Marathon #11: The New York Marathon
The atmosphere was electric! This was only my second time in New York, and I’m glad to have explored the five boroughs by foot, while running marathon #11 and major #2.
This marathon’s write-up is not nearly as technical as my prior write-ups. There are no graphs or interpretations various data points (CGMs, cadence, running, etc.), technical training tips, or description of the course. Just a few memories from the race.
The days prior to the race:
I spent the last few days on a tight schedule. We had our annual meeting at work on 11/2, and then I boarded a plane to Cincinnati overnight. It’s a 3 hour flight from Vegas to Cincinnati (12AM PST-6AM EST Thursday), so I slept for two hours on a seat that doesn’t recline. Upon landing on 11/3, I was go-go-go walking properties and attending a real estate conference.
I spent a crammed 36 hours in Cincinnati then head over to New York late Friday night (11/4).
I spent Saturday navigating public transit between New Jersey to the expo, and then walking New York with my mom and fiancé to explore. The highlight was finding a Matchaful cafe, a brand that we’ve seen at Erewhon, within the biggest Whole Foods I’ve ever seen. We had their brown and matcha drinks and a matcha brownie and they all lived up to the hype.
By the end of the day I had 15,000 steps, which is a little too much for my liking prior to a marathon. I made this mistake before running the Marine Corps marathon in 2018 when I explored the whole city before the race. It wasn’t an ideal lead up to race day, but those were my decisions so I have to live with it.
We went to Ci Siamo for dinner and had pasta.
Textbook runner carbo-load. I was really surprised we were able to get a seat without a reservation, the night before the New York marathon.
I went from avoiding carbs before race day, to enjoying some Pad Thai, to now going with one of the favorite pre-race dinners: pasta.
I grew up eating a lot of pasta and it’s something I’ve inadvertently stayed away from since I went keto in 2018. I’m not keto anymore (avoid sugar, but focus on slow burning carbs), but for some reason pasta stayed out of my diet. It was a nice treat to load up on pasta before race day.
I had an Ample drink, a UCAN smoothie, some Essential Amino Acids, and some coffee before the race.
During the race, I had a few UCAN gel packets, some race provided SiS gel, and took 6 salt capsules over the course of the race. I normally stay away from Gatorade, but this time around I grabbed Gatorade every aid station, then a cup of water – half of which got poured over my head.
Running: Wondering if I still enjoy it
Before the race, I couldn’t get my mind focused on the race. I stayed up until midnight working. I woke up at 3am (standard for a marathon) and went through my routine – but didn’t have the same urgency as usual. Typically, on race morning I meditate and visualize the course and brace my mind for the suffering that I’m about to put my mind through. There really wasn’t much on my mind.
I started to wonder if I even like running anymore. I made a promise to run one marathon every year this decade, and it felt like I was just fulfilling that contract I wrote to myself. Races have turned from excitement to expectation.
Training: Knowing what to Expect
I’ve run marathons between 3:42 to 5:15 hours. I know what level of training is associated with what result. It really is all about just putting in the mileage. I know what my marathon time will be if I put in 20 vs 30 vs 40 miles per week.
Before the race, I told my family to expect to see me finish with a 5 hour time or a 4:30, on a good day.
The environment: electric
Something about that environment really pushed me throughout the first half of the race. Even when I’m expecting a slow time, my competitive instinct always pushes me for a 4:00 marathon – so I ran alongside the 4:00 pacer for the first 17 miles.
Shoutout to everyone that comes to support other runners. It’s not easy also waking up early, running around the city to find various points along the course, only hoping to cheer someone on for a few seconds as they pass by.
I thought about that halfway through the race, after realizing how much a bunch of strangers propelled me early on. I played to that a lot during the latter part of the race. I high-fived every person with their hands out and was waving for everyone to get louder. I figured if I could cheer them on, they would cheer someone else on, and it would help the other runners as well.
And I hit the griddy for the two Bengal fans I saw along the course haha.
The incline at mile 23 is no joke. I didn’t have much power in my legs at that point, so it was a very slow jog at that point. I ended up running a 4:26. I’ve always struggled on east coast races, so I was quite happy with the result.
