This is part II of my 2010 New York Marathon race report. See The Good here.
- Camera snafu, Part 1 –I knew the batteries on my small camera were running low, so I included batteries on my shopping list and made sure to bring them with me in my beltpack. I had taken a test pic when I left the house to make sure the memory card was in there, and we were good to go. Or were we? On the way to the subway, I took a pic of the subway sign (To Staten Island Ferry, or whatever it said) and then another when I left the subway. When we arrived at the ferry station, I tried to take another pic and got a message telling me the internal memory card was full. Ex-squeeze me? So, use the external memory card… that isn’t there. SERIOUSLY?! Moment of panic. Am I really not going to have any pics of the race itself? Oh, noes! Then I spot the gift shop in the station and beeline for them, before the hordes of others coming off the boat. Yes, he has a memory card. Yes, it fits my camera. $17 please. OK, here’s that nifty credit card I jammed in my belt pack (not ATM card, credit card) – here ya go! What? Cash only? SERIOUSLY? OK, not a problem, I have cash… (start pulling out and counting bills).. Ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15…16… After paying for my subway ticket and my pre-race banana, I have $16 cash. Not $17. SERIOUSLY?! Thankfully the guy takes pity on me and takes my money, smiles and sends me on my way. Whew! Crisis averted.
- Camera snafu, Part 2 – So, I’m taking pics as we get on the ferry (although I did make time for a quick snooze – had to rest up, right?), and as we walked from the ferry to the buses, and once I got to the Runners’ Village, there were tons of photo ops. And then, the batteries died. No problem, I knew they were running low. So I pulled them out, put the ones I brought in and turned the camera back on… Nothing. At this point, the 10:10 wave had just started and they were about to let us into the corrals. But the stupid camera wasn’t working. I checked the batteries again, making sure I had them in the right way… Plus sign up, yes, plus sign up. Minus sign up, yes, minus sign up. Try again. NOTHING. GRRRR. So after spending all my money on a memory card I am still going to not have pics? SERIOUSLY?! Oy. So before I had a complete fit and tossed the camera away (not really, it’s practically brand-new, but you can imagine!), I thought, let me try one more time. Let’s flip the batteries around, just for grins & giggles. And whaddyaknow? Viola! It worked. The little plus and minus sign meant you put the plus or minus in first, not at the top! Doh! Um, that was a stupid way to do it, Kodak, just so you know, mkay? But, at least I had a working camera and a functioning memory card. So camera crisis #2 averted. Whew!
- Clothing – So, we all know about the Texas flag skirt, right? It’s gorgeous, and it was comfy and the first one John ordered for my birthday was just a smidge too tight (I blame the spandex in it and NOT my affinity for cheesecake). So I returned it and prayed that the right size would arrive in time for my trip. And it did, but not in time for me to wear it on a test-run. And, yes, I know. Rookie mistake. Don’t ever do anything for a marathon that you haven’t tried before on a long run. But, have you seen the skirt? It’s SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE! I HAD to wear the skirt. Had to. Even if I’d never worn it before marathon day. Even if it ended up that the larger size meant the legs on the boy shorts underneath were also larger and so they didn’t fit as snugly as I would have preferred. Even if it meant they rode up more than I would have liked once I started moving. Even if it meant that I spent the first six miles tugging at the right leg of the boy shorts underneath the awesome Texas flag skirt trying to make it stay put so it wouldn’t roll and wouldn’t chafe. Thank goodness for BodyGlide, because I ended up not having any trouble with chafing, but it was just really annoying fussing with those shorts for the first bit until I found a comfy position for them. And I’m sure Jared enjoyed watching me reaching under my skirt periodically while he ran behind me/beside me in those first few miles!! LMAO! Yeah, I will wear the skirt again, but only after a little tailoring to get the legs a little tighter – then they should be fine and good to go for any occasion!
