Sunday, November 12, 2017

2017 TCS NYC Marathon Race Report

My quads and hamstrings are burning, yelling at my body to just plain cut it out. I am hungry but don't feel like eating anything. There are throngs of spectators shouting and clapping. The ring of cow bells can be heard from all around me. But the spectators don't really speak to me for some reason. Their screams seem to go around me rather than encourage me. It is almost as if they are not really there. I am hurting and my body is pleading with me to just stop already. Then, just as I pass mile 22, I see a giant screen ahead of me. And on that screen, I see the following picture.

I have to admit that I burst into tears. But the picture was the just the shot I needed. I got to look at it for at least 20 to 30 seconds. The picture must have been over ten feet tall on the huge screen. I cried and I talked to John. I was here because of him. I was suffering and in pain but as John said, "It will go away eventually." With 4 miles to go, I just wanted to walk. John helped me persevere and keep running. Granted, I was well off my pace as I was fading hard. But look at that picture. Look at the joy in his accomplishments. I will always cherish my memories of John and our life as brothers. I miss him every day. 

My New York Marathon debut was less than ideal. I had managed to raise nearly $4000 for Team Spina Bifida so my main goal was accomplished before the starting gun went off. But there were a few factors that lead me to have a race that could have been better. 

For starters, my nutrition plan was not planned out well enough. On the morning of the race as I stood in line for food at about 4:40AM in the hotel, I realized that my plan of getting a bagel sandwich was thwarted as they did not have any bagels. They had them yesterday and the day after, but not on race morning for some reason. I got a couple of croissants and a Red Bull. I thought that with those things in addition to the bananas and other things I had in my bag, I would have plenty of calories. In retrospect, I should have gotten the food I wanted the day before. 

After getting our food, we went back up to the hotel to put the finishing touches on morning preparations and then headed out for the 20 minute walk to the NYC Library where I was scheduled to pick up the 6AM bus. The logistics person for the NYC Marathon is a proper planner. There were corrals and police directing directing traffic for blocks and blocks leading up to the bus pickup corner. There were multiple volunteers and check points and so many buses double parked as far as the eye could see. Everything was well planned and well executed. Everything went off like clockwork. 

My buss trip was uneventful. The guy next to me did not seem to want to talk and simply looked at his phone the whole time. It took about an hour to get to Staten Island where we got off the bus and were herded through metal detectors and security screenings onto Fort Wadsworth. It was 7AM. My wave did not go off until 10:15. One important thing to note was that it was easily 10 degrees cooler on Staten Island and quite breezy. I was under dressed for sure. It was going to be a long cold wait before I got to actually run. 

Once I got through security, I took trip number 1 to the porta john. I took my time in there. It was nice and warm. I then made my way to the Blue Race Village. There were three different villages setup, each with it's own pre-race food, hot water, porta johns, etc. I hung out for a while on the curb with my arms wrapped around my knees as I shivered some. I had a few conversations with strangers and took a picture for a small group. There were loud speakers all around with the same informational messages playing on a loop. But the instructions were in 4 or 5 different languages. It was sort of funny to hear a person's voice speaking in another language until they got to the phrase "therapy dog" which I guess does not translate well into other languages. 

I decided to get closer to my actual start corral which was Wave 2, corral A. I hung out there for a bit before making at least 3 more trips to the porta john. I ate all the rest of my bananas and had more Red Bull. And I continued to shiver. I really felt sort of miserable just sitting around shivering. 

I have a space blanket underneath the shirt - it was not enough
At last it was time to start walking over to the Varrazano-Narrows bridge. There were several announcements made that there were no bathrooms on the bridge and to go before you left the start villages. I thought I had taken care of everything but wouldn't you know it, right before the gun went off on the bridge, I had to go again. There was nothing I could but hold it until I had a place to stop. 

When the gun went off, we all took off. I immediately got into the pace I wanted to run for the race. Looking back, starting off at pace after sitting around shivering for 3 hours was probably the worst way to start a race. Normally, it takes me about 3 miles to warm up before I can start hitting my paces. Going out cold like I did without properly fueling my body lead to my less than optimal performance. I started out great but after about mile 8, I could start to feel the slightest ache in my left quad just above the knee. And I still had to pee so bad. Somewhere between mile 9 and 10, I found a good stopping point and hit he porta john. It was like that scene in Austin Powers.

Despite stopping for so long to go, that mile was not terrible. I ran at 8:13 min mile for that one but then the next 3 were right on pace at 7:52, 7:46, and 7:52. Then I hit another bridge which slowed me to an 8:00 for that mile. And then I started to fade a bit. My legs were starting to hurt quit a bit and I was only on mile 15. Also, the chatter among racers had died down and it was strangely quite on the bridge from Brookland into Manhattan. All I could hear was the pitter-patter of feet on the pavement. I was not the only one starting to struggle. 

Melissa had planned to be at around mile 16 so I kept focused on that. When I did get into Manhattan, I was greeting by a wall of sound. Despite a dreary, cool, and drizzly day, people in Manhattan had come out in droves to cheer. Somehow, I did see Melissa in the crowds as she cheered for me. I got a nice boost from that and tried to maintain my pace. 

By mile 19, the wheels really fell off. I was hurting and had slowed to a 9+ minute pace which was more than a minute off what I wanted to maintain. And it just got worse from there. Rather than describing each mile, you can see the great fade below. 

