Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NY Marathon Race Report, Part I

The day started off ominously. I had a 5:30 wake up alarm, but at 5 am, Mrs Wolve rolled over and said "Oh my God, its 6 am, and you've misssed your ride!" It was like a bad movie, or at least a Seinfeld episode. I jumped up about 10 feet in the air, and was already getting dressed. And then I realized my wife had forgotten about daylight savings time. I had not. So I wasn't late -- I was now actually up 30 minutes early.

And I opened the window, and... raining. Not hard, but rain -- not drizzle. A quick peek at the weather radar on my laptop showed rained all over the area, with no break until 10 am. That is not so bad -- the race was supposed to start at 9:45. But that did mean sitting in the rain waiting for the race start, for about 3 hours. The race start village is all outdoors on a coast guard training area under the Verrazano Bridge that goes from Staten Island to Brooklyn. It is like a college -- buildings, parking lots and open space. Lots of open space. 3 hours in the rain. Sitting in the mud. OK, whatever. Its been raining here all summer, so not that big of a deal. I just put on rain gear, and got in my ride.

Pleasant surprise number one: it stopped raining on the way! Sweet. And not much traffic. Got there about 7, which was quick. So, it was a great morning really. I mean I am at the marathon start, sun is out, and the big show is about to begin.

The start village is like a United Nations camp. There are so many foreigners running the marathon, and they travel in packs. And wear all kinds of gear showing their national pride. A group of Peruvians were sitting next to me. Lots of Dutch, Germans, Italians, Poles and Mexicans. A great melting pot. Except many of those cultures don't understand lines. So the concept of lining up for a toilet is inapplicable. Dunkin Donuts had free coffee, and it was a madhouse. They were passing out free hats, and people were literally getting crushed trying to get one. It wasn't even cold -- people just wanted the freebie. (I'll post a picture when I can.)

As I was waiting for my last bathroom break, the announcement came: First wave to the corrals. The race has three waves that go out in 20 minute waves. I was in the first wave, which was for the fastest runners. I was way in the back of the wave, and kind of got in a rush to get to the corral. The corrals are separate starting divisions within the waves. Each corral was about 500 people. I wanted to run with the 3:30 pace group, but they were starting in the corral ahead of me. No big deal, except I would have to catch them in first mile or so. Again, not a big deal, but I had to get to my corral to be in the front. So I hustled to the bag drop, dropped my bag, and went to line up. I had forgotten to eat my banana and last energy bar, so all I had in me was an energy bar at 6 am. Also not so good.

And then I waited in the corral. And waited. And went to the bathroom again. And waited. And got cold. My heart rate was in the 60s, which I was pleased about. Time to line up and get close. Could barely hear national anthem and then BANG, and we're off. I crossed the line about 1 minute after the gun went off. WooHooo...Yeah!

First mile is just a zoo. Very crowded..and it is uphill, up the Verrazano bridge. In fact, it has the high point of the course on it, at mile 1. As someone said, its all down hill from there. First mile was about 10:20. That was real slow, but understandable. Fell in with the 3:30 pace group, and was feeling good. To make 3:30, we needed to run 8 minute miles. So a 10:20 first mile meant we now had 2 minutes 20 seconds to make up over the next 25 miles.

And I looked backover the bridge to Manhattan, and Wow what a view! Just spectacular. I also saw the flag flying on Ft Wadsworth (the starting village). And it was stiff pointing right at the bridge. Whitecaps on the river. Uh-oh. All that rain was followed by a strong breeze out of the NNE. And we are about to run 21 miles...NNE. 21 miles into the wind before we turn around and head for home. Not a crushing gale wind, but a strong breeze. That isn't good.

A quick pit stop on the side of the bridge in mile 2 (coming downhill), and still ran a 6:50 mile 2. Now off the bridge and running on the bridge access roads really. A huge crush of people, and I am running close to the curb; to dodge a walker, I step onto the grass off the road and run about 10 feet on the grass. And promptly step into a mud puddle. Oh dammit, my foot wet, sock wet, shoe wet and dirty. Dammit, that is just inconvenient, but I'll live. Lucky I didn't twist my ankle or anything. Heart rate is a little high, but by about mile 3 or so we (the pace group) are on pace.

And I am feeling great. The first seven miles go by so quickly and so smoothly, I am just in awe. The race is 25% over and I feel like I haven't broken a sweat. Remarkably smooth. Miles 3-7 all went around 7:30. I had left the 3:30 pace group because I had found some space, fell into a good rhythm and just let it flow.

I started thinking,... maybe BQ... maybe this will be a golden day. Still worried about heart rate, which was already around 85% or so which isn't so good. I kept saying to myself, slow down.. give up pace...save it..keep heart rate down...don't go out too fast..pace, pace, pace.

But hey, I felt great. I was running the NY marathon, and I thought, what the hell, enjoy the ride.


  1. Can't wait to read the rest and to see some pics!!!! So exciting!

  2. Sounds as the day started wonderful. Can't wait to hear the rest of the story.

  3. I can't wait to read the rest either!

  4. Great description of the starting village. Makes me anxious to see it for myself someday.

  5. Loved the Seinfeld analogy. Made me laugh. Your experience is similar to my experience running Boston. Great crowds but difficult to navigate the runners. Looking forward to the rest of the report.

  6. I love your last sentence. Sums it all up!

  7. so i am guessing this was your first NYC??? im hooked and i ran it last year!!! so exciting to read someone elses account!


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