- Fluids on course – The official course drink was Gatorade Endurance formula, Lemon-Lime. I am a fan of Lemon-Lime Gatorade. I use it often. I actually alternate between it and Blue Powerade (despite the fact that Blue is NOT a flavor!) and enjoy the old-school taste. But I have never used the Endurance formula, and even the regular stuff I typically water down in my bottles to about half-strength, with an added pinch of salt. And that’s what I had in my bottle. Except that I left the hotel without my extra throwaway water bottle, so on the subway trip, ferry ride and bus trip to the start, I had no fluids on me except my patented Gatorade/water mix. And I knew I needed to get fluids in me, so I drank some of that. I knew I could replenish my bottle at the stops, so I wasn’t worried about that at all. What I didn’t count on is that the Endurance formula was just too strong for me. It didn’t sit well with me after the race. Plus, it was mixed to a really strong concentration, so even when I watered it down it was still very sweet and it stuck to the back of my throat in a really nasty way, long after the race was done. Lesson learned – take extra water for pre-race, take two bottles of your own fluid mixed the way you like it for during the race, and supplement with plain water only during designated fuel stops. The thing is, I know this. I just slipped up when I walked out of the hotel without the extra water bottle. Doh.
- Timing/Coordination – Timing my food for the morning of this race was tricky. I had a clif bar and some water when I left the hotel as my breakfast, but knew that I was going to need my pre-race meal about an hour prior to the start. That worked out well, but it was dicey having to wait so long before I could actually start running. And I walked way more than I had hoped to, from the ferry station to the buses and then all through Runners’ Village, which was HUGE! So, while the logistics were really well-handled by the race coordinators – I cannot imagine the intricacies of getting 45,000 people to where they need to be in the space of four hours – I was unnerved by how it was all going to come together. The time actually went by pretty quickly, so I am glad it didn’t seem like four hours between the time I left the hotel and when I started to enter the corrals. The other thing that required more thought than I preferred for such a mundane task was timing my rest stops! I have never had to stop for a bio-break during a marathon. I typically hit the porta-potty right before the start (depending on lines, so I can be done about 20 minutes beforehand) and then my body just shuts down for the duration. But, the timing of this race and the fluids I had taken in before the race start, coupled with the very LONG wait in the corrals and at the foot of the bridge before the start, made a quick stop a necessity at about mile 8. I was lucky that by that time, there were no line, and I only lost a few minutes, but it was still a matter of timing and volume of the fluid intake prior to the race that even necessitated that stop. I know Jared jumped ahead of me by a few minutes during that pit-stop! And that brings me to the last “bad” part of the race for me…
- Porta-Potties – Yes, I know we all prefer indoor plumbing. But the porta-potty is a necessity for a situation like this, where you have 45,000 well-hyrdated athletes in one place at one time. And I know it must be a feat to gather as many as are needed for this event (I think the website said they use a total of 2300 for the whole race, about half of those at the start), much less make sure they are all clean and fresh. But seriously, eeew. I hate having to use one. Hate, hate, hate it. Let’s just say I’m very glad I carried my own baby wipes and hand sanitizer with me along the way & leave it at that, mkay? <
- Queensboro Bridge – I guess it’s a good thing that the first Ugly thing on my list doesn’t come up until Mile 15, huh? At the halfway point, on the small bridge from Brooklyn into Queens (forgive me for not knowing the official name), I was right on pace for a 5-hour finish, maybe with a little time to spare if I could negative split this. And I really felt like I could. I was feeling good, didn’t have any fatigue in my legs even to this point, and my nutrition and hydration were right on (hadn’t reached the point where I was gagging on the back of my throat from the Gatorade aftertaste yet). I had not been looking at my watch and I had been trying to ignore the clocks at each mile marker until then, because I didn’t want to get my hopes up, and more importantly, because I didn’t want to make myself go slower than I was capable of. There is no spoon, remember? So if a 10:30 felt comfortable, not too fast and not something I couldn’t maintain, then I wasn’t going to slow myself down to an 11:15 or 11:30 just because I thought I needed to. It was better if I just ignored the time and ran by feel, so as I hit my splits manually, I never rolled my sleeve up to look at the time for each. So when I saw the clock at the 13-mile marker, and