Tuesday, November 05, 2013

New York City Marathon

New York City Marathon 2013.  I ran my 76th marathon and my 3rd NYC marathon, finishing in 5:48:53, good for 85th place out of 151 in my 70-74 age group and three minutes faster than I ran it in 2011.  Not quite up to average, but I have my excuses.  Actually, I had a great race and a lot of fun.  Moreover, the NYC Marathon itself exceeded my expectations this time.  I'm glad that I ran it.

My Race:

The weather was colder than expected in NYC at this time of year.  In fact, the temperature was about 47 degrees and the wind 15-20 mph the whole of the race, the only variable being the sun, which was absent for the first half and then played peek-a-boo for the rest of the race.  I wore shorts, with a long-sleeved technical shirt under a short-sleeved one, and with a heavier polar-fleece jacket over both, when necessary.  I had that jacket on and off a half dozen or more times during the race, as the sun played its games and we changed direction in the wind.  I would have preferred a genuine running jacket during the race itself, but certainly appreciated the warmer polar fleece while waiting for the start.  The bus unloaded us in the start area at about 7:30 am, but my wave of runners didn't start for another three and a half hours.


During the race I took six Clif Shot mocha gels, each with 50 mg caffeine (the only legal performance-enhancing drug), and I also took six Thermotab salt tablets (the only other legal performance enhancing drug).  I picked up a spare gel packet at mile 18, but never needed it.  I did a 20/20 run/walk, which seemed to work out to a 12:30 pace or so.  That figures out to a 5:30 marathon, more or less, but I also made several porta-potty stops and a few stops for photos, and I suppose those accounted for most of the time lost between 5:30 and my actual 5:49 finish.  My personal results show a rather consistent pace, even at the end.
At mile 26

Whining: In the first mile or two I felt a little pain in the lower right abdomen, where the hernia was repaired almost two years ago. That went away.  Otherwise I just have the normal muscle aches from running a marathon.  No cramps!  I'll do a recovery run Wednesday.

The New York City Marathon:

Byword: Security.  I arrived at the start by the Team Continuum bus, and our possessions were checked as we entered "runners village," the area where we all waited for our starts (four different "waves" of starts).  There were NYPD helicopters circling overhead almost constantly at the start and the finish, and they came to check on the 26 miles of runners frequently too.  Every inch of the 26 miles was "fenced" on both sides of the road with blue police tape advising people not to cross.  People did cross, but I once saw an officer turn a man back.  I believe that I was always, except perhaps on bridges, in view of a uniformed police officer or two for all 26 miles.  I was quite impressed by the sheer number of security people.  Huzza NYPD!

Safe and warm
back at the hotel
One beef about security: At the entrance to runners village, the security people (not police officers) demanded that I give up my disposable garbage-bag windbreaker, intended to keep me warmer as I waited for the start.  No reason was given.  I feel certain that they were actually instructed to check for dangerous paraphernalia underneath such garments, but were not instructed to confiscate them.  After entering the compound, I found that many runners still had their garbage-bag windbreakers, so apparently the ban was not implemented at all points of entry to the village.  I also spoke to another runner who had spent $10 for a disposable Tyvek jacket at the Expo the day before, and had that taken away by security.  That makes no sense.  Why allow any kind of jacket except a disposable one, purchased specifically for the weather conditions?   Shoulda been a dress code!  Anyway I found a garbage bag that another runner had discarded and got by OK with that.

I had a bad experience in this race in 2011, after the finish, waiting in line, barely inching forward for more than a half hour, to pick up my race bag.  I got very cold then, chilled through and shivering uncontrollably.  That experience was easily the most memorable part of that race, has thoroughly colored my memory of it since, and I wanted to avoid a similar experience.

First, I decided not to check a race bag at the start at all.  The race bag has to be checked almost an hour before the start anyway, so an extra garment doesn't do a lot of good at the start.  Second, I decided to carry a jacket, which I might use during the race and definitely would use at the finish, so I would basically carry my race bag with me, tied around my waist when not in use.  Third, I would make every effort to take an "early exit" after the finish, available to people with no race bag, even though I had missed the cutoff date for electing that "no bag" option (said cutoff being three months before the race!).

