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Hello world, are you there? It’s me, Lindsay.

It’s been about 4.5 months since I’ve posted, which means a lot has passed and I’m not sure where to start.

Though the race happened a month ago, I guess it’s worth sharing that I didn’t run the Chicago Marathon. 

Guys, this summer was crazy. Crazy busy, crazy exciting, crazy stressful. I don’t know how else to really convey it. When I last updated, it was mid-June and I had spent the majority of that month and the one before traveling. And I was tired and slowly getting into shape, but that was just the start of the end. I spent the better parts of July and August traveling, including weekends. I was away more days in August than I was actually home. When I was in the midst of it, I knew it was crazy and I was all over the place, but I don’t think I fully wrapped my head around how intense it was until I looked back at it.

I’m used to having a lot on my plate. I tend to thrive on it, actually. But I don’t always handle stress well. When it gets too much, I internalize it instead of working through it. I feel like I stew in my own thoughts and get paralyzed to take action, which only makes things worse. I felt like I never had a solid night’s sleep because I was constantly having stress dreams. It’s a good problem to have when your company is growing so quickly, there’s SO much (too much!) to do and tackle– and I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to complain about that, because I 110% love my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world, I’m just stating that it was hectic. Most everyone at my company experienced the same whirlwind…that still continues.

To give you an idea of the crazy excitement: in the span of just one week we opened a retail store (Chobani SoHo–you must go!), debuted our Olympics commercial and put on a huge local community celebration in Central NY (yes, exactly like the Olympics commercial), hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony w/ elected officials at the store, and I left to go to London for 2 weeks…for the Olympics.

Oh yeah, I went to the Olympics for work and it was the most amazing experience and one I will never forget. Maybe more on that later…

Right. So why didn’t I run Chicago? I’ve always held a full-time job and marathon trained, NBD. My training log in June and July pretty much tells the story. “Tired” might be the most frequently used adjective to describe the bulk of my runs and “workouts.” There are some “terrible“s in there, too. I was doing OK at hitting my weekly mileage, but the time I left for London was when I needed to start bumping it up.

Before I left for London, I told friends and family I wasn’t sure how I felt about doing Chicago. At that point in time, my body needed the extra hours of sleeping, not hours of running. I wasn’t excited to lace up my sneakers and run, and that’s usually the biggest red flag for me. I decided I’d use London as a test: often times I actually enjoy running more when traveling more because I love running in different cities and schedules tend to be a bit more flexible out-of-office.

Well, you can see how that turned out. I had been getting weird knee/IT pain that wasn’t debilitating, but awkwardly affected my gait. I was staying up way too late to tackle work on NYC time, then waking up 4 or 5 hours later to get my run in before starting the day’s events on London time. I. was. exhausted. Something had to give, as I mentioned back in June, that something wouldn’t be my job.

I remember the moment I was walking on Knightsbridge going from one meeting to the next, rushing to make it. I had struggled through my planned 8 mile run that morning and could only do 4 miles at a ridiculously slow pace. I called my mom and said “I’m not running the Chicago Marathon” and simultaneously burst into tears and felt a wave of relief rush over me. I couldn’t help feel like I was giving up on myself, but I knew it was the right decision.

Yeah, I could have still done the race and finished. But for me, that’s not why I race marathons. I know myself, I know I’m competitive and I’m not going to toe the line for 26.2 unless I know I’m able to give my all. I signed up for Chicago to break 3:00, and it just wasn’t going to happen this year.

I accepted it, and I moved past it. This year wasn’t my year, and I can say that with equal parts heartbreak and acceptance. I still continued to run lightly when I got home from traveling. I was in such a funk from being away from home for 16 days, I felt like if I stopped running entirely, I’d dig myself deeper into a funk. For a good month or so, I only ran to meet up with other people since that was the only time I was excited to run. Weirdly, that ended up being workouts and long runs, not easy runs. Fine by me, I just needed to get back to the point where running wasn’t another stressor in my life and I looked forward to it again.

I had mixed feelings when October 7th rolled around. I was in Philadelphia for work as I tracked my friend and training partner Alex, who rocked her way with a slight negative split to 2:58:41. I was so excited and proud of her! A 5 minute PR! Once that sunk in, I was naturally bummed I wasn’t there racing alongside her like we planned, and then I got a bit hopeful because I know I’m capable of that too…one day.

It’s hard to describe, but for quite some time since early summer I just haven’t felt like myself. I attribute most of this to the travel and lack of routine. I can confidently say I severely underestimated the effects both stress and lack of sleep have on my body. I’ve gained a good 12 pounds from my normal weight, which is a lot for me since I’m only 5’3″ and my weight typically stays within the same ~5lb. fluctuation. I got bloodwork done and I have an extremely elevated cortisol level (which is a hormone released in response to stress), for which I’m going to see an endocrinologist next week to start to figure out. My primary care doctor said elevated cortisol can often lead to weight gain, among other things.

