Race Report: 2017 New York City Marathon

This was supposed to be it.

I was going to run this race, hopefully get under 5 hours, and then be done with the marathon. I hired a coach, worked for over 4 months, and had by far my best training cycle in spite of brutal weather. I was injury free. I was tapered. I knew the course. The weather wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.

My stomach had other ideas.

In my worst dreams, I figured I’d finish in 5:40. I guess that after crossing the finish line 29 times, I had started to take it for granted. Even in the 2016 Tobacco Road Half, when my ankle gave out at about 9.5 miles in, I still hobbled through the last 3+ miles, and the thought of not finishing never crossed my mind.

It sucks. I’m not sure that feeling will ever go away completely.

In spite of my misadventures, I still have to say that New York City is the greatest city in the world (but I’m probably biased).

As much as I’d like to forget about November 5, 2017, I still feel like I need to write a race report. Maybe it will help.

You might want to check out my race report from 2016, but for the most part, this stands alone.

Just like last year, my parents and I flew up to Newark on Friday and took a shuttle to the hotel on Staten Island. I ate pasta at the hotel next door to ours. (The other hotel had a restaurant, but ours had free breakfast. Priorities.)

Saturday, we went to the expo. This year, after studying the subway map, I figured out a way to get from the Staten Island Ferry terminal to a subway station about a block away from the Javitz Center, so we didn’t have to walk nearly as far before (or after) the expo.

The layout was different, but the expo was still huge.

Once again, I got my bib first, in a plastic bag with 4 safety pins.

For once, I should have used landscape mode. I used portrait mode last year, too.

Then I picked up my t-shirt and pre-race goody bag.

Considering how the race ended up, I may have mixed feelings about wearing it, but I have to say, I love this year’s design. It really is one of the best looking race t-shirts I’ve gotten. It’s actually a kind of blue-ish purple, even though it looks more blue in my photo.

This year, the goody bag only had the t-shirt and an official race program. I was disappointed that there was no bottle of water this year.

After the expo, my parents and I took the subway to Little Italy. My parents were looking for a specific restaurant that they remembered, but it had closed. We couldn’t find a restaurant that had reasonable prices and less than a 30 minute wait, so we ended up stopping off at a bakery for some pastries (Mmm…miniature eclairs) to hold us over until we got back to the ferry terminal where we bought some sandwiches and brought them back to the hotel.

We ended up ordering calzones for dinner, and my calzone was delicious. Other than that, I relaxed, stayed off my feet, and hydrated. I did pin my bib on my shirt Saturday night, just so there would be one less thing for me to worry about in the morning.

I actually got a relatively decent night of sleep, at least until I woke up around 4 AM and couldn’t get back to sleep. I finally got up around 5:30. I showered and brushed my teeth. I also had diarrhea. It didn’t really concern me that much. It happened the morning of the 2014 Thunder Road Half, and I recovered from that pretty well. I took some store-brand Imodium AD, which I had been planned on taking anyway, except I was hoping to take it preemptively, not reactively. I finished getting dressed and gathered all of my stuff.

I went down to the lobby at 6:30 for the 6:45 shuttle, but apparently, the shuttle didn’t stop at my hotel this year. The shuttle schedule got messed up by all of the extra security around Fort Wadsworth due to the terror attack just 5 days before the race. I ended up walking to the hotel next door and was able to get on a shuttle at 7:15. The hotel employee in charge of the shuttle was apologetic and offered me a bottle of water. I drank it quickly. This was a mistake, because it took us over an hour to get to Fort Wadsworth. (Last year, it took about 30 minutes.) So after about 45 minutes in a van, my bladder felt like it was about to explode, and we still had about 15 minutes to get to the Start Village. It was extremely uncomfortable, but I survived.

I made it through security and went straight to the nearest port-a-potty. Unlike last year, there were already lines. I probably only waited 5-10 minutes, but it felt like forever because I really had to go. Eventually, I finished my business and I walked over to the Green starting area.

Like last year, I had 4 Chocolate Chip Clif bars. This year, I also had a bagel. I washed it all down with more water. I used the port-a-potty again around 9:30 (only 1 or 2 people were waiting in line in front of me), and one final time just after 10 (No line, I just had to wait for one to open up).

I had been wearing a hoodie in the Start Village. One thing I noticed this year is that a lot of people were asking to see everyone’s bibs, which was kind of annoying because I kept having to pull up my hoodie so you could see it, but I understand. I might have to wear my bib lower next year, though.

I finally took off my hoodie just before I dropped my bag at the bag check truck. It had been in the 50s, but there was some occasional wind.

I got a few pictures in the Start Village, of course. First, just a general overview. It wasn’t raining while I was there, but the ground was still wet from overnight rain.

Next, the elites and Wave 1 on the Verrazano Bridge. I was a little farther away this year, so they look even more like ants.

If you’re wondering why that guy in front of me is facing left, that’s because there was a giant video screen over there.

Around 10:25 I made my way to the corrals.

And finally, we moved towards the starting line.

So the starting line for Green wasn’t actually underneath the bridge, but just before you go under.

A woman sang the National Anthem (and the announcer pointed out that she was about to run the marathon too, which is pretty impressive). This year, I remembered to remove my visor.

