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Full NEW YORK Marathon Report
NEW YORK MARATHON REPORT Ė 5th November 2017
My 6th full 42.2km Marathon and the first for 1 whole year after serious injury nearly ended my marathon running days on 2 occasions. The first a twin stress Ankle fracture and splintered fibia bone (which still is haunting me) and torn abductors, suspected fractured lower pelvis and hip socket labial tears to cartlidge from the femur hitting pelvis and ripping it out during a car incident on the pavenment. That along with some serious illness since September led to an interesting recovery plan and fast tracked training in just under 3 months. This was yet another continent conquered after Oceania (New Zealand) 2015, Asia (Cambodia) 2016 and now North America (USA) 2017. Europe (London) is 2018 and then either South America or Africa in 2019 and 2020. Finally, 2021 should bring Antartica and a nice cruise to boot to see the wildlife before running the marathon in the 7th main continent and add myself to the list of people who have run every continent. This was also the first of seven planned marathons between 5th November 2017 to 30th October 2018 and the first of 2 run in a week with Las Vegas a week later.
Had a pretty poor night sleep which is normal as you are always wondering about if the clock alarm does not go off so every time youíre wake up you check it which is about every 20 minutes. Anyway, woke up properly at 4.37am which was earlier than the 5am alarm clock I set. I am not an early person so anything south of 8am is horrible. By rights I should still be asleep for another 3 hours 23 minutes. Slowly got myself ready and Ďforcedí four energy balls down and a heap of water then strolled out the door by 5.15am on the way to find the bus which was meant to leave at 6am for my running Wave 1 from New York Library where Ghostbusters was filmed.
THE BUS TO START
Found the queue and waited for ages and eventually got on at 6.33am after queuing for over 1km. Unfortunately, people were taking buses which us first wave people were meant to be on when they were down for later buses as they had later starts. Police presents was very high but they did not police the queues, just made sure we stayed in them as the bus allocation was the Marathons responsibility.
The bus took us to lower Manhattan and under the water to Brooklyn and then along motorway over Staten Island Bridge where we start from.
START WAVES & CORRALS
There are 4 waves plus a wave for professional women runners and disabled participants. They went off at 8.40am and the start cannon frightened everyone as we were all on our toes thinking it was a bomb. There was seriously heavy security and police and army presence because of the previous few days terrorist attack. The professional women went off at 9.20am. Next up was professional men and 6 corrals (groups) of runners behind them in order of expected finish time that would set off at 9.50am. I was in this first wave as my aim time when I applied before injury was 3.29 hours. I was corral F at the back of wave 1. Wave 2 was to start at 10.15am, wave 3 at 10.45am and the final wave for very slow runners and walkers at 11.15am. The waves are designed to stop clustering and tail backs.
I chose the perfect start wave as I always start off reasonably quick and the 3.25 hour pace runner only passed me at around 32km. I find it hard to trust going out slow and keep the same pace the whole way through. My theory is go out fast and bank the fast minutes for when you slow down at the end. I think I proved it works with this New York Marathon compared to Auckland as times were similar within 4 minutes and Auckland was very fast start and this one slower but not too slow. I did however find I only clocked 2 poor times in the 6 minute range for 2 kmís but they were near the end on some stupid hills. More on that later.
THE START Ė New York Borough Number 1 Ė STATEN ISLAND
Next up before the start after my normal toilet break was the Mayor of someone special doing a talk about the terrorist attack and a minuteís silence for the 8 people who lost their lives earlier in the week. Then someone singing the national anthem and a fly over of helicopters in formation. Finally, the start and New York New York by frank Sinatra played whilst the cannons boomed for the start. 4.14 minutes later I managed to get over the start line for the first wave. Now considering nearly 51,000 people were going to run, I imagine about 14,000 started the first wave which was split into 3 groups. 2 groups either side of the top of the bridge motorway and 1 below on the underside and probably nearly 5,000 in each group. These 3 groups would run separately until well after the Staten Island Bridge and into Brooklyn where they would merge but by then most of the first wave runners would have hit pace and merge at exactly the same gun time and km.
The first 1.6km is up hill and I trained for a few weeks running up a huge hill at the start of my runs so the bridge was no problem. It became apparent though people put seriously fake times on their entry to get a good wave and start as great big fat people were on the down side from the bridge by the time I caught them and must have gone off near the front. They were shattered by the time I passed them. Now technically I was and wasnít in the right wave. I ran the first 35kmís almost at the correct pace for that wave and blew out so donít think I can be classed as a fake as only had 7kms to go before hitting the wall.
