On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NYCM 2010 race report: are YOU faster than a Chilean miner?

The short version: I finished and I finished with a smile on my face.

Some people can do back-to-back marathons in short time frames with no problem.  These people also can measure their finish time with a watch and don't need the sundial like I do (seriously: one of my goals on Sunday was to finish before it got dark).

Chicago was a trainwreck.  After Chicago, I needed a break both emotionally and physically.  Ah, but I didn't have time for a break: Chicago was but a training run for NYCM four weeks later.  Ah ha ha, though: I took that break anyway, recording a record three runs in three weeks leading up to the NYCM.

My training for New York started strong.  But, as is wont to happen, as summer passed into early fall, I was forced to re-evaluate my goals.  Originally, I was aiming for sub-5 hours, thinking that maybe 4:45 was possible on a good day.  By the end, I had downgraded my goals to "have a better time than I did in Chicago."  Given that, I met my goal.

This girl is actually enjoying herself.
She is also dressed like Rainbow Brite, inexplicably,
minus horse and thing-on-back-of-horse.
I'll cut to the chase: I finished in 5:40:xx, beating the Chilean miner by a matter of seconds but getting whooped by Jared from Subway.  (My brother says that he cheated, though, because he took the Subway.  Get it?  Get it?  It's a pun.)

I started the day meeting up with Sara to share a cab down to the Staten Island ferry.  The cab driver asked me, genuinely, if I was going to win, and insisted that I might surprise myself when I told him emphatically no.  I offered to split the prize money with him if I won.  Needless to say, neither of us is any richer today.

Sara and I were early, so we camped out at the ferry dock before taking a 7am ferry.  We were herded onto buses once we got to SI and then funneled into Ft. Wadsworth.  I know it's a logistical nightmare to get 45,000 runners to Staten Island by 9am, but I felt like this part of the morning was a little stressful.  I was prepared for the cold with a Snuggie, courtesy of my friend Kate.  I got a whole bunch of encouraging text messages from my friends Ian and Mike and Nicole and David, which just served to make me more excited.  If that was possible.

6:30am and the Staten Island ferry - not
my best look.
Miraculously, I even found Christel at Ft. Wadsworth.  She was all smiles and excitement and looked like she was ready for the catwalk, whereas I was wearing a pink Snuggie.  We chatted, used the port-a-potties, ate our breakfasts, compared our fashion plate outfits, and hustled to our corral (we were in the same one).  Again, I'm not sure how this system could have been improved, but it was a frustrating game of hurry-up-and-wait.  There was a constant cacophony of instructions in several different languages, making it all confusing and meaningless.

This was funny: Christel is Dutch.  She said that people would recognize that and cheer for her.  I said, "How will they know you're Dutch?"  She said, "I'm wearing an orange shirt!"  I said, "But ING's colors are orange, and thus the marathon's colors are orange!  Fred's Team wears orange!  Even I'm wearing an orange shirt!"  Moments later, a guy approached her and began speaking Dutch to her.  She was right; somehow he knew.  It's like they could smell Holland on each other.  Not sure what that would smell like and I'm going to avoid stereotyping (marijuana and the red-light district?).

At 9:40, we watched the first wave begin to stream over the bridge.  The bridge looked really, really high, but the excitement in the air was palpable.  10:10am, the gun went off and we were headed onto the Verrazano.  And it began!  I was meeting up with my brother at mile 8 - I've never, ever, ever had a sign made for me for a race, but my friend Renee rectified that with a kick-ass sign.

My brother anxiously awaiting my arrival.
People talk about the cheering at NYCM, and I had scoffed off their comments.  I mean, I've run Chicago three times; I get the idea of crowd support.  HOLY CRAP WAS I WRONG.  I have never seen anything like this.  The crowds were insane.  Miles 0-8 seriously flew by.  I was carrying my beloved Kona cola flavored Nuun in a throwaway bottle so I barely stopped for water and otherwise just enjoyed myself.  Perfect weather, great day, amazing crowds.  I was meeting Renee and Poochie (my brother) in Brooklyn - and yet somehow we missed each other.  I turned around when I realized that and double-backed for a bit before finding them.  Good thing, as Renee jumped in the course and ran a few miles with me. (I know, I know, I know; I have the same conflicted feeling about bandits that you do.  She didn't take any aid and was extremely conscientious of other people's races.)

Queensborough Bridge. I highly recommend
this locale if you're into badly lit photos.
From that point on, I realized that I was, miraculously, having a good time, despite my ambivalence toward running since the Chicago Marathon.  So I went with it.  We ran, albeit slowly.  We walked some, especially the hills.  We planned for next year, when Renee will run her first marathon.  I was taking it easy and I knew it, but all of my time goals were out the window and I really just needed to enjoy it.

