26.219 miles, 30,000 (ish) steps on concrete, 47,000 starters, over 100 bands, 5 boroughs,6 bridges: the New York City Marathon.
The start line is just before the Varazano-Narrows bridge in Staten Island, which immediately takes you into Brooklyn. The Pulaski Bridge takes runners into queens (Long Island City); the Queensboro Bridge takes runners into Manhattan, the Madison Avenue Bridge connects runners into the Bronx then its back into manhattan via the Willis Avenue Bridge where you run down 5th ave / central park for 6 miles or so to the finish.
I also ran the NYC marathon in 2006 where I last got my personal best. I decided that if I was to go back, I would try to beat that time of 3:30:02. Given my long summer of races and good performance I expected to get under 3:20, maybe under 3:15. Unfortunately 8 weeks before the race I caught a chest infection and the bloody thing wouldn’t go away which really hampered my training. I had just been getting into speed work before this point (along the bournemouth promenade). I did run through my illness albeit slower, however maybe that’s why it hung around so long. What’s worse I wonder, running through illness and recovering slower from it or just resting to recover fast and risk de-conditioning, hummm? Still I achieved a new pb! And finished in a better state that in 2006 with a time of 3:25:47! Hoo rah (overall placing 4448, 3884 out of the men). I will go back and crack that 3:15 one day!
The New York marathon is the worlds biggest marathon. It was mile 4 before I even even considered paying attention to the time since there are so may people cheering and so many bill boards and things to look at. The race kicked off to Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York song which really gets the crowd going, but not before over 45 thousand runners throw off their jumpers, hats and other warm clothing to the side of the course like a spectacular fire work display.
The Varazzano-Narrows bridge is the first challenge, starting up hill (this year I was lucky to be on the upper level of the bridge) and I was rewarded with some fantastic photos of this remarkable structure with views in the far(!) distance of Manhattan. It’s in this first couple of miles that most people realise they needed the loo and so the bridge becomes a toilet quite quickly! The support is excellent and even on the birdge with no spectators, the fire department barges were out spraying water high up towards the bridge in support. The bill boards were every where on entering Brooklyn. Some I took photos of (below) others included “I didn’t get up this early to watch you walk”, “it’s just a 10k race with a 16 mile warm up” (positioned at the 10 to go point), “26.2 miles – because 26.3 would be ridiculous!”, “Welcome to Brooklyn – Now get the hell out!” to mention just a few.
The first 2 miles went slowly as the crowds caused light congestion, coupled with me not taking my pacing seriously as I was just enjoying being there; I slipped 3-4 minutes off my time (mile 1 took 9 minutes!) and so around mile 4-5 I increased my pace. I have never been a good at running a split time but the congestion at the start helps, some of my mile times are below and are quite interesting. I completed many training runs at sub 7 minute miles but the race is often lost in the last 7 miles and so I conserved some effort for these tough miles down 5th avenue and central park.
Mile 1 12:41 Mile 6 50:20 Mile 8 1:05:28 Mile 9 1:13:19 Mile 10 1:20:53 Mile 11 1:28:39 Mile 12 1:36:25 Mile 13 1:44:07 Mile 14 1:51:45 Mile 15: 1:59:39 Mile 16 2:07:22 Mile 17 2:15:12 Mile 18 2:22:55 Mile 19 2:30:38 Mile 20 2:38:36 Mile 21 2:46:41 Mile 22 2:54:57 Mile 23 3:02:59 Mile 24 3:11:21 Mile 25 3:19:35 Finish 3:25:47
Running at speed definitely challenges the brain in the latter miles to concentrate. I am writing this having already run another marathon yesterday only much, much slower and at mile 20 onward I was still able to think away in my head about stuff which I could not have done running at sub 3:25. Im glad for this reason I brought the camera as I would have forgotten about the crazy guy ‘high fiving’ everyone on the course (at the 5 mile to go point), the ‘you are the shit’ team – brilliant!, all the kids at the side of the course asking for ‘high fives’, those one of chats with silly hats and billboards and all the bands, rappers and entertainers. I said it last time – i’ll say it again – i’ll be back to break my personal best!