Who puts a marathon the day after Halloween and on the same day as the clocks fall back? And then lets the Mets play in a World Series game that night? This means that the revelers in my neighborhood partied for an extra hour. Instead of getting an extra hour of sleep, I got an extra hour of exhaustion.
My corral start time was at 10:15am, but I had signed up for the 6am midtown bus. I was tired before I even started! The bus took over an hour to get to Staten Island so I only had about two and a half hours to kill before I had to be in my start corral.
Cute marathon bear
A friend staying with me had worse luck. He’d signed up for the ferry and ended up being late after three subway mishaps. This is one of the reasons I don’t like large marathons, or marathons that start on bridges. I had the same problems at the 2013 İstanbul Marathon and the 2011 Meia Maratona de Portugal. you have to get there really early and on the transportation they provide because of the road closures and the very limited way to get there.
It’s too early to see this scene
At least NYRR provided enough porta potties. They’ve had serious problems with streams of urine raining down from the upper level of the Verrazano Bridge. I was on the lower level and don’t think I got peed on.
Some tips so far:
- I took a contractor trash bag (the thick, clear ones) and wore it like a poncho. Brilliant.
- I took my BodyGlide but checked my bag before I put it on. Once in the corral people were discarding almost anything you’d need, including a barely used stick of BodyGlide.
- Dunkin Donuts was handing out beanies. I got one from a worker, hid that in my shirt, and got another one from a different worker. I stashed one with my stuff to keep and figured I’d discard the other one once I was warm. Instead, I kept the used on and even put it back in late in the race.
- They are serious about the corral closing times. If you don’t make it, you start in a later corral.
I had signed up for the post-race poncho, although that was ages ago and I forgot that the trade-off was not checking a bag. This is something that NYRR started in 2012 as a way to ease the logistical burden of transporting so much stuff (Eric Turkewitz, a personal injury lawyer, runner, and race director, writes about the fallout). I told the UPS guy I was a big idiot and he took my bag that said “Do not transport to start” in five languages. I wish the bib pickup people had reminded me about that. I still got the poncho too! So, I contributed to the problem and stil got the incentive that should have prevented it.
I think this is a sign of how far outside the popular marathon culture I’ve gone. I do all these races where I can show up at gun time (or even after) and literally leave a bag on the ground and go. I can also carry everything I want in a backpack, although this marathon forbids that. But, they also forbid many things I saw out there, including the French flag on a pole, selfie sticks, and some protruding costumes.
My of my 2015 running goals was a PR at New York. It’s a good course for one. However, aside from a half three weekends ago and fulls the previous two weekends, I’d done no other significant long runs since Rock the Ridge. I have no excuse other than more interesting things getting in the way, and I don’t regret missing the training for those opportunities. Still, I was going to go for it. I’d been strong in the past three weekends so I thought there was a good chance.
But, there wasn’t. I ran strong off Staten Island, through Brooklyn, and through Queens, and even over the Queensboro Bridge. I was even holding back. But, that bridge really sapped me and I couldn’t get my momentum back afterward.
I was also surprised how tame the Manhattan landing was. People talked about the “wall of sound” we’d encounter coming off the bridge, but it was pretty tame. Parts of Queens had been much more energetic and parts of 1st Avenue were more crowded. But then, I was there much later than many people, so maybe everyone left after fast runners went by.
Once off the bridge, you turn up 1st Avenue for a gentle incline and some rollers all the way to the Bronx. I shifted into low gear telling myself not to panic, but where I was two minutes ahead of schedule at the start of the bridge, I was five minutes behind by Mile 19. And, I was getting slower.
All day my right knee and right ankle had felt really weak. I think I messed them up at the Columbia Gorge. Once I slowed down they really started to bother me in the injury way rather than the worn out way. I had a miserable time through the Bronx and even thought about just walking off the course. I already have a New York Marathon.
I tried to get my mojo back when I came back into Manhattan, but since I’d already missed my goal my mind just wasn’t having any of it. I must have looked pretty ghoulish because a police officer came over to ask me if I was okay when I tried to stretch my ankle against a tree.
By the time I got the park, my ankle was a huge problem. That part where I’m almost down and I can revel in the crowd support was just me limping along on my gimp ankle. I managed to shuffle in the last mile, but that really hurt.
At the end I was able to retrieve my bag from the UPS truck, so my worries about the wrong sort of bag were unfounded. I was also able to go back down the finishing chute without a problem and get into the line for the swanky post-race poncho.
I think that’s it for marathons this year.I have two more states to go. I’ll run Hawaii in January and then figure out something for Alaska in the summer.
I had some other, miscellaneous observations about my second World Major:
- The finish line had clocks for each start wave.
- The run across the Verrazano was very warm.
- My Garmin didn’t work on the lower level of the Verrazano. It recorded about half the mileage, so my one mile auto-lap was about half way through the real mile. I wish there was a way for these sports watches to reset themselves with a single button.
- I’d heard that Mary Wittenberg greets all the runners at the finish line. However, this May she left NYRR to join Virgin Sport. I missed out.
- Mary was, however, working a water station at Mile 22.
- The Gatorade and Poland Spring cups were the same color.
- One of the big problems in the finishing chute are people on phones. A slow person on a phone in front of other finishers isn’t frustrating since most people are fine ambling toward their bag. Speed isn’t the problem, it’s the ability to pass. They’re like the seven-across ranks of walkers at the front of a Disney run.
- The NYC Marathon app and its runner tracking and instant results was very nice. With several checkout points and near real-time predictions, I knew when they’d finish. I wish that they had added trackers inside the finishing chute so I knew when they left that as well.
- Coming out at 72nd Street, the subway was blocked with paparazzi. Several celebrities ran the race: Alicia Keys (Dean in the results), Ethan Hawke, and many people a 45 year-old man wouldn’t recognize.
- In the Ethan Hawke pics, some NYRR person with a headset on a bicycle is following him.
- David Cohen, executive vice president of the Mets, ran. After that, he went to Citi Field to watch the Mets lose in a marathon game that ended 7-2 after 12 innings. I bet his day sucked.
- I saw lots of Achilles athletes but not many Team In Training people.