NYC Marathon 2021 Recap

This “fun run” jaunt tied my debut marathon (NYCM 2016) as my favorite of the three NYC Marathons I’ve run. The crowds were wild and seemed so thankful to have us out there. The lower number of runners made me feel way less cramped for space (except when the crowds were squeezing into us in Central Park and on Lafayette Ave). I had friends come out and watch AND bring me baked goods and cold brew iced coffee.

The plan was simple: run a 12-13 minute mile pace, don’t get carried away in Brooklyn like the 2018 NYC Marathon, walk the bridges and big hills (many of which are in the back half), stop for selfies, and HAVE FUN.

Pre-race:

Couldn’t sleep and woke up in a cold sweat at 5am. At least Daylight Savings eventually brought up the sun. I realized the my Garmin 245 hadn’t charged overnight, so tried to get that some more juice before heading out. Spoiler alert: could only get it to 68% and it died shortly before the halfway point.

Train station bathroom selfie – amazing throwaway clothes from Ian

I took MetroNorth to Grand Central then took the 7 to the 1. Unfortunately for me, the 1 train (and the R which would have also gotten me to the ferry) was only running every 20 minutes. I was very certain I’d make my wave (Wave 3 out of 5 this year) so I just stayed tight and sat on a bench instead of trying to get an Uber. Used the (real) bathroom at the Staten Island ferry terminal then hopped on the buses.

Start Village:

I made it in with not much time to spare before needing to get into my corral for Wave 3. Came to see who was left at the PPTC meetup spot right as the cannon for Wave 2 went off, so I only had 20 minutes to get in before they closed my corral. Went through my bag very quickly and tossed or packed items into my shorts and handheld bottle as needed; ended up not using my gloves or hand warmers at all and left them for any Wave 5 folks with cold hands. I had suffered a gel explosion in transit and cleaned that up while I could. I donated my throwaway clothes, gave my neighbor/training partner Dani a hug, then hopped into the corral. I was able to use the many portapotties in my corral and still have plenty of time to walk up to the bridge.

Staten Island:

Nice and easy up the Verrazzano! I was in green (lower level) and the views were still great. I stuck to the back of my wave and watched everyone go ahead. The descent on the bridge was much-needed, as were the speckle of people cheering just for our wave before it meets with everyone else (ok but that’s technically Brooklyn so I’m ahead of myself).

Brooklyn:

From Bay Ridge to Greenpoint, Brooklyn is probably my favorite part of the course. I lived in Brooklyn for 5 years and Manhattan for 5 years, but I would say my biggest sense of community still comes from Park Slope/Prospect Heights in part because I joined a local running club during my time there. I thanked everyone who cheered for me and ditched my arm warmers in Sunset Park.

Park Slope and Fort Greene to Bed-Stuy were the absolute best because that’s where a lot of my people and my running club were. It seemed like everyone knew PPTC meant Prospect Park and I was still at the back of Wave 3 (faster Wave 4 people began to overtake me around Mile 8). Being at the back made for a lot more space around me (see below from 3rd street) so my friends and coworkers found it easy to spot me. Mile 7 meant the PPTC cheer spot, croissant dropoff from Michelle, and selfies galore.

3rd St PPTC Cheer Station
St Marks – clutching my new croissant

Mile 8 was more of the same along Lafayette with live bands, costumes, and surging crowwds. I slowly ate all my croissant and saw a few more friends amongst the raging party crowds. Then there’s a bit of a lull up Bedford until you get to Williamsburg proper. I knew I had friends to see between miles 10-11 in Williamsburg and was looking forward to that.

Brittany and Gabby provided me with another replacement gel to make up for the exploded one and I got a selfie with them and Kimberly.

Broadway and Bedford with Kim
I loved stopping for selfies and sweaty hugs
K BYEEEEE

Heather and Katie made a sign for me and got a great shot after giving me a Peter Pan donut in Greenpoint as per their tradition.

