Wednesday, November 05, 2008



Marathon “weekend” started well enough. I was to take the late red-eye to JFK on Thursday. When I checked on Wednesday my itinerary had changed. The flight I was on was gone; I was re-booked in the earlier red-eye. That meant that my “new” flight might be oversold. I should note that I have learned to dislike red-eyes and the chance of avoiding one during this critical race made it all the more appealing to “volunteer” to fly the following morning.

Sure enough, United was asking for volunteers. I jumped at the chance. I asked the clerk if he could upgrade me as well. He said to take the upgrade or an upcoming free flight. I went for the free flight. He re-booked me for the 8:20AM flight and I notice the seat-number is rather low. Business class maybe? I was also given meal and hotel vouchers. Not bad, huh?

I ended up sleeping a peaceful six hours or so. The hotel shuttle dropped me off an hour before the plane was to take off. I noticed that my ticket did not have a group number so I lined up with the vips. It was a business ticket after all!!! Man, oh man can I get used to flying this way. The flight went by so quick! Kevin Bacon was in my flight; yet another celebrity I have seen.

I “quickly” made my way to the Javits convention center to get my bib. The place was not crowded at all at that time, 6:30PM. I then went to my hotel by LGA. I know it was quite a way from the action but I have to watch my expenses.

I ended up sleeping 10 hours that night. After coffee I showered and went to Manhattan. Walked for a bit around times square then made my way to 72nd Street and CP West and kicked it for a while. I then realized I could go kick it by Tavern on the Green, the finish of the NYCM. As I am getting close to the already enacted finish banner I notice a running clock and it reads 3:18:XX… Was that an omen? I thought so. Things were looking up indeed. While kicking it, who runs by but the speedster Ryan Hall. Then Mary showed up to do a rehearsal of the awards ceremony. I was going to stay put but I was getting bored so I decided to visit Columbia U. That burn up some time and went back to Tavern on the Green to carbo load. I met some nice folks from Great Britain and learned that I can get a guaranteed entry to the London marathon if I can run a sub-3:15. This means I may have to travel to Tucson and make an attempt next month.

I finished rather quickly and I bid goodbye to my temporary friends. Hit the sack relatively early. I woke up at 5AM, having slept seven hours. My body and mind felt well rested. The weather was to be marathon perfect. Niiccceee!

I chose Royal blue for the top and light grey shorts. I had struggled the week before on which shoes to wear. Supernova classics have been good to me in marathons; but the ones I had broke in seemed too stiff, no energy-return whatsoever. The other shoes I considered were air-max nikes as they had what felt great energy return. I settled on the tried and true, supernovas.

It was really cold for this so-Cal boy. I am glad I took the ferry as this meant I only had to spend an hour or so in Staten Island. I was just about to take off my warm-ups when it was announced that wave one was closed. It did not take me too long to take a couple of puffs of albuterol and to drop my bag off at the UPS truck. It was 9:10AM. There were still 30 minutes to wait. The wait seemed long. Guys were peeing wherever they could, without remorse. It felt windy and colder than it was.


I felt good. I had a plan. The horizon looked bright.

The cannon sounds and we’re off, or rather we start moving. It would take me a couple of minutes to cross the start. I did not want to run the first mile too fast; or too slow. The wind was strong but I tucked in behind other runners. Mile one, 8:28. Time for the downhill, 7:08. Great. So far, so good. I enter Brooklyn and could not be more excited. Mile three had me already at MP, 7:24. Mile four is flat and somehow I slowed down a bit, 7:34. Mile five is an identical split, 7:34; the road is still flat [38:10]. The crowds are out in full force. Oh no. The 3:30s form a human wall and “threaten” to hold me back. I run on the median and sprint past them. How do you like me now? :-) Mile 6, 7:20. Mile seven, 7:27. Perfect, right where I want to be.

The merging of the three starts was approaching quickly. Mile 8 was a disappointment as I did not feel I had slowed down the effort, 7:48. This split did not bode well. I pick up the effort a bit, mile 9, 7:41. Damn. It is just not clicking. MP effort is there, not so the pace. I make one last push knowing full well that too much push can be disastrous in the latter stages of the race. Mile 10, 7:10. Huh? It sure did not feel “that” fast. Maybe a misplaced marker? [1:16:37] Well within goal.