They shot off a Howitzer to start. It’s still a cool way to start the second time around. Then I heard the opening notes of “New York, New York”, but it was the duet of Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, which was a bit odd. I mean, I probably like Tony Bennett more, but at least on that song, you need Sinatra’s swagger.

Anyway, it looks like they started us right at 11, and at 11:02, I crossed the starting line.

Like last year, I set my watch so that I had to manually hit the lap button to mark each mile, because I figured the tall buildings would mess with GPS. I didn’t realize how much the upper level of the Verrazano Bridge would mess with it.

Mile 1: 12:26
Mile 2: 10:05

Being on the lower level of a bridge means two things. One, GPS is hosed. My watch said my mileage was 0.69 when I got to the Mile 1 marker. Two, it’s really difficult to tell where the highest point of the bridge is. On the upper level, it was right at the Mile 1 marker. Underneath, I’m really not sure. I just tried to not push too hard, and I figured I could make any needed adjustments in Brooklyn. I’m still pretty sure that Mile 1 was mostly uphill, and Mile 2 was mostly downhill. Seeing my times, that’s probably pretty accurate.

During Mile 2, we came out from underneath the upper level of the bridge, and were greeted by mist. It misted the rest of the time I was out there, but never rained.

Mile 3: 11:09
Mile 4: 11:24

At the beginning of Mile 3 was the first aid station. I got some Gatorade. So far, so good.

During Mile 4, we joined the Orange and Blue waves on 4th Avenue. It almost felt more crowded right where we joined them than it did just after the start. It didn’t slow me down too much, though.

Mile 5: 11:33

And this is where my stomach started bothering me. I did have a Gu at the beginning of the mile, but I don’t think that’s what caused my problems. From this point on, things got progressively worse.

Mile 6: 11:32
Mile 7: 11:37

I was really struggling through here. I had gone with only water at each aid station, no Gatorade, in the hopes that maybe it would help my stomach.

One of the thoughts going through my mind was, “If it’s this hard in Brooklyn, what’s it going to be like when I’m on 5th Avenue?” Also, I remember moving to the middle of the road, away from the crowds. I felt like I didn’t deserve cheers at that point.

Mile 8: 12:29
Mile 9: 12:51
Mile 10: 13:17

I was still running through here, somehow. It was slow, but I hadn’t stopped to walk outside of the aid stations.

During Mile 10, I realized I was going to need to stop and use a port-a-potty. Diarrhea.

Mile 11: 20:50

Yes, really.

I stopped, had to wait in line for a port-a-potty, went in, and did my business. I got out, ran for about a minute…and realized I had more diarrhea. Also, I realized that, if I continued to run, I’d need a new pair of shorts. So I started walking. Between the complete stop at the beginning of the mile, and having to walk the rest of the mile, that’s how you get a 20:50 mile.

I hit the aid station at the beginning of Mile 12. It was before the next set of port-a-potties. I grabbed a cup of water, and just as I did, this wave of nausea hit me. I didn’t even try to drink the water, because I figured it would just come right back up. I started looking around for a place I could vomit if I needed to, but luckily the feeling went away.

I finally made it to the port-a-potties. I waited in line again, went in, and as I was sitting there, I realized that there was no way I could finish this race.

When I was done, I managed to jog a little bit until I saw a medical tent. I went in and told them what was going on. I sat down, and after a couple of minutes, the nausea came back. I let someone know, and they handed me a barf bag, which I immediately had to use.

With that, my race was officially over. According to Garmin, I made it 11.74 miles.

They gave me pretzels at one point, but I couldn’t keep them down. I tried to drink some water. Sometimes it would stay down.

They gave me a heat blanket, but I was really starting to feel cold. It was in the upper 50s, which isn’t bad when you’re running, but when you’re sitting, and sick, it’s not very comfortable. They gave me a 2nd heat blanket for my legs, and eventually gave me a cloth blanket. I managed to at least stop shivering.

I was still in Brooklyn, so I was going to need to get to Manhattan, and also get my bag that I had checked. There were some people who left the medical tent and walked to a nearby subway station. While I’m sure people throw up on the subway every day, I really didn’t want to do that. Then one of the volunteers said a sweep bus was coming, and was less than a mile away, and they could take me into Manhattan.

I got on the bus. It was nice and warm. They actually gave me a goody bag similar to the bag I would have gotten at the finish. Of course, with the exception of the bottle of water, I didn’t want anything else in that bag at that moment.

I threw up once shortly after I got on the bus, and after that, my stomach seemed to finally settle down a little bit.

The bus was riding along the course. There were still runners out there, although most of them were walking at this point. I noticed that we had crossed over into Queens, and I just kind of zoned out for a few minutes.

Then I noticed that we were on the 59th Street Bridge, still following the course. And I realized that once we got off the bridge, we were going to turn on to 1st Avenue. I thought back to last year, coming off of the 59th Street Bridge and experiencing that wall of sound from the people cheering on 1st Avenue.

At this point, it was probably about 3:00 PM. Wave 4 had started 4 hours earlier, so the crowds had thinned, but there were still people out there cheering.

As we turned on to 1st Avenue, I could hear the cheering. It wasn’t the wall of sound, but I could still hear it inside the bus. And that’s when it finally hit me, the fact that I wasn’t going to finish, that I wouldn’t be greeted by the wall of sound, that I wouldn’t get to see the sign that says “Welcome To The Bronx,” and that I wouldn’t be crossing the finish line and getting a medal. It hit me all at once, and I wept.