Nevertheless, I was prepared to be sorely disappointed at the finish, as in 2011, but the NYC Marathon people solved my problem in two ways:  First, they provided a hooded, insulated orange poncho for every runner who went down the long lane to pick up a race bag (or who were unlucky enough to miss the cutoff for the no-bag election).  We saw a long parade of people in orange ponchos, mostly carrying race bags, walking down Central Park West toward the family-meeting area.  They didn't actually look very happy, but they looked warm.  I didn't get a poncho, because:

Second, and much more important to me, NYRR apparently relaxed the rules a bit.  As I walked from the finish toward the dreaded race-bag area, I saw an exit that said "VIP and elite runners," guarded by four uniformed officers.  I put on a good humor and asked one officer if I could be an elite, since this was my 76th marathon in 10 years while running with terminal cancer.  He responded that it might work if he believed me!  Cops are so cynical.  Anyway we had a grin about it, but they weren't budging and I kept going.   Maybe if I had shown them my Team Continuum wrist band ...

Then I saw another exit, unlabeled but clearly headed directly to the street, guarded by two officers.  I asked one what it would take for me to go out that way.  He smiled and said "I guess it would take you!"  He opened the gate and I thanked him and left, free and clear, to reach the street within two minutes.  Yay!  Apparently, judgment was permitted. No drama, no sweat, I love the New York Road Runners again.  I'm easily pleased.

This is a very competent marathon - everything works.  The expo was fine - no lines.  Results were up as soon as I finished.

Bottom line: The NYC Marathon is an experience like no other.  26 miles and a million or two cheering spectators.  I would probably do it every year, if I could, except that there are so many other marathons that we haven't run yet.

  • The north wind was worst right at the start, on the Verrazano Bridge.  After that it was mostly manageable.
  • For a while I ran along with a juggler.  I don't know who finished first.
  • Shirt: "I don't stop when I'm tired, I stop when I'm done."  Indeed.
  • While I waited nine minutes for a porta-potty near mile seven, I saw women ducking behind a nearby McDonald's to pee.  "Nobody back there," proclaimed one woman, as she bounded back out past me to rejoin the race.
  • Here is a link to race results.
  • Finisher demographics are not out as I write, but I saw a news report of 50,700+ finishers.
  • I saw dozens of Team in Training (TNT) runners, all raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which also funds myeloma research.  One by one I told them that I have myeloma and they might be saving my life, and thanked them.  They like that.  Many of them are running their first marathon and need all the encouragement they can get.
  • I thanked one woman who nearly cried when I told her about the myeloma, because her dad had died of myeloma.  And she nearly broke up again when she found out my name, because her dad was Don too.  That woman has run 65 marathons in support of TNT over the last 20 years.  She's my hero of this race.
  • Early in the race I thanked two TNT women who were running together, and we ended up leap-frogging each other many times until, a half mile from the end, they left me in the dust.  After the finish they wanted a picture with me, saying I was their inspiration.  Well good, they inspired me too, and I hope they send me a copy.
  • My sweeties and a good friend were waiting for me at Mile 26, see the photo of me above.  I got a couple of hugs just before the finish.
  • A couple of women ran the marathon together in long pants and just their bras above that.  Not sports bras, but their regular lacy ones. They got comments and actually seemed to be having a lot of fun.  View from the back attached.  It seemed like it would have been creepy of me to get a shot from the front, though I assume that many folks did.
  • I ran this race in honor of Caroline, the bravest woman on the planet.
Splits: Oops, I'm on the train and my Timex is in checked luggage.  Maybe later.  Anyway I ran pretty steadily except for bathroom breaks and such.  Maybe I'll update the splits when I get my watch back.

2013 11 08: Home now.  Splits: 13:40, 24:39 (2 mi), 12:13, 12:19, 13:02, 11:37, 9:23 (porta-potty line), 25:41 (2 mi), 12:33, 14:29, 12:17, 13:39, 12:46, 12:41, 25:31 (2 mi), 25:21 (2 mi), 12:53, 16:06, 40:41 (3 mi), 24:45 (2 mi), 2:45 (0.22 mi), total 5:48:59 (5:48:53 per official timing).

1 comment:

Bridget B said...

Don, Congratulations on your 76th Marathon! You are an inspiration! I initially stumbled upon your running blog with your '07 Plantar Fasciitis 101. It was informative & an enjoyable read. Thank you! I look forward to reading more. Wishing you the best on your future running (& life) adventures!