The blood test also showed a high intolerance to gluten. I don’t have Celiac disease, but I’ve since cut out gluten from my diet for about 1.5 months now, and I already notice a positive difference. I had been getting really terrible and unusual stomachaches, but assumed they were from weird or rich foods from traveling, and my thoughts were constantly foggy/not cohesive, which I assumed were from lack of sleep. Both of these things have pretty much subsided now. I’d also say part of the reason I’m feeling better is because I’m eating less processed foods/desserts (gluten is in everything), but I’m going to keep consistent at it anyways. It’s not too hard for me, and I do notice a positive difference so it makes it easy to continue.

So what’s next? Since the middle of August, I’ve just been running however much I want to, when I want to. Some weeks, that’s around 30 miles, and others, it’s around 10. I haven’t even been keeping a log. I’m working at losing the weight I’ve gained, which isn’t going too successfully because I’ve never tried to lose weight before. I’m running by myself more frequently. I’m even going to the gym to lift and do core work! And most importantly, I’m starting to get excited about lacing up my sneakers again, and that’s all I can ask for at this time. So thanks for continuing to read (if you’re still out there!). As I get back into blogging, I’ve got some exciting news to share next time about some winter/spring races I’ve registered for already…yay!

I really didn’t want to write this post, and I know I’m a few days late to the recap game. I put it off partially because it wasn’t the sub-3:00 marathon I had hoped for, but mostly because writing this would mean it was over. I can’t go back and change the way I felt on Sunday. I’ve taken a few days to digest the race, which included a healthy mix of basking in pride and sulking in disappointment.

I’ll be honest, yes, I am disappointed. A time like mine should not reflect disappointment, but it does for me. I trained for, wished for, and pushed really hard to complete my second marathon in under 3:00. I know my time is still great, and it’s a 55 second PR from last year’s NYC. Who can’t be happy with a PR?! And NYC is a tough course! At the end of the race, the feeling of sheer depletion meant I gave it everything physically and that’s what mattered. I am proud of myself for finishing, setting myself up for success with a really great first half, and staying mentally strong and fighting despite the way I felt.

Finished!!

2011 NYC Marathon: 3:03:37 official finishing time. 83rd female, 1425th place overall, 7th in age group (20-24). My 2nd marathon. Now let’s get to the fun stuff :)

Sub-Elite Start

I woke up at 5 a.m., feeling pretty well-rested and excited! I made some coffee and a hugeeee oatmeal with bananas to heat and take on the bus with me. Around 5:45, I left my apartment and headed to 54th street and 6th avenue to board the sub-elite bus. Around 6:30 a.m. we headed east down the FDR, our caravan of buses escorted by police. Seeing the highway completely shut down to traffic for our buses was the first of many unreal experiences. We arrived in Staten Island pretty quickly and were escorted away from the starting villages into a private heated tent, next to the elite athletes.

Sub-elite tent

While we were separated from the elites, we still shared portapotties and a little warmup area. Luckily, I had my CPTC teammates to keep me company! I didn’t even need half the layers I packed since we weren’t out in the cold, but I sure was thankful I had brought them anyway. I drank Gatorade and ate another banana and Gu Chomps while we waited. Around 8:45, we checked our bags in a private truck and were escorted to the top of the Verrazano bridge.

The next 45 minutes until the start were the most incredible moments of my life. We were able to start right on the line, and were free to do striders and roam the starting area. I strode out about 100 meters over the bridge and took it all in… just me and the closed bridge, nobody else in sight.I turned around and the crowds were so far away. It was surreal to be standing by myself with the bridge wide open. It was at that point I realized I was going to go for it. I’ve worked so hard the past four months to be standing in this exact spot…and suddenly I was here, standing on top of the Verrazano, taking in these gorgeous views from a truly special spot. I started to get choked up, I was so thankful.

New York, New York!

Miles 1, 2, 3: 6:45, 6:19, 6:32

The gun went off, and suddenly we were running! I tried to stay steady up the Verrazano, and found myself trailing back a bit from my CPTC teammates. I had anticipated hitting the first mile in over 7:00, so 6:45 was a bit of a shock but I felt fine. I tried not to pay attention to the second mile marker since that’s down the Verrazano’s steep decline. I thought mile 3 was a tad more steady as we wound the streets and found our way to Brooklyn, but I see it was quick!

Miles 4, 5, 6, 7, 8: 6:42, 6:42, 6:46, 6:41, 6:53

Around the 5K mark, I found myself back with my CPTC teammates Erin, Erin, and Maria. We strode across the road in a line of 4, trying to reign each other back and get closer to 6:50s. But it just wasn’t happening. I know you know that feeling. So, everytime I felt like speeding up, I tried to picture myself absorbing that energy I wanted to use and saving it for later. During this portion, I felt like I was working a bit more than I wanted to, but I definitely felt smooth. Erin pulled away around mile 6. At 7.5, I swung out to the left side of the road as my Dad was supposed to be standing near 7.8. I scanned and scanned the crowds but missed him! I was a bit thrown off, but quickly hopped back with my teammates as we approached mile 8 and joined in with the green & blue corrals! I took my first gel at mile 8 and felt good.