That had to be the lowest feeling I’ve ever had as a runner.

We rode down 1st Avenue. The driver was trying to get to 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue, just west of Central Park, but we had to go up several blocks before they were finally able to make space so we could turn off the course. With all the extra security, it was tough, and I think we had to go all the way to 92nd Street, but we did eventually get off of the course.

(Fun fact: If you used the race app to track me, apparently even on the bus my bib still triggered the sensors, so according to the app, I made it all the way to the 16 mile mark.)

While I was on the bus, I decided I needed to take a picture with my car key.

It may have been a disaster, but I didn’t lose my car key.

The traffic was insane, but we did finally get over to 72nd and Columbus Avenue. They gave me my checked bag. I immediately took out a pair of pants I had put in there, and put them on along with my hoodie from earlier, got off the bus, thanked the volunteers profusely (Seriously, all of the volunteers that helped me out were great), and found my parents. I had called them to let them know where they’d be dropping me off.

We found a drugstore to buy saltine crackers, then got on the subway back to the Staten Island Ferry. Oh, one other thing the volunteers did, they gave me a free one-way MetroCard, so I didn’t have to pay for the subway. Last year, I got to ride the subway for free with my medal. This year, I still got to ride for free, but I’d rather use a medal than a MetroCard.

At the ferry terminal, we got some ginger ale to go with the saltines. That’s where I found out Shalane Flanagan was the women’s winner, and that was really cool to hear.

We rode the ferry back to Staten Island, got a shuttle back to the hotel, and went up to our room. I can’t imagine going back to an empty hotel room after what I went through that day. I’m really thankful that my parents were there so I didn’t have to.

Last year, I had a cheeseburger and a beer after the race. This year, it was saltines and ginger ale. My stomach was feeling better, but I still didn’t want to take any chances.

My goodie bag was very similar to last year, with a bottle of water, Gatorade (Lemon Lime this year, Strawberry last year), a protein bar, a protein shake, and some pretzels. The one thing that was missing was an apple. I was a little disappointed, but then, I didn’t finish, so they didn’t have to give me anything. I’m just glad I got what I did.

It’s been two weeks now. It still sucks. I don’t think it will ever not suck.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that this wasn’t a stress fracture or some other injury that would keep me from running for weeks or even months. I was pretty much back to normal physically the next day. If I had to, I could have run Monday morning. My legs were still a little bit tired from the miles that I did run, but it was nothing like last year, when I could barely walk, and stairs were extremely painful.

The one thing, though, is that I’m now determined to go back in 2018. I’m not talking about just entering the lottery, and if I don’t get in, saying, “Wait ’til next year.” No, if I don’t get in through the lottery, I’m going with a charity.

The thought of raising a bunch of money for a charity scares me.

The thought of going through 4 months of training again scares me.

The thought of dealing with insane heat and humidity in the summer again scares me.

And of course 26.2 miles still scares me.

The thing is, the New York City Marathon is like no other race in the world. And it’s the only marathon that goes through the city where I was born. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s a special race. Whatever hardships I have to endure to get to the starting line, this race is absolutely worth it.

And next year, I’m crossing the finish line, too.

Weekly Wrap-Up: November 13-19

It took longer than I expected, but my legs finally feel normal again. And while Tuesday’s run didn’t quite work out as planned, it still got me over 1500 miles for the year, so I’ve at least hit one of my 2017 goals.

Weight Check: 163.6, down 2.4 pounds from last week. Wow. I only had Mountain Dew twice this week, and drank lots of water otherwise. I guess it worked. I know next week will be…challenging. But at least for a very brief time, I’m not overweight. (164 is the magic number for someone like me who’s 5′ 8″.)

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 3 miles easy 3.11
Tuesday 1 mile easy, 4×1 mile at goal 10K pace (9:00-9:05/mile) with 3 minutes in between, 1 mile easy* 5.51
Wednesday 3 miles easy 3.11
Friday 3 miles easy 3.11
Saturday 8 miles easy 8.21

Total: 23.05 miles

Tuesday didn’t go as planned, so it has an asterisk, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Monday was 46 degrees and overcast, which is probably my favorite weather to run in. My legs felt better than Saturday, still not quite 100% back to normal, but close. I kept the effort easy until the end.

On Tuesday, I ended up having to cut my workout short. I was fine on the first two intervals, but on the third, I felt like I was going pretty much all out and I was still over 10 seconds above my goal pace. I figured it wouldn’t get any better on a fourth interval, so I skipped it and ended with just over a mile on the cool down to get me to 5 and a half miles.

I’m not sure what happened. It wasn’t the weather (42 and overcast). My legs felt OK up until late in the 2nd interval, then they got really tired. I walked half of the recovery between the 2nd and 3rd interval, but it didn’t really help. Maybe I wasn’t 100% recovered yet, or maybe it was just a bad day.

I went back out there on Wednesday, and my legs weren’t quite 100%, but they were good enough. The weather was cold, but not too bad. It was a better run, but still not quite where I wanted to be.

Friday was better. It was kind of cold, 36 degrees, but not too bad. My legs felt fine. My last full mile may have been a little faster than I was aiming for, but it’s tough to slow down when it’s cold. Overall, a pretty good run.

