Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Marathon Madness

No . . . I'm not talking about the big sales going on (but seriously! They ARE so good!).

And so commences my novel of the 2008 New York City marathon.

So, yea. I ran a marathon. No biggie right? Its my second after all! However, with the ups and downs of getting laid off, being unemployed for two months, moving to NYC, and job hunting, and then starting my new job 5 days before the race — to say I was ignoring my training is a severe understatement. I was very nervous before the race because I had really only been running once a week for the past two months. It was hard to feel like going out for a run when I knew there was my website to design or my resum├ęs to send out or things I need to pack (I packed and moved in TWO weeks people!!! And I have a lot of crap!). So when the marathon came, I knew I wouldn't do as well as the previous year (4:42 — 2007 Marine Corps marathon). And the funny thing is with so much on my mind, I wasn't really stressed about the race and, in fact, it went by in a blur because I spent those 4+ hours just assessing my new life!

So on November 2, 2008 the New York City marathon commenced after a really cool ferry ride out to Staten Island. Over the long bridge and into Brooklyn I ran — trying not to start out too fast (a fatal flaw in marathons which usually will result in what the call "the wall" in mile 18-ish). I knew the Brooklyn part would be long. Jesum, its almost half the race! So when I finally got through that particular Borough, I was thrilled and had a much-needed boost of energy. Both that and my sister Tessa was at the half-marathon point (on a side note, Tess ran with an epileptic woman as her guide for the last 13.1 miles. How inspiring she is cannot be described. She volunteers with the Achilles almost every Saturday and I hope to start joining them once my life becomes a little more balanced! Not to mention, she only found out she was running as a guide three or four weeks before and hadn't been training! What a badass!). When I saw Tessa, not only was I thrilled and excited to see her, but I couldn't believe that I was actually keeping pace with the 4:15 group! And slightly faster perhaps because I had caught up with them from the 4:30 group! Anyhow, I stopped to say hello but she wouldn't let me rest more than a minute before I was back on my way.

After the Queensboro Bridge, I entered Manhattan. I must confess, it wasn't the enormous crowds and craziness as much as I had read (although there were of course still lots of crowds and craziness) but knowing Jen, Lynn, and Lauren were at mile 18 was motivating! And my old high school buddy Wes was ahead as well (actually he's my high school buddy's little brother).

Anyhow, I made it to them (the girls, never found Wes) but yet again they wouldn't let me rest for even a minute. At this point, damn I was getting tired. I hadn't walked once which I usually do so every 5 miles or so for a minute or two on my traditional training runs. I told myself to run to the Bronx and then I would let myself walk a few minutes. I crossed the bridge and told myself 'at the end of this song, I'll walk'. By the end of the song I could see the bridge back into Manhattan and again I pushed myself to the next milestone. At this point, I was like 'only 5 more miles, maybe I could make it without walking a single time!'

2 miles to go as I entered the park, I checked my time. . . if I hauled ass I could break 4:30 — a feat I hadn't even expected to aim for! So haul ass I did. And that last .2 mile, I think I upped my 10:14 pace and was hitting around 8 or so. I almost puked a few seconds before it was so intense. I knew I exerted exactly my best effort, no more or less.

And finished I did — 4:28:14. I beat Oprah's time (which funny enough, I joked with my fellow racer Emily that there was no way I would be remotely close to that). And I bested last year's time by 14.5 minutes. That's almost unheard of in marathon running. So there's something to this undertraining thing. Last year, I was sore before the race and ended up with a stress fracture afterwards. This year, no problems at all (except of course descending my new 5-floor walkup for the next three days!).

I'm fighting the urge to run another next year. Maybe again in 2010. Or maybe I'll run half as a guide. Next year will be strictly half-marathon(s) and maybe another triathlon. I need a year off. . . I miss my autumn Friday nights and I was so unmotivated training solo this year that I need to really miss it before I put myself through that again.

But, man, it was a great race. I think I liked the Marine Corps a bit better though. Partially bc I got to run with Tessa. Partially bc my family was there. Partially bc the day was sunny and gorgeous (this year was gray and cold).

But there's something to be said about running 26.2 miles in a city you just moved to only 5 days previously! Even though it went through in a blur... it was a pretty great 4 1/2 tour of NYC and I'm glad and proud that I did it.

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