Miles 9, 10, 11, 12, 13: 6:45, 6:38, 6:49, 6:47, 6:48. Half-marathon mark 1:28:06.

A bit after mile 10 (why did I run a 6:38??) I realized I felt like I was working a bit harder than I should be. The crowds, the energy, the noise, and my thoughts propelled me to continue pushing. It’s a marathon, it was going to hurt no matter what. I pushed any doubt and panic aside. We passed the halfway mark in 1:28:06 and I felt a boost. I knew we had to hit the halfway point in 1:28 low or under to run under 3:00. Being a bit OCD, I checked the past year’s results and saw that anyone who ran sub-3:00 ran between 1:24 and 1:28 for the half. Nothing slower. Yes, this was fast, and YES this was aggressive, but I wanted to know I did everything I could to set myself up for success. I was on track, and just had to run under a 1:32 second half– heck, that sounded reasonable!

Miles 14, 15, 16, 17, 18: 6:56, 7:09, 7:09, 6:48, 6:53

I continued through Queens and started to feel like legs going a bit. My breathing was a bit heavier than I wanted, but I was chugging along where I wanted to be. I fell way behind my teammates going up the Queensboro bridge, but tried to keep steady. Hills are not my strength, and I didn’t mind the quietness of the bridge. I used it to collect my thoughts and my strength while taking my second gel and working to draft a bit as it was pretty windy. As we wound down the bridge, and I heard the wall of noise of 1st ave. Manhattan! I made it! I knew I had friends in the 70s and 80s, and scanned the crowds while trying to stay focused. I felt my quads really going and started to get nervous. Last year, I felt pretty good on this stretch of 1st Ave and my current state concerned me a bit. I used the crowd’s energy to propel myself forward, still happy with my splits around goal pace. My mom was on 97th street, and I was so happy to see her…though I had very little to say but wave.

Miles 19, 20, 21, 22, 23: 7:07, 7:26, 7:21, 7:26, 7:32

After mile 18, the crowds thinned and I took a 3rd gel in hopes they’d revive my legs. My quads. Oh, my quads. I rarely have issues or soreness in my quads during long runs or workouts, but they felt paralyzed as we hit the Willis Avenue Bridge. My breathing was okay, aerobically I felt I could continue to push, but my legs were not having it. I lost major time on these miles. I looked at my pace bracelet and saw the 2 minute cushion I had to break 3:00 start to shrink. It was frustrating knowing I was mentally and aerobically feeling ready to push but physically unable to increase the turnover in my legs. I was stuck in the same gear. Around mile 23, I actually didn’t know if my legs would hold up to carry me to the finish line. But I fought.

Over the Willis Avenue Bridge... (19.5)

Miles 24, 25, 26, .2: 8:00, 7:28, 7:20, 1:38

The 5th Avenue hill was the worst, as expected. I counted down the blocks one by one, feeling like I traveled 10 blocks but only having made it one. 90th street felt like it would never come. I saw my parents and barely mustered a wave. As a whole, I really tried to enjoy and savor the course but this stretch was one I just about closed my eyes and wished away. Once we entered the park, I was hit by “The Wall of Orange”– my CPTC teammates cheering their heads off. I got a boost and knew I would finish. Unlike last year where I think I blacked out for part of Central Park to the finish line, I was extremely aware during this time. Again, I wanted to just go but my legs wouldn’t let me. I remained positive and focused, knowing I’d have to continue to push if I was going to PR at all.

Seriously, are we there yet?!

Cresting up the small hill to the finish line the last .2 miles, I tried to kick and push, and was suddenly hit with a wave of exhaustion. All the blood rushed from my head and body, I wanted to pass out or throw up. It was then I knew I was physically spent, a sign of a good race. I somehow raised my arms upon crossing.

Finish!

Victory!

Upon finishing, a volunteer quickly spotted my bib and escorted me to a special finisher’s area. On my way, I spotted my CPTC teammates I had run with and all finished around the same time. And, Alex who had started in local competitive found us too!

Alex, Me, Erin, Maria

The volunteer escorted us from the sub-elite to a special tent right after the finish line. I was so thankful I didn’t have to walk all the way to the end of the baggage trucks like I did last year. I barely made it to the tent, fighting the urge to pass out or at least sit down. The volunteer let us sit while she found my bag. For that, she was my hero! I sat and breathed and stared around for a while before changing into dry clothes and calling my parents.

That was it. I didn’t break 3:00, and the world wasn’t over (shocker!) I didn’t feel upset at that moment because of how physically spent I was. I wanted under 3:00 and my mind said yes, but my legs said NO. I felt proud of myself for finishing, and fighting, and still setting a new PR. So often, the mental piece of the puzzle is what goes awry and makes for a bad race. I can say despite some frustrating moments, my mind was really in the game. My legs just went a lot earlier than I anticipated which made for a really rough second half.