On Saturday, it was cool and windy, but not too terrible. I did kind of put off my run, hoping it would warm up a little bit, and didn’t start until 8:51 AM.

My legs felt good. I kept the effort easy, and except for mile 3 (about 20 seconds faster than mile 2, not sure what happened there), my paces seemed pretty reasonable. I decided to push it on mile 8, and then, since I was still about .2 away from my car (and since I had cut my workout run short earlier in the week), I kept going to make it 8.21 miles total.

This was easily my best run since the race. After Tuesday, I really needed a run like this.

Next week, I’ve got a race on Thanksgiving, the Trophy Trot 10K. It’s named after Trophy Brewing, so at least I know they won’t be serving Michelob Ultra after the race. After New York City, I’ve got some motivation to do well in this race. It’s going to be kind of cold, 36 degrees is the forecast as I write this, but I once ran a 10K when it was 20 degrees. I can take it.

Oh, and speaking of New York City there’s a small chance my race recap will be done early this week. But don’t hold your breath.

Monthly Wrap-Up: October 2017

If I had time to write this on November 1 (or any other day before NYC), it might be a little more upbeat. I’ll try to put on a happy face, because, with one notable exception, October went pretty well, even if conditions were a little less than ideal for most of the month.

October 2017
Total Mileage:
 168.26 miles
Average Pace: 11:39/mile
Number of Runs: 22
Last Month (September 2017): 191.23 miles
Last Year (October 2016): 181.28 miles
Races: None

Total Mileage for 2017 (through October 31): 1,472.32 miles

My taper started after my run on the 14th, so it took up the majority of the month. I’m slightly impressed that I was still able to get over 168 miles.

Also, in 2016, October 1 was a Saturday, so I had an extra long run last year, and that explains the lower mileage this year.

There’s not much change for my goals.

Goal 1: 1500 miles

At the end of October, I was 27.68 miles from my goal. Had I finished my marathon, I would have met this goal. I’ll still get it, a little later than I planned, but barring a disaster, it’ll be in November. Still fairly impressive.

Goal 2: 6 races, with 2 that are 13.1 or greater
Goal 3: A PR in 3 different races

So, technically, I was still on track for these goals at the end of October. I signed up for a 10K on Thanksgiving which would have been race #6, and I just had to either PR there or in New York City. Now, with my DNF in New York City, the only way I can get Goal 2 is to sign up for a half in December, because I need a new 6th race, and a 2nd that’s 13.1 or greater. I’m thinking about it.

I have a pretty good shot at a PR in my 10K. Since the goal just says 3 different races, it counts if I get two 10K PRs.

The non-specific goals are still the same as September. I’m getting a little bit of exercise, but my training schedule only allows one day a week with exercise. I’m still not sure if it should count towards my goal, but I’m foam rolling twice each week. Even if it doesn’t count, it works. I’m got the slow easy run thing down pat. Cooking, better eating, and more blogging aren’t happening, though.

Best Runs:
October 10, 8.01 miles, 11:01/mile
October 31, 6.01 miles, 11:17/mile

Yes, I had two runs that deserve the honor this month.

October 10 mainly gets it for degree of difficulty. 73 degrees and 100% humidity at 5:47 AM on October 10? Go home, Mother Nature, you’re drunk. I was supposed to run each mile at 11:10 (I mistakenly thought my goal was 11:15). In those conditions, I went out thinking I’d be lucky to hit 11:30. After I ran the first mile in 11:11, I realized I could do it. I somehow managed a 10:32 on the last mile. That’s insane.

October 31 was just an amazing run that will eventually get its own write up. It was the first run in a long time where I just enjoyed being out there running, and that’s a great feeling.

My October 14 run deserves a shout out, because it was 20 freaking miles. 20.02 miles, to be exact. Sadly, that will make it my longest run of 2017. Sigh. Also, it capped off a 48 mile week, which also deserves a shout out.

Worst Run: October 7: 10.01 miles, 13:27/mile

No exaggeration, this is isn’t just the worst run of October, it’s one of the worst runs I’ve ever had. The only run that was demonstrably worse was the one where I lost my car key. I had stomach issues, and instead of 18 miles, I could only make it 10. (Yeah, I see the parallels between this run and NYC, and I don’t like it.)

If there’s a silver lining, there’s no other run from October that comes close to being in the running for the worst. Maybe a few runs were meh, but none that were even slightly bad.

This is the part where I would look ahead to the next month. Well, as I write this on November 13(!), I’ve already had a DNF in New York City. I do have the Trophy Trot 10K on Thanksgiving to look forward to, which has gone from, “Hey, let’s go out there and have some fun” to “I must crush this race.” I’ll also finally get some cooler temperatures. (Spoiler alert: I’ve already seen some of those cooler temperatures.)

Weekly Wrap-Up: November 6-12

This just in: Getting a DNF in New York City still sucks. Also, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

It was my lowest mileage week since 2014, but I got some mileage in.

