Sunday, November 13, 2016

Just a Marathon - 250 Days to GO

The original marathon is a legend.
No one is really sure if in 490 BC, Pheidippides actually ran all the way from the Battle of Marathon, back to Athens.
No matter, at the first modern Olympiad, in 1896, it was decided that the run should be 25 miles. 
(Thanks guys).
That was the olympic distance until the 1908 olympics in Great Britain.
(Uh oh, I don't like where this is going)
That year, the finish line was 1.2 miles ahead of the King's viewing box & you had to finish in front of the King.
Hence, the modern marathon distance of 26.2 miles was born
(Thanks guys).
For the 3rd year in a row, I competed in the NYC Marathon.
Each year that I have run this race, the distance has seemed a little shorter.
(Compared to an Ironman, running just a marathon must have been easy for you)
Thanks, thanks a lot. 
Truth is, any race is difficult if you actually race it.
I grabbed a bus from the Meadowlands Sports Complex at 6 a.m.
I was at the race start compound by 7 a.m.
(Is that when you started running?)
No, my wave wasn't scheduled to start until 11 a.m.
(What did they expect you to do for 4 hours?)
After morning prayers, I hung out with friends. 
(For 4 hours?)
I had celular reception.
At 10:30, they started lining people up in front of their corrals.
From there, each wave started the short march to the start line at the Staten Island side of the Verrazano Bridge.
Most triathlons have 2-3,000 competitors, so there are 4-6 starting waves.
The NYC Marathon has 50,000 runners, so the start requires funneling groups of runners in waves, based on their run speeds.
You enter the gate of your wave. You follow the flow of the crowd around a bend at a shuffle pace. It's like exiting a concert or game at Meadowlands or Madison Square Garden. One minute all you can see are the people in front of you, the next, you are suddenly at the entrance to the Verrazano Bridge. You are running across this massive structure where cars normally travel.
Mile 3 - I was across the Bridge & running in Brooklyn. That was when I started to overheat in the Ironman costume
(You didn' did)
I did. I wore the costume again.
Kids dig it.
Mile 6 - The suit had cooled down & I was in the zone;  I was focused. Then I heard, "Go Ironman". The kid must have been 8 years old at most, so I ran over & hi fived him. I heard the chant from a few adults too.
For the next 6 miles, block after block. White kids,black kids, hispanic kids, even Hasidic kids.
"Go Ironman."
I made sure to hi five them all.
I even let the little kids tap the helmet.
Brooklyn became Queens, Queens became Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Mile 15- I saw this sign & I had to stop:
After the sub 6 hour marathon at Ironman Lake Placid 4 months ago, I knew that I could beat last year's finish time.
So, naturally, I announced before the marathon start, finishing under 5 & 1/2 hours was my goal.
I was making good time according to my watch as I crossed into the Bronx. I was averaging 12 minutes per mile.
That was the pace I needed to keep to finish in less that 5 & 1/2 hours.
(How do you run for 5 & 1/2 hours ?)
Question for another time. I have a story to finish.
A few blocks passed the 18 mile mark I looked down at my watch.
Blank face. My rechargeable Garmin Fenix 3 was dead.
I was flying blind. I no longer knew how I was doing on time.
As I crossed back into Manhattan, I asked a few runners,
"Hey what time is it?"
They kept telling me how long they had been running.
So 50,000 people did not start running over the Verrazano Bridge at 11:02 a.m.
With 5 miles to go, I was going to have to gauge my pace on my memory of what a 12 minute mile felt (Feels?) like.
At mile 24, I got my answer: it was 4:08.
I was going to have to run 2, 11:45 minute miles to make it before 4:32 pm.
By the last mile, I was going all out. I was nearly spent, but I wasn't leaving anything on the course. I sprinted across West 59th & back into the Park towards the finish. I was sucking air as I headed north.
I saw the clock as I crossed the finish line & I was 4:34. I was 2 minutes late. 
I tried & I failed to finish in under 5 hours 30 minutes.
But, that's ok. I did my best & ... 
I looked down at my phone. 

Somehow, I thought I had started earlier than I actually did.

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