The Aftermath

After the race, I met up with my Mom and Dad and went to brunch at Fred’s on the UWS. Luckily, we didn’t have to wait and I had a pretty good grilled chicken sandwich. I hobbled back to my apartment and immediately got into bed and started crying to my mom. I’ve had a pretty rough few weeks, and part of me felt like I needed a sub-3:00 race to boost my self confidence and affirm I’ll be okay. After working so hard and sacrificing so much, I fell short. I failed. Running kicked me when I was down.

After drying my tears and saying bye to my mom, I brushed myself off and hopped in the shower. I knew sulking in my apartment wouldn’t help, so even though I was physically drained, I headed down to Opal for the CPTC afterparty celebrations. A few beers, a bottle of champagne, and shots later, I left with a happy heart and head. Sure, my time wasn’t the best, but I PR’ed. And the experience was worth every painful second.

Free bottle of champagne? Okay!

So now what? I’m trying hard to let this race just be and not analyze my splits, training, diet, lifestyle, etc. I feel like I did the right stuff, and it just wasn’t my day. Maybe NYC isn’t my course, and I’d fare better on a flatter one where I can keep a steady pace and not get crushed by awful hills and bridges. Part of me really doesn’t get why this year felt so much harder than last year, when I know I am a stronger runner right now. Maybe my pacing strategy was off, but I stand firm on the way I went out because it put me in the right position.

I’ve got Boston 2012 next, and I’m holding off on making any goals for that race quite yet. I’m a bit hesitant to say I want to break 3:00 there. However, I know I’m competitive with myself and probably won’t want to go into that race without the goal of setting a new PR. Let’s be honest.

For now, I will take the next week or two entirely off running and exercise of any type. For me, I need a solid rest period to break up training and racing cycles. Taking it easy until after Thanksgiving will ensure I am fresh and eager to train for Boston, and not get burnt out or injured. I’ll be sleeping in, enjoying my free time, and living a little more until then!

Finally, THANK YOU again for all the kind congratulatory messages. Even though it wasn’t my day, I felt extremely loved and supported before, during and especially after the race. As I said before the race, I’ll be back here working hard and writing about it until I get that sub-3:00!

NYRR Mini 10K Recap

June 12th, 2011 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Race Recaps - (0 Comments)

I honestly don’t even know what to write about this race. At first I didn’t even want to do a recap, but I decided I needed to write it down (or type it, whatever) to put it behind me. Also, I know the reality of racing and running is that every race cannot be a PR, and every race won’t be great. With the good, inevitably comes the bad. And this was bad.

This whole week, I’ve felt a bit tired and off. I feel a bit sleep deprived still from wedding/fun Memorial Day weekend and weekend trip to Villanova. I cannot remember the last time I just let my body sleep and not wake up without an alarm! I found myself drifting off around 9 pm this week, which is not typical. This should have been a sign that I needed more shut eye. Also worsened by the fact I had to be offsite for a work event at 7 am on Friday morning, the day I always try to sleep the most pre-race.

Most race days, despite the earlier-than-normal wake up, I feel amped and ready to go when the alarm goes off. I’ve always found this a bit surprising and lucky how good I usually feel race day. Well, yesterday I felt like I could have easily slept another 5 hours. I felt groggy and foggy as I made my coffee and breakfast, instead of fresh and awake.

I jogged my typical 2 miles or so from my apartment to the starting line as my warmup, and I was just about spent by the time I got there. The humidity (96%!) , my legs, my breathing, everything was bad and I just wanted to stop and go back to bed. Nonetheless, I checked my bag and made my way to the first corral. There was really no adrenaline as I stood around the starting line, I just was not ready to go.

My plan was to start conservatively, despite the flat first mile on Central Park West, and pick it up after 5K. I went out exactly as I wanted, but it felt extremely difficult. I kept trying to get into the groove but never really did. I saw my Central Park Track Club teammates ahead and knew I should be up with them, but I couldn’t really change gears to move up. Around the 5K mark I knew this race was not going to play out as I wanted to. Around the 4 mile mark I seriously just considered stepping off the course. My breathing was really heavy, I was gasping, my legs were lead, my head was in a fog, I wasn’t even racing. Why was I even bothering?

I guess the only thing I am proud of about this race is that I didn’t drop out. I am proud of sticking it out even though my time wasn’t going to be near my best, and I felt flat. I have never DNF’ed a race (except one high school track meet where I passed out..whoops). I am afraid that if I begin to think it’s okay to drop out when things don’t go well or as planned, it’ll just become a crutch.

My final time was 42:32, just about 2 minutes slower than I ran at the Healthy Kidney 10K about a month ago. I was pretty hard on myself after that race, knowing I am capable of breaking 40 minutes. Yesterday was even worse.

As much as I know everyone has bad races, honestly I was really disappointed and upset. I have been doing more track/speed workouts to get used to a good 10K race pace, took my runs easy this week to freshen my legs, but guess I just wasn’t fully rested and ‘on’. Again, after over 10 years of racing and running, I KNOW bad days happen. Still doesn’t make it easier to handle when those bad days do come around.