Since I don’t have much else to talk about this week, I do want to give a shout out to the Charlotte Marathon. The race was yesterday. The last time I ran the half, it was still called Thunder Road, it was 2014, and it was a pretty good day for me. In my race recap, I ranted that they served Michelob Ultra after the race, which is not good (opinion) and not local (fact). Well, I have to give credit where credit is due. This year, they had beer from NoDa Brewing. Specifically, they had special purple cans of their CAVU blonde ale (which normally comes in sky blue cans, because CAVU is an acronym that pilots use, and stands for Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited). It’s not my favorite NoDa beer (I’m just not a fan of blonde ales. I find them drinkable, but they don’t do anything for me), but it’s definitely local, and still better than Michelob Ultra (admittedly a low bar to clear).

Weight Check: 166.0 pounds, down 1.4 from my last weigh in. That covers 9 days. I carb loaded before the race, only ran 11+ miles (but got sick and didn’t eat much the rest of the day), ate a ton Monday when I got together with family, and once I got back, I sort of buckled down. I only had Mountain Dew once. I actually had ginger ale a couple of times. It’s still got a little bit of sugar for a quick energy boost when I need it, but it doesn’t have caffeine, so, in theory, it’ll have less affect on my sleep. Hopefully I can do well this week, because Thanksgiving is coming up fast.

This Week’s Run
Day Total Miles
Saturday 3.11

Total: 3.11 miles

Well, that was pretty simple.

As far as my recovery goes, the stomach bug cleared up quickly. I felt fine on Monday, and ate normal food again. (I didn’t mention it in my last write-up, but I ended up eating saltines and drinking ginger ale after the race. I’d much rather be eating a cheeseburger and drinking a beer.) My legs felt a little bit stiff on Monday, because I still got through 11+ miles in New York City, and that included the Verrazano Bridge, which is a fairly steep climb (and then downhill). In all the “excitement” on Sunday, I forgot to foam roll, so that didn’t help.

My coach said in an e-mail that I should take a few days off from running, so I did.

Thursday, I did drive over to the Y and walked on a treadmill for 2 miles. It was 47 degrees and raining, which I might have run in, but for walking, I wanted to stay inside. The treadmill is still mentally excruciating even when I’m just walking.

I spoke to my coach on Friday, and she gave me the green light for a run on Saturday. Also, she had written up a recovery plan for the rest of November, and while my original plan was to just have fun at the Trophy Trot 10K on Thanksgiving, now I want to crush it, so she tweaked the next two weeks to hopefully make that possible.

Anyway, I went out on Saturday for the first time since New York.

It’s hard to describe how my legs felt. I guess they just felt out of practice. The weather felt colder than 36 degrees because of the wind and the low humidity, but at least the sun was out.

I forgot to switch my Garmin back to automatic laps (I did manual laps in NYC because GPS is flaky and the miles on the course are clearly marked), so I don’t have a breakdown of each mile. I tried to take it easy, except for a little push near the end. Between the long layoff and the weather, I felt like a 5K was the right distance.

I may not have felt great, and the weather wasn’t all that nice, but it was good to be back out there.

Next week, I have a workout on Tuesday, a “long” run of 8 miles next Saturday, and a few shorter runs the rest of the week. I’ve got my October wrap-up ready to post, then I just need to write up New York City and that Halloween run.

Weekly Wrap-Up: October 30-November 5

I’m doing better than I expected. It still sucks, though.

I will eventually do a write-up of my run from Halloween, but I don’t know when. I’ll probably get the October Wrap-Up posted next week, since I have another weekly wrap-up coming on Sunday. And, oh yeah, I still have to do a Race Report for New York City, even if I didn’t finish. Maybe I’ll get it done in March.

Weight Check: 167.4 pounds, up 0.2 from the previous week. I did my official weigh-in Friday morning before my final 3.1 mile run. I did weigh myself after that run and got down to 166.9. It’s a blur now, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t cut back on the Mountain Dew like I should have. I guess my weight is one thing I can work on for next year.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 5 miles easy 5.01
Tuesday 2 miles easy, 3 miles at marathon pace (10:50-11:10/mile), 1 mile easy 6.01
Wednesday 4 miles easy 4.01
Friday 3 miles easy 3.11
Sunday 2017 New York City Marathon 11.72 (DNF)

Total: 29.86 miles

On Monday, it was cold, 35 degrees, but I didn’t mind. My legs felt pretty decent. I started out a little fast due to the cold, but slowed down and ended up with a reasonable average pace on the first mile. I managed to increase my pace just a little bit on each mile, but I didn’t really increase the effort until the very end. I’ll take it.

Tuesday was a really great run that’s going to get a full write up at some point.

On Wednesday, the weather was still pretty nice, 46 degrees. I felt a very small amount of fatigue in a couple of random spots, but I think I only noticed it because I was paying close attention to how my legs were feeling. It wasn’t enough to slow me down, though. I kept the effort easy except for the last quarter mile, and got faster on each mile. Not a bad little run.

Friday was my last training run. The weather was nice, cool enough that I didn’t really notice the humidity. (I commented at the time that I wished I could take this weather with me to New York. That’s something I never thought I’d say.) My legs felt fine, nice and tapered. I added a little extra to make it a 5K. I kept the effort mostly easy, except for the very end when I sped up.

I’m going to have a full write up of Sunday, of course. It won’t be as happy as the write up for Tuesday’s run.

Yet another thing that sucks about my DNF: I’m at 1,1491.8 miles for 2017. So close to my goal of 1500 miles.

As I write this, I haven’t run at all since New York City. I’ll be talking to my coach this evening, and I hope she’ll give me the green light for a run this weekend. But more about that in my next weekly wrap-up.