I think it was in this mile where I went by the Hasidic neighborhood. A Hasidic Jew wants to cross the street but there are so many runners out there. He starts running diagonally, wisely avoiding runners. A couple of runners behind me found him to be funny as he was in his customary outfit and carrying a briefcase as well and could not stop laughing; I did not think it was funny at all; on the contrary, I thought it was very thoughtful of the man as I know how opposed to the marathon the Hasidic neighborhood is. Mile 11, 7:41. It was right here that I knew I was NOT going to meet my goal; I was going to keep on trying though. Mile 12, 7:28. Damn rolling hills had me second-guessing my eventual “failure.” Mile 13, 7:34. Halfway split, 1:39:11. Hmmm, I can still go sub-3:20 if I can achieve a no-worse-than 90 seconds positive split. Ah, but I the fade was waiting for me; I was just hoping it’d be a gentle fade.

In previous NYCMs I was done by the Pulaski Bridge. Not so this time. But it was not rosy as my left knee began to ache. Now that I think about it, I consciously slowed down the pace to prevent a full-blown injury. Mile 14, 7:37. Mile 15, 7:44 [1:53:42]. Yup, it was the knee. Thankfully the pain went away. The Queensboro Bridge was in my sights- a humbler of men and women. Mile 16, 7:51. If I can hold a 7:45 average for the next ten miles I’ll make my goal. Definitely doable.

Mile 17 aided by the downhill and the crowds on First Avenue is clocked in 7:29. A bit disappointing considering that it was downhill. Then the aguish began. It was harder to sustain the turnover needed for 7:30s. At mile 18 the knee pain came back, 7:41. By the mile 19 marker my knee felt fine, 7:52. I am fading steadily. Right after this marker I see the Reservoir Dogs Running club and Elyssa ready to snap a photograph. I start yelling at her: where is my cookie, where is my cookie? She was too focused on capturing a teammate of hers and did not hear me even though I almost ran her over. :-)

Time to cross into the Bronx. A runner behind me slips. A friend of his quickly goes to help him get up. Mile 20, 8:09 [2:32:42]. Time to kiss my goal goodbye; time to steal a decent time from the race that owns me; time to rise to the occasion and keep those mile splits as close to eight as possible. I cross the gentlest Bridge of them all, mile 21, 8:11. I am now back in Manhattan. A few quick turns and I can see the empire state building. The crowds have not stopped being supportive. Mile 22, 8:10. I guess I had been favoring my left leg as my right piriformis started to stiffen up. It’s all guts from here. My legs are done. Finito. I start using my arms; they are now doing most of the work. Mile 23, 8:03. The crowds create a funnel and my tired mind and body make me feel annoyed at them; so selfish of me. I toss my gloves. Mile 24, 8:16, ouch. The pace is supposed to feel easy but it is taking enormous amounts of energy. I turn into Central Park. 2.2 miles to go. Piriformis is still quite stiff. I am in deep concentration; I barely notice the crowds. Mile 25, 8:01. Time to exit the park and hit CP South. I actually feel as if I am racing. I pass dozens of fading runners. I reach Columbus Circle in pain but knowing that the end is near. Mile 26 shows that I really was spent, 7:43. I make an effort to break 3:25 on the clock and the last segment split is 1:32 [3:22:38].

I cross the finish line really tired but knowing that I gave it my best shot on a windy day. To be fair, I drafted off other runners for the first 16 miles. Then I braved the cross winds. But really, the wind was not a factor in my not meeting my goal. It was the knee. Fortunately, I am feeling fine today.

I am pleased with the outcome in spite of not meeting my sub-3:20 goal. It was an 18-minute course best after all.

While watching the online taping of the race, I can be seen walking visibly fatigued while Miss America 2008 was being interviewed.

Oh---and on Monday, while having lunch at a bench in CP, I saw Howard Stern jogging with his trainer. I should keep tabs of ALL the celebrities I have seen.

If you made it this far, thank you for reading… if not, thank you for stopping by.

Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind. (Leonardo da Vinci)


Love2Run said...

Nice job bettering your old course PR. Sounds like you did pretty well and gave it what you had on the day. Take it easy and enjoy the off season!

Sara Mac said...

Hola, your postings on my blog piqued my interest. Thanks for reading. Congrats your NYCM performance!

Arcane said...

still pretty close to your goal time. You going to train for tucson now? That's quite impressive. Good luck!

Quinto Sol said...

Thanks L2R and Sara...

Tucson was in my mind for a couple of days but I have since thought better of it; I will instead pin my hopes on Saint George next year.

Mindi said...

Congratulations! That is a HUGE course PR and oh so close to sub 3:20! Enjoy your recovery!