Sunday, November 23, 2014

2014 New York City Marathon Race Report

The New York City Marathon: 4 years in the making - sorry it took me 3 weeks to publish this report!

Back in 2011, before I had even run my first marathon, Barry and I entered the NYC marathon lottery. We didn't get in. We tried again in 2012, unsuccessful again.  Again in 2013, but this time I got in, but Barry did not.  Being our 3rd attempt, Barry would be guaranteed entry in 2014 as the last group of "3 strikes and you are in" policy.  Given I was racing IM Cozumel, I deferred and that brought us to the running of the 2014 NYC Marathon this past weekend.

A bit more history to those who don't know, this marathon was supposed to be Barry's first sub 4 hour marathon and I was supposed to pace him.  So I did not train to run as fast as I can but I trained to run with him.  Then 2 weeks before the NYC marathon, at the Waterfront Marathon in Toronto, Barry ran a 3:51. No, he wasn't supposed to run a full marathon 2 weeks before NYC but he did.  Which meant I didn't have to pace him.  Which meant, heck, let's try to BQ (sub 3:45) again, or heck even PR (sub 3:37).

We left Toronto on Friday and I was highly stressed leaving the kids on halloween plus my daughter had pulled a muscle in her neck and was not doing well. It was hard to shake the stress especially in a bustling crazy city like NYC.

We arrived at the Beacon Hotel late afternoon and was thrilled with with the fabulous 2 room suite with full mini kitchen!  I highly recommend the Hotel Beacon on Broadway at 75th.  Super close to the finish line and in a great area.

We went to the expo on Friday night and was surprised at how quickly we got through registration and we on our way to the shopping experience.  W picked up a few items and walked the expo then headed back to the hotel, grabbed dinner and called it a night.  Halloween in Manhattan and we were in bed by 10!

Saturday was a wet and grey day in NYC.  We had a lazy morning then walked over to the park to check out the finish line and them grabbed a late lunch with my lovely cousin.  Back to the hotel to put the feet up and relax for the day to come ....

The Finish Line on Saturday in the rain


I awoke before the alarm. The time change gave us an extra hour so the 5:20 wake up wasn't too brutal.  We went through our normal morning routines of coffee and bagels and left the hotel rig on time at 6:15. We grabbed a taxi and headed to the ferry.

As we were walking into the ferry terminal, Barry spotted a guy wearing the bright red team canada mittens.  Like he offer does, he struck up a conversation.  Turns out his coach is our good friend and fellow TTC Board member Michael.  

Hey - you are from Toronto ... do you know?

The ferry ride was uneventful.  A large boat filled with marathoners.  The snack bar was open and I grabbed another bottle of water and a soft pretzel.  The views of Manahattan and the Statue of Liberty were grand.  I am sad I didn't get any photos!  That's one of the reason I brought my phone!

Once we debarked the ferry we headed to the line up for the busses to the start villages.  It was very cold and windy out and I was thankful for my warm throw aways I was wearing.  We finally made it onto a bus and were lucky to grab a seat.  It warm and toasty and it was nice to get warm.  Would have been perfect if there had been a bathroom on the bus!  It was not a far distance to get to the start line but we were on the bus for quite awhile.  I'm not sure how long but I didn't care as I knew I wouldn't have a comfy seat and heat once we arrived.

The security was pretty intense.  Our bags had been sniffed by dogs before we got on the ferry and then we were greated by fully armed guards and were wanded before we were allowed to leave the bus area.

The next hour or so was spent nibbling on bagels and pretzels, drinking water and trying to stay warm.  Everyone seemed to have these great orange dunkin doughnut toques but Barry and I never ran into the folks giving them away.  It was finally time for us to line up in the corrals where we waited another 30 minutes or so.  
warm and cozy in out team Canada throw aways!
We could hear the boom of the cannon and the see the start of the first wave as they made their way over the Verrazano bridge.  We were then lead to the start line.  The excitement was amazing.  Here we were, 4 years in the making, about to run the NYC marathon!  It was cold and it was windy but it was dry!  Thank goodness the rain had gone away!

The cannon went off and the song New York New York was blaring - it was 10:05 and the second wave started their journey of 5 Boroughs and 42.2 kilometres.  I must say it was the most amazing start to any marathon I have run - even more dramatic than Boston.  You start right at the base of the Verrazano  Bridge so right off the bat you are running up hill but you are so pumped and the views are amazing.  With everyone singing New York New York - it was amazing.

As I climbed the bridge I felt amazing - it was great to get the blood flowing to warm me up  and even with the intense and insane winds at the top of the bridge I knew I wouldn't be cold on this run.  I kept looking back to see if Barry was with me but it wasn't long before we were separated.  I was feeling great and I was going to go for it.