In the distance looking from Staten Island Bridge was Manhattan and it was the first time I actually could see how far a marathon was in a straight line as the bird flies and it was scary. Normally they double back on themselves and in and out of places but this one was in a reasonably straight line for the first 32kms from Staten Island, Brooklyn Queens, Manhattan and The Bronx before doubling back into Manhattan going through Harlem and along Central Park before doubling back up the other side of Central Park 1km.
3.6kmís - Borough Number 2 Ė BROOKLYN Ė The Beard Comments!
Now the toilet break before hand was not ideal as only had 1 wee and drank a lot and although I felt ok, I saw a few chaps having a whizz at the bottom of the bridge so thought better to do it now than run needing it for the next 3 and a half hours or so. Like all the other blokes, I didnít care who saw as just needed this quick pit stop which took about 30 to 45 seconds. Normally I have a shy bladder and like a cubicle to have a wee but the clock was ticking and it definitely was not shy today! Washed my hands? Cause not, I had running gloves on as it was coldish ?? whoops.
Off the bridge and into Brooklyn and a wall of noise as the roads were packed with people cheering us on. I decided this race not to wear headphones and listen to music and most of the way it paid off as it was nice to hear the comments. ĎFear the Beard, Beard Man, Wow that Beard, Love the Beard, Go Beardieí, plus heaps of other comments range out the entire course which made me get that extra energy to run which is needed. Cheering people, comments, people sponsoring you for charity really help more than you would know if you donít run. I gives you a reason for that moment and then when you are on your own you think about the people you would let down who sponsored you if you donít put in 100% effort and then there is the reason you are raising money to think about and in this case it was my mum who is going through incurable cancer and has to put up with all sorts so if she can power through that, I can power through a marathon.
There were kids and adults and firemen and police and every other man and his dog. They had horns, clangers, pots and pans and big spoons smashing the hell out of anything that made a noise and bands playing all sorts of music and music blearing out etc etc. I was well received in Brooklyn and very friendly. This was a big chunk of the course and left Brooklyn about halfway at 21.1km or 22kmís. It was reasonably flat with a few long gentle inclines and a few notable jews and silly women with pushchairs playing chicken with the runners. One lady with a pushchair nearly took me out as she ran zigzagged through the runners to the other side (why did the women cross the road? Cause she was a bloody idiot!!!!). The damage that could have caused, especially to me would have be massive as I have only just got back to running after avoiding 1 idiot.
Now to the Jews. Must have been a Jewish area as there were Jews all dressed up running up and down the road everywhere trying to get to the synagogues and a few where running across runners as well and 1 old chap nearly took a whole heap of runners out. The younger ones were quicker and dodged runners a bit better. To be honest, in all of Brooklyn that was the quietest and probably nicest part of Brooklyn although it was all pretty nice and friendly and the people there brilliant.
22kmís - Borough Number 3 Ė QUEENS Ė That Bridge!!!
Into Queens we went after running over a small bridge and a short run through the streets before heading out to Manhattan. People again very friendly and vocal and the beard comments kept coming. As it happened, the beard comments slowed me down because I decided to run wide all of the time for two reasons. The first was to avoid injury as everyone cuts corners or runs on the inside and you get tripped or heals caught and I was doing my best to stay injury free so a good reason to run on my own on the outside of pretty much all corners. Some very wide as shown in my videos. The other reason was people loved the beard as I said so running wide on my own meant the crowd was much nearer to a sole runner and got the chance to shout what they wanted and it was all positive and aimed at me which in turn made my energy levels better so maybe countered the extra distance I ran which over 42.2km was substantial. I was running 2 GPS watches this time to stop the first once I hit 42.2km accurate to 1m supposedly and the other to the end and it showed a difference of 650 meters.
We hit Queensboro bridge at 25km and I have not run up such a long steep slow in my life. Auckland Bridge or Sydney Harbour Bridge probably is steeper but this was long and drawn out and at what is probably the point most people hit the wall. To be homest I was not sure when I hit the wall! I am not sure I hit it till about 32 or 35km which is very good. Maybe the slower pace did work. A lot of people struggled here and walked and seized up. You should never give in and if you need a walk do it with your legs doing a very slow run because walking uses different muscles and you seize almost straight away. Also people donít train properly. I study the course for each marathon and train accordingly and now donít seize even after 30km but would not like to try it. The Queensboro bridge did catch me out however for the sheer length it was at 25km and never being able to reproduce such a long incline in my condition after injury. It is ok at the start and up to 15kms but after that it was pushing me to much in training so concentrated on endurance and hoped it worked. It must have as I got through it without any poor times for the bridge.
