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Final Notes: 2018 TCS New York City Marathon

Posted on 10 November 2018 in Race Reports

My second marathon, the world's biggest marathon, is in the books! At first I was a bit bummed about my slow time but now I'm feeling proud to have finished and very grateful I did not hurt myself or aggravate my injury.

I started the race with 53,120 others. And 52,812 of us finished! That's an astounding 99.4% finish rate. The 2018 New York City Marathon was a record-breaker.

Here's a video from New York's ABC affiliate of the finish line from the first finishers until the six hour mark. I cross at around 7:39:36 on the video's clock time.

After meeting up with Arthur in the family reunion area, we walked back to our hotel so I could freshen up. Arthur found a pub just two blocks away where we could get some food and beer. The bad news was it was on the second floor. Going up was fine. Going down was fine, too, but I had to go backwards. Arthur laughed at me.

We were so, so lucky with the weather on race day. It rained all morning on Monday. We took a long walk, checking out some more city sights and getting in some nice slow recovery walking miles. I felt good. We checked out the dismantling of the finish line in Central Park. We had a look at the extremely long line to get into the Marathon Pavilion and noped out. Arthur took some photos of me with my medal.

I hadn't found anything at the Expo that I really had to have, besides the visor I got, but I was feeling a little sad for not having a souvenir shirt. We walked into a running store on the way back to the hotel and I saw a shirt I kind of liked. Arthur asked if I saw the back -- OMG I love it!

My Garmin running watch sent my race data to Strava, who sent it to Relive, who made this fun video (named "Lunch Run" LOL) showing the route:

Relive 'Lunch Run'

Speaking of Strava, they made a little summary video of the race and training. I don't think the numbers are right, including my start time being two hours off, but it's a cute little video summary, I guess.

Back home, I took it extremely easy, with no running. I didn't carry my medal around all week but I did bring it to my volunteer shift at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey to show it to my buddy Trouble the Bald Eagle.

Here's one last look at my stats (the final finisher numbers and my placement are still considered to be unofficial, so there is a discrepancy between the final number of finishers mentioned in the Runner's World article and the graphic below).

Race Recap: 2018 TCS New York City Marathon

Posted on 9 November 2018 in Race Reports

I got a bib for the 2018 TCS New York Marathon via lottery back in February. This is the world's biggest marathon in terms of participant numbers, so the logistics of putting this thing on must be insane. I had a good time at the Expo on Friday. Getting to the start on Staten Island was a breeze for this runner. Finally, it was time to run!

Training & Goals
Pre-race nerves are normal. "Trust your training" is the typical mantra. What if your training didn't go so well? What if you're injured? I had considered deferring until next year. I followed my doctor's advice on my Achilles tendonitis and felt I could complete the race. I modified my goals. #A time goal was sub-6 hours, with a #B goal of sub-6:30 and a #C goal of making a PR (beating my previous marathon time of 6:59:33). I carried a couple of customized pace bands with adjustments to accomodate the route and aggressive positive splits since I expected to lose speed as the race went on. My overall main goal was to have fun, take in the sights, and incur no further injury.

Race Day: November 4, 2018
It was finally time for the New York Marathon, which would be my 100th race! We could not have asked for better weather. It rained on Saturday. It rained on Monday. Sunday was a perfect day. Here's the last forecast I saw before going to bed the night before, along with a map of the course.

Time to run! The following breakdown is based on official timing mats -- my GPS was all wonky.

5K: 39:23 cumulative time (12:41 minute/mile 5K pace)
The first part of the race takes runners to the highest point of elevation: crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge out of Staten Island (borough #1) into Brooklyn (borough #2). I was in the Green Wave, which started on the lower level of the bridge. Around mile three we were running alongside the Blue and Orange waves, both of which started on the top of the bridge. I was happy to have the less steep incline.

10K: 1:18:40 (12:31)
We ran along Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn. Crowd support was amazing for the entire race. I collected many high fives here and lots of cheers. I didn't take any photos until mile 5 or so. Around here I also saw my favorite sign of the race.

I warmed up a bit so I took off my hat and stuffed it in my pocket.

15K: 1:59:37 (13:21)
There were huge crowds around the bend when we turned from Fourth onto Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn around mile eight. Arthur met me here for the first time. I got a quick hug and handed him my Dunkin Donuts hat.

20K: 2:46:32 (13:39)
More running in Brooklyn with amazing crowd support. I decided to make a quick toilet stop around mile 11.5 since the line wasn't long and I was going to have to go at some point.

While spectating, Arthur took some photos of a water stop. There were 24 on the course and they were all very long, with Gatorade and water available from countless volunteers. Piles of cups everywhere.

