Monday, October 26, 2009

The Big Goal...

My favorite moment in any race, is Mile 16-17 in the New York Marathon. That is the mile where the runners come off the 59th Street Bridge and enter Manhattan on First Avenue. I wish that everyone, at one point in their life, could experience coming off the 59th Street bridge during the marathon. The bridge is eerily quiet, particularly after running 15 miles through the crowds in Brooklyn and Queens. If you have never run the NY marathon before, literally, almost every spot on the course has people cheering. Kids offering oranges, bands playing, people clapping, calling your name. It is great.

Coming off the bridge is also highly symbolic for me, in that this is the point when the race comes home. To Manhattan, to Central Park, to the place I have lived for 17 years. Coming off the bridge, onto First Avenue, there is simply a wall of noise, with people on First Avenue lined up 10 deep cheering runners on. My family waits at Mile 18, with my older daughter holding a homemade sign that says "Go Dad!" and seeing her jump up and down with excitement as I approach from the crowd.

That is why I run. All that training is for those moments. Everyone should feel that once in their life. It is priceless and indescribable.

Given that, I reluctantly commit to time goals in advance of marathons. Too much can happen, and I run for the experience. Well, not really, but also because I am afraid of crashing and burning and not hitting the goal. But, on the other hand, I have told my wife (Mrs. Wolve) my goal, so here goes.

My last serious race was the Fairfield Half Marathon in June. I ran 1:39:30. I was very very pleased. Various time predictors and calculators had this as equivalent to a 3:27 marathon. Wow...that is really fast given that I weighed 230 pounds on March 15 of this year and could barely run 5 miles.

So I set my goal paces at 8:00 per mile -- about 20 seconds per mile slower than my half marathon time. And before I had started marathon training. I figured it would give me some cushion to finish, and finish with strength and still an outstanding time.

My BQ time is 3:20. As my training progressed in August and parts of September, I thought...maybe. Maybe I could do it. I was feeling strong, and 3:20 is about 7:40 per mile -- the same pace as my half marathon. And the prize..a Who cares if I crashed and burned? Better to go out a lion than a lamb. Better to have tried and failed than never tried at all. Blah blah, more high school coaching cliches. I told my father (who was a spectacular athlete but not a runner) of the 3:30/3:20 dilemma, and he said .. what difference is 10 minutes really? I was like... yeah...its only 20 seconds per mile...I can do that..I did it in Fairfield...

Well, a kind of bad October with work and training brought me crashing back to reality. I wouldn't make it. And nothing sucks worse than going out too fast and truly crashing. It is not like hurting and slowing down or taking a walk break, but outright crashing hurts and is dangerous. So, I am not going to push it. It is just not the right time for it. BQ remains a goal for next year.

So, I am back to 3:30. That still would be a great, great result for me. In fact anything that has a 3:3X in it, is just awesome. And a PR, and a great result. So there it is: goal time 3:30. Super secret goal, 3:2X. I'll be OK with anything in 3:3X, and even 3:4X is not so bad really.

Am I nervous? yes. Am I excited? Absolutely! And I can't wait.


  1. I just got chills as I read the part about coming off the bridge and your family cheering you away!

    I'm so excited for you and I think you may find that you will surprise yourself come Sunday. Good luck Wolve!!!

    Cheering from FL and knowing you're going to kill it!!!

  2. Good luck! 3:3x is a great goal and once you hit that you're just a small step away from a BQ. If you feel really good coming off that bridge into Manhatten just throw the hammer down and maybe you'll surprise yourself

  3. Great post. I loved your description of coming off the Bridge and having your family there.

    As far as Boston goes, play it by ear and see how you feel on the course. Either way have a great run and enjoy! I look forward to hearing the race report.

  4. Thanks for the description of the bridge, I've always been so curious about this marathon and you are fortunate to be running it again this year!! I hope you make the BQ time even though you're kind of over it for this just never know what your body will do that day! Good luck, have fun, can't wait to hear how it goes!

  5. Gosh Im excited reading that! Good luck!!!!

  6. Whatever time you run, you'll have a great time because it's Brooklyn, it's the Bridge, it's First Avenue, it's Central Park, it's NYC!!! How can you not have a great time!

    I am like you right now, not really caring about my time goal, and really excited to run just for the sake of the experience.

    You will do great and I wish you the best of luck!

  7. I love doing races around here where I live, it's so nice to have family at random spots cheering me on where there are no other spectators. It's so great that the NYM is that for you. 17 years in the city? I don't know if I could do that!

    Your goals sound great, and it's great that you have a lot of them too! No matter what the time outcome is, it'll be a great race.

  8. Got chills reading the opening to this post. Have a great run this weekend and savor every moment.

  9. Thanks for the note. Just did my last little bit of speedwork as well, and it was just the confidence booster I needed. Was afraid I'd forgotten how to run.

    Few more days... good luck!

  10. Good luck this weekend!! I got teary-eyed just thinking about you coming off that bridge and seeing your family. That's truly why we run, isn't it?! That's awesome and I wish you nothing but the best on Sunday.

  11. I've never done NY, but it sounds like I should.

    Good Luck Wolve! I'll be rooting for you!

  12. Setting goals is the toughest part. Sounds like you did a smart/good job, though. I have to do the same soon and I've decided that I'm going to split the race into halves. I have a conservative first half goal, and then I'll figure out the second half as I'm out there. Maybe that could work for you too. Try to do the first half in 1:45, and then if you're feeling really good, pick it up and try the second half in 1:35. By 13.1 miles, you'll know how the day is going.


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