Kilometre 1 - 5:51/km - perfect
Kilometre 2 -  5:10 - couldn't be better

It was so windy and crowded.  Plastic bags and light weight throw away clothing were dangerously flying around the ground.  But the sun was trying to peak out and the views from the bridge and the spectators on the other side of the bridge were amazing.

Kilometre  3 - 4:42
Kilometre 4 - 4:59

I was settling into my 5 minute per kilometre pace that I was pretty sure I could hold on to.
Kilometre 5 - 5:01
Kilometre 6 - 4:55
Kilometre 7 - 4:59

Feeling amazing - keeping hydrated and nourished perfectly.  Body feels great and loving the spectators.

Kilometre  8 - 4:49
Kilometre 9 - 4:55
Kilometre 10 - 4:58

50 minute 10 k - WOOHOO - I was still feeling awesome and enjoying every minute.  I knew that I was on my way to a personal best and to think I might even break 3:30.  I was so happy that fighting the incredible wind didn't phase me at all at this point.  The wind was a factor for sure - it would suck the life out of you if you let it.  But I was feeling great and running strong.

Kilometre  11 - 4:56
Kilometre 12 - 5:01
Kilometre 13 - 5:01

I was really doing this...

Kilometre  14 - 5:10
Kilometre 15 - 5:04
Kilometre  16 - 5:00

I was pacing myself so well and even slowing at the water stations to make sure I got enough liquid especially when I was taking gels.  I was not going to hit a wall and I knew my body was burning fuel at a rapid pace.

Kilometre 17 -5:14
Kilometre 18 - 5:09
Kilometre 19- 4:55
Kilometre 20 - 5:15

My right hamstring started feeling a little funny. Nothing serious I thought at the time.

Kilometre 21 - 5:21
Kilometre 22 - 5:26

We are now over the Pulaski Bridge in to Queens.  My hamstring is still a bit tight but I push on.

Kilometre 23 - 5:13

Why is my hamstring giving me such grief

Kilometre  24 - 5:38

I am on my way up the Queensboro Bridge.  I know when I get over the bridge I'll be greeted by thousands of screaming spectators.  I was happy thinking about that - know I would draw energy from the crowds.

And this is where it all ended.  Just like that, not a quarter of the way up the bridge - BAM - my right hamstring went into a full spasm stopping me in my tracks.  I threw my hand up and yelled stopping as to not get run over and made my way to the the right side of the bridge.  For the first time in the day my breathing became out of control as I sobbed with my right leg up on the concrete wall while my hands viciously massaging my hamstring muscle trying to relieve the cramp.  I don't know exactly how long I had to stay there, tears quietly streaming down my face.

I finally brought my leg down and gingerly started walking again.  My entire right leg from my calf to my glute were not happy (can we say posterior chain failure?).

Kilometre 25 - 11:03
Kilometre 26 - 4:30

These numbers are not right as the garmin had issues on the covered Queensboro bridge - I think it lost about 400 meters in there so really this was about 2.5 kilometres in 15:33.  I don't really know but I do know that I knew at this time the PR was no longer an option.  But the question still remained - could I come in under 3:45 for another BQ.

Kilometre 27 6:04

I came off the bridge and onto First Avenue to spectators you will not find in any other race.  It was truly amazing.  However, running up First Avenue, even with the amazing spectators proved to be no fun on this day - running directly into the wind, on a slight incline, with a bum right leg.

Kilometer 28 - 5:38

At one point a grocery bag came flying along the ground.  I saw it and thought I would avoid it but some how that gust of wind turned it just such a way that it wrapped around my ankle and tripped me up a bit.  I didn't fall but it definitely jarred my already very irritated right leg.

I kept running.

Kilometre 29 - 6:00
Kilometre 30 - 5:27
Kilometre 31 - 6:20

At this point I`m running about 800 meters and walking 200 meters ... maybe more, maybe less.  But One thing I know is I can`t just keep running.  I won`t lie, I was sad.  But then I thought about my friends who had their swim cancelled at Ironman Florida the day before.  Now that was sad.

Kilometre 32 6:27
Kilometre 33 - 6:40

I`ve crossed over the Willis Ave Bridge into the Bronx.  I've accepted the fact that I am not going to get even close to 3:45 and now it`s time to hold on to a sub 4 hour marathon.  It wasn't pretty but I was determined.  Around this time, I saw a volunteer holding out `THE STICK``. I passed the first one I saw... the second was in use but when I came to the third and final volunteer I stopped.  It was the most painful and most wonderful feeling to roll my hamstring and calf.