DNF

I’ve completed 29 races. Number 30 will have to wait. I got sick and had to drop out of the New York City Marathon just before the 12 mile mark. As far as I can tell, it was a stomach bug. I felt fine until around mile 4, then things got progressively worse. I ended up walking most of the last 2 miles. stopping at a medical tent. I’ll still do a race report with a few more details.

It sucks. There’s just no other way to say it. 4 months of training, gone.

I suppose I’m hanging in there mentally. Physically, I’m fine. My stomach recovered completely, and I got to visit my cousins on Monday. It kind of sucked having to tell the story of my Sunday multiple times, though.

I really thought the 2017 New York City Marathon would be my last. My plan was to go out there, leave everything on the course, and hopefully finish in under 5 hours, but if not, I’d have to accept that I threw everything I had at the marathon. Now? There’s no way in hell I’m going out like that.

I’ll enter the lottery in 2018. Maybe I can get in and cross the finish line next year. Maybe 2019. Maybe later than that. I just know that I will cross the finish line in Central Park one more time.

Final Thoughts Before NYC 2017

It’s 3 days until the New York City Marathon, and I’m not happy with the current forecast. I might get rained on. Not cool. Also, it’s probably going to be in the lower 60s, and if it’s not raining, it’ll be humid.. Well, I guess I trained in worse weather in August (and even my 48 mile week in October).

My bib number is 68588 if you want to track me. If you want to watch a bunch of people who are way faster than me, the race is on ESPN2. Coverage starts at 9 AM. The professional women start at 9:20, and the professional men start with Wave 1 at 9:50. I don’t start until 11:00.

On an unrelated note, I’m going to have a blog post next week about my run on Tuesday. It was a very good run, and I think there’s a good story there. (Whether I can tell that story well remains to be seen.) My goal is to write it down (in longhand!) while I’m in NYC before the race, since I don’t want to be influenced by the results of the race.

So what am I thinking right now?

I’m a little nervous, partly due to the uncertain weather, but mostly due to the fact that it’s 26.2 freaking miles. And yet, I feel like there’s this determination deep down inside. I know what my goal is: finish in 4:59:59 or better.

I can’t remember if I’ve said it before, and I’m sure it’ll come up when I write my race recap, but there’s a very good chance that this will be my last marathon. It’s very possible that this will be my last chance to break 5 hours. I know that physically, I’m in better shape than 2016, and mentally, I’m in better shape than 2015. It’s been a tough training cycle, even if there haven’t been any disruptive events, like going out of town for a funeral the week before my 20 miler in 2015, or having to cut short a 20 miler due to toe pain like in 2016.

Physically, I feel pretty good right now. Tapering works. Throughout my training, I definitely felt fatigue, but there were very few aches and pains along the way. Progress? I hope so.

All I have to do is stay dry on the outside, stay hydrated on the inside, soak up lots of energy from the crowd (I have no doubt that they’ll be great no matter what the weather brings), leave it all out there on the course, and hopefully, cross the finish line with no regrets.

Weekly Wrap-Up: October 23-29

OK, just 7 days left until the New York City Marathon and it’s really starting to hit me.

Running was better this past week. Once again, with the notable exception of Monday, the weather was really nice. My legs seem to be embracing the taper.

Weight Check: 167.2, up 2.1 pounds from last week. Ouch. Yeah, I’m still eating like the taper hasn’t started yet. Hopefully I can buckle down this week and maybe shave off a pound or two before the race.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 5 miles easy 5.02
Tuesday 1 mile warm up, 2 x 3 miles at marathon pace (10:50-11:10/mile) with 5 minutes easy in between, 1/2 mile cool down until I hit 8 miles 8.01
Wednesday 4 miles easy 4.01
Friday 4 miles easy 4.01
Saturday 10 mile long run 10.01

Total: 31.06 miles

Back in the spring, a 31 mile week would have seemed respectable. Now, it’s tapering. Marathon training is serious. (It has to be.)

Monday was one last warm and humid morning. It started to drizzle during mile 3 and that actually felt good, but then it stopped. I’m glad I’m tapering, so I only had to be out there for 5 miles instead or 6 or 7. My legs were still kind of tired from Saturday’s run. It wasn’t much fun, but I got through it.

On Tuesday, the weather was much nicer, cool enough that I didn’t really notice the humidity. My legs felt fine. I hit my pace goals and improved my pace on each mile of the intervals. I was pretty happy with this workout.

Wednesday, it was nice, cool weather. My legs felt OK. I got faster on each mile. It was weird only running 4 miles, though.

On Friday, the weather was excellent again. My legs felt pretty good. Tapering helps. I didn’t push the effort really, but the combination of rest and cooler temperatures resulted in a faster pace. I think I did subconsciously slow down a little on mile 3 after I saw 11:01 for mile 2 and thought that’s probably a little faster than I should be running. Still, I was pretty happy overall.

Saturday warmed up a little bit, but was it still pretty nice weather, cool enough that I didn’t notice the humidity, and there was an occasional breeze. My legs were a little bit more tired than I expected. I’ve experienced far worse, of course, but like I said, it was unexpected. Also, it seemed to come and go, it was worse early, then faded for a while, then came back, and I think that probably explains the changes in my pace during the run. I think my pace was still in about the right range for an easy run, even if it wasn’t as consistent as I’d like. I kept the effort easy except for the last mile.

