Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Race report: New York City Marathon 2010

Crossing the start line of the New York City Marathon, I was feeling nothing but awe. The amount of people running with me, runnnig to our left and under me was overwhelming. By thousands, it was the biggest race I’d ever done and it felt epic. I was a little worried about not finding my way around the crowd, but it was pretty smooth sailing quickly. Just look at the smiles of the faces of runners around me.

Like other runners, I was in total tourist mode snapping as many pictures as I could. I couldn’t get over how grand that view of the bridge looked like, and you can see other runners get up to the side to get pictures in.

The view was so great I ended up flipping my hat backwards so I could see the sky.

Running in such a crowd in the early miles did test me a bit. I did the customary checks of my legs with each stride and determined that I could go out at an okay pace. The uphill nature of the bridge was good to keep everyone in check, but by the time we hit the downhill portion, I was trying to hold back a bit. Still, I was passing runners here and there. No matter, there were always some faster runners around me.

A one-man band greeted us as we entered Brooklyn and I was surprised to see the size of the crowd, a mix of locals, police officers and people with signs cheering on. The look of awe on my face inspired by the massive start and bridge was replaced by a big smile sparked by this impressive turnout. Wow, I thought, this is amazing. The first mile was a little slow at 9:34 followed by a downhill at 7:50, but then I pretty much settled into pace, targetting a 3:50 or a little faster marathon.

5K in 27:05 or 5:24K pace
We made our way into Brooklyn and I was just soaking in the crowds, the beautiful weather and still getting used to running in such a massive sea of runners. I ran by the right side of the course and it was probably the best place for me. I could get a great view of the spectators, trade high fives and in most cases it was a good passing lane if I needed to ramp things up.

The course straightens up as we run up 4th Avenue and I could see well in front of us. The orange corral runners were across the street divide. I was just enjoying it and the miles really past by. I love that about big city marathons, there are plenty of things to take your mind of running before you hit the next mile mark or aid station. The water stops were plentiful and I didn’t really have any nightmarish water stops. In most cases, I could easily get a cup of Gatorade or water.

Here are the Green corral folks joining up with the Blues before mile 4.

10K in 54:26
(5K split of 27:21 or 5:28K pace)

Here are a few pictures I took while we were running in Brooklyn.

At around the 7.5 mile mark in Brooklyn

At the 8 mile mark, the course becomes one with all three routes coming together, it also marks some turns. I learned a lesson in my first marathon back in Chicago, and that is you can get the crowd going, if you choose to. Usually, the best places to do it is when you’re turning. Most runners run the tangents and hug the point where we’re turning, but across the intersection was a big group of spectators stationed far away. I swung out toward them, and hammed it up. What do you mean?

Hamming up consists of three actions
1. Breaking away from the stream of runners (ie take the corner wide)
2. Wave your arm (or arms) in an upward fashion and generally point at the crowd
3. If you hear no audible noise, put your free hand at head level, cupping your ear.
4. Enjoy the cheers

Now there seems to be easier ways to get crowd reaction
1. Wear your name on your shirt
2. Wear Italian or France colours at the NYC Marathon. I heard a lot of “Vive la France!” and “Italia!”

Anyways, I hammed it up heartily, yes I had much extra energy to burn.

I later explored parts of Brooklyn with R. near its downtown and was surprised how close we were to the actual course I’d run earlier. Gorgeous neighbourhoods.

15K in 01:21:51
(5K split of 27:25 or 5:29K pace)

We entered Williamsburg area an dI knew were were in the Hassidic Jewish neighbourhood. The sidelines of the street were pretty bare, and it was almost quiet. I’d read much about running past the Hassidic Jewish people, I remember John Stanton telling me you could feel the power and vibe running past them. I didn’t, but it was an interesting point of the race.

But the crowd support came back quickly, I was getting used to being part of a big running crowd. There were several moments that repeated itself. The spectators at some points were on the road that when we were running up the street, they’d have to move out of our way. It felt in a weird way like you see those Tour de France runners.

On my running, I felt great, no major pains, I was getting in my fuel (5 gels were with me and some ShotBlox) and I was actually speeding up. Past the 10 mile mark, I started to hook on to runners who were running a decent pace so I wouldn’t be stuck with the slowing effect where everyone around you is actually slowing down. To keep pace, I’d spotted some runners who looked strong and made sure they were within sight.

As we neared the end of Brooklyn, I have to say that it was an amazing place to run in. No one prepared me for the amount of support there. I had this idea that all the spectators were in Manhattan but they guys in Brooklynites, man they came out to party.

We hit the next bridge, Pulaski Bridge, which was around the half marathon mark. Felt like the race was on, and I was ready to go. You can see by my 5K splits I was starting to get faster.

