NYC 1/2 Marathon Recap – PR’s when you least expect them

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I had no intentions of running this race. A handful of weeks ago, after entering the lottery for the NYC 1/2, I was notified (along with alot of my friends) that I didn’t make it in. I had a busy dance card this winter with a January 1/2 marathon, a February marathon and 5k along with races coming up this spring so I wasn’t worry about it. But clearly NYRR got permission to expand the race field and we all got our credit cards charged and notified of our entries.

So I found myself readying my race gear last night as always and after a rain-checked bday dinner with a friend at Ditch Plains, I hit the sack later than I wanted. The forecast all week called for 40′s but when I woke up today, it was considerable cooler so I adjusted the race gear accordingly. I knew ALOT of people running today and was excited to see how they would do. One of which, my friend Brian, used a 6 week training plan I wrote for him to prepare for his first 1/2.

As usual, I attempted to get to the race start at the last minute possible which means when I locked up my bike and walked over to the baggage drop, the UPS trucks were already closed up and there were just a couple guys collecting the late-comers bags. I just made it.

The race with 20k people took a page from the NYC Marathon and had 3 separate waves all releasing at different times. I was in the first and on the way towards the corrals we passed through a NYPD security checkpoint, a first for me. Sadly understandable after Boston, but besides a minor bottleneck, not a problem.

Once past, it was easy going towards the corrals.

Racers getting ready

Racers getting ready

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Racers lined up in corrals

It was cold

Capture

So everyone was ready to get moving and soon enough we were off dashing up CAT hill with fresh legs. I was moving nicely, getting warmed up right up until the 2nd mile when I felt something very familiar, something unwelcome, lets call it an…urge. I had availed myself of facilities during only one previous race ever and that was a 13 hour Ironman, so I gave it a pass. I was loath to lose any time during a high profile half like this but by the time we sped down the first hill at 110th and cut out of the park for a turnaround at mile 3, there was no ignoring biology.

I had no choice but to relent and could have gotten in and out quickly (I have practice unfortunately) if it were not for a small line (a line?! this early in a race?) My eyes were alternately glued to my watch and the porta-potty doors as I counted the seconds and did mental calculations on how much time I would have to drop off successive miles. Finally my turn came and after a grueling 1min 42 seconds, I was racing out of there and directly up Harlem Hill with a jacked HR and anger pushing me along.

pace

I was cooking, throwing caution to the wind and holding well under 8′s with HRs in the 170s. Not a great place only 4 miles in but there was no stopping me, I was convinced a PR wasn’t out of the question. Through the park and down 7th ave were well trod paths for me so I knew when to push and when to hold back. I was feeling better and happy to be cruising.

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Times Sq ahead!

Times Sq ahead!

We had the street to ourselves

We had the street to ourselves

But nothing good can last forever and as we turned west onto 42nd street and dead on into a brutal headwind I once again began to feel questionable. Once we hit 11th ave I knew I’d have to make yet another stop and saw some lonely porta-potties with no line. This time only 30 seconds later.

Nascar eat your heart out

Nascar eat your heart out

That did the trick and with a monster tailwind and a per-mile average a couple seconds down from a PR I shot down the WSH with renewed vigor. I felt 100% and super strong.

WSH approaching WTC (pic by YEE)

WSH approaching WTC (pic by YEE)

My HR was holding steady at reasonable levels in the high 170s at this point in the race and I was running 7:30s and under. I knew I still had the PR, now it was a matter of how much.

Some fast miles towards the end

Some fast miles towards the end

Before I knew it, we were heading through the Battery Tunnel and only a 1/2 mile away. I pushed with whatever I had left and came home with a clock time of  1:42:59 (nearly 2 min PR from my BK 1/2 time) But with the 2min 20sec delay removed, my moving time was 1:40:40 good for 7:40s per/mile

 

I was super happy

I was super happy

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WINDY FINISH!

WINDY FINISH!

Brian was right behind me with a SICK first 1/2 marathon time of 1:45. We made our way through the financial district canyons, buffeted by huge freezing gusts of wind until we got to the subway and home to clean up before brunch.