Somehow I forgot to have a Gu even though I had one in my pocket the whole time. (I won’t forget about my Gu next week.)

Speaking of next week…

So, this is it. I still have a marathon pace run on Tuesday, plus some shorter runs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I might get my October review up this week, but most likely I’ll save it until after the race. I do want to put up a post with my final thoughts before the race.

Oh yeah, and I’m pretty sure next week’s wrap-up will be a little late.

Weekly Wrap-Up: October 16-22

Fall finally arrived on Tuesday. I just had to get through a lot of rain on Monday. My newest shoes (my 4th pair of Adrenaline 17s) got baptized.

Oh, I signed up for my next race after New York City, the Trophy Trot 10K in Raleigh on Thanksgiving. It looks like I’ll be the only one running, while the rest of my family will be drinking, as the race gets its name from Trophy Brewing. I’ll join in after the race, of course.

The taper is technically underway, although this week was still a decent amount of mileage.

Weight Check: 165.1 pounds, down 0.6 from last week. Slightly fewer miles in weather that won’t make me sweat as much, and I still had a small loss. I’ll gladly take it. I did manage one day with no Mountain Dew, so there’s that.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 6 miles easy 6.01
Tuesday Tempo Run, 2 miles easy, 2 x 2 miles at half marathon pace (9:40-9:50/mile) with 3 minutes in between, then easy running until I hit 7 miles 7.01
Wednesday 6 miles easy 6.01
Friday 5 miles easy 5.01
Saturday 16 mile long run, first 10 miles at an easy pace, last 6 miles at marathon pace (11:00-11:15/mile) 16.01

Total: 40.05 miles

Monday was very wet. I was way overdue for a run in the rain. It started out pretty heavy, then it eased up a little after about the first mile, but it never stopped. My legs were pretty tired, which I expected after last week’s 20 miler. I think I ran the fastest during the first mile because that’s when the rain was the heaviest and I subconsciously sped up. Other than that, I kept the effort easy until my usual push near the end. It wasn’t the most fun I’ve had while running, but I survived. Also, I’m thankful for the taper, because my Monday runs had been 7 miles for the past couple of months, and I’m glad I only had to deal with the rain for 6 miles instead of 7.

Like I mentioned above, Tuesday finally felt like fall. 48 degrees and low humidity. It felt amazing. My legs weren’t quite 100%, but they were good enough. I managed to increase my pace on each mile of the intervals, and I was under my goal pace on each one.

Wednesday was 30 degrees cooler than last week, just 43. I had to break out one of my long sleeved shirts for the first time since…April? Maybe even March? Anyway, my legs were a little tired from the previous day’s workout, and I really felt it on the uphills. My pace seemed a little inconsistent, but overall, a pretty good run.

On Friday, I had more great weather, 44 degrees. My legs felt decent. I’m not sure what happened on mile 3, which was a little slow, but otherwise, a good solid run with a slightly better pace at the end.

And Saturday, I went out there and crushed it.

The weather was really nice at the beginning (47 degrees), but it did warm up. Still, it was a welcome change to do most of my long run while it was under 60 degrees. Anyway, my legs felt decent, although they got pretty tired near the end.

I had no stomach issues. I had Gu at around 4, 8, and 12 miles.

The first 10 miles were pretty good. I was maybe a little faster on mile 2 than I should have been, but otherwise, my pace was decent. The two slowest miles were the ones when I stopped for Gu, and I squeezed in one extra water stop during mile 10 to get ready for the last part.

I was really happy with the last 6 miles. The slowest mile was the one where I stopped for Gu, and I still hit my goal pace (actual time for that mile was 11:14.7). And my last mile was the fastest, 10:19.

The weather made a huge difference this week, but I’m still happy with my runs.

Next week, the taper really kicks in, with only a 10 mile long run, but I still have an 8 mile workout run that’s mostly at marathon pace.

Weekly Wrap-Up: October 9-15

The New York City Marathon is three weeks from today. A lot can happen in those three weeks, and a lot can happen on race day. I still don’t know how it will go. What I do know is that, if I cross the finish line and beat my goal, I can look back on this week, and say, “That’s when I earned it.”

Weight Check: 165.7 pounds, down 1.5 from last week. It’s mostly due to the miles, but I’ll take it. As usual, I need to cut back on the Mountain Dew (especially since my mileage is about to drop), but other than that, I guess my diet isn’t too terrible.

This Week’s Runs
Day Scheduled Total Miles
Monday 7 miles easy 7.01
Tuesday 8 miles at marathon pace (10:50-11:10/mile), using the first mile to ease into pace 8.01
Wednesday 7 miles easy 7.01
Friday 6 miles easy 6.01
Saturday 20 mile long run 20.02

Total: 48.06 miles

Normally, I’d just cut and paste the comments that I put out there for my coach (and I’m doing that for Wednesday and Friday, since they were pretty uneventful), but there’s a story here.

We got hit with an October heat wave at the beginning of the week. The afternoon temperatures were pretty warm, but the worst part was the morning temperatures. For four days (Monday through Thursday) we set a record for the highest recorded low temperature. And since I run in the morning, that meant that I got to experience those low temperatures that weren’t really low.