Queens:

I walked across the Pulaski Bridge and made the tough decision to leave behind half of my red velvet donut. I ran into a friend and got a selfie as we walked. I took the downhill into Long Island City nice and easy and really enjoyed the crowds. My VP from work found me and got a quick hug. I had already told myself that I would be walking up the Queensboro Bridge and it was easy to stick with that plan. There were plenty of other walkers and I was able to pass a few others.

Manhattan Part 1:

The UES scream tunnel coming off the bridge was real this year. I found a few friends (no stopping for selfies though) and I think I made it up 1st Ave to the Willis Bridge before walking again.

Bronx:

My feet hurt pretty bad by this point so I slowed way down. Walked across the Madison Ave Bridge as well.

Manhattan Part 2:

Revitalized by my cold brew from Allison a planned pre-mile 22 stop), I was smart and still walked a mile up the hill on 5th Avenue.

Saw Meagan again at Mile 23.5 right before heading into Central Park and stopped for a selfie.

Then once I entered the park, I felt good again to make it to the finish with a real run. Running down Cat Hill makes all the difference mentally. My second watch died right at Mile 25.2, but the last mile was great and I felt strong again. Wasn’t as amazing a finish as 2017 Richmond Marathon‘s consistent pace and negative split 5 miles, but was happy to get it done.

Hammer dropped just a bit.

Post-Race:

Shuffle out of the park to the meetup spot on the UWS. It felt so good to sit down again. I took in half a can of Coca-Cola then wiped down and changed in a bathroom. Went to Levain and got a cookie with Jimmy and Anya then stumbled down to the Tracksmith popup (I hadn’t reserved a poster because I knew I wouldn’t like my time). After rejecting the pull of retail therapy, I said my goodbyes to friends and walked a little further to Columbus Circle to head home. I decided my post-marathon celebratory meal should be Szechuanese with my fiance and a couple friends, which really hit the spot. Had a glass of rose, showered at home, and passed out at 9pm.

Reflections:

This was my slowest marathon of the 4 but supremely enjoyable. The energy of the crowds was incredible. Honestly I finished 4 minutes faster than my Stryd predicted (only 81 minutes slower than my Garmin) so I was proud of that. My fast final 1.5 miles made me really happy because then I felt like I had left it all on the course.

My PT/acupuncturist took care of my troublesome leg on Wednesday and I’ve done a couple 12-minute mile+ recovery runs since under Zone 3 Heart Rate.

What’s Next:

  • 5K as a rust buster Thanksgiving weekend
  • consistent Stryd 10K training plan
  • mid-December 5K race
  • goal 10K and hopefully PR attempt early January
  • maybe a late March Half if I can stay consistent and injury-free through the winter
  • Fall 2022 big PR half or full goal race TBD
  • all of this on top of continued visits to my acupuncturist/PT and strength training at the gym, plus mobility work

Ted Corbitt 15K Race Recap

Post-marathon, I signed up for the Ted Corbitt 15K as an attempt to get some race redemption under my belt in what remained of 2018. I hadn’t raced much this year and got PRs at the half marathon and 10K, but not any other distances (well, just the 5K and marathon that I actually tried).

I came in to this pretty well-rested and had peanut butter toast and cold brew before. I didn’t pack any nutrition but figured I’d be fine.

Last year, my first mile was super slow (9:44) due to getting into the corrals after they collapsed, so I made sure to get in there early this year. I accidentally started my watch early then couldn’t delete it in time. So I went in with an extra bit of seconds on the clock and was very confused with my splits the whole race.

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I managed to hold back a bit on the first mile then went way too hard on the 2nd mile. I finally got into a groove for the last two miles of the first loop and was feeling good (PPTC cheerers and volunteers really helped).

Then I slowed down again for most of the second loop. The last mile felt tough but with the added endorphins from smiling and knowing that I was going to get a PR, then I was able to drop the hammer on the last 0.3 and sprint to the finish.

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The pace was a little faster than my 8:57 pace from the Bay Ridge Half 9 weeks ago, which was my A goal. However, it’s a little slower than it should be if you plug that half time into a calculator. My goal for my next half is closer to 8:48, so I’m hoping to bring it down as my volume and speed work comes up in the next 8(?) weeks or so.

