Tuesday, November 5, 2013

2013 NYC Marathon Race Report!

There is something to learn after every marathon. With as spectacular of a disaster that the 2013 NYC Marathon was for me, I am SURE there is something to learn. If I am honest with myself the biggest thing is probably that I have lost much more fitness than I thought during my time off which lead to cramping which lead to 2 hours in the pain cave. 

Time: 3:53:11 (My 3rd slowest race ever and the slowest since Oct 2008... ouch)
Pace: 8:54
Place: 12378 / 50,740
AG Place: 1615 / ??

While my running, blogging, and pooping has been a bit off lately (no running = less fiber = less pooping), there was no way that I was going to run the NYC Marathon and not post about it.  Besides, as a running blogger, if I don’t blog about a race, it doesn’t really happen. Nevermind the fact that complete disaster races are great to read about!!!

The weekend itself was going to be super quick / low key. No screaming in times square, flashing my nipples at Carson Daily or trips to the Statue of Liberty to see if she is wearing any underwear.  For this weekend I had four goals:

Not necessarily in that order. (Ok, actually maybe exactly in that order).

The great thing about big marathons in large cities is that there is always SO much to do – and lots to see at the expo.  But first things first, I needed to “carb up” with some authentic NYC pizza.....

Hmm, I guess this picture is pre-pizza, or post pizza?

And authentic NYC wine.... Ok, or just normal wine

And authentic NYC margaritas..... OKAY LOOK, so I didn’t exactly follow the best pre-race nutrition plan. Anyway, turns out the first night I was able to check off quite a few things off of my list by meeting Laura, her best friend, and having some delicious wine.....and margaritas....and chips and salsa....  Oyy, my poor colon.


The day before the race we headed to the expo to eat free stuff pick up our packets.   The NYC expo was really fun, in spite of not being quite as big as Boston.  Which, speaking of Boston, the security at the expo was certainly more strict than any other expo I had been to.  Bags were searched, lines were long to get in, and humor was not only frowned upon - but it resulted in various body cavity searches. Thus, many jokes were told by me which were quickly followed by cravings for sandwiches and snuggling.

But, once you did get in, it seemed like it was business as usual. The usual booths were there along with some interesting additions (Cheese? Who eats cheese the day before a marathon??  Me, apparently ) However, one thing that I noticed that was missing was beer and/or wine. I was honestly heartbroken shocked.  Either way, there were enough things to keep me busy for a bit too long and enough photo ops to bring me out of blog retirement for good.

Pooping? Straining from jumping over the bridge?  Orgasm?  One can never be sure

Unfortunately, a lot of the elite US Marathoners pulled out the NYC marathon (a few exceptions), so it seemed like there weren't a ton of good speakers at the expo.  That is, at least around the time that I was there.  Never the less, Laura and I did get to meet up with the ever present Bart Yasso. He is always good for a fun anecdote about a race that he had done in the past or a tip about the NYC Marathon.  This time, Bart quipped that he was likely going to run the race this weekend 2 hrs slower than he did his first time. (In fact, it was nearly 4 hours longer...)

Me, Bart, Laura.. Like some sort of messed up Charlie's Angels

One of the things about NYC is that, unless you are a billionaire and can afford taxis everywhere, walking is a must. Of course, that isn't horribly conducive to a good race time for a suburban no-walk guy like me. FORTUNATELY, there are rental bikes everywhere.  Also fortunately, I not only kick ass at regular selfies, I also kick ass at selfies while riding a bike.

Mid ride selfie of Laura
Wait...that means it isn't a selfie but just a picture.....hmmm

Self selfie with a look of awe on my face at my amazing selfie ability

Dual selfie while riding the bike (with some picture filter). 
I'm surprised I didn't plow over a homeless person or someone selling fake watches

Once I had my fill of tablespoon sized yogurt samples and had listened to enough sales pitches about how Chia Seeds would make my junk bigger (or something), we headed to get some lunch/brunch. Laura had given up coffee for the month of October, so I decided to take the opportunity to get the man sized latte and dull the caffeine headache that had been throbbing all morning.