After the race, I was happy to spend more time with my CPTC teammates as we got food and ‘brunched’ at the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle. This helped take my mind off the bad race for a bit, and reminded me that the reason I love to run is to have fun, and now, to be part of a team again! Still, I called my mom on my walk home and couldn’t help but tear up a bit as I explained how awful I felt.

I took a bit of a nap post-race, and finally stopped moping in time for a huge dinner at Mel’s Burger Bar with Dan! We got wayyyy too much food, but it was delicious! Spinach dip and chips, brisket chili, burgers (mine on toasted sourdough-yum!), fries, and chicken meatballs. OMG. Definitely walked home with a big food baby :)

Today, I got about 12 hours sleep (much, much needed) and need to run some errands: grocery shopping, returning a movie, cleaning, and going to a total body conditioning class at the gym. 16 Handles may or may not also be in the plan :)

While I wanted this race to be a big ‘bang’ before taking the next few weeks easy with running before starting my build-up for the NYC Marathon, it just didn’t happen. And I’m disappointed, but it’ll be okay. I’ll keep chugging along, and ensure I am well-rested and amped by the time November 6th rolls around.

How do you deal with a disappointing race or experience? Do you tend to dwell on it, or accept it and move on? I am generally really hard on myself, often much more critical than I should be. I definitely need to do a better job at moving onward and upward after a bad experience, but still learn from what went wrong. Note to self– as much as I can function without much sleep, it won’t make for a good race!

This weekend’s Healthy Kidney 10K in Central Park left me with mixed feelings. Overall, it wasn’t a bad race by any means, I just am a bit too hard on myself when I know I could do better. I definitely wasn’t in “race mode” for this one and it showed…but then again, that was to be expected as I mentally positioned this as a good effort/workout before this Saturday’s Brooklyn Half-Marathon. So, let’s focus on the positive and negatives. Ali did this for her race recap and I found myself better able to sort through Saturday’s effort using a similar approach!

Positives:

  • I ran 40:36; this is a success considering I set a low standard for myselfof just running under 42
  • I broke out an old pair of training flats I had forgotten about, and loved them for the 10K distance
  • I felt really good on the first 3 miles of rolling hills in Central Park on the west drive. Maybe too good, but I was able to drive up the hills without losing my stride. Hills are usually one of my weak areas, and I felt OK!
  • Despite a pretty terrible 4th mile, I regained my focus and was able to get back in the rhythm and finish in a positive note, rather than bagging the entire race because I had one bad mile.
  • I was the 9th female finisher, and 2nd in my age group behind an Ethiopian who was the 1st female finisher. I know this race didn’t have a women’s prize purse so not many of the top runners competed, but kinda made me feel bada$$ to be one of the top 10 women!
  • Mary Wittenberg, president and CEO of NYRR, personally congratulated me at the finish, saying “Wow, great race– that’s awesome to run under 41 minutes!” Yes, Mary, yes it is. Thanks for making me feel like a rockstar :)

Negatives/”Areas for Improvement”

  • I was NOT amped up to run this. I didn’t feel like I was racing the week towards it, and didn’t really have the adrenaline at the starting line like I should have
  • Maybe I took the west drive hills a bit too fast, because I DIED the 4th mile. I dropped from 6:22, 6:23 and 6:27 pace to a whopping 6:55. My arms and legs felt light, as if not enough oxygen was getting in. I actually wanted to stop running and catch my breath at one point. I think I need to get better about taking my iron supplements.
  • If I didn’t bomb my 4th mile, I feel like I could have broken 40 minutes. The last mile I didn’t have as strong a kick since I wasn’t close to breaking any time barrier. If sub-40 was in sight, I’d like to think I could have really driven home a bit better.
  • Remember when I ran a 10K solo “tempo” by myself, at night, in the wind? In 40:26? Yeah, I ran slower in a race than a solo workout effort. I know I was in really great shape then, before a half-marathon PR, but…it’s hard not to compare. But, I did run the course the opposite direction so maybe clockwise is harder? :)

Anyways, onward and upward to the Brooklyn Half next weekend. Fingers crossed the perpetual rain forecast in NYC stops by Saturday morning. I want to enjoy my Saturday afternoon at Coney Island. I have never been before and am pretty excited :)

Anyways, here’s a few pics from race morning, along with some weird pre-race superstitions.

I *always* sleep in my race outfit the night before. I find this makes it a bit more comfortable to run in the next day, and cuts down time getting ready in the morning, and ensures I don’t forget anything! People probably think this is weird, but works for me. I wait to pin my bib on until the morning of, of course. The one time in college I decided to pack my singlet instead of wearing it to the meet since it was a tad humid in the morning, I left it in the hotel room and had to borrow someone elses. Never again! (PS- ignore the fact the flash is taking over my entire face in this photo. Whoops!)

I still wear my lucky Villanova ribbons. A few girls on the team introduced these cute blue ribbons for a few races, and I wore mine every single race. And I still do. Makes me feel fast and a bit pretty :)

I have to drink coffee before races! Even if this means waking up a tad earlier to get my french press going, I need some caffeine. It’s probably mental. Before every track race in high school, I had to have a medium Dunkin Donuts french vanilla coffee and an O’Bagel Cinnamon Raisin bagel with walnut raisin cream cheese. If the bus left super early in the morning and I couldn’t get there beforehand, I’d get it the night before and reheat. True story.