I’ve started some heart rate training since I have a HR monitor on my new watch. I’m surprised to find I kept it steady on this run (part of me is wondering if I had any cadence lock). To be discussed in future posts.

Austin 3M Half 2018 Recap

Hello from the other side…of the second hardest half marathon of my life. This was my 9th Half ever and the 7th that I really raced (I treated both Nike Women’s Half San Francisco 2015 and Fred Lebow 2017 as training runs due to injury and low mileage, respectively).

Pre-Race: I had peanut butter and banana on toast with some canned iced coffee from local spot Cuvee. Gabby and I took a Lyft to the start (our driver was impressed with our early morning activities) then met up with other PPTC folks. Bag check was easy and portapotty lines weren’t too long. Then came the corrals, or lack thereof. I waited for friends, then realized there was no way to get close to the 1:55 pacer without shoving my way.

The good: Miles 1-5 were great. Having only been in Austin a few days, I had no idea where we were North of the city (somewhere near The Domain?), so I just took in the sights. Like the industrial office parks. The width of the roads early on (everything’s bigger in Texas?) let me pass folks and get closer to the pace I wanted early on despite the crowded start.

The bad: Pretty much as soon as I hit the 5th mile, everything started to get tough. My legs felt heavy and my breath was a little more labored. I was pushing hard to maintain the same pace. I had a gel around mile 6, but that obviously wasn’t enough to save me. I also had 2 salted watermelon Shot Block chews at some point. I declined the Bacon Station, but maybe I should have partaken.

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The ugly: Mile 10 and its last major hill. This course has a net downhill, but you never quite feel like it throughout the rolling hills. I am delighted to say that there are absolutely no photos of me on the course. I looked like death at the finish.

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It was raining again at the finish, so I grabbed my medal and goody bag and shuffled 1 whole mile up the hill to Gabby’s to shower off. That mile was not easy, despite drinking some Gatorade.

Final time of 2:02:46 which actually makes this my 4th fastest half marathon despite what I consider a ‘bonk’ in the second half. Not bad.

Don’t worry, we got Gourdough’s after!

I was pretty sore that day and the next but did an easy recovery run around Austin to see more of the riverfront trail.

I needed some time to recover both physically and mentally from this race. Not every race goes the way you want for a variety of reasons, so I’ve tried to reflect on my training and preparation and race execution. On to the next one.

Richmond Marathon 2017 Race Report

Ok, finally. I think many of you already knew from Strava or other forms of social media, but I had a great race on Saturday 11/11/17. This post will be a little light on the images because my parents were so busy cheering (and it was cold before and after) that they didn’t take any photos and I didn’t run with my phone.

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Start: It had dropped below freezing the night before and was still in the low to mid 30’s for the 7:45am start. I wore a longsleeve cotton shirt and pajama pants as my throwaway clothes over my PPTC tech t-shirt, Lululemon shorts (same outfit as last year’s NYC Marathon), makeshift arm warmers, DarnTough socks, and Lululemon gloves (a Christmas gift from a friend last year). I ended up choosing my Brooks Launch 4s as my shoe since I did most of my marathon miles in them, especially the last 8 weeks.

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Flatlay from the night before sans cold weather accessories

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Miles 0-7: My corral (#4) was pretty crowded, but we got off to a decent start 6 minutes after the first wave did. We turned a corner and then we were running west on Broad street. And boom, at mile 0.5, there were my parents cheering in the median. Nice! I took the first several miles faster than I meant to, closer to a 10:00 pace than the 10:15-10:30 I meant to do.

I meant to take a gel at 45:00 but due to the spacing of the water stations (every 2 miles, I believe), I held off until closer to 1 hour on the clock. I started with a Salted Watermelon Gu, one of my favorites. We were climbing up a hill at Mile 6 but I didn’t notice too much, as I was chatting on and off with other runners, I had started behind the 4:30 pace group, then I passed them, they passed me, and I passed again. At Mile 7, there is a significant downhill after crossing the James River to go from the West End to the South Side. This felt great. I spent the next couple of miles along the river taking in the beautiful views and sunshine. I chatted up a woman wearing a JMU long-sleeve (my alma mater) and took in some of her cheers as my own. If I do another Richmond race, I’m definitely rocking the purple and gold.