Mmmm, bowl of coffee......

The rest of the day was spent hanging around the city which was in full fall color.  Coming from Phoenix, I bitched a lot about the cold, but I really do miss fall colors and would put up with a few brisk days if I could get them back. Fall colors are one of those good examples of "you can't have flowers without rain". Indeed you can't have beautiful fall colors without crushing winter.

Overlooking mile 26 of the race.  Sadly, I BARELY remember this part of the race


Early to bed, early to rise, and before I knew it, it was race morning!  Laura had scored some VIP tickets that afforded us a bus ride to the start (vs a ferry) and a nice warm tent.  In spite of that, I still had went to Goodwill before and bought some throw away clothes.  Since it is near Halloween, there was also an amazing pimp hat for sale for way too cheap that I KNEW had to be mine.

Once we got to the start, there was more security. It was strict, but not overly intrusive (hand metal detectors included). They only let you bring things in that were inside of your clear plastic goodie bag and seemed to confiscate things at random (old mylar blankets, for one).  But, I guess it worked because everything seemed to go off without a hitch.

That said, one thing that somewhat surprised me was that the race organization seemed to be a bit disheveled on race morning.  I'm not sure if it was because of the increased security or someone gave up coffee for the month of November, but there were tiny missteps that made me raise an eyebrow.  But, I'll let it pass as they were wrangling 50,000 runners and had their hands full.

Miles 1-6: Bottom of Verrazano bridge DOESNT mean you get peed on
After a 40 minute wait in the coral (they closed so you HAD to be in there that early), we were ushered over to the starting line....only to wait 30 more minutes. Cue patriotic songs, a cannon, and blamo - we're running.

The first 2 miles are on the Verrazano double decker bridge. I was on the bottom and, in spite of rumors, I did NOT get peed on!!  The first few miles went off without a hitch and I barely noticed the largest elevation change of the day @ 300 feet.  Average pace for this section was around 7:35, right where I wanted to be at that point.

Miles 6-13.1: Feeling good! I love my hat!!
2,000,000 people. Reports were that the race had more than 2 MILLION people cheering.  I'd believe it.  Some of the best crowds were along this stretch of road.  I had SO many great comments about my hat. Nothing made me smile more than someone with a super thick Jersey accent yelling "Hway Adam!! Luve the hat man!!!"  It was an infectious feeling and a bit stupid grin never left my face.

My only complaint about this stretch was that there was a super gradual uphill that really took a lot out of my legs.  It couldn't have been a large incline - maybe 200 feet, tops.  But something about it really seemed to naw at me. But, I hit the half at 1:41:XX which was right where I wanted to be. Little did I know....

Haters gotta hate

Miles 13.1 - 20: CRAMMMMMMPP. Owie
Oh my... How did things go so wrong? Sometimes, when things are going to go wrong in a race, there is at least some warning. There is a slight tweak or a twinge or something to hint at the impending doom. Not this time.  I went from running a fairly comfortable 7:40ish pace to a 0:00 pace. My quads essentially said "nope, we're quite done thank-you-very-much". 

Before I locked up I did have some fatigue setting in, so I knew that there was going to be some tough miles ahead. But I had no idea that they would be as hard as they were.  I'd run for 5 minutes or so and then walk for 60 seconds.  I was able to run at a somewhat manageable pace around 8:15/mile, but the walk breaks to calm my quads were killing my time.  After the half I put up some 9:30 miles, a few 10:30 miles, and I think that there was even an 11:00 mile.  I can't remember the last time that I ran a 9:00 mile let alone anything slower than that.

So not to be a complete downer, some of the best parts of the race were during this section.  You run up 1st Ave for 3-4 miles which is lined 3 people deep with spectators. There is no better feeling than having thousands of people cheering your name, telling you that they like your hat, and that you should keep going.  That is, unless you are walking... then you want them to shut their face.