adjusted for my start lag, I was feeling really good about my chances to hit the time goal. And then… the Queensboro Bridge. Going up the bridge was not a problem. Yes, I felt the slight incline. I could sense the combined groaning and reaching of everyone around me as we all struggled with the impact of the uphill onto the apex of the bridge. But I don’t feel like it slowed me down significantly – the uphill was not an issue for me. It might have slowed me a tad, but the effort was not particularly perceptible (my split for mile 16 was 11:50, so I guess it did slow me down). I do remember thinking, “just crest the top and then it’s downhill to Manhattan. You can do this.” But, I forgot about my knees. For some reason, I was feeling good enough at that point that I had forgotten about my knees and their aversion to the downhill. So while everyone else on that bridge was enjoying the free speed, and the little relief from no longer slogging uphill, I was starting to hurt on that ever-so-slight incline into Manhattan. With every step, my quads were pounding and the tops of my knees were starting to ache. And by “ache” I mean burn like there were pokers in them. Both knees. WTF?! And by the time I got off the bridge and made the turn into Manhattan, well, that’s when things got even uglier.
- First Avenue – first off, the crowds off First Avenue were epic! I loved it. So many people jammed onto both sides of the streets, ten people deep in some spots. It was greatness. And I am familiar with this stretch because when I first started working in Manhattan, I stayed up on 92nd & First, and would run down the Hudson to the bridge and then back up on 1st street. So I knew what the elevation was like. I enjoyed the elevation at the time – it was always a nice negative split to run the route like that. But with the knees already hurting, the 2 ½ mile downhill stretch was mucho no bueno. It was mucho, mucho, mucho no bueno. It was OMG, I’m hobbling make it stop hurting no bueno. Does it make me feel better that the bridge took out Haile Geb, too? Not really… OK, maybe a little. At least I wasn’t the only one who suffered on that damn bridge and paid for it even more on First Avenue.
|First Avenue toward the Bronx|
- The Medical Tent, Part 1 – So when I saw the medical tent somewhere between 16 and 18, I decided to stop and get my knees taped for the extra support. I knew it would take a few minutes out of my time for that split, but with the pain I was in, I also knew it would be worth it, a small price to pay if it meant I could get a few more pain-free (or at least pain-reduced) miles out of my knees. And it was worth it. I slowed the slow-down for the next miles (hearing my at-bat song helped about this time, too), and mentally, it gave me confidence that I could keep going a little longer. I have to give big kudos to the medical staff at this stop – I was in and out as quick as could be. They scanned my bib, sat me down and had me on my way in less than two minutes. Really, this section could be in the “Good” part, that the medical tent was so awesome. But it’s in the “Ugly” part because, really, who wants to be in the medical tent at all during a marathon? Not I, said the cat.
- The Bronx Bridges – There are two tiny little bridges leading into and out of the Bronx. Compared to Queensboro and Pulaski, they are barely blips on the radar. But by the time I got to them, even with the wraps on my knees, I was hurting really badly. And my times were slowing down. At Mile 20, my time goal was still well within my reach. I had about an hour and 12 minutes to go 10K. Totally doable. Even at a 12:00/mile pace. I had this. I was hurting, but I had this. At mile 21, I had exactly one hour to go five miles and change. I thought it might still be possible. Except that the last 1/8 of a mile before Mile 21 was an ever-so-slight downhill. And it killed me. I couldn’t keep running. I had to slow to a walk. And that’s when the wheels started to loosen. I knew I would finish – that was a foregone conclusion. But I also realized then that the 5:00 finish was not to be. I pulled a page from the quiz show handbook then and Phoned-a-Friend. She didn’t answer, and it was almost just as well, because I was kinda-sorta a mess by then. I was bawling and crying and saying things like, “I know I can do this, but I’m not going to get 5:00. I’m not going to get 5:00. Tell me it’s OK that I’m not going to get 5:00.” It was sad, and thinking back on it, a little funny, that I was so in need of someone to tell me that it was OK that I finish outside of a time goal that I had set for myself. Nobody else on this planet needed me to bring home a 4:XX. But I was just so frustrated at that point. I had done one or two of my patented primal screams going over the bridges before I made that call. I startled one or two people, but many more than that heard me and looked at me and understood. One guy said to me, “Yeah, that’s it, let it out. Let it out and keep moving.” They got it. They knew. The Bronx Bridges were not a good place for me.
