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 8, 2011

NYCM 2011 race report

Subtitled: Evidently a taper marathon is the way to go for me
Also subtitled: I'm still faster than a Chilean miner (poor Edison Peña dropped out at mile 11 this year)

First, the good:
It was a gorgeous day, and I finished in 5:08:18 (20 minutes faster than last week; 32 minutes faster than last year).

AND I HAD SO MANY SPECTATORS! Yes, after saying that I'd only ever had one spectator, I managed to see Lauren, my brother, TK, and several friends on the course. That rocked. Better yet, my brother saw several other friends of mine. He now thinks that I'm basically the most popular person in NYC, which made me laugh. Outloud. Several times.

Check out the sign on that guy!
My plan for the day was simple: I was going to go out on pace for a 5-hour marathon and just run that pace until I fell off of it. I fully expected to crash, and crash hard, and I fully expected it to happen within the first 10 miles of the race. I was running with Tara and her dad - well, sort of. I was actually kind of a jackass and spent most of the race running about 5 feet ahead of Tara and her dad. (Subconsciously, because I was anticipating a crash, my mind was telling me to stay ahead of them to give me a buffer. Of 5 feet. It was not logical.)

The only photo of me taken during the race. HAHA just kidding.
I would never run topless.

But I never crashed. I just kept running. And it felt good. Even better, I was actually running, not lolligagging. Not quite racing per se, but fast enough that I couldn't really talk. (At one point, true story, Tara and I were going up a hill and I turned to her and made a series of guttural noises. She said, "I know exactly what that means. Yes, we can walk now.")

Sleeping at Fort Wadsworth
Then, the bad:
In some ways, this race was awesome. Aside from water stops (and then, only about half of them) I barely walked. I felt strong all the way through the very end, and my last two miles were faster than my goal pace. I saw almost all of my spectators and felt buoyant.

So why am I not happy about it?


My second marathon ever, way back in 2002? 2003? (a long time ago) was 5:08:08. That is my third fastest marathon to date (my first race was 4:55 and my third race was 4:43). If I had been 10 seconds faster on Sunday... if I had only tied or beaten my third marathon ever... then I'd feel like I was back to being the runner I was before I got sick, before I had two pulmonary emboli and couldn't run for almost two years.* I want to be that girl again! Never mind that the 5:08:08 was in Chicago and NYCM is a harder course... my mean, critical self-conscience doesn't listen to logic or reason.

I was kind of sad to give this sweat shirt up at the start.
It says: "Born to Hunt, Forced to Work."
So overall, I'm pleased. It was a good day. I felt like I ran solidly and also, I had fun.

What would a race report be without a
half-drunk after photo?
And now... the taper can really begin.

*It's not worth getting into here, but in case you didn't know: I had two pulmonary emboli, about a year apart, and my number one symptom was intense, stabbing chest pain. It took me over a year after the second clot to feel like I was "back to normal" in my lungs.


  1. Me thinks that if you're not kicking my butt by the time I get back to the US, we should do an MCM redemption and try to beat that damn 5 hour mark. (I'm not adverse to dropping trou in the bushes, so no long porta-potty lines for me! Plus I know the secret bathroom at Haines Point!)

    And if you're already kicking my butt by then (let's face it, you're doing it now already, but I still live in the past), you can have yourself an easy run next to my slow ass to get me across the finish in less than 5. Deal? Deal!

  2. I knew you were on blood thinners, but didn't know you had 2 emboli (embolisims?). I had 3 large clots in my lungs found in '08 as well as a clot in my leg. Honestly, it took me a year or 2 to recover. I still haven't found my groove.

    Anyway, great job on the run. I think you did great.

  3. That's an incredible improvement over last year, and within mere seconds of your pre-embolism self. You're clearly doing something very, very right and I wouldn't be surprised to see you PR-ing a few half marathons or 15ks or whatnot in the next couple of months. Oh, if you're not too bust doing ultras and crazy monkey marathons, ha ha! Great job!!!

  4. @Carla - deal. Are you thinking 2013? Hell, let's shoot for a 4:45 :)

    @GG - the first one they officially diagnosed as pneumonia, but then when I had the second one my hematologist said that it's impossible for it not to have been a PE (new and residual clots in the lungs, same exact presentation, etc). All that after I'd had a superficial clot in my arm - and no one had ever told me to go off the pill. Don't get me started. In a perverse way I'm glad to hear that it took you so long to recover - I've been beating myself up BADLY for not just "bouncing back." But it was MONTHS before I could walk up a flight of stairs without having to pause from the pain!

    @Ms. Duffy - thank you! No ultras. No ultras. (Although it's crossed my mind...)

  5. I just love this race report. So many of our conversations in recent years have been about running the way we did in 2002-04 (the "Golden Years", as I like to call them). And you just ran/partied like it was 2002!

    If memory serves, you returned home from that Chicago marathon and hosted Canadian Thanksgiving dinner (for mostly Americans). It might have been the party at which Mandy fell asleep? Or am I getting confused? At any rate, it's been a long time since all of that silliness. And you are back. SO BACK!

    Since I ran my 2:24 half (do you like how I just casually dropped that in there?), I've had 2 glorious weeks of sloth. A little bit of casual running for social fun and lots of eating like I'm running 25 miles per week. It felt great and I'm back to my old self, scheduling in my weight training class for tomorrow, planning 7K with friends on Thursday morning, drinking water when I want a snack. You have inspired me to stay the course so that I, too, can run like it's 2002 (or better yet, May 2003, when we rocked the Pig and I threw down a massive PR on a hilly course...man, we were studs! Let's be studs again!)

    OK, I'm rambling. But this is what happens when my friends run really well and get me pumped up. Let's talk about race plans for 2012. My running group is doing Marine Corp. I'm tempted to kick off the year with the Around the Bay 30K in March and a killer half in May. It's going to be a fantastic year!

  6. I find it beyond amazing you go out and run 26.2 miles PERIOD. It baffles me that you can do it so nonchalantly!

  7. M - I can't swim. So, we're even.

    And Tam - I am SO doing ATB this year. Yes, there, I said it. Save a place on your couch for me as I'm going. And it was Canadian Thanksgiving! I'm just eating up your enthusiasm, trying to turn my irritation into happiness. (Strangely, I'm not even a little disappointed that I didn't go sub-5. This is the race I trained for, pretty much.)

  8. I sorta agree with your brother, you might not be the most popular person in NYC but you would be a contender...amazing job. I am not sure how you ran NYC better than MCM. The NYC hills killed me.

  9. I cannot look at the photograph of you in that fantastic "Born to Hunt, Forced to Work" sweatshirt without cracking up laughing. The look on your face is classic.

  10. nice work! it sounds like you had a good day and definitely a solid race! And I am going to hunt down that sweatshirt - it has to be an a consignment shop in the greater NYC area, right? awesome.

  11. Ha! Kelly, let me spare you the hunt: you can buy one for $4 at El Mundo, on the corner of 146th & Broadway. I'm happy to pick one up for you if you want! (It was very comfortable.)

  12. I had a vague understanding that you were sick at one point (I think there used to be something in your About section) but I didn't realize embolisms were involved. I'm the opposite of a medical expert, but common sense suggests to me that in the realm of a serious endurance undertaking like a marathon, embolisms don't sound like something one bounces back from overnight.

    I mean, we're talking about a marathon... a MARATHON. To run 20 minutes faster than last week and 32 minutes faster than last year is holy hot shit status. This excites me. I'd wager you're closing in on "that girl."

  13. Congrats on running a great race! I need to figure out that "never crash" thing. Any tips?