I had a few other friends on the course at different points in Manhattan and the Bronx - I only saw one of them, but it was perfectly timed.  I'd just started getting cranky at mile 20 when I saw David, in the Bronx.  He brought me pretzels and a banana and just overall rocked.

I made it up Fifth Avenue, running some and walking some, and into the park.  My friend Ian texted me at some point, and I answered with one poignant word: "suck."  Sure, the last two miles were hard, but that's a marathon, folks.  I finished, got my medal, got my mylar, got my Gatorade Recovery Drink (I call this beverage "miracle"), and... stalled.  What a terrible, terrible finish chute.  There was no way to exit the park without walking past the UPS trucks/baggage pick up, and the crowd of thousands of runners was not moving.  It took me 30 minutes to walk less than half a mile.  30 painful, cold, claustrophobic, intense minutes of tensing up.  That was a mess-up.

A short subway ride later I was home and happy.  An hour or so after that, I was at the Upright Citizens Brigade with a Heineken in hand to watch Horatio Sanz and several stars of 30 Rock do improv.  The guy sitting behind me was a Britisher who had also run the marathon.  He said that, by virtue of finishing, we'd both beaten Haile Gebrselassie (a world record holder!) since Gebrselassie didn't finish.

So many of my friends ran this race (and also, in our own way, beat a world record holder).  In particular, be sure to congratulate Kelly on her awesome race - such a long time coming - and my blogless training friend Mike on his excellent debut marathon!


  1. Hehe, I commented too soon on your last post! I'm so glad you had a good time, Tracy! I was so, so excited about the big crowds too - ahh, gives me goosebumps thinking about it.

    Hope you're recoving well and let's get together soon, ok?? THANK YOU for the shoutout! :)

  2. I like that "finishing with a smile" made this more successful than Chicago. For this front-of-the-back-of-the-pack runner, that's a new goal I can strive for from now on.

  3. See. That's what I should have done - run/walked, taken pictures, texted my friends...I was SO concerned about making good time that I forgot to have fun. (I did have a little bit of fun.) Maybe that last 6 miles wouldn't have been so excruciating if I hadn't tried to kill the first 20. And you still beat me by 8 minutes, btw.

    Great job!

  4. I did the same thing (run/walk, take pictures, text friends) during Chicago and I had almost no fun after Carla (the woman I was running with) pulled ahead of me. It hurt like hell.

    As happy as I am at having had a good time during the race - and I am happy about it - I'll admit, I also would have been happy maybe not being quite as happy and having beat Jared.

    And Marie, you will beat me probably by like an hour on your next marathon. I promise you this. In fact, perhaps you should plan for NYCM 2011 and a post-race ULS meet-up?

  5. Way to go Tracy :) your brother is adorable and i want some cupcakes. i now look at crumbs site daily. you did a great job - finishing with a smile is always my goal :)

  6. Very well done, Tracy! Very well done indeed.

  7. 1. Last year I was on the 5:30 ferry and the race was Nov 1st. You can guess what kind of things I saw.

    2. Ah, that finish is a death march. I managed to backtrack and get out of the par quicker than I planned last year, but that wasn't easy.

    3. Sounds like a win here, honestly. Being able to have fun with it - especially after hitting a mental wall - seems pretty good to me. Especially because its such a hard course.

    4. LOLZ at the dutch thing. For realsies.

  8. So happy to hear you enjoyed this one!! Congrats!

    Funny, but true you did beat Haile!

  9. there's nothing so sad as a shivering marathoner clutching their medal, piece of tin foil and colored drink without a friend or a plan to get them home.

  10. Thanks for the shout-out! I had such a great time, the crowds were insane, the music is out, everyone seemed to be in a great mood!

    The one thing that really needs more thought is the getting out of the park after the marathon - that was miserable.

  11. I liked your account! I just cant believe I missed you twice! I took the bus down near the Plaza Hotel to try to catch you towards the end, but failed yet again. I even made you a little sign that I was holding up the whole time haha. Oh well. Anyway, we gotta have a celebratory meal or hang out in the near future! And by any chance, did you happen to get a tangerine flavored gel on the UES? My friend was the one handing the tangerine ones out at one of the stations. Rachel

  12. Congratulations to you! I think you're awesome doing BOTH CHicago AND NY within one month. So inspiring, maybe I'll put my name in for 2011. :)

  13. Awesome! Nice job, Tracy! I'm glad you had so much fun on this one! I'll be in NYC this weekend... maybe I'll run into you (literally)!

  14. The finish chute at New York does indeed suck. The year I ran it I didn't see the crowding problem, but I had to walk what felt like an extra mile (which my legs and feet were NOT happy about) just to get to my stuff, since it was in one of the last trucks.

    That said, I'm so glad you had a much better race than Chicago!

  15. Wow! This sounds like a really fun race. I cannot believe any city has a crazier crowd than Chicago, but it would be NYC!

    Great job! :)