Kilometre 34 - 6:08
Kilometre 35 - 6:18
Kilometre 36 - 6:10

I've come back over the last bridge into Manhattan and onto Fifth Avenue.  The crowds are spectacular but I can hardly feel them.  My right leg is fighting me every step.  But only 6 more kilometres to go I tell myself.  A nice run on the boardwalk, I can run 6k I tell myself.

kilometre 37 - 6:12
kilometre 38 -6:42

Manhattan is not flat and I`ve just come up what seems like a very long climb.  I take comfort in the fact there are only 5 more kilometre to go and like I always say it`s just 5K!  I know at this point I'm going to make it under 4 hours but I don`t have time to waste.  The crowds carry me.

Kilometre 39 - 6:02
Kilometre 40 - 5:50

We are in the park now and the road is very narrow.  There are runners everywhere.  I was trying to be careful but I was clipped by a guy coming up behind me.  I thought my right leg wasn't going to hold but I stayed up right.  I smiled to the crowd.  I knew I was almost done.

Kilometre 41 - 5:48

On Central Park South thinking where the heck is the finish!  Why does everything seem so much further now than the million times I've walked this stretch.  I seriously do not want to run any more.

Kilometre 42  - 5:49

Finally I made the turn north into the park.  I see the beautiful 26 mile sign - the finish is only .2 miles - that's 322 meters. And then BAM - just for the fun of it - a nice little hill to the finish line.

I crossed the finish line - I tried to jump but I'm pretty sure I didn't clear more than an inch.  I finished in the official time of 3:56:18.  I was happy to be done.  I was sad with my performance.

I immediately pulled out my phone, clicked on the app to see where Barry was.  His estimated finish time was 4:00:16 and I knew he would do anything he could to be across before 4:00.  I knew if I kept moving I would never find him so I stopped about 5 feet before the medals, only 15 feet or so past the finish line and walked in place for 3 minutes with my phone in hand.  As soon as it said he finished I turned around and looked. There were seriously 100s of runners. I was flooded with relief when I saw him.

Needless to say he was over the moon - his second sub 4 hour marathons just 2 weeks after his first!  What an amazing accomplishment - and on that tough course in those tough conditions!  Amazing.  Sadly I wasn't doing so great to enjoy it.

We got very cold very fast and my lungs were burning with every breath.  We made our way through the chute, getting our medals, Mylar blanket and food bag (seriously disappointing for me with an apple, pretzels and gatorade).

It's a long walk out of the finish and it was so cold.  As we approached the medical tent Barry needed to sit down.  Before he could get his butt on the ground a spotter was by our side suggesting we go to the medical tent which was just a few meters ahead.   The are very good not to let anyone linger any where for very long.

The medical tent was AMAZING - our bibs were scanned in and luckily we were both sent to the same tent.  I had started coughing and they just ushered me in.  I was taken to a cot and given a warm blanket and a hot, salty cup of broth.  It was heartier than the broth you get on an Ironman Marathon but it accomplished the same thing.  Here I was, sitting on a little cot, in a huge warm tent, drinking yummy salty broth.  I cannot tell you how lovely that hot liquid was.

I was seen by two doctors. They both listened to my lungs.  We had a little chat about the chest cold I had two weeks prior.  My wheezy lungs were nothing to be too worried about but if I didn't stop coughing they would give me some medicine. Luckily I got the cough under control.

Barry had a bit of massage work done on his legs and had been moved from a cot to the seats by the door.  I got my paperwork done and moved myself off the cot.  There were other's that needed it more.  I was still very cold and the lovely woman Barry had been chatting with made me go sit in the circle of chairs around the heating vent.  It was like a million degrees and it didn't take long to get fully warmed up there.

We left the medical tent and continued the very long walk out.  It was very cold outside and it didn't take long to get chilled again.  I just kept pushing forward knowing I would get my warm cape at the exit and then we only had a 3 block walk to the hotel.

We finally made it to the exit and a lovely volunteer wrapped the blue cape around my body, put the hood over my head and secured it with the velcro strap.  It was lovely, but it was still very cold.  We made our way to the hotel, with smiles and congrats from everyone.

The parade of the blue capes

It was done.  Just like that.  Check it off the bucket list.  Great race, well organized and fantastic if you enjoy running with 50,000 people.  VERY tough course and our conditions were less than ideal.  I will probably never run this race again.  I'm glad I did it and I think every marathoner should strive to run NYC once.  But for me - once it enough!

As always, I thanked every volunteered I could during the race - THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS - it was a cold and miserable day but you were all out there with smiles on your faces helping us to have the best day posible!

So what's next?  Well there won't be any stand alone marathons in my future!  Just too hard on the body.  So instead - I've got a fantastic goal for 2015 - to race not one but two Ironman's 2 1/2 months apart!  Ironman Muskoka on Aug. 30 and Ironman Arizona on November 15!