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 BQ..wow. 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.