Bringing joy back into my running:
I used to take this stuff way too seriously. It doesn’t really make a difference if I run a 3:30 vs a 4:30 vs a 5:30. This was the bucket-list run my mom never ran, an excuse to bring family together, and a good precursor to Kathy’s first half marathon next week. I’m glad I had fun with it, wearing the most obnoxious Bengal shirt (which was the worst material to run in btw) and entertaining others waiting for their chance to cheer on the people they were there to support.
Thank you, New York, for bringing that spark back into my running.
Side note: When I finished the race, I checked my phone to see the Bengals up 35-0 at halftime. I think my shirt is lucky. Can’t wash it for the rest of the season.
Next race: Monterey Bay Half Marathon, 11/13
I bought my New Balance FuelCell SuperComp Trainer‘s only a week before the race. I love them. They’re so comfortable and, yes the plates seem to help a lot.
But a week is not long enough to really test out shoes. They always seemed comfortable, but during the 1st mile of the race going up the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge, I immediately noticed my left shoe was tight around the widest part of my foot. I never stopped to fix it and just sucked it up, but my foot was super tender the next day.
I’ve been lucky with my feet over the years. All the stories about toenails falling off or blisters – I’ve never dealt with those issues. In fact, one run I entered with a blister under my foot (from boxing) and I assumed running 26.2 miles on it would make it worse… and somehow it didn’t.
It gave me a little pain, but ultimately wasn’t anything too serious. But it’s a lesson to test shoes for a while not only to “break them in” but also make sure they’re sized (or laced up) correctly.
Man this thing was terrible to run in. I wore a shirt that I wear every Sunday during Bengal games. I was debating adding more to the costume (ie tiger hat etc) to have more fun with it, but knew it would be too much of a hassle. But the shirt doesn’t give any room to breathe so early on in the race, it was really uncomfortable in the heat and humidity. It never got better, I just got used to it.
Revisiting my thoughts about the New York Marathon after the Big Chief 50K:
Next Up: New York Marathon (11/6/2022)
My next race is the New York Marathon on November 6th. This is normally a tough time of the year to periodize my training for, but one that I hope to set aside a good training block for.
One of the themes for me lately has been momentum. Last year, that momentum was towards my run streak. It was harder to not run than it was to run. This year, it’s been towards various financial and personal matters. For this race, I took running ultras for granted and just expected to get it done.
For the New York marathon, I’ll be prepared to mentally dial in to the race starting in September. I’ll be preparing my training schedule, what I’ll be wearing, how I’ll fuel, well before race day. The Big Chief 50k crept around much quicker than I realized, and before I knew it – race weekend was coming up and I didn’t have good shoes, fuel, hydration pack, etc. to race. For New York, I want to start preparing earlier. And just by me starting to think about the race – the momentum will build. Races are really an accumulation of the final 8-12 weeks of both mental and physical preparation. I think I overlooked the mental preparation involved for this race – as I thought I could follow my calendar for total miles per week and be ready. Before the New York marathon, I plan to remove some of my outside commitments – not specifically to fill them with running, but to fill them with downtime. This will allow me to re-calibrate, and not feel like I’m jumping from one thing to the next, and be fully present while I’m training and think about the race ahead. I’m looking forward to giving it my all!
This clearly didn’t happen.
But life happens, and you can’t plan where your priorities lie at a date into the future. Well, I once did – but that was really a period of time where I disregarded all of my other roles in life to solely focus on being the best athlete I could be.
At this stage of my running career, I’m more excited to give back as I am to train for a new PR. This run came a week before the Monterey Bay Half Marathon, a race where 6 of my friends who had never run half-marathons before all ran their first. These races are all wonderful life experiences, and I’m blessed to have the health and capacity to run them as frequently as I do. I go back and forth between having that appreciation and letting my competitive urge take over, where I feel like my races are “PR or bust.”
Revisiting my thoughts from even earlier, when recapping my 2019 races, I mentioned that I really wanted to run a marathon every year in the new decade.
I hope I remember my overall why for running and keep it up for the rest of the decade.
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