- Watching it slip away – At mile 21, I had an hour left for five miles. I could do this. But at mile 22, with a 14-minute split, my window of opportunity was closing fast. And that was when, mentally, the wheels just fell off. Crap. There was no way I could do it. And when I crossed the Mile 23 sign and saw the official time as 5:32, I knew it was done. I can do a 30-minute 5K. But not with both knees taped. Not when it just took all I had to go the last mile out of the Bronx over those damn bridges. And that was so crushing. Then, to make matters worse…
- Getting Juked by Jared - At mile 23, I heard people cheering for him behind me, and even though I’d been walking for a while by then, it gave me enough of a boost that I ran for about a ¼ mile, thinking, “Oh, hells no, you are NOT getting in front of me now!” But after a bit, my knees gave in again and I believe they said, “Have a good run, Jared. Go for it,” and I slowed enough that he passed me. But I have to say, when he was behind me, he was hurting. I’ve seen that look on his face before, trust me. Congrats to him on a good run.
- The Crying – I swore up and down that I would NOT sit on the curb and cry this race. And I stuck to that. I did not sit on the curb and cry at any point in this race. I actually did not stop moving at any time during this race, except twice to stretch – once in Central Park after I saw my girls before we exited the park the first time, and again before Columbus Circle. But that is not to say that there was no crying. Oh, there was crying. But unlike in Fort Worth, where it was OMG-it-hurts-to-have-blisters-on-my-feet-and-my-hips-hurt-so-bad crying, this was angry crying. This was pissed off crying. This was crying mixed with rage. Ugly, hitching, frustrated, what-the-hell-is-it-going-to-take-it’s-not-supposed-to-be-like-this-again crying. And it was all done while I was lurching forward at a freaking 14-minute a mile pace. OK, to be honest, the last two miles were more like 19- and 21-minute mile paces. SERIOUSLY?! But I never stopped, and I never sat on the curb, Scout’s honor. But, sadly, there was Crying. Y’know what? Enough with the Crying. Next time, there will be no Crying. When it gets hard (and I know it will get hard, it always gets hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it, right?), I’m going to just laugh. Laugh at how stupid I was to know that it’s going to get hard and yet I keep doing it! Did you really think it would be different this time, Dumb-ass? Yep, that’s the strategy for next time. Laugh it Out!