All in all, it was a great race despite my detours and I’m in a great place for Placid training this early in the season.

Another shout out goes to my client and good friend Miranda of The Cupcake Triathlete who also ran her first 1/2 marathon today and easily the longest she has ever run. This coach is SUPER PROUD!

Adding a medal to the collection

 

 

 

 

 

The Night Before

 

21's  lucky number right?

21′s lucky number right?

So, here we are, the night before my first (and probably only) stand-alone marathon of 2014. I’ve documented some of my leadup here on this blog and thought I should get down any last thoughts before its too late. As I mentioned earlier, I’m wasn’t nervous at all in this week leading up. I think I was just putting off the realization that it was happening. At times, I can be good at that. But today it hit and I’m finding myself quieting down a bunch like I usually do in the day before a race.

Kristin is especially used to this. I am often staring or zoned out at random times throughout the day. I can’t exactly pinpoint what I am doing during these times. Sometimes is actually focused mental rehearsal of the morning, or different points through the race. But sometimes its nothing at all. Really nothing. Perhaps this is my brain beginning to shut out outside distractions that will be unnecessary in the next 24 hours. Long endurance races: marathons, 70.3′s or ironmans are so long in duration that they can (and should) be broken into different mental parts. Each section should be analyzed and anticipated as much as possible. Elite athletes are generally very good at this kind of mental prep and forward thinking. Experience makes you better at this as well. You know what terrible feels like at 8 miles and you know how different terrible is at 21 miles. And you better have your mantras, positive thoughts, pumped up music at the ready for easy recall and access.

The more you can anticipate, plan and account, the more prepared you will be when you hit the challenges the next day (and hit you will, rest assured)

My body is capable of 26 miles, at any time, that is not a question. Mentally, thats a totally different story. In the last weeks before a race, the physical work has either been done, or not. But mentally, there is no time constraint. You have until the gun goes off and beyond. Any race can be turned around if you can emotionally change your bearings. Sometimes its like making a U-turn in a speedboat. Sometimes its changing course in an oil tanker. But the more prepared you are, the better you will fare and the sooner you can begin to turn that tanker, before its too late.

So its written down, here is what I’m hoping for tomorrow. 9min/mile Avg pace and, barring that, a sub-4hr marathon. Fingers crossed and see you on the other side.

T-3 days till the CP Marathon

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It came up quickly but I’m happy to say it wasn’t unexpected. I signed up for this coming Sundays marathon at least 6 months ago having run it last February. The circumstances this year are decidedly different though. Last year I told no-one about it until I let my wife know only days in advance. She was less than pleased but there were reasons I kept it a secret. A marathon, no matter how many times you’ve ran one, is no small challenge. It comes with its own baggage, its own intrinsic pressures. Minimizing those outside pressures then becomes the one of the only things you can control, so the less people who knew and expected me to finish the better, I thought. 

I trained for this race so minimally that anything could have happened. Going in I knew it wasn’t worth the risk of injury if things went south, so I wanted bailing to be a real option (something that is NEVER an option in every other race I enter) I didn’t want the judgement or pity of those who might have know about it. It turned out fine, I came out with PR of 4:05 (not through any real training, simply because I’m a better runner than when I last ran it and didn’t crumble as I have at every other attempt)

This year my training, while still spotty due to a host of reasons, has been much more consistent. The only major issue is the “long dress rehearsal run” of 20miles didn’t happen. When I attempted, I got 5 miles in and realized it wasn’t in me that day. I tried to do it in the coming days but the weather totally prevented me.

So, here we are. A few days out. Kristin has been asking if I’m nervous yet, but I’m not really. I guess I have been avoiding thinking about it. I have a strong mental game planned and my last 16mile run went very well. The race is 5, 5mile loops and I am going to attempt to zone the first 3. Just run 9min/miles like a clock, attempt to keep my HR as low as possible (despite the warming temps this weekend! what are the odds?) and in the last 10 miles, “begin” the race. See what I have left, let the HR climb into the 180s and just hang on.

Whatever happens, this will be a great start volume-wise for my Ironman buildup. Something I’ll address in the next post. 22 weeks left!

 

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