow and the next few aid stations were walking points.  I was okay but I knew this was not going to get any easier.

I forgot to mention that I had passed the 4 hour and 3:45 pace groups earlier and it was on 1st Ave that the 3:45 passed me up.  That is no matter.  I was still moving strong. 

Well, right after that I found out that the NYC marathon was part trail run.  I hit the Willis Ave bridge and realized that it was a was technical trail that would better be known as the streets of the Bronx.  I mean honestly, it is a called civil engineering people.  All of my trail running experience kicked in and I started looking down to be sure of my footing and trudged on through till we got back to Manhattan. 

I came back down into Manhattan and the down hill off the Madison Ave bridge just about cramped my thighs up.  I was starting to get imbalanced but I was okay.  I just needed to adjust my pace and keep it going.  A few miles later and past Marcus Garvey Park is when the first of three 4 hour pace groups passed me up.  I figured I could keep up and i did for about a mile but I was spent.  The crowd again was getting big and I could see Central park on the Right. 

Hurt.

Pain.

Exhaustion.

Awesome. 

I turned into the park and again another down hill but I was feeling better.  The temperature was perfect and now I was feeling good.  I was still taking aid stations at walking pace but I knew it would not be long.  I was coming up on mile 25 and I knew I could kick mile 26s ass.  There it was 1.2 miles to go and I moved.  I got my water and started to push a little harder.  Then it happened I was halfway down Central Park South and I Zonked.  It was unbelievable, less than half a mile to go and I was just about done.   I finally got back to running and as I turned the corner I saw the finish line and I tried to pick up the pace but there was not much left.  Still I kicked.  I could see the clock it was counting at 4:19.  I pushed some more but the finish line was still not getting close enough.  I finally hit it and the last I saw was 4:20 and some change.   It was going to be close.  I was hoping for my first sub-4 marathon but I knew no matter what I had just PRd at the NY marathon.  It was amazing.  I found out later that I finished at 4:00:47.  So close and still awesome.

The next part was not as awesome.  I got my medal which rocked then I had the shuffle down the shoot to the UPS trucks to get our checked bags.  Also they handed us the bags with water and a macintosh apple (the worst textured, nastiest tasting apple ever made).  As we shuffled along I was starting to cramp up and cool down real fast.  I was not alone and there were plenty of medical personal to help us if needed.  I got to my UPS truck and it seems that they lost my bag.  After a long wait and some panic on my part I figured out that the bag that was turn backwards right in front of me was mine.  I grabbed it and moved on to my meet area where I caught up with Rae and Space.  I changed into a dry shirt and sweat shirt we started over to meet up with my sister Marie who had at that point just called me to tell me she finished.  We met up and got some barbecue before returning to NJ and then back down the Delaware later that night.

In the end, I love New York and the marathon is something I will do again.  I met got my Slug sighting with Bart Yasso, a PR, and a great tour of New York city.  Maybe next year.

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