Miles 20-26: Stupid race is stupid and I want to take off this stupid hat and I stupid hate running and my stupid legs hurt
When a race is going good miles 20-26 are really tough. When a race is going bad, these miles are insufferable. I had heard reports that the race was certainly a roller with small hills here and there.  And, while it wasn't "hilly", there were certainly a few hills that I could have done without.  More than anything, it seemed like there were a bunch of long gradual uphills that destroyed my legs.

The last half mile has you finishing in central park, in full color, with thousands of people cheering. In spite of my poor race, in spite of my sore legs, these last few meters were some of the most fun that I have ever had.

Ugh, finished. Finally. UGH.

After a painfully long walk through the finisher chute, I gimped home, showered, and headed to Laura's 100th marathon celebration party.  You see, while NYC was my 20th marathon, it was Laura's ONE HUNDREDTH.  Not 100 as in 5Ks and 10Ks, and everything else.  As in 2,620 miles ran.  Amazing.  I drowned my (now recovering) legs in a few beers and maybe some cake and toasted to another memory for the scrapbook.

100 marathon finisher and 20 marathon finisher. I suck.

Does beer make my legs feel better? No. Does beer help me forget about my legs? Maybe.


In closing, I did have fun with the NYC Marathon even though it was one of my worst races ever. Like I said in the opening, I feel like there is a lot to be learned with a race like yesterday. I really don't think that my (very) poor performance was nutrition related. But instead, I'll own the fact that it was likely lack of training. Even though I ran a 3:19 just 3 months ago, my month off of running likely did much more harm than I thought.

Solutions are easy.... Either increase my level of fitness or start slower. It is really as simple as that. Since I really don't want to let myself slip to 3:20 or slower, I'm going to have to increase my training level and find some sort of work/life balance to accommodate that. 

My approach to running and fitness has always been that it has to be simple to understand and has to work within my life without being all encompassing. I've struggled with that balance in the past and especially struggled with it the last 2 months. I've let work get in the way of life and the things that are most dear to me. Starting now I'm going to find the time to find the balance, focus on what is important, and hopefully get a little bit faster along the way.

But, I guess if I am not able to do that, I'll keep signing up for races and at least you'll get to read spectacular race reports!


Jamoosh said...

The most important lesson is we know that even at less than optimal fitness, you can pace me to a sub 4:00:00 marathon!

This is going to be a recurring theme until I break you!

At least it appears the time in New York was enjoyable.

Johann said...

3:53 is still a very good time, well done! Looks like you had a great time in NYC. I was happy to see my fellow countryman come in for 3rd place :) Yay for Laura!

Sue's Ramblings said...

3:53 is a great time! Give yourself a break Adam! BTW, you've gotta wear that hat in every race now!!!! Trademark it, patent it etc. It suits you. :P

Mark Matthews said...

What you know about rocking a wolf skin on your noggin?

Nice! It wasn't a day for time, with the 100 mph winds in your face (okay, it was 15 to 30, but we were running 70 mph, so that means 100). I've done a dozen marathons, and never felt a crowd like that before, especially Brooklyn.

Carrie said...

You go, Adam! That hat is balla, yo. (I really don't know what I said, I'm a white girl from Maine.) Anyway, it is so tough finding that balance. My struggle with it lead to my slowest race ever in my second marathon a few weeks ago. At least you know what you need to do. And I loved your recap, I've been missing your posts!

Scallywag said...

So glad you're back to posting and well done even though you aren't happy.

Now enjoy your week-long right to eat EVERYTHING.

PS: 100 MARATHONS?!?! Does she blog too?

BabyWeightMyFatAss said...

Sometimes I think we need to give up the race aspect and just run for fun. kwim? I think it makes us much nicer to ourselves. I loved the hat btw. When I saw the first pic I was like hmm is he going to wear it for the race and you did! joy!!