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Miles 8-15: South Side was fairly uneventful, as I was mainly trying to not overdo the pace. After we climbed out from the River, I still felt pretty strong. I chatted with a runner from Chicago who was shocked at my choice of shorts and a NYRR employee. I had my second gel of the day, Toasted Marshmallow and it was AMAZING. I hadn’t tried it before (I know, nothing new on race day) but it was delicious. Around the half mark, I took some mini gummi bears from one of the candy stops. We ran alongside traffic for several miles of Forest Hill Ave and Semmes Ave, which I didn’t love, but some of them lended us cheers or music. Right as we turned to take the bridge back north across the James River, my parents surprised me at the 15 Mile marker. The bridge is fairly windy and an incline, but the boost from my parents helped so much. I had also latched on/decided to draft a couple who was also shooting for under 4:30 but wasn’t with the pace group. On the bridge, the pace group caught up to us, then we peeled away and I never saw them again (spoiler alert).

Miles 16-20: I still felt good but tentative, as I expected things to get harder in the 20’s. I slowly ate my mini gummi bears and had another gel, plus water every couple miles. We ran through some more familiar territory of West Main Street, then past the Diamond on Boulevard. I remember still feeling strong and passing people who were starting to fade. The stupid grin hadn’t left my face yet.

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Miles 21-25: These miles turned out to be both well-populated by great spectator groups and the ones where I felt great and realized I was going to surpass not only my A goal of 4:29:xx, but my A+ goal of 4:26:03 (a 30 minute PR from NYCM last year). I believe that in lieu of a 4th gel, I just had a single Salted Margarita ShotBlock and increased the blue Powerade consumption since the frequency of the tables increased. I supplemented this with a banana from a nice lady around Mile 22. I turned down the beer and other junk food on offer, as well as the pickle juice. I had told myself to hold off the pace from miles 21-24, then up the gas if I was still feeling good. My parents showed up for the 3rd time at Mile 23.5 and I yelled to them “See you at the beer truck! Hurry, I’m picking up speed!”. It was true! See my splits above after Mile 21; I knew the end was near and almost nothing could stop me.

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Extra gels in my pocket can’t slow me down

Mile 25-26.2: There were a few small bumps/hills before the big finish. At 25.5, I was passing people left and right and really turning on the juice when a woman told us the finish was “around the corner”. Well, we knew it wasn’t. I heard a girl comment on this and despite running at my half marathon pace now, I agreed with her and we talked about how we hate when people shout stuff like that about the finish when we just want to SEE the finish. I turn to look at her better and boom, she’s an internet running group friend! I managed to choke out my name and we both screamed. What are the odds? I knew we would get the final half mile in together, and boy did we ever. The downhill was ours. All of the pictures are of me talking to her (lol) and flying down faster than my 5K pace. We hit the finish, threw up our moose ears, and were done.

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Final: I hit the clock at 4:21:34.2, which apparently rounds up to :35. I beat my A+ goal by 4 and a half minutes, which still seems unreal. And I had the best time doing it! Everyone I talked to on the course was sweet and beyond pleasant. The crowd support was impressive for a marathon of this size. We were handed our medal, the blanket, and the mug, plus a bottle of water.

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Then I went off to find my parents at the Beer Truck. Sure enough, I beat them there. I grabbed a slice of pizza and some blue Powerade. I didn’t have my ID, only a sweaty $20 bill, so I couldn’t even get a beer. By the time they arrived, I was able to change then requested that we skip the beer and get straight to Bottoms Up Pizza, the source of my favorite pizzas from my Sweet 16 to my high school graduation. They actually had a table open and I had a Southern Tier Imperial Pumpking, a huge slice, and some Oreo pie to go.

A million thanks to everyone who has commented here, on my Strava, or out in the ‘real world’ plus my parents who cheered and cowbelled so hard. Y’all the best.

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Until next time, Richmond! 50 weeks until NYC Marathon!