25 February 2014

NYCRUNS CENTRAL PARK MARATHON 2014

I know someone who has info from all her foot races in a neat little spreadsheet.  In this age, it may seems odd, what with Athlinks.com supposedly having every little bits of info about all runners, but it is good to have your own.  I did discover that untimed races like the NYRR Emerald Nuts Midnight Run or those supposedly unsanctioned races once organized by the Holiday Marathons folks are not listed anywhere.  You just have to make your own little list.  I am not done but the disturbing trend I found out is that my marathon finish time just got worse as time goes by.  For my most recent marathon race, the NYCRUNS Central Park Marathon, my finish time is 5:13:43.  I had two marathons completed in the 90s before chip time and those were about 6 hours.  My best marathon time was in 2011, at the Brooklyn Marathon, then each race after that just went down a few minutes, to this year's worst record. I do have a reason for the lousy performance but it is still upsetting.

It was a rough winter.  It snowed a lot and the weather was freezing cold.  I did not run as much as I'd like to.  As a matter of fact, I didn't have any 20-mile run as recommended by many training plans.  Many days I had to take time out to shovel or break the ice.  I didn't want to risk injury so I didn't run outdoor when it was slippery.  I suppose it would help if I have a gym membership and resorted to treadmills.  Even though I was unemployed, many things came up and I just couldn't find a block of 4 hours to carry out the long runs.  The most I ever did was a 15-mile run with a friend from PPTC.  Another time I was 10 miles into a supposed 20-mile run but I had to head back to pick up some medicines from the local pharmacy before it closed at 6.  Yeah, it is probably a first-world problem, but it's a problem nonetheless.

It was a beautiful day to be out running.  No rain, temperature just right for runners, and the roads in Central Park was mostly free of nasty ice.  I usually don't use bag check because of the delay in dropping off the bag and later retrieving it, but with NYCRUNS races there are not that many people so I brought a bag.  Just something to hold an outer layer of clothes.  The marathon was scheduled for 8:30, with the half-mary started at 8, so I had some time to get to the race.  It was nice to see daylight as I traveled to Central Park by subway.  As I entered the park, the half-mary people already started, which was a good thing because I didn't have to wait at all to use the john and to drop off my bag.  I worked with NYCRUNS before so it was nice to be greeted by many people.  The start of the marathon was about half a mile away but I got there in time for a short stretch, to bow for the national anthem, then off we went.  There was almost a thousand half-mary runners, but only about 350 in the marathon.  It took very little time to run past the start mat.

The marathon course consisted of five counter-clock loops of the park, the top portion being 102nd Transverse.  No Harlem Hill, just Cat Hill five times.  Much easier to remember compared to the course for the half-mary, which included a pass through 72nd Street and once up to the northern edge of the park.

Each loop had four water stations: in the 90s Street on the west side, at 68th Street on the west side, then around 72nd Street on the east side, and finally at 89th Street, near the Fred Lebow statue and NYRR office.  Years ago when I volunteered with Central Park Conservancy, I learned that the light poles in the park have street numbers assigned to them.  I don't know if that helped or hurt my run.  I should just plow ahead and not pay attention to where I was.  Five loops, it shouldn't matter what street I was at.  Besides, the course is not straight like the city streets, so for example one may be in the 70s and the next goal is in the 90s, it's not 20 blocks or 1 mile away, but rather whatever the curvy course is.  I tried to hug the curves but clockwise runners had the inner run lane so that strategy only worked sometimes.

The nice thing about a race with loops in Central Park, as opposed to one that covers a whole city, is that for slow runners like me I was never alone.  There were many other people out there enjoying the nicer weather.  At some point, I started to overlap the half-marathon runners, but eventually they all finished.  Just to keep my spirit up, I started to look for other racers like me and got to know three, Tory from Ashville, North Carolina, John from Annapolis, and Jeannie from San Francisco, some time during Loop 3 and afterward.  It helped to have a little competition with runners of similar capability.  We took turns leapfrogging each other, with walk breaks or time-out for Gu and water.  I worried about getting cramps and should have brought some salt, luckily nothing happened.

I brought 6 gel packs, thinking of having one before the race then one for each loop as I finished the loop.  The plan was flawed since by the time I finish the 5 loop there would be no need to have gel.  I would need the gel for the boost to keep going.  I had breakfast on the subway and didn't feel that I needed a gel pack before the race.  One pack per loop I did have, so by the time I finished the fourth loop, I had two left.  I used one for the water station at 68th Street on the west side, then another at the station near 72nd Street, then it was a slow walk up Cat Hill, and finally I actually reached Mile 25.  I passed by it a few times before, but only on the last loop would it really mean one more mile to go.  I took one last drink at the 89th Street aid station, asking for "rocket fuel" and was handed a double-dose of Gatorade, briefly and shortly hummed the theme music from the first Rocky movie, and somehow found the energy to run the rest of the way.  The time limit for the race was 5:15:00 and I made it in at 5:13:43.  It was not that they would instantly collapse everything, as other people past 5:15 also had their time recorded.  Not a bad time given the fact that I under-trained.

Thank you NYCRUNS staff and volunteers!


Thanks go to Patty CT for this photo of me early in the race.

The tech cap helped keep my vision clear, but near the end I took it off for the camera.

Thanks go to Nicole I. for this photo shortly after the finish.
The hard-fought finisher medal.  There was supposed to be a finisher shirt, too, but when I finished there were only ladies sizes left.

6 comments:

  1. I'm glad you made it to the finish under the 5:15 cut-off! I think I remember seeing you! I was the volunteer in the middle of the road near the end, directing you toward the finish line and cheering you in. Congratulations on your accomplishment!

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    1. Thank you, Daniel! It was all a blur. Not that I ran fast, of course.

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  2. Great job! I did the half :)

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    1. You did good, too, Caroline! The Half is actually my preferred distance, but this time I wanted the Full's challenge.

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