26kmís - Borough Number 4 Ė MANHATTAN part 1 Ė 1st Avenue
Once off was on my way up first Avenue for miles and miles or kmís and kmís up and down more inclines and walls of noise. This was the part of the course they say donít go for it yet as there are still a lot of hills and inclines. I plodded along soaking up the atmosphere as we headed out towards The Bronx. Not a lot to report apart from people struggling to run at times due to cramps. This lead up to and just over the 30km mark. In Training I had run a blistering 30km in just over 2.30 hours but this time it wasnít to be. That day all the stars were aligned and I could easily have hit a sub 3.30 marathon but further illness affected my training and flowed through to this marathon for my times.
32.2kmís and 10km to go - Borough Number 5 Ė THE BRONX - ????
What can I say? Over the bridge and into the Bronx just like all the other boroughs. Good support but like Queens only a brief stay and looking forward to that last leg in Manhattan and the finish. Hit 32.2km which I did in training 3 weeks ago and over the last bridge to the 35km mark.
35kmís and counting down - MANHATTAN part 2 Ė Harlem and the more hills
Into Harlem and at this point I was trying to dig deep mentally as I wanted to walk. Not because I hit the wall but just because I was struggling with how long a marathon is, the recovery and the thought of running another one in a weeks time. To be honest I struggle to finish a lot of stuff at home as I get bored towards the end of projects and often leave them and move onto the next thing. The end of a long run or marathon is the same but I do finish them but that does not mean to say it is easy and have to switch into mind over matter mode and force those last kmís and tick them off as they pass by. I didnít get the camera out for Harlem as I needed to focus so that was a small price to pay but got me through it. Headed up 5th Avenue to Central Park and it was very hard work. This was a massive hill not unlike Queensboro bridge and long and drawn out. Here I passed runner after runner as they cramped up but experience prevailed and I got up it. It seems weird that Iíve only been running a few years but can class myself as an experienced marathon runner or at least an experienced amature marathon runner. I have now run a lot of different types of marathons so should get pretty good at reading them as I knock them off the list.
CENTRAL PARK AND HOME STRAIGHT
Central Park was a b&$%& !!! After conquering 5th Avenue hill, we entered Central Park and hit another hill. This time I was flying and got passed my 2 x dodgy 6 min 1 km pace pair of kmís and hit my stride up the hills and knocked off hundreds of runners. Going over the top and down hill I was hitting great pace in the low 5 minutes and thought a strong finish was on the cards. However, by the time I got to the last bend at Central Park leading home which was where my GPS said I had run 42.2km in 3.48.51 due to running so wide all the time, I was knackered and the ending seemed to go on forever and my pace dropped in the last 400m to something atrocious and blew out my official time. It was still a personal best official time and I also had the added knowledge I had run 42.2km in a sub 3.50 aim according to the GPS.
THE FINISH LINE
At this point I had no sprint left in me as I left it all out on the road in the last 3kmís and strolled across the finish line having completed the biggest marathon I will ever probably run in my life and a sense of massive achievement of overcoming such a shocking year of injury and illness and lack of training and in a personal best to boot. I got to prove it truly is mind over matter and that you can achieve anything you set your mind to and work hard for. I worked seriously hard for this one and trained like no other marathon I have done before it adapti.ng to the injury and pain. As things went, I had more aches and pains in other places than the hip which held up like a trooper with my tight compression pants and shorts holding it all together. Even the back and neck held up and the knees did pretty good as well. I had slight discomfort in my right foot arch for a few mid kmís but apart from that a pretty flawless race.
After the finish line they keep you walking as the worst thing to do is stop as you will seize up and be in big trouble. You get your medal which was great and then your silver foil warmer as it was coldish and after running to really get cold quite quickly. The your food bag gets given to you to eat and drink and then finally your special fleece lined pouncho if you did not select to check a bag in to be taken to the finish line.
Then it is find your wife time and 45 mins later met up under the big board with ĎCí plastered over it for Connor and anyone else with the surname starting in C.
We headed off to the Hard Rock Café after getting changed in the gear the wife brought with her for me to change into and with the best intentions tried to scoff a big burger but by the time it came out my stomach got upset and got very ill. We took it home to the hotel for the next day and I crashed out at 6pm with not much food in me. I had diarrhoea and sickness so would have loved to know how much I weighted after just burning off 2900 calories from the run and then a 5km walk home!
Next day I felt ok and managed a 18.5km walking which we also did the day after that as well, meaning over 5 days I covered 102km walking or running! More than ever in my life before or even training but things to do and see in the city that never sleeps.
My finish time on my GPS watch = 3:48:52 - my average pace per km was 5.25 mins
NOTE: I always take my time from my GPS watch which is acurate to about 1 metre because when I run the course, I run wider on corners to avoid getting tripped etc so at least getting tracked by GPS that is your real run distance. Official marathon distances are recorded using the shortest legal route.