And I think that’s it, for now. I noticed these quirks in my prep for Saturday’s 10K, but assure you there are probably dozens more.

What pre-race rituals do you have? How do you analyze your race efforts?  I also have eaten the same chicken salad from Josie’s before the last 2 NYC Half-Marathons and before the NYC Marathon. It is light but filling with a great blend of proteins, fats, and carbs. I might find myself there again this Friday evening before Brooklyn! I think focusing on the positives and negatives is a great way to see what you did well, and what you can improve upon for next time. That’s the great thing with running, there is always room to improve and perfect!

NYC Marathon Recap: 3:04:32!

November 10th, 2010 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Race Recaps - (8 Comments)

It’s taken me a while to write this post. Part of me didn’t want to write this because a recap would mean that it’s really over! But the real reason it took me so long is because the night after the race, I headed back home to NJ and left early Monday morning to drive down to Maryland for my grandmother’s funeral. Needless to say, it’s been a tough few days between the race and this sad news, and I’ve been a bit emotionally (and physically!) drained. I finally returned back to work today, though, and really enjoyed sharing my race story with all my coworkers and thought it was about time to put it in writing!

First things first: I FINISHED!

I did it!!

And I rocked it with a 3:04:32 finish time!

Overall, the day was one I hope I’ll always remember. It started bright and early, around 5:15am when I headed down to the NYPL to catch the bus to Staten Island. To my surprise, 3 other people were also trying to catch a cab on my block so we all split one down- the camaraderie begins! Two guys came from England to run, and one girl’s mother lives in the building next to mine– the girl and I rode next to each other on the bus and since she had done NY last year, shared stories and tips. It was a nice start to the morning, and got me excited to race!

I had a nice breakfast on the bus of hot oatmeal with blueberries (which I microwaved for like 10 minutes and wrapped in my blanket to keep it piping hot to eat later–it worked!) and a small bit of Gatorade. When I got to the start village, I had my banana and two Clif Shot Blocks because, why not? I also drank a TON of water! I also had a hot cup of coffee in the cab to the bus– hey, I need my caffeine!

Since I had a green bib, I wandered over to the green village, assuming the Local Competitive Start would be there. I was wrong. The local competitive start area was nowhere near the green village, despite us all having green bibs. Weird. I hung out there for a little bit and chatted with two guys I sat nearby along the fence. One had done 26 marathons, his first was 20 years ago to the day. The other had done NYC once.

I felt like a total novice. How did I get into this local competitive start, anyway? I wasn’t affiliated with a local running club (“Yeah, I just run by myself…”), I had never run a Marathon (“Actually, I’ve only done one half-marathon in my life…”), and barely had done any road races (“Um, the NYC Half, and the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge? We didn’t do any road races in college…”) Oh, and I’m only 23 and have no idea what I’m doing!

I checked my bags around 8 (all the way in the green village…) and tried to keep warm until we were allowed on the bridge. A guy gave me an extra heat sheet he had, which was so nice! I needed it once the winds started getting stronger! Luckily I was in the 1st wave and just had to get to 9:40am to start.

I think the rest of my story is best told through my mile splits.

