Freeze My Willies
After the race, I jump in a bathtub of ice cubes for 10 minutes. Thankfully it numbs everything and I can only stand it for 10 minutes. But on Monday, I hop in again but this time for 15 minutes. Definitely nerves are getting killed off in the icy water, or maybe I’m just getting better at being a tough guy…
The ice bath really helps flush my muscles of the lactic acid and reduces inflammation.
Delayed Onset Soreness
Whoo hoo – big time! After my first ice bath, I am pain free! BUT…the next day that all changes. My calves seize up in a lactic acid frenzy and going up and down stairs is pure torture. Also, the rest of my body aches….
Never Forget Your Salt Tablets
I think I figured out why I feel so abused after this race. I think it’s because I didn’t have enough electrolytes and salt during the race, which causes my muscles to perform poorly and under more stress.
After the race, I felt my skin and it was real gritty from the salt that I sweated out. Definitely something to keep fine tuning.
Nike Triax Foot Pod Off
So I wore a Nike Triax watch with foot pod and heart rate monitor for the race. I would have worn a GPS but it doesn’t work very well in Manhattan with the buildings blocking the satellites.
Unfortunately, looking at my paces on the website and what was recorded by the watch, the Nike Triax is definitely off, even after I calibrated it on a track.
The Nike Triax said I ran only 25.3 miles. During the race, I remember looking at it and despairing at the pace it was showing me, which turns out to be slower than what the website said I ran.
How annoying to be thinking I was totally cratering when in fact I was not!
New Fighting Weight
Post-marathon weigh-in has me now at 147.8 lbs, versus 151 weigh-in at Ironman New Zealand. Now I have a new benchmark for what I should weigh during long endurance races….
Tim Noakes in Lore of Running states:
“In a marathon, the race really begins from 32km onward, during the last 10km. From here to the finish, the marathoner’s brain speaks of logic and therefore appeals to the first voice, which will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. The marathoner’s only recourse is to call on the spirit, which forutnately functions independently of logic. It accepts that marathon training goes beyond logic – that humans were not designed to race marathons any more than they were designed to scale Everest. And the human spirit soon learns that the marathon is one way for ordinary people to define irrevocably their own physical, mental, and spiritual limits. By the 32km marker, the marathoner must be ready to define these personal limits.”
Such a truism. I ran literally a 9 mile “wall” and many times felt like quitting. But it was worthwhile as I broke through the damn wall at mile 24 to speed up to the finish.
When I tell people I ran the NYC Marathon, often the first thing that comes out of their mouths is, “Oh I can never do that.”
How easy it is for someone to define their limits under such favorable conditions. Is that the true test of the human spirit, to be defined on the couch in front of a TV?
I say NO.
Our growth comes from trials, and we really grow when we test our limits. Busting through a 9 mile wall was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, with body aching, IT band protesting, right quad cramping, even both forearms threatening to cramp under electrolyte loss. It hardens my spirit like nothing else!
It’s 430am and I get up to prepare for the race. The night before I lay out just about everything I need so that I won’t forget anything. But of course, I already find out that I don’t have any electrolyte tablets in my apartment, a fact that will prove critical in the race later.
But I fill up my race bottles with flat Coca-Cola, put GU gel in my fuel belt, get my race number belt ready with the race number and attach my timing chip to my running shoe. I double check that and then I throw everything into my bag and off I go.
I arrive at the NYC Public Library and it’s still pitch dark. The stars are shining in the sky so I know it’s going to be a warm day, as it has been the last few days.
I sit on the bus next to a guy from Oregon. He says he’s trying to get to 50 marathons, one for each state. More power to him. I am not sure my bod could take so many marathons in so short a time, or else I’m gonna die before I hit 50 states worth of marathons.
The sun finally starts coming up as we get over to the starting line in Staten Island. Different starting area this year. I don’t see the usual half-a-huge-PVC pipe pee-ing station. And it’s organized more by color too – I am in the Blue section, so they have their own food and UPS trucks to take our stuff to the finish line.
I chat with this woman from Iowa who is running her first marathon in NYC. Hope she finishes OK.
So my pacing really sucks, and this year I decide to follow some of the pace leaders. For kicks, I decide to follow the 3:40 group since I am thinking I will finish in 3:45; but who knows, maybe I’ll have a great day and finish in 3:40!
In the start of these races, my mind is usually filled with so many emotions and thoughts. I think about my goals in this race and wonder if I will do OK or crater somewhere in the middle. I think about my whole life surrounding racing and what it means to me.
I think about support, of which I don’t have any live support this year, but yet so many others have friends and family to cheer people on. But I’ve told people not to come; NYC Marathon is not an easy one to watch for your friends. You need to plan very well. And the last two years I’ve been totally off my time estimates and I am sure supporting spectators would have been wondering if they missed me or not. But somehow, it is nice to have support if it’s there.
I think about my daughter and how much she means to me, and missing her very much. I also think about my new life in this startup and wonder where that will go.
My brain is a jumble, but it all returns to race focus as soon as the cannon goes off.
The crowd surges forward. I am ahead of the 3:40 group for a while, but not for long. With so many people, it’s impossible to keep pace. I blow right through and around people trying to get back on track, and I see the 3:40 pace leader doing the same.
The Verrazano Bridge serves to be a heavy duty warm up – it is an annoying long hill, and we are glad to see the other side where we increase our pace to make up lost time.
The next 12 miles are a blur. I manage to pull ahead of the 3:40 pace leader and the group and keep that lead until a mile or two after mile 13.1. I hit that at 1:51, a bit slow for 3:40, but in range for a 3:45 finish.
Then I reach the 59th Street Bridge and my ass is kicked. It is fairly steep and it drains me going up and over. The 3:40 pace leader has joined up with his buddy who is also leading another 3:40 group. They blow by me and I lose them.
But I never get my pace back. The climb wipes me and I don’t get a chance to recover. The following miles are a series of gradual, grinding uphills where I don’t get the chance to recover and rest.
At mile 20, my right quad starts twitching like it’s gonna cramp. This is where those electrolyte tablets would have made a HUGE difference.
I don’t get my groove back until about mile 24 when all of a sudden I find some more energy, and I get my pace back up to about 9:00-ish per mile. And miraculously, the cramping subsides as well. I manage to finish following the 3:50 pace leader and my time is 3:51, which I am very happy for. It is a new PR for me and a substantial improvement from my last year’s time of 4:24.
But man, I hurt all over. For some reason, this year’s race was more taxing on my bod than last year. I move through the finish line with everyone else and my legs feel very abused. I make it to where I pick up our race stuff and I change out of my sweaty, smelly race clothes, and into some clean clothes.
As I move (verrrrryyyy slowly) out of the meeting area, I reflect on the fact that I can’t move very fast at all. My legs and feet hurt a lot, and I say to myself that I can’t do this race again next year. I need a break!
All the while, I am wishing that some strong, muscular guy would come over and carry me home.
Don’t you ever wish that this would happen to you?…No?…Never?
Hmmm…well I was just kidding then…really…