Crystal said...

I'm so happy to read a blog of yours!! :) It's been far to long since I've laughed with you and at you. HA! I loved this recap. It's always humbling to know that fitness can leave you WAY faster than it took to attain it. I hope that you're able to find the work/life/run balance.

One Crazy Penguin said...

Still a great time in my book. Plus, wearing the hat takes off like 20 minutes or something like that. I think I heard that somewhere. Great report!

abusybee - DoubleClick Connections said...

Thanks for sharing your recap! Your pics are hilarious! Now is the time to find balance since we are having the best weather in Phoenix right now! Carri~A Running bee

Al's CL Reviews said...

I think it was the hat that slowed you down. I mean, you had to slow down to let everyone see your awesomeness!

Congrats on another well done race (despite you not thinking so).

The Green Girl said...

Urgh. My comment disappeared.

You write the best race reports - I love it. You almost make it seem like a walk in the park. Ha.

I love that your hat stayed on the whole 26.2 miles. You seriously rock. I agree with One Crazy Penguin - sans hat you probably would have BQ'd!


Ivayla Wadsworth said...

Hey Adam, Love the hat man! Sorry, couldn't resist! You did great! For a normal human anyway.

Running On Candy said...

How in the hell did I miss you with that hat on????? I was volunteering at the mile 16 water stop!!!

Layla said...

Yay for NYCM! "Self selfie with a look of awe on my face at my amazing selfie ability." is the best caption of the month. Also, I don't think they had bike rentals last time I was there -- great way to stay off the feet pre-marathon! Duly noted.

Good thing your hat didn't get you flagged as a security risk (sandwiches and snuggling -- aaaahh hahaha). Brilliant idea for a non-PR marathon: Why not have some fun?

That's cool to have NYC be your 20th marathon. No better place to mark a milestone! Considering your lack of training, the hills, and the headwind, 3:53 is certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Plus, you ran in that hat. You win.

Amanda RunToTheFinish said...

sorry we only got like a 30 second hug pre-race!! I really wanted to hang out with you guys, just didn't go that way for me :0)

But hey we both have another finish and a crazy NYC experience in the books!

Laura said...

I'm commenting just for old times sake, but I am really excited we finally got to meet in real life :) Thanks for coming and making my weekend so fantastic! (Now, let's get you to start slowing down to my pace and wearing funny costumes in marathons more often.)

Kate Geisen said...

Self selfie made me laugh, as did your pimp hat. I ran a couple miles of a Halloween 10K in a witch hat, and it was terrible. Stupid thing kept blowing off. Not wanting to litter, I carried it in my hand until the midpoint and tossed it near a trash can. Some good Samaritan running in the race picked it up and brought it to me, thinking I'd dropped it, and then I felt like I had to keep it for the rest of the miles.

Pat said...

No way you had that hat on your head on the VN. The wind was fearce. I couldn't keep a baseball cap on.

congrats on your weekend. I trained like hell and you still beat me. Your the man!

Running Librarian said...

I love how you ran the entire race in your pimp hat! Great job digging deep and finishing a tough race!

Jen said...

Nice hat. Great race report even though you struggled it's cool that you found some lessons and got to run NYC - my dream race!

Michaela said...

Congrats on NYC! So good to see you and slurp some ramen. Can't wait for IMAZ weekend. Costumes. We must discuss costumes!

Kathy said...

i needed to read this. i'm horribly undertrained for IMCOZ (dengue, trochanteric bursitis and now typhoid) and really wanted to PR it. now i'm trying to figure out why I should even do it. this was a GREAT perspective. thanks, Adam!

Nelly said...

lol on the Jersey accent guy comment about the hat! I went to NYC for the first time in Aug for the US Open, now I understand why NYC marathon is the best marathon - amazing scenery and crowds. I bet central park was simply gorgeous when you ran the marathon.