Splits TimeCumulative TimeMoving TimeDistanceElev GainElev LossAvg PaceAvg Moving PaceBest PaceAvg HRMax HRAvg Run CadenceMax Run CadenceAvg Stride LengthAvg Vertical RatioAvg Vertical OscillationAvg GCT BalanceAvg Ground Contact TimeCalories
18:01.58:01.57:551.0016108:017:557:281411541811911. L / 51.0% R25693
27:25.215:277:191.0001777:257:197:081371441731781.267.39.548.1% L / 51.9% R25879
37:50.523:177:501.0039307:507:507:201381481721861.197.79.447.9% L / 52.1% R25991
47:42.931:007:42.91.0020207:437:437:201421461711781.227.79.648.1% L / 51.9% R25989
57:51.638:527:471.0016237:527:477:071451501701771.217.99.748.1% L / 51.9% R25790
67:4646:387:411.0020397:467:417:171431541701781.227.99.748.2% L / 51.8% R25685
77:34.354:127:321.0013307:347:326:411481521701751.258.19.748.3% L / 51.7% R25287
87:47.31:01:597:451.002677:477:455:461491561711781.217.79.548.5% L / 51.5% R25692
97:55.91:09:557:521.0059367:567:527:221501561711901.197.79.448.5% L / 51.5% R26092
108:13.21:18:087:361.003498:137:367:101451531632201.228.19.748.2% L / 51.8% R25079
117:52.31:26:017:461.004977:527:467:351501551721801.197.99.548.2% L / 51.8% R25486
127:47.11:33:487:421.007497:477:426:231481551722231.277.99.748.4% L / 51.6% R25178
137:50.91:41:397:441.0026267:517:447:251501541731861.197.89.448.5% L / 51.5% R25380
148:02.51:49:418:001.0043398:038:007:171481531701861.177.99.448.7% L / 51.3% R25573
158:52.01:58:338:461.006208:528:467:121451501711771.068.78.948.9% L / 51.1% R26763
168:29.32:07:028:261.0075438:298:266:251471551721781. L / 51.2% R26166
178:29.92:15:328:271.0016698:308:276:021421481721781.118.59.448.9% L / 51.1% R25446
188:27.12:23:598:231.0023528:278:237:321431471721811.118.29.349.2% L / 50.8% R25751
199:18.02:33:179:131.00309:189:138:061371461711771.028.48.849.6% L / 50.4% R26839
209:58.12:43:159:501.0046109:589:509:041301361691770.968.68.349.7% L / 50.3% R27830
219:35.32:52:519:341.0033399:359:348:511291381711780.988.68.750.0% L / 50.0% R27332
229:17.53:02:089:131.003239:179:137:511381431691771. L / 50.4% R26750
2310:103:12:1810:001.003010:1010:008:041341451671740.958.88.649.9% L / 50.1% R27750
2411:063:23:2411:051.0095011:0611:059:161321431641760.899.48.449.4% L / 50.6% R28453
2511:033:34:2711:021.00436211:0311:029:021281401631790.909.08.249.9% L / 50.1% R27945
2611:143:45:4211:111.00333911:1411:119:081291411651780.879.18.349.8% L / 50.2% R28055
274:02.63:49:444:000.5013108:058:006:151421471691741.199.39.448.8% L / 51.2% R26438
At this point in the race, I just wanted it to be over. And that's when I saw John's picture on the screen. I still continued to fade but seeing his smile and knowing his history of perseverance helped me keep going even I was off the goal pace.

I saw Melissa one more time after coming out of Central Park before going back into Central Park for the final half mile or so. I continued running although it was more of a shuffle. I managed to pick up the pace a bit at the end as I ran across the finish line. I had managed to PR by more than 15 minutes which is a big accomplishment. But I had the potential to do much better. In the end, I represented John well and raised a good chunk of change for Team Spina Bifida. If I ever do another stand alone marathon, I will actually train for it as a marathoner should. My training was mostly for Triathlon and if I really wanted to do well, I would need to focus on running. Maybe someday.

As I sit and write this, I am still sore and still recovering. Running NYC was a fun experience and there is a lot about the race I enjoyed. But my execution could have been much better. I have leaned a great deal and know what it will take to improve.

Here are few pictures from the trip.
That might be a smile

Oh. The pain!

That is NOT a smile!

But that sure is!
Central Park the Day Before the Race
Times Square
Radio City Near our Hotel
Another Times Square Pic
Panoramic - Probably good one to open on your computer

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Kinetic Triathlon Festival

Before Ironman Texas, I decided that if I felt up to it, I would race again a few weeks later at the Kinetic Triathlon Festival at Lake Anna which is only about an hours drive from my house. After a couple weeks of recovery, I decided to pull the trigger and register for the Kinetic Half. 

Unfortunately, the race was full. I inquired with the race company and they said that if someone dropped out, an entry would be added. On the last day of registration, I kept checking the website on and off all day. No luck. When I got home, I decided I would try one more time. Bingo! One entry was added and I was able to register for the race. 

I had no real goals or expectations other than to run better than I did in Texas. I did have a specific power goal for the bike that my coach gave me. I thought he was asking a lot and the power seemed high to me. But then again, I had just completed the best power test of my life the week before. It turns out that doing an Ironman and then getting a little rest is a good way to boost performance. 

I had such a good time at the race. The swim was wetsuit legal which was great. It was relatively easy and there was nothing notable about the swim. On the bike, I hit my power numbers on the dot which surprised and delighted me. And then on the run, I was able to pace myself well. At Kinetic there is one long hill out of T1 that lasts for about a mile. And since the run course is three loops, you have to run it 3 times. Despite the hill, I had a great run and actually beat my half marathon PR by about a minute. I didn't even realize that until I sat down to write this report. 

Here are my age group results for the race. I left before the awards but was able to pay to have my trophy mailed to me. 

Here is a short video that the race company put together. I am not in the video but it shows some fit people swimming, biking and running.

Next year the race is on my birthday. Care to join me?