Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mike's 2010 NYC Marathon Race Report

By Mike

Pre Race Babble
Wow. What a race. In my earlier blog posts you may have seen that I predicted a 3:10 for NYC Marathon this year. In July I did a marathon check-in and felt that I was close with several months of training to go. I was really happy with how things were going. Then in late August things fell apart and I didn't find my running legs again until October with just weeks to go to the marathon. I gave up on any predictions and just figured I'd go out and do what I could.

Well if things couldn't get any worse they did. I went home early on Thursday (3 days pre race) with a migraine and some early cold/flu symptoms. Friday was slightly better and Saturday was slightly worse. On Sunday morning (marathon morning) I woke up with a progressively worse sore throat. I considered bailing on the marathon altogether. Still I got up, had some breakfast and hot tea and felt a little better. Bought some cold medicine and took a dose at about 6:15am (race start 9:40am) and another at about 9:00am--felt better. Standing around a cold race start for a good 1.5 hours too (NYC Marathon logistics are a pain!) didn't help though. I decided this would likely be my last NYC Marathon for a while -- not a fan of the cold at all! I took my pre-race Gu Roctane with 20 minutes to go, downed it with some water and prepped for the race to come.

Race Start
The 1.5 miles on the Verrazano were cold and windy. My feet felt like frozen cinder blocks about to smash in pieces. Luckily it was sunny out. Things improved once off the bridge and onto the upcoming "flat" section. Felt surprisingly good despite the cold and sore throat and pace on the flats came out to a comfortable 7:40-7:45 range. But by mile 8 I started to feel that the pace was unsustainable. Legs felt tired and heart rate kept dropping well below target. I took my third Roctane at mile 9 (previous at mile 4) and had to put in a lot of mental effort to watch my pace and heart rate and to motivate myself to make sure I didn't slow down too much. Not a good sign with not even 25% done. It felt like it was the cold taking its toll.

Still, I managed to keep a good solid pace. I clocked in at about 1:43:xx at the half but struggled to go up the bridge leading into Queens. I was definitely starting to fade and was just hoping some mental toughness would get me through the day.

The Queensboro Bridge was a slog (as expected) ... the downhill part was no relief either as my ankles were really starting to kill. Shortly after I turned onto 1st ave I felt something unexpected... someone jumping on my back and stepping on my shoes at the same time!?!?!? My left shoe nearly popped off and I almost hit the ground face first. I saw the guy who did it and I started to yell at him with some pretty severe expletives. He had nothing to say in response... not even a sorry. That could have ended my race right there but luckily my mildly "ninjistic" balance skills kept me on my feet -- whew! :)

With my legs starting to feel even more fatigued I decided I would take my next Gu Roctane a mile early (mile 18). Amazingly within a few minutes I felt this surge of energy. My average heart rate went up a few bpm and the perceived exertion went down a bit. This stuff works (note to self- take them every ~32 minutes next time). For the next few miles up first ave I managed to keep a low 8:00 pace. I slowed down in the section in the Bronx (everyone does) but brought it back to a low 8:00 pace upon re-entering Manhattan. I realized I was dangerously close to not breaking 3:30 and realized I needed to up the pace and give it all I had in the last 5 miles.

So that's what I did. I pushed myself to my absolute limit knowing I'd be incredibly frustrated with not breaking 3:30 two years in a row. It felt good to pass the other runners and only motivated me further. With 800m to go and a sub-3:30 within reach I imagined myself running a Yasso 800 interval. It worked. I crossed the line at 3:29:38! Then the wave of pain came over me.. aching ankles, left plantar fascitis pain, tight right hip flexors... it's amazing how you can block all of that out during the race... though you pay for it 10-fold post race. It felt impossible to even walk properly right after crossing the line. Still... pretty happy all things considered.

Avg HR: 159 (158 in 2008 and 161 2009)
Time: 3:29:38 (3:43 in 2008 and 3:30 in 2009)
Pre Race Nutrition: 1 can redbull, 1 Gu Roctane packet, and about 20 oz of Gatorade Endurance, as well as some light breakfast about 3 hours prior.
During Race Nutrition: 1 Roctane every 4-5 miles, ~5 Hammer Endurolyte tablets total, water and Gatorade Endurance at each aid station (almost every mile)

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