Monday, November 15, 2010

NYCM Race Report

For those of you that have been following this blog, you know that there was a lot of drama in the months leading up to the Marathon. A couple of weeks before race day, I decided to run - and just see what happened. I knew that my heart was still limited (in terms of what I could do), I know that I was undertrained, but I decided to go for it, and just see what happened.

On race morning, I made my way down to the ferry with Sharon and Matthew from Riverdale. We caught the 6:30am ferry to Staten Island, and chatted with all of the sleepy, amicable runners around us. From there, we caught the bus to Ft Wadsworth. Sharon and I parted ways, and Matthew and I made our way off to morning services. It was a nice way to start the marathon, and I ran into a few other athletes that I knew. From there, I made my way over to the start village, and ultimately the corrals. The weather was cold, but not unpleasant.

Eventually, the corrals were opened, and we made our way onto the bridge. I had a momentary shudder of disbelief, still a bit surprised that my tenacity and lack of good judgement had brought me to the foot of the Verazanno bridge. After God Bless America, we took off to the sound of the cannon and "New York, New York". I settled in to a comfortable 11 min pace, and started my way up the bridge. On the bridge, I ran into Weber and Maura - gave them a quick shout, and wished them a great race. We meandered through various neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and eventually the three start waves consolidated into one, and the crowds of spectators started to build.

I have to agree with Baker, the best crowds by far were in Ft Greene, Brooklyn. I must have heard my name screamed by spectators at least every 30 seconds. My hands grew tired from waves, high fives and thumbs up, and my face started to hurt from smiles. I was really doing this! I settled into a nice routine of water stops, and gel - and just plugged on, enjoying every minute. By mile 16, at the ascent of the Queensboro bridge, I was starting to slow down - I walked most of the way up the bridge, and jogged my way down. At this point, my legs were starting to grow heavy - but I kept my spirits up. I thought to myself, "Just 10 miles to go (eek) - and it's the same 10 miles that I ran a couple of weeks ago with my teammates from the Flyers I knew that the wheels were going to come off eventually, and I was determined to roll with it and get to the finish line, no matter what it took.

I turned onto First Ave, and started what would eventually become a run/walk regimen - pretty much the rest of the way through the race. The crowds were great on First Ave, but nothing like what I had come to expect after Brooklyn.

Heading into the Bronx, I ran into Erin - who was in the third wave (I was in the second). It then hit me how slow I was actually going, but I didn't let it bother me. We chatted for a bit, and she went on her way. I plodded on, just putting one foot in front of the other, and making my way closer to the finish.

Back in Manhattan, I ran into my wife, my kid and my Mom, waiting for me on 5th Ave. Fortunately, I was jogging at the time. I was starting to feel down a bit, and it really lifted my spirits to see my family. I gave them a quick hug and a kiss - when my wife asked how I was doing, I told her honestly, "I felt good through mile 16, but the tank is almost empty". Not wanting to lose momentum, I said goodbye, and continued on my way.

The trudge up 5th avenue is a hard one, and this was no exception. I entered the park at 90th street, nearly entirely out of steam. I was walking far more than running, but just kept moving forward. Passing mile 24, I just wanted to sit down and stop. I said to myself, "I've come this far, I'm not going home without a medal." and just kept on trucking. We turned onto Central Park South, and I was completely out of gas - I just kept walking, and fed off of the energy of the crowds. When I saw the sign that said "1/2 Mile to go" I decided that not only was I going to finish, I was going to run the rest of the way in. I dug deep, found that hidden store of energy, and was able to run it in to the finish.

Crossing the finish line, I saw Ed, a fellow Flyer - the guy that kept me company on the last 10 miles of the marathon course. I was so glad to see him there, as he was one of the people that helped me arrive at the decision to run, and gave me support at that critical juncture - 2 weeks before race day.

I crossed the finish line, collected my medal, and made my way through the death march and back to my car. I'm so grateful for the encouragement of my friends, who kept me moving through this rough patch - and inspired me not to give up, and just keep pushing. I must have thought it a million times during the marathon, and at least two million times since then - I CAN'T WAIT TO DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR!