Final Thoughts Before NYC

As I write this, it’s less than 3 days until the New York City Marathon.

First, the easy part. The race will be on ESPN2. Coverage starts at 9 AM, the elites start at 9:50, I start at 11, and the odds of me getting on TV are pretty slim, but if they show anybody near the back of the back, you might see me. (I’ve never actually watched a marathon on TV, so I have no idea if it’s exciting or boring. I suppose that, like most other types of sporting events, some races are more exciting than others.)

If you want to track me, my bib number is 63359. Here’s a page on the race website where you can download the official app and use it to track me (or anyone else you know who’s running), or you can just go to the website during the race and do your tracking if you don’t feel like downloading another app and you’re going to be at home anyway.

I’ll definitely post updates on Facebook, and while I can’t make any promises, I’ll try to post some stuff on Twitter and Instagram (@pjsmith73 in both places) for anyone who isn’t actually friends with me on Facebook. (I won’t be posting anywhere during the race, though.)

Even though my car will be safely parked 500 or so miles from the finish line, I’ll still have my car key with me for the required post-race picture.

OK, on to the hard part, my actual thoughts.

Even after over 3 months of training, I still don’t have a clue how this race will go. The good news (well, sort of) is that the more I look at it, the more I think I underachieved at City of Oaks last year. (I finished in 5:24:37.) So in theory, I’ve got lots of room for improvement. The bad news is that my average pace on my training runs this year has been slower than last year, about 25-30 seconds slower per mile. Yes, the summer months were brutal and much warmer and more humid than last year, but October has been pretty nice, and my paces are still slower than last year.

I think if things go fairly smoothly, I can finish in around 5:10 without a crazy amount of effort. That’s almost a 15 minute PR, and nothing to sneeze at. But man, I’d really, really like to get under 5 hours. I’m close, and I feel like if I was in the shape that I was in for the Charlotte 10 Miler in February, I could do it.

The problem with shooting for a sub-5:00 marathon is that if I can’t do it, the last 6 miles of the race will be really painful. If I shoot for 5:10, I’ll probably be OK. So, I don’t know.

Part of me thinks I should just go out there and see how I feel. Well, I felt fine for the first 11 miles of the City of Oaks Marathon, and that went south pretty quickly after around Mile 15 or so.

New York City may not be “flat and fast,” but as far as I can tell, it’s not a brutal course like City of Oaks. The bridges are tough, and there are some hills in Central Park right near the end, but it seems like it’s still a fairly reasonable course. (Reasonable for a marathon, anyway.)

The interesting thing is that over the past week, I haven’t really felt nervous about the race. There’s maybe a little bit of worry about getting to New York, and getting to the starting area on race day, but I file that under general travel anxiety, pretty normal for me. I wouldn’t say that I’m actually excited about the race. There’s still time for me to get either nervous or excited, though. More than anything else, I feel this mixture of wonder and curiosity. How well can I run? What am I capable of? It’s kind of a strange reaction, but I’ll take that over a complete and total freak-out.

This is my dream race. It’s in the city where I was born. More than anything else, I want to reach the finish line feeling like I did everything I could to honor this race. And I’d really like to have some fun out there. All of that is pretty vague, though, and I really should have some concrete numbers. So here are my goals.

Goal A: Under 5:00
Goal B: Under 5:10
Goal C: New PR (Under 5:24:37)

I know Goal A is aggressive, but if I have any doubts, I’ll drop it pretty quickly and shift my focus to Goal B. And if I get a PR, I get to update my banner.

I’ve put in my training miles and overcome obstacles, I’ve completed 26.2 miles once before, I know I can do it again. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

Central Park, here I come.