- The Medical Tent, Part 2 – After the finish, they routed us along West Park drive to get our medals, take our pictures and pick up our food bags. By this time, keep in mind, I had been doing nothing but walking for about 2.5 miles. The sun had gone behind the buildings along 59th Street, so it was quickly getting colder as the afternoon wore out , and I had not been “actively” moving like I was when I was running. So it didn’t take long once I stopped walking to get chilled. There was a huge logjam as we walked north toward the exit at 77th as tons of runners were retrieving their bags from the UPS trucks and many were stopping along the side of the drive to put on their warm clothes. The slowdown in motion was just enough to make me dizzy, enough that I flagged down a Red Cross spotter about four trucks past the main medical tent. I was worried about my blood pressure and heart rate, honestly, as I vividly remember nearly passing out in the transit station after Marine Corps while we waited for the train back to my friend Rebecca’s car. By the time she radioed for a medic and they walked me back to the tent to get my pulse, HR and blood pressure checked, I was in full-out shiver mode so that I was soon less concerned about my blood pressure and more worried that I couldn’t feel my feet, move my lips, nor stop violently shaking. They gave me a cup of hot broth, moved me to a cot away from the open doorway of the tent, covered me in two blankets and put a space heater four inches from me to try to get me warm. By then, my friends were at our designated meeting spot at a restaurant behind the Natural History museum, and they were worried about me. I was trying to get warm enough to brave the walk up there, but I was still shaking and shivering really badly. After about 20 minutes, I felt like I could get up and move on, but my food bag had been left on my original cot. This is the state of my mind at the time: I was worried about my apple. We got an apple in our food bag, and I had been obsessing about my New York state apple ever since I saw that in the entrant info. I wasn’t about to leave the tent without my apple. How ridiculous is that? That’s what running a marathon does to you – you obsess about a piece of fruit. Again, I have to give huge kudos to everyone in the tent – they took really good care of me, and I was very appreciative of their care. But again, not where I wanted to be at the end of the day.
|Took this right before I got woozy... can't you tell?|
- The Aftermath – The only solace I have about how this all ended up is that, based on how I felt in the 36 hours after the race, I know I gave it all I had. I have never in my life felt as bad as I did Sunday night. After I recovered from the chills I had in the medical tent and made my way to the restaurant to meet the girls, I didn’t really feel like eating at all at first, so I had a cup of hot tea. They had already ordered their pizzas and after a bit I had a little appetite so I had a small piece of Denise’s and a small piece of Irene’s. We’re talking pizza slices maybe three inches on each side, so not a lot of food. Afterward, we went back to the hotel, but not before we had to stand in the street and hail two cabs, which meant I got chilled again. We stopped at the concierge lounge for a bit, and I was able to get a little more to eat there. I had a few crackers, some hummus and about two oz of cheese. Then we went to the room so I could clean up before we went to Serendipity. We had been planning on the frozen hot chocolate all weekend, and I was looking forward to splurging on some decadent gooey dessert thing after my trek through the city. But by the time we got there about 90 minutes later, I was feeling blicky in the worst way. The restaurant was way too hot, my stomach was roiling, and I had that awful Gatorade aftertaste in the back of my throat still. It was nasty. I ended up having to go outside and sit in the cool air for a bit to feel better, and barely made it back to the room before I just collapsed into bed. One of my friends traveling with us is a nurse, so she took my pulse to make sure I was doing OK and advised me to drink more and try to rest. I think passing out is about the same as resting, right? Because I felt like I just went from 60 mph to zero, just like that. I was exhausted, and I felt terrible, all over. I ached, I hurt, and I felt like I was thisclose to hurling. A couple of hours later, I woke up and tried to sit up slowly, knowing that if I sat up too quickly I would regret it and get all swoony again. Instead, I almost instantly had the urge to throw up – all I could feel was that hot acid feeling in my stomach and throat. Bleargh. I managed to avoid that ugly fate but my stomach was very upset for the rest of the trip. I was barely able to eat Monday until well after I got home, and even then, I did not have the appetite I am used to after a race. Wednesday was the first day I was able to eat without making faces or wondering if it was a good idea. It was also the first day that I didn’t feel like crawling into a ball under the table and hibernating until next fall. I did go to the stretching station on Monday while I was getting my finisher’s gear so that helped with the soreness, too, I’m sure. But basically, I was beat up by this race physically, and I am confident that I could not have done any more or pushed myself any harder than I did for as long as I did. That helps ease the pain of not reaching my goal just a little bit. I did my best. It just wasn’t good enough this time….