Mile 1: 7:25. The guns go off- unfortunately, we were on the lower level of the Verrazano, so I couldn’t really see any of the starting “fanfare” that I had heard so much about. I also missed the views off the bridge. It was completely shaded on the lower level, so it was freezing, and I didn’t take in any views. Instead, I tried to draft off people as much as I could but it was SO WINDY! Tried to stay steady here.
Mile 2: 6:21. WHOA, this was a fast one. The entire mile is just about downhill, going down the bridge, so I didn’t think too much about it because I knew it wasn’t real. Oh, and my feet were SO COLD they felt like blocks of ice, numb, until I got off this bridge.
Mile 3: 6:52. Good, I started easing into my pace. I shed my longsleeve shirt around this point, so I was just in shorts, tank top, and gloves. I didn’t expect to keep the longsleeve on for 3 miles. It was chilly.
Miles 4 and 5: 13:23 total. I missed a mile marker here, 6:42 average between the two miles. Probably a mistake.
Miles 6: 6:38Fourth Avenue was MY FAVORITE part of the course. BETTER than First Avenue in Manhattan. The crowds were great, and I was feeling good. TOO good! I was rocking out to the bands, high-fiving spectators, and had a smile plastered on my face. At some points I actually laughed, especially when I saw funny signs or people cheered “Go Girl!” because I was in a sea of men. Then I realized I needed to start reigning my pace in a bit if I was ever going to finish this race. But I was having SO MUCH FUN!
Mile 7: 6:42. I tried to slow down, but not by much, apparently.
Mile 8: 6:50.
Mile 9: 6:55. This is the pace I should have been at! I felt comfortable here.
Mile 10: 6:42
Mile 11: 7:00
Mile 12: 6:55
Mile 13: 6:57. This point was a scary point for me. When we hit 13.1, my time was 1:29:36. WHAT? When I raced the NYC Half-Marathon last March, my finishing time was 1:29:35 and I was zapped at the end. Why am I running sub-3:00 pace?! But today, I knew I was in better shape and I felt comfortable. Nonetheless, I still had another half-marathon to go and I knew the earlier pace would come and get me. It was just a matter of when…
Mile 14: 6:56
Mile 15: 7:14. Got a little slower going up the Queensboro bridge. This was a long, gradual incline that had very little spectators on it. It wasn’t as hard mentally as I thought, but the quiet and the cold got to me.
Mile 16: 7:11. Think some of this was still uphill on the bridge. Coming down the bridge, my left quad started hurting and my thoughts started getting a tad more negative.
Mile 17: 6:57. This was the first mile on First Avenue. I tried to reign myself in not to get too caught up with the crowds. Truthfully, I felt myself having to work much harder to keep up this pace than I had.
Mile 18: 6:55.
Mile 19: 7:02. Right after the huge crowds ended, almost approaching the Bronx. It got much quieter up at this point, and I felt my calves really starting to tighten here
Mile 20: 7:15. WOW, did anyone know how deceptively long this gradual incline up the Willis Avenue Bridge was?! I certainly didn’t know. Or maybe it just felt worse because I was starting my slow, slow decline in pace.
Mile 21: 7:11. The Bronx, I’m sorry, was uninspiring. Probably my least favorite part, especially the weird “add-on” we did circling some empty chain-fenced parking lot.
Mile 22: 7:18. At this point, I had to really really start working to keep it together.
Mile 23: 7:19. As soon as I clicked the watch for the end of this mile, I hit the wall.
Mile 24: 7:47. WTF Fifth Avenue Hill why did you crush my soul? This was a low point. I tossed off my gloves to my dad, ripped off my 3:10 pace bracelet, I suddenly had the weird urge to get everything excess off me. Like it would make me faster, really?
Mile 25: 7:25. Probably only a little quicker because part of this is downhill in Central Park. I don’t recall much of this mile. I really didn’t enjoy the Central Park portion as much as I thought I would. I couldn’t even muster the energy to take a water cup. I had tunnel vision, just needed to get to the finish. Like 2 miles ago.
Mile 26: 7:33. I don’t remember exiting Central Park. I don’t remember any of the crowds on Central Park South. I think I was crawling at this point. I remember people walking and wanting to kick them and tell them to finish. You probably could have confused my shuffle with a walk. I don’t remember the song the band was playing as you re-enter the park. I remember the re-entry path being a sharp turn and quite narrow, and pitying the runners who would be much more packed up later.
.2: 1:37. A very, very, slow, painful crawl towards the finish. In my head, I had visions of kicking into high-gear and powering home. I may have well been going backwards at this point.

TOTAL TIME: 3:04:32. When I crossed the finish line, the woman who put the medal on my neck told me I was the first girl she “medaled” and that she was so proud of me. That was awesome! I hobbled the long, slow mile to get my bag. It felt like an eternity and I tried my best to stomach an apple and some Gatorade Recovery drink.

In the end, I am so ecstatic with my finishing time, but looking back on my splits see I did not run a smart race. I had absolutely nothing to give at the end. I think if I had run some of those earlier miles closer to 6:55 pace, I definitely would have had more gas in the tank and found another gear at the end. I should not have been going SO much slower at the end. But then again, the last few miles will probably feel tough no matter what, so at least I gave it what I could.

I was also the 78th female finisher overall, including professionals and elites, and 1206th overall. I think that’s pretty awesome for a first marathon! Do I dare think I can break 3:00 on a flat course, or next year in NY with more experience and fitness? Frightening. Compared to my times in college, which were decent but not too competitive, my marathon time is so much better. I guess I have found my niche. Also happy to report my shin that I thought was sort of a stress fracture didn’t hurt at all during the race, and is pain-free post race. Strange…

So, what’s next? Firstly: walking without waddling and being able to get down stairs. HA! But I’ll probably take some good time off running and start doing some other things I’ve wanted to, like pilates, walking, etc. And sleeping in! And rejoining society and being able to go out and have FUN on a weekend and not wake up hungover having to run 20 miles.

Maybe I’ll do some more road races in 2011. But for now, I’m already signed up for the NYC Half-Marathon on my 24th birthday, March 20th. I will probably also register for NYC Marathon again, but I need a few days to rest first :)

Hope you all enjoyed reading this long-winded post, and CONGRATULATIONS to all the finishers on Sunday! I’ve had a blast training for this and reading others’ blogs as well. Now I need to figure out what to write about, if not my training for the big day.

My alarm went off at 6:10 am this morning. Wayyyy too early for a Sunday, but out I bed I went. I grabbed a 1/2 cup of coffee (yes, I autoset it the night before to save time…) and a 1/2 small bowl of oatmeal (yes, also made the night before…) and ran out the door. Literally, I ran.