Monday was 75 degrees with 90% humidity. On October 9 at 6:53 AM. And I was coming off one of my worst runs ever last Saturday. But first, a little background.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but one of the things I do during my neighborhood runs to occupy my mind is to look out for the neighborhood cats. There are several that I almost feel like I know from seeing them in their front yards watching me run by.

Also, I don’t remember the exact day that it happened, but about two weeks ago when I was out running, I noticed this black pickup truck with an Irish flag license plate driving around. I saw him several times during my run, which I thought was odd. Near the end of my run, the driver flagged me down and asked if I had seen a black cat. So that explained why I had seen him so many times, he had been driving around trying to find his cat. Luckily, on this day, I remembered seeing a black cat where I hadn’t seen one before. I wasn’t 100% that it was the cat he was looking for, since black cats are pretty common, but I gave him directions to where I saw this one. Since it was near the end of my run, I kind of forgot about it.

Well, I went out there Monday, and even though my long run last Saturday was a lot shorter than planned, it didn’t seem to help my legs. And the weather was just brutal. I slogged through two miles, and was really starting to question everything.

Then I saw the pickup truck with the Irish flag license plate, and the driver flagged me down again. He said that he had been looking for me, because he had found his cat, and he wanted to say thanks.

That was exactly the boost that I needed. The rest of my run was still hot, and it was slow, but it was just a little less miserable.

Tuesday was 73 degrees with 100% humidity. And I was supposed to run 8 miles at my goal marathon pace. I wasn’t really sure that was possible in those conditions, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I should mention that, for some reason, I had 11:15/mile in my head as my goal pace.

I got to the end of the first mile, and I saw my time: 11:11. At that point, I thought, “Hey, maybe I can do this.” I kept pushing. I had left a water bottle outside in front of my house, and I stopped for a drink during mile 4, which ended up being 11:18. Every other mile was under 11:10 (you know, my actual goal pace), and the very last mile was my fastest, 10:32.

I’m kind of glad that I thought my goal pace was 11:15, because thinking that I beat my goal pace by 4 seconds on the first mile gave me a huge mental boost. Granted, if I thought (correctly) that I missed it by 1 second, I don’t think it would have crushed me, but still. And I know I can’t do anything like that on race day. 11:26/mile is the pace I need for a sub-5 hour marathon. That number is burned into my brain, and no amount of mental gymnastics will trick my mind into thinking it’s anything else.

I still can’t believe I did that in those conditions. (Side note: It’s good to have what in all likelihood will be the month’s Best Run on the 10th.)

Wednesday’s weather was even worse, 74 degrees with 100% humidity. My legs didn’t feel great, but I expected them to feel worse after Tuesday. It wasn’t a great run, but I survived.

On Friday, it finally started to cool off a little bit, and it was only 68 degrees. (That’s still way too warm for 7:19 AM on October 13.) The humidity was 100%, but it felt worse because it had rained during the night and everything was still wet. My legs felt meh at first, but they got a little better as I went along. I kept the effort “easy” until the end. I survived.

So, Saturday. This would normally be a pretty important run, since it’s my last 20 mile run. After last Saturday’s disaster, I had to make sure I could get through this run, and I had to make sure I didn’t have any stomach issues.

I had discussed last week’s run with my coach, and the best theory we could come up with was that I needed to leave a little more time between my pre-run snack and the start of my run. So when I got up Saturday morning, I ate first, then worried about getting dressed and gathering all my stuff. I finished my snack right around 6:35 AM. My run started at 8:05 AM, so I had right around a 90 minute gap, while the previous Saturday, it had been closer to an hour. (Also, I know that on race day, I’ll probably finish my pre-race snacks around 9:30 AM or so, and my race will start at 11, so 90 minutes is pretty close to what will happen before the marathon.)

It was 64 degrees and about 90% humidity. Not ideal, but compared to the weather at the beginning of the week, I couldn’t complain too much.

As I started, I paid very close attention to my stomach. I’m sure there were a couple of spots where I thought I felt something, but during a normal run, I wouldn’t have noticed. I did get a side stitch at one point, which is definitely different than what I experienced a week ago. I applied a little bit of pressure, and it went away fairly quickly.

By the halfway point, I felt like I was in the clear, stomach-wise. Now I just had to get my legs through the rest of the run.

It wasn’t easy. Around the 16 mile mark, my legs started feeling really tired. I kept plugging along, though. I managed to not take any walk breaks except whenever I stopped for water. My pace was pretty slow for those last few miles, but I managed to speed up just a little on the last mile.

At the end, more than anything else, I was relieved. I made it through 20 miles in less than ideal weather with no stomach issues. Whew.

Also, this run put my 2nd pair of Brooks Adrenaline 17s up to 403.8 miles, so it was their last run before retirement. They went out with a bang. They got me through the Teal Diva 5(ish)K, they made the trips to both Connecticut and Portland, and they got me through two 20 mile runs.

Finally, this run put me over 6,000 miles in my running career. I didn’t think it was worth a full post like 5,000 was, and I didn’t take a picture, but it’s still a milestone.

And now, my taper begins. I still have a 7 mile tempo run and a 16 mile long run next week, but I’ll only end up with 40 miles total. Also, it’s supposed to finally cool off. I’ll believe it when I see it.