Incredible experience... I don't know how I could ever top that at a marathon, it was just so overwhelmingly awesome! The crowds lining every street cheering (roaring!), the immense and awesome city of New York, amazing. Worth the 4 year wait!
The downside - my time was way off expectations due to an issue with my knee. Really disappointing, I trained and trained and my pacing seemed to be going so well.
Things I Learned That Might Be Useful To Others
- The assigned ferry time was really more of a suggestion... you could take any one you want. Guess I didn't have to wake up at 5am!
- The ferry terminals are far more comfortable that sitting on the ground at the start, so I crossed over and hung out in the Statten Island terminal. Don't cut it too close, though - there's still a pretty lengthy bus ride to the site.
- They stick the wave 1 folks in their corrals waaaay before 9:40... I almost missed the announcement because it seemed too early, around 9:00.
- Use the washrooms in the corrals early, because they move everyone up to the start line when you least expect it
- I was on the lower deck of the first bridge, and my Garmin 305 went all whacky right from the start... and one other time too, also on a bridge. Use manual laps and a pace band, I'm glad I did!
- I don't know if this is a rumour or real... but other folks were saying not to go too close to the edge of the bridge if you're on the lower deck, as the runners on the upper deck pee off the side!!! I didn't notice it, but didn't risk the edges either, so... who knows! Better safe than sorry!
I was in wave 1, somewhere in the middle of the pack. I took it pretty easy in the first mile as it's a fairly steep incline.
Other than the fact we were running in Brooklyn, there wasn't much to my early race - everything went as planned. I ate my gels, drank the occasional Gatorade, and held a very easy-feeling pace (about 5:10/km). Things were looking good.
One funny moment - a group of Hasidic Jews ran across the road in front of me. Quite the contrast, us in our little shorts and tight lycra, them with their traditional hats and hair things.
I got jostled now and then by other runners, seemed hard to avoid in the crowds. It wasn't a huge problem mostly, I always seemed to be able to go my pace and find room when I needed it.
Then we hit the climb on the Queensboro bridge, and my first twinge hit... hamstring started to feel sore and tight, followed by knee pain. Not good! This wasn't an unfamiliar pain to me, it was much like the ITBS I suffered with a few years ago, and every so often I've had some soreness... but why now?
It switched to downhill and the pain seemed to subside somewhat, I figured I could probably run through it.
When we emerged from the bridge, it was to the thunderous roar of a huge crowd! It gave me goosebumps... several times actually! The entire way up First Ave was just amazing, so many people cheering. I started to feel a bit of fatigue, and the knee pain was just there - didn't get worse.
... until we hit the next climb on the bridge over to the Bronx. The pain got really bad. I managed to keep my pace a bit longer just hoping it would go away, but then it started really impacting my gait and I just couldn't hold it. I tried to back off to a 5:30/km, but even that became impossible. From there on it was a death-limp-march to the end, and it was miserable... I scanned the crowds for my family, not wanting to embarrass myself by walking up to them was the only thing that kept me going! My pace was awful.
I finally saw them at 25.5 miles - it was awesome! I ran over and kissed my wife and girls, since my time was way over anyway it no longer mattered. Lurched to the end in 3:55.
3:55! I was thinking 3:35, 3:40 at worst, so this really sucked. Nothing I could do about it, it's done and unlike shorter races that's it for the year.
After the finish line they make you walk another 4-5 blocks for some inexplicable reason... seemed to mostly have to do with bag check, but having not checked a bag this was a real irritation.
Got home, went to check my time - didn't get picked up at all! Not a single time split the entire race. Hopefully they have the info and it was a glitch, although really it doesn't matter that much... it was bad.
Marathons and Me
Even before this race, I had it in my head this would be my last one for awhile. Next year I'd like to spend my fall with other things, probably more adventure racing and trail running. The marathon is a big investment of time, and when it doesn't go right it's pretty tough to take. Still, this experience will stick with me a long time, it was amazing... the lure of the marathon will get me back someday I'm sure.