01:48:32 (5K split of 26:41 or 5:20K pace)


Queens was pretty uneventful, but I think of it now as the calm before the storm. It was good to get a few miles in silence before we were to hit the big (and third) bridge. Before we knew it, we were running up Queensboro. It’s a tough never ending incline outside of sun view. We later learned that Halie dropped out there. The 25K mark was on the bridge.

25K in 2:15:13
(5K split of 26:41 or 5:20K pace)

Running up it, most runners around me were slowing. It was difficult at first, but I found an opening by following a runner from Holland who was weaving in and out through slowing traffic. He he no idea, but for at least a few minutes, he helped me find my way up the bridge. There were pretty awesome views to our left of Manhattan and I tried (unsuccessfully) to take a picture.

We made our way off the bridge with a loop and then up 1st Ave.

Running off the bridge

Huge noise, huge crowd, it was like we were parading in New York and all that was missing was the ticker tape. I was running up 1st Ave! I stayed mostly to the left and it was hilarious running in the streets of New York. Of course, everyone knows the numbered streets. We got off at E 59th Street and I was going to meet R. at 100. Forty streets, what the hell!?

I loved running up it, it reminded me in retrospect running in Boylston at the Boston Marathon, big crowds, wide avenue, huge noise. But we had so far to go. I tried to soak it in while trying not to run too fast given the the miles we had left. Pictures tell the rest of the story.

02:41:40 (5K split of 26:27 or 5:17K pace)

I was slowing reaching E 99th St, and took out my iPhone, after running up to and past 100, I wondered where was R.

I texted her and later she called me to tell me that she was at 94th and couldn’t get up to 100 in time. So we would meet me on my way back to Central Park at 94th. I was bummed since I had missed R. at every point at the MCM a week earlier. We’ve had much better races where I saw her multiple times.

After slowing down to try to spot R, I resumed speeding up. I made sure I was geting my water in, as well as my gels. By the time we reached the 20th mile and crossed into the Bronx, I was trying to stay focused and maintaining pace if not faster. In the Bronx, there was pretty good fan support and they had this cool massive jumbotron. We crossed the final bridge and we made it to run the final 4 miles in Harlem and Central Park..

35K in 3:08:15
(5K split of 26:35 or 5:19K pace)

Luckily, I had paid attention to the course and watched the course video at the expo. There are a few turns as we run our way around a little park before heading down 5th. Again, I was maintaining pace feeling a little cramping on my legs coming up but I kicked them out.

Before long, we were running alongside Central Park and the spectaor crowds grew. I spotted R. and stopped so she could take photos and we actually got another person to take a picture of the two of us (it’s on her camera). That was my only ‘stop’ break other than my pee break earlier in Brooklyn. After saying goodbye and telling her to meet me on the west side, we entered the park. I didn’t realize it until later how pronounced the hills were but I must have not noticed. I was just so happy to be in the park, one of my favourite places to run, and seeing all the fan suport. I ran the 25th mile in 8:09, one of my fastest miles of the whole marathon.

It was so inspiring see all those who came out to cheer or those who they were cheering for, including some team charity runners who were suffering (I assume they started in the 1st wave). I was running with good pace, and even though I was feeling cramps in my lower quads, I was kicking through it and taking in my water.

40K in 3:35:24
(5K split of 27:09 or 5:26K pace)

We exited the park briefly at 59th Street and I was actually sad it was almost over. I typically stay at hotels near this area so I can run in the park, so I knew the street well. Still keeping it strong, still kicking out the cramps and all of a sudden, we’re turning at Columbus Circle and back into the park with a sharp turn.

This was it, the final part, pretty epic with the crowds, the flags, the famed finish. I took out the camera.

26 mile

Stopped at the Canadian flag for a self portrait (didn’t come out) then enjoyed the final 200 yards until the finish, with my arms raised.

Final time
(Last 2.2K in 11:30 or 5:13K pace)

What can I say? That was an amazing experience. Thanks everyone for reading and following my victory lap. Four races in four weeks. Five marathons this year. Boston and New York. 2010 was an epic running year and I won't soon forget that experience. I enjoyed the ride.


Q said...


Marlene said...

What a year you have had! It's been fun to follow along. I always enjoy your race recaps. Felt like we were there with you! And it sure looks like you were having the time of your life. Love it!

EndorphinBuzz said...

Amazing feat, awesome adventures and epic blog posts. Thanks so much for sharing and congratulations on such a journey. I will definitively throw my name in the lottery for NYC, it looks like a fantastic race.

macnic said...

Wow! Sounds amazing and you did a great time with all of the photos and whatnot. Way to hit the 4 in 4 as well. Congrats!

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