25K: 3:34:46 (17:51)
These last miles in Brooklyn brought us over the Pulaski Bridge into Queens (borough #3). Around here I started feeling tightness in my calves (likely due to lack of long training runs) and my Achilles started to hurt. I walked over the Queensboro Bridge and stopped to stretch a bit at the top. In all of the videos I watched of the race beforehand, I never saw anyone walking. Well, well, well -- everyone with me on the bridge was walking! I saw Arthur again at mile 18.

30K: 4:25:34 (16:11)
Our first bit of running through Manhattan (borough #4) brought us up the long incline of First Avenue. Here I was still hurting and mostly walking. The crowds along the route here were so fantastic, but each time I heard an encouraging cheer I felt emotional and even defeated. People saying I looked great and being encouraging when I felt so bad made me want to cry. This was the hardest part of the race. I was walking as fast as I could with a big lump in my throat.

35K: 5:18:32 (15:59)
Over the Willis Bridge and a quick couple of miles through The Bronx (borough #5!), over the Last Damn Bridge (Third Avenue Brdige), back into Manhattan for the final 5 miles on Fifth Avenue and into Central Park.

Still hurting but trying to add small bouts of running in with all the walking. I texted Arthur that I wasn't going to make either of my time goals. Sub 6 was already lost, and sub 6:30 was looking unlikely, too.

I suddenly noticed the blue line on the road here. I had totally forgotten about it!

40K: 6:07:37 (14:26)
I saw Arthur again for the last time at around mile 22.5 and stopped for a selfie. At least one of us looks like we're having fun, right? 

In Central Park, the sun had set and it was getting dark as I finally approached the finish line. I heard White-throated Sparrows singing their mournful song and it made me smile. In my race-induced feeble-mindedness I figured a sub 6:30 was actually possible if I could just add a little bit more running in the final miles. I tried to pick up the pace.

Around a bend I saw the second of two Cheer Card screens. Friends and family were able to make digital signs that would be displayed for runners as we passed by. I hadn't seen any for me when I passed the first screen a bit earlier in the race. But here I saw the one card that Arthur made for me, and I made the spectators around me go "AW" because I had such an emotional reaction. Hands up to face, OMG OMG, almost crying, laughing, etc etc. It's a picture of our cat Timmy from Christmas a few year ago, posing with a new toy. Arthur has this photo as his iPhone lock screen and I always giggle when I see it on his phone.

After the race I found out I got some other cheer cards, but I missed seeing them. They are at the bottom of this post. Thank you Mom & Dad, Diane, and unknown friend for sending these to me!

Finish 42.2K: 6:26:08 (12:10)
Arthur managed to see me again at mile 25.5 but I totally missed him! I guess I was focused on the finish?

A handshake and personal congratulations from retiring NYRR President Peter Ciaccia was a huge treat at the end of this epic race. 

I made my #B goal! With a finish time of 6:26:08, I had a PR of over 33 minutes! WOO HOO!

The 27th Mile
Getting out of such a big race is a long slog. After we got our medals, we runners recevied mylar blankets and recovery bags filled with snacks. Then a long slow walk to either bag check or poncho pickup. I was a poncho runner so my exit was a bit closer. Then it was another slog to the family reunion area where Arthur met me with my Oofos (had to get my shoes off!!). We walked the final 1 and a half miles back to the hotel, on a runner's high.

What can I say? This is an amazing race. Crowd support is incredible. From the Expo to poncho pickup, the organization was perfect. Everyone has to run New York at least once!

Chip time: 6:26:08 (33:25 PR)
Placement details: 2790th out of 2993 in my Age Group; 50188th out of 52697 overall finishers
Cost: $295 for the bib

Report written November 9, 2018

Little Pre-Race Report: 2018 TCS New York City Marathon

Posted on 8 November 2018 in Race Reports

Following our visit to the New York Marathon Expo on Friday, we had a light day of sightseeing and took in a matinee of Chicago on Broadway the day before the big race.

Saturday night we were in bed by about 9PM. I wasn't expecting a great night of rest but I did drift off eventually. I woke up approximately every hour, looked at the clock, and fell back asleep.

Our alarms were set for 5:15AM. I woke up at 5:14AM.

I taped up my ankle with KT Tape. I typically apply it crooked and end up with wrinkles all over, but Sunday morning it was like I was a professional. It was a work of art. Good omen? I really should have taken a picture of it. Perfection!

I had a 7AM bus out of Manhattan. Since it was advised to arrive a half hour early, we left the hotel at about 6:15AM to walk to the bus stop. Along the way we saw an abandoned New Balance running shoe in the middle of the street. Bad omen?

I got in line for the bus. The huge line was always moving. Volunteers were directing everyone and wishing us all a great race. I got on my bus at 6:52AM and arrived at the start line area by 7:36AM. Super smooth and much faster than expected (we were told to allow 90 minutes!).