See, I was unable to pick up my bib number at the New York Road Runners office on E89th street the day before because the Ikea adventure with my roommates took from 11:30am-4:30pm, exactly the same timeframe I had to pick up my bib at their offices. Lesson learned to always go pick up bibs early, even if I have to dash out of work! So, I had to get to the NYRR office by 6:45am. I start running until I got to 86th and Broadway, and then realized I was not going to make it there by 6:45 on foot, so hopped in a cap cross-town. Lesson learned to always pack cash in my bag!

I probably got there at 6:44:59 but I made it. I quickly pinned on my bib, attached my d-tag to my shoe, and ran to Central Park and the starting line. By the time I got to baggage, I ran run 1.75 miles total between the trek to the cab and then to the start. Counting it in the daily mileage! I picked up the race t-shirt which of course they were out of smalls. I got a medium which serves more as a dress than a shirt…Lesson learned to pick up my race stuff early to ensure proper sizing of free shirt.

I waited in line for a good few minutes for a portapotty before the start until I decided to screw it and pop in the bushes, great success. I squeezed into my starting corral at the last second and the gun went off!

It was weird, since this wasn’t a RACE. It was a tune-up RUN. I intended to run it at a training pace, like 7:30/mile. The first mile was a tad frustrating, weaving in and out of packs of people. Really, I don’t think I hit a point where I was actually running with people rather than past them until around 5 miles.

So here’s where it gets interesting. My chip time for the 18 miles (time I crossed the start until time I crossed the finish…) is 2:16:54. However, my watch time for the 18 miles (overall run time, stopping watch when I stopped running) is 2:10:46. So, what happened in that 6 minute discrepancy?

Let’s back it up to yesterday. I had a normal breakfast around 10am, and then started helping my mom paint my room. My roommates and I went to Ikea around 11:30am, and I really didn’t think it was going to take as long as it did. So, I only brought a Gatorade for the road. By the time I arrived back to the apartment by 5pm or so, I was starving! I quickly ate a kiwi (random, but it was there and easy…) and helped my mom touch up some more before we went out to dinner.

Needless to say, I went a little more overboard than normal at dinner with my mom at  Community Food & Juice. I ordered a delicious sauteed squid with white beans, tomatoes and pesto appetizer, a grass-fed beef burger with caramelized onions and white cheddar, fries, AND then a strawberry rhubarb crisp for dessert. It was DELICIOUS! I was full, but not stuffed when I left. And then I guess it settled. It was discomfort and I knew I wouldn’t fully digest before the run the next morning. But, I rationalized it as more fuel, right?

WRONG!

The rich (though extremely delicious) food did NOT agree with my stomach the next morning. Having to stop and wait in line for the portapotty literally 3 times during the run (sorry, TMI?) contributed to the not-so-enjoyable 18 miler, and a combined 6 minutes of not running. It was a little frustrating to keep having to catch-up to the same folks, but I had my watch to take each mile splits so at the end of the day, at least I knew my real pace.

BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED: DO NOT eat a huge, rich dinner the night before the marathon! Fuel up well, but with safe, bland foods!

Ugh. Probably don’t care to hear about my stomach woes. If 18 miles doesn’t sound awful enough to run, this just made it even worse. That’s what training runs are for, I suppose!

Here’s what the run came out to…

1.75 miles…around 7:30? Warm-up stop and go.

Mile 1: 8:06
Mile 2: 7:40
Mile 3: 7:18
Mile 4: 7:19
Mile 5: 7:24
Mile 6: 7:08
Mile 7: 7:24
Mile 8: 7:18
Mile 9: 7:09
Mile 10: 7:06
Mile 11: 7:18
Mile 12: 7:02
Mile 13: 7:02
Mile 14: 7:23
Mile 15: 7:00
Mile 16: 7:01
Mile 17: 7:14
Mile 18: 6:41

Total 18 Mile Time: 2:10:46
Total distance TOTAL: 19.75 miles! Longest run EVER!

I felt good, my average pace was around 7:15, pretty good considering my first 2 miles were especially slow. Once I saw my splits going down, and saw that I was feeling good (minus tummy…) I got competitive with myself and tried to focus. It didn’t feel like I was racing or tempo-ing even, just like I was focusing on maintaining my pace and keeping it smooth. My goal pace for the marathon is 7:15 so I definitely feel like if I can do 18 at that pace in a low-key run, I can do 26.2 even faster than that come RACE DAY!

Lesson Learned: Don’t DOUBT yourself! Most of the time, you’ll surprise yourself.

After the run, I grabbed one zillion cups of water and gatorade and tried to stretch as much as I could. My shoes (mentioned last post) kinda cut up my heels a bit and they bled onto my socks. Won’t include a visual of that. It didn’t bother me during the run, so I guess that’s okay. But BOY was the walk home PAINFUL. Lesson learned: Pack flipflops to FREE my feet post-run!

Overall, quite successful. The 7am starting time was a killer but I am glad I did it. Having thousands of other folks to run with really made it ….dare I say, fun? Getting super excited for the Marathon, but NOT looking forward to a pair of sore legs tomorrow!