Rounding the Corner onto 59th Street [Photos: Anwar Ragep]
Number thirteen is done and dusted. It was a very difficult race for me and I’m relieved to have it in the books. I don’t consider myself to be an overly superstitious kind of guy, but for some reason the idea of marathon number 13 was a mental monkey on my back from the day that I registered. I think this was partially because last year went so well and I knew that it would be unlikely to have such a good experience twice in a row.
Training went as well as it ever has. No major injuries or illness. When I started the taper portion of my program, I was feeling like I may actually beat my course PR this year. About a week before the race, when I saw the forecast, my mind changed. I feel like I’m fastest in high 40s/low 50s. It was looking like this race was going to be about 20 degrees hotter than that, plus super humid. Heat is one thing, but humidity is another thing entirely. When sweat can’t evaporate, it doesn’t cool you down.
The morning of the race went very smoothly. I made it to the start village without a hitch and met up with some friends who were starting in my same corral. We were all cautiously optimistic that perhaps the overcast conditions would make the temperature less of a factor. But by the time we lined up on the Verrazzano, the sun was blazing down and it was almost 70 degrees already. From that moment, I knew it was going to be a tough one. I paced the first half of the race with one of my friends from high school, who in amazing marathoner. We were clipping along at about a 7:30 until around mile 15 (right before the Pulaski Bridge), when I had to pull off to fix my shoe (which was tied too tight and causing increasingly sharp pain on the top of my foot). I told my friend not to wait for me.
By the time that I was coming off of the Queensboro, I knew I was going to have to slow down if I was going to finish. The temperature had hit mid 70’s and the air was like soup. I was drenched in sweat, but still overheating. So I just parked it in second gear and slugged it out for the last 10 miles.
It was awesome to see so many friends cheering along the course. I saw Britt and her mom (who flew in from Florida to watch the race, so cool!) cheering in two different spots along the way. My friend Anwar was with them both times. Thanks for the great photos, Anwar! I can truly say that the support of the crowd is really what kept me going for the second half of the race. I have never seen so many people who were walking, collapsing and/or being attended to by paramedics in any race that I have run in the past.
Aaaanyway, I’ve got #14 coming up in a few weeks. Its a flat course in Palm Beach. Gonna try to get a BQ now that I’m old and my qualie time just got 10 minutes easier. Wish me luck!