November 13, 2009

NYC marathon race report

“Run the first 20 miles with your legs, and the last 6.2 with your heart” - This was a sign that I saw on the NYC marathon course that really helped me out along the way. To say the race was easy would be a bold faced lie. Coming off of surgery to install a plate and some screws in my left clavicle in the beginning of August, and trying to race a marathon in very early November would pose a challenge. But a test I was up for.

I got cleared to run 8 weeks before the November 1st race date and started easy. I knew I could only log so many miles without getting hurt or injuring myself by ramping up too quickly. Once race day came, I had two solid 18 milers under my belt and a few 40+ mile training weeks. Nothing too much, no speed, no base, just whatever I had NOT lost from mending my broken bones and road rash on the couch for the last 2 months.

Race morning was a blur. I woke up like a shot and was ready to roll. I was secretly pretty nervous as I really didn’t know how my body would react to the lack of training I had subjected it to. I knew I could get to 18 miles, but after that, I was on thin ice.

After a few mix-ups and realizing I was waiting on the wrong platform, I successfully navigated the NYC subway system and made it to the Staten Island Ferry. On the subway, I was boarding my train along with everyone else still in their Halloween costumes coming home from whatever parties they were at the night before. It was crazy times. I was scheduled for a 5:30am ferry, but I made it to the terminal at 5:40am and had to sit around to take the 6am one. Onboard I saw the sun rise and statue of liberty shine bright as the sun was coming up behind it. It was really a cool start of the day.

I entered athlete’s village and sat around for what seemed like forever. It was 7am when I finally had gotten my coffee, a bagel and a Gatorade and I decided it would be good to have breakfast (partly to keep warm and partly for something to do) NYC hosts a generally international field and someone said it was easier to get in the lottery internationally than it was for a US citizen. I was in the middle of a group of people, when I finally found a place to sit and eat breakfast that no one within a 25 foot radius of me, spoke English. It was amazing and just really cool that everyone was partaking in a common goal…get to that finish line. Our corrals were loaded and ready to go by 9:15am and the first wave went off at 9:40am. We all watched as the elites in the box in front of us got introduced and I nervously made some jokes and the usual. The gun went off and from the start it was just wild. Not as many people on the course as I expected (I guess I just really expected it to be wall-to-wall runners) but just spectators everywhere. The first bridge you go over is the biggest hill in the entire course and it has a pretty good view from it. We all scrambled up and I think I hit the first mile marker in 6:53 or so. I was feeling okay.

About 2-3 miles in, I saw a guy in an Ironman Louisville jersey that I ran up to and started chatting with. Turns out he was from Buffalo and we know a lot of the same people. He even dropped the name Joe Meyers and I told him that guy sucks (haha, just kidding Joe!) We ran for a ways together and were having a good time just chatting about how ridiculous of a spectacle this race is.

I was feeling okay and passed thru about the mile 6 or 7 mark and spotted a few people I knew on the left hand side of the course. Erin Mullaney jumped off the sidelines and ran alongside me for about 100m and snapped a photo as depicted below. It made me laugh and I thanked her for the support. Another mile or so up the road, I spotted Kim, Jessica and little baby Ozzie in the crowds and they cheered loudly as I passed on thru. I forgot to hand off my highlighter yellow gloves to them, so I tucked them into the waist band of my shorts and soldiered on.
Hitting the half marathon mark in 1:26:58, I knew I was in for a good race if I could just hang on to the pace that I was currently running. I knew that even slowing my pace a little I would still be in good shape to crack the 3:10 goal that I had set and maybe even faster. I was starting to feel a little sluggish and had to remember to focus on the task at hand instead of being distracted by waving at spectators and seeing the sights of the City. At mile 16 or 17, you pass over a large 1.5 mile bridge and you go from throngs of screaming spectators, bands, and all the liveliness of New York City, to pure silence. The only thing you hear is the person next to you breathing. It’s eerily calming and a needed change of pace. You can hear the crowd on the other side of the bridge far before you see them and you come off in the Bronx somewhere. After a short stint there, you finally cross into Manhattan and make your way to Central Park.
I strolled thru my safe zone of 30k in a little over 2:05 and it was virgin territory after this mark. I’ve always said that, “weird things happen after 20 miles in a marathon” and without the proper training for this race, I knew it was probably going to be true. I stopped for a quick #1 relief at a porta potty around this time and was back to the race in a flash. I’ve never done that in a marathon before. Miles 20-24 were quite uneventful, but I thought that we entered into Central Park at like mile 20, so I was a little delirious and confused why we weren’t in the park. I slammed the third gel that I had at mile 23 and we entered Central Park around mile 24.
This is where things got interesting. I was REALLY starting to fall apart and finally made my way to the 40K checkpoint (approx. 24.8miles) and split thru in 2:49:30 and did some quick math in my head that I needed to run the last 1.4 miles in less than 10 minutes if I wanted to break 3 hours. I honestly did not know if I could do that at this point in the race. My left abdominals were cramping real bad and I was shuffling towards the finish line. I saw the clock counting down in front of me and was passing the “800m to go” banners and just needed to grit and get this race done.
I clomped thru through the line in a gun time of 2:59:58 and a chip time of 2:59:35. As I crossed, I tried to pull out the neck of my shirt to expose the scar from the clavicle surgery that was at the beginning of August. I was overcome with thoughts of, “F@%K surgery, I’m back!!!” and might have squirted out a tiny tear as I crossed. It was pretty emotional to get to that line and I put myself thru hell to do it. I was mangled. EVERY single Red Cross volunteer that saw me, came up to me and asked me if I was okay because I was loopy and looked like shit as I grabbed my medal and space blanket. I was pretty dazed and they hand you a feed bag and you have to walk like 2 miles until you get to your UPS truck with your number on it and all of your dry gear. I finally made it and despite the bitching and complaining about having to walk so long, it was good for my legs and I really didn’t feel too bad in the days after I returned home. Celebratory NYC style thin crust pizza was consumed and I was a happy camper. I had completed a goal that I didn’t really think was possible and ripped off another sub 3 marathon (third one out of four stand alone marathons)

So that’s it, I’m back to swimming, biking and running (obviously) again and eager to get back the fitness that was lost over the last few months. I have full range of motion with my shoulder and only slight pain whenever I wrench it or move it wrong. Turns out the only thing I lost with the IMLP accident was time. Make the best of it friends. Talk to you all again soon, cheers!

1 comment:

Tim said...

Great race Travis. I know people with implanted metal pins and trick knees can feel weather changes. Any chance there is snow coming for this winter. There's a 6 Hour Snowshoe race I'd love to do. You may have heard of it, Cast-A-Shadow. You can even race as team. You know, get 2 other friends that you can count on to race with you. I know you wouldn't want to miss something like that.