So now what? Well, we all know I have to keep trying, right? We knew that was coming. We knew I couldn’t rest on my laurels too long before going after it again. If my knees didn’t hurt so bad during the race, I would have considered doing the Fort Worth Marathon on this weekend just to get Marathon Maniacs out of the way once and for all. But honestly, the pain in my knees not only hurt but stabbed, so it is definitely for the best for me to get it looked at, even though I haven’t had any knee pain or residual soreness since Sunday night. I just feel like it can’t handle 20 miles or more at this moment. And I need to be ready to run White Rock. I just can’t keep expecting my knees to magically get better, now can I? So I have to take a total rest week (making me crazy, btw!!) and also get in to see a PT or chiro to find out what is causing the pain and make it stop. Seriously. I have things to do, and races to go to, and I can’t do all that with a bum knee, so I best fix it, right?
In the days since the race, as I dealt with the fatigue and the disappointment, I HAVE realized that it’s not the end of the world that I didn’t hit my magical marker. But I still need to look at what else I can do to make it happen. I know my weak spots in my training are cross-training, weights and core work (and by weak, I mean more like non-existent), so I will be focused on working those elements in. I know I need to do more stretching, so I also need to add in more yoga and active recovery days to let my body heal from the miles I put in. I am also contemplating whether I need to work with a coach in addition to a nutritionist to get me over the hump. My gut instinct says I don’t, though – I know what to do and how to prepare – my body just couldn’t hold together on the downhills to allow me to carry out my plan. I know how to pace myself for a marathon to get me there – it’s just that my knees gave out on me. So I think at least for the next two attempts (Dallas White Rock & Cowtown), I will focus on getting the knees stronger. If that doesn’t work, then I will have to consider hocking one of the children and getting a coach.
So, there you go… Long-winded, I know. Thanks to anyone who made it to the end! But I needed to do this and dump it all out of my brain so I can move on and quit obsessing and quit grousing and really embrace how lucky I was to participate in the largest marathon in the US and cross the finish line upright and smiling (even if I was mildly hypothermic!!).
Cumulative Splits (from the website tracking – my splits on my watch were kinda all over the place and I stopped giving a damn after 22…)
5K – 34:06 – Pace 11:00
10K – 1:07:47 – Pace 10:56
15K – 1:44:01 – Pace 11:12 – included pit stop at mile 8
20K – 2:18:35 – Pace 11:11
Half – 2:26:21 – Pace 11:11
Mile 14 – 2:36:31 – Pace 11:11
Mile 15 – 2:48:22 – Pace 11:14 – Lap Time 11:51 – first incline up Queensboro
Mile 16 – 3:00:12 – Pace 11:16 – Lap Time 11:50 – up in middle of Queensboro
Mile 17 – 3:13:55 – Pace 11:25 – Lap Time 13:43 (stopped for knee taping)
Mile 18 – 3:24:44 – Pace 11:23 – Lap Time 10:49 – whee! Downhill on First Ave
Mile 19 – 3:36:07 – Pace 11:23 – Lap Time 11:23 – completely flat
Mile 20 – 3:47:59 – Pace 11:24 – Lap Time 11:52 – first bridge into Bronx
Mile 21 – 4:00:35 – Pace 11:28 – Lap Time 12:36 – second bridge out of Bronx
Mile 22 – 4:14:17 – Pace 11:34 – Lap Time 13:42 – call to Marci
Mile 23 – 4:29:47 – Pace 11:44 – Lap Time 15:30 – relatively flat along Fifth Ave
Mile 24 – 4:45:53 – Pace 11:55 – Lap Time 16:06 – freakin’ uphill into Park
Mile 25 – 5:04:13 – Pace 12:11 – Lap Time 18:20 – downhill toward 59th – OUCH!!
Mile 26 – 5:25:21 – Pace 12:31 – Lap Time 21:08 – cold, cold walk toward Columbus Circle
Finish – 5:29:14 – Final Pace 12:34
|Victory Celebration with my Posse. Yeah, I got my medal. #10 DONE.|