Sunday, September 19, 2010

NYC Marathon Tuneup

Today was the NYC Marathon Tuneup, an 18 mile NYRR Training run. This was an important run for me, because I decided that if I can complete the run today (regardless of the pace), I'll continue training to run the marathon. Conversely, if I didn't finish, I would officially drop out of the marathon.

For those that had been following along at home, I'm currently on a bunch of heart meds, following a catheter ablation procedure that I had about a month ago. The effect of all these meds is that they keep my heart rate low, which is a bit of a problem when running. Generally, my heart is in the 150 -160 bpm range when doing long runs. Under these heart meds, my heart doesn't go much faster than 130 bpm no matter how fast I go. The net effect is that my muscles don't get enough oxygen, and start to feel like dead weight. If I wanted to succeed on this long run, I was going to have to take it slow, and just hope for the best.

I headed down to the race with Sharon, my old training buddy. She had her own plans for the day, but was going to join me for the first 6 miles. We ran into Josh at the race, and we headed for the corrals. We started off at around a 10 min/mile pace, which is a bit fast for me under the current circumstances. I let Josh and Sharon go at Mile 3, and settled in for what was going to be a long day.

The race is 3 laps around Central Park, for a total of 18 miles. I had to do some walking in the later parts of lap one, and started to have doubts about the rest of the day. Right around Mile 4, a runner (who looked a lot like Howie Mandel) came up from behind, and yelled "Go Joe" (it was written on the back of my shirt). We stayed together for a few minutes, and I mentioned that I had just gone through heart surgery 18 days ago. Suitably impressed, he wished me luck in the run - gave me some much needed encouragement, and kept moving. I did my thing for the remaining miles of loop 1. Fortunately, I ran into Mark (my training buddy from Phila, and fellow Flyer) right around mile 6. He was gracious enough to keep me company for the second loop, and entertain me with stories from his recent trip to Thailand. We stayed together through lap 2, and the first mile of lap 3. At this point, the wheels were definitely starting to come off - so I let Mark go ahead, promising him that I'd finish the run today.

Loop 3 was a tough loop for me, as I went through the gamut of emotions: anger for being limited in what I can do, fear about not finishing, hope, you name it. At this point, I really started to get strength from the other runners out on the course. I chatted with an attorney who was training for his first marathon, a PR guru who was training for his first Ironman, and a bunch of other people along the way. I really got the feeling that we were all in this together - and that we would do what it took to encourage each other to keep moving.

Around mile 17, I ran into Howie Mandel again - he was on his 4th loop of the park. I picked it up, and ran with him for a bit (only to realize that I had more in the tank than I really thought), and coasted it in for a 3:37:09 finish. Obviously, these are not the numbers I was hoping for 6 months ago - but under the circumstances, I feel fortunate to be able to run - and grateful to my fellow runners for keeping out there and enjoying it today.

7 comments:

Neil Harris said...

Great job, Joe. Glad to see you're back in the swing of things.

Meir said...

I think you're nuts ! =o)

What meds are you on ?

baker said...

nice work Joe! great seeing you out there and Im glad youre back at it after the surgery. i too feel those emotions you were speaking about "anger for being limited in what I can do, fear about not finishing, hope" during races.

Anonymous said...

good job joe! gives me encouragement to keep it up (although im no where near marathon ready)

Michelle said...

Great job Joe. I am very proud of you today!!!!

430orbust said...

Great job Joe. Hopefully it gets easier from here...

Anonymous said...

Excellent & thoughtful post.