Bag check and security screening was fast and efficient too. I had heard that the start area might be muddy so I brought extra shoes to throw away, but I didn't need them. There was very little mud and a lot of hay laid down to cover it. The waiting area was mostly paved. I made my way to the Green Village (essentially the waiting area for Green Wave runners). I got my free pink and orange Dunkin Donuts fleece hat. I grabbed a complimentary bagel and a bottle of water and found a nice spot to sit and wait.

All around the villages there were a lot of informational signs with maps and timelines. Announcements were made in several languages about corrals opening and closing and bag check.

I was in Wave 4. We could hear the cannon go off for the other wave starts and see the runners heading over the bridge. When the corrals opened for Wave 3 I got up to use the portapotty (no lines!), doff my throw-away sweatpants, lube up my blister-prone foot, and change into my race shoes. I said thank you and goodbye to my old favorite running shoes and took one last photo of them in the bin. There were lots of blue Goodwill bins for donated clothing in the villages and on the way to the corrals, all stuffed full of sweatpants, ugly sweaters, hats, blankets, and other throw-away garments.

The village emptied out...

... and it was time to get into the corrals!

The 11AM start for Wave 4 was coming up! Our National Anthem singer for wave 4 ran with us. Next post: race report!

Brief 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Expo Recap

Posted on 7 November 2018 in Race Reports

Back in February 2018 I entered the New York Marathon lottery, along with 105,183 other hopefuls. The day after my birthday I found out that I was among the lucky 14.9% to get in via the lottery. First reaction: OMG!

Training began on July 2nd. I was getting back into a running regimen following a fall in April during a trail race which left me with a broken rib. Training was just swell for the first couple of months. In early August I started experiencing some acute pain in my right Achilles. My podiatrist ordered rest along with other aids like wearing a night splint, regularly icing the afflicted area, wearing compression socks, and other forms of treatment to help heal. I was eventually given the go-ahead to run but continued to include a lot of rest in my plan and drastically reduced my weekly mileage. I cut back my longest runs from 18-20 to a max long run of just 16 miles on October 20th. I thought about deferring my New York Marathon entry to 2019 but eventually decided to give it my best shot in 2018.

Arthur and I flew into New York on Thursday, November 1st. We attended the Late Show taping that evening. Friday morning, it was Expo time!

Visiting the Expo is essential -- that's where runners pick up their race bibs, race-day bags, and participant t-shirts. Arthur and I lined up for the Expo about 30 minutes prior to opening time. Once we got inside, pickup for bib, bag, and t-shirt was smooth and easy.

Next it was time to check out official merchandise (I purchased a branded visor), find my name on the wall of runners, scope out all of the run-related vendors, pick up free swag and samples, and attend a course briefing. There were also a lot of photo ops at the Expo.

I left a simple note of encouragement and was so happy to get this note in exchange. Thank you, random stranger runner!

Here's a sampling of the swag I picked up, including the purple visor I purchased, plus official race shirt, bib, and informational literature.

After the fun of the Expo we headed out to explore more of New York. Race day was just hours away!

Race Recap: Enterprise Spooktacular 5K Costume Run 2018

Posted in Race Reports

I ran the inaugural Enterprise Spooktacular 5K Costume Run on October 27th. The race was held in conjuction with the Old Enterprise Festival and Reunion. Enterprise is an historic community in Central Florida and the festival at the Enterprise Heritage Center celebrates the town's rich history.

Training & Goals
A week out from the New York Marathon, my only goal was to have a little speed session and not exacerbate my achy Achilles.

Race Day: October 27, 2018
I biked to this race that takes place very close to home in nearby Enterprise. A two mile ride in the dark got me to the race in about 10 minutes. The temperature was a wonderful cool 63°F at the star with about 77% humidity.

Relive 'Morning Run'

Mile 1: 10:49
This was a nice course that started out along our awesome mixed-use county trail.

Mile 2: 11:25
The run continued along residential roads and a nice piece along Lake Monroe.

Mile 3+: 11:16, :36*
The final mile took us through more village streets back to the finish at the Heritage Center.

After the Race
This was an extremely small race with just 33 registrants and 29 finishers. With my 33:54 gun time I managed to come in second place in my age group. I think the age groups were unusual, and that I was in a group of women aged 30-something to 50-something, but I'm not really sure. Anyway, I got a plaque. :)

The race directors talked about having a bigger turnout next year. I hope they continue with this race because it's a nice course and there aren't a ton of Halloween races locally. Even with the small field, there was enough course support in terms of marshals. Turns and directions were clearly marked with signs when there were no marshals or volunteers present. There was no water stop, which was surprising and a bit disappointing. I hope they will add one if they run the race again. With a bigger turnout this can be a really fun event. Tentatively recommended.

Gun time: 33:54
Placement details: 2nd in Age Group of unknown parameters; 13th out of 29 total finishers
Race Amenities: Cotton t-shirt, finisher medal, 2 festival beer tickets in goodie bag

* This was a gun-timed race with chip at the finish mat only

Report written October 28, 2018