LONG RUN: NEW YORK CITY MARATHON

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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Sometimes you just get lucky.  That could basically serve at my New York City Marathon race recap.

Leading up to the race I had a few things going in my favor.  Namely:

  • A late race start and rolling the clocks back an hour meant that I actually slept eight hours the night before the race. I’m fairly certain this is the first time I’ve ever done this.
  • I hydrated well the week before.
  • I watched my nutrition the week before.
  • I stayed off my feet on Sunday.
  • I stayed warm at the race start by wearing an embarrassing amount of layers. Shivering = wasted energy.
  • I started out really conservatively and didn’t pick up the pace until after mile 20.
  • There were water stations every mile and I took advantage of every one of them.
  • And most importantly, I (am not ashamed to admit that I) downloaded the new Taylor Swift album the night before the race and told myself that I could listen to it once I got to mile 18. Pre-determined head game.

There were, however, two very significant factors that I thought would all but guarantee a terrible race:

  • I went in to a marathon completely undertrained. One should never, ever do this.
  • The weather. Twenty mile an hour headwind for the majority of the course; gusts that topped 50 mph.

I lined up at Fort Wadsworth nearly certain of what the day would hold:  a few fun miles at the beginning and then an irreversible, very painful downward spiral on the second half of the course.  The only question was exactly when things would get miserable.  Being underprepared, I feared that things might get bad by mile 13.  So, I went out really conservatively.  I incorporated walking from the beginning and watched my hydration and nutrition very closely.  At mile 20 I was still feeling good, so I picked up the pace and ran it in.  I have never felt good at mile 20; I was absolutely shocked.

That’s part of what keeps us coming back to the marathon, isn’t it?  The unpredictability, the unknown, the uncertainty.  It’s the convergence of what my body brings on a race day and what those 26.2 miles demand.  It’s an intersection that requires an offering up of our whole selves; it tests our resolve and our ability to endure.  It allows us to push ourselves to the edge and see what remains.  It affords us the rare opportunity of running right through our own doubts.  Every now and then, the stars align and that intersection is magic revealing reserves of strength that we didn’t even know we had.

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