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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.

Recommendation
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

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