2018 New York Marathon

Today I competed in the 2018 New York Marathon. My unofficial time was 2:50:05. This was quite a bit slower than what I was targeting (ideally sub 2:40, but would have been happy with sub 2:45). It was also one of the most painful marathons I’ve done, with a nine and a half minute positive split (first half: 1:20:20, second half: 1:29:45)! But the atmosphere during the race made it one of the best races I’ve entered.

The journey to New York began on the 27/10/18. I took an unusual route that involved two 13 hour flights to get to NYC. I then flew to Toronto and stayed there until the day before the race. This helped me recover from the 46 hour ordeal (including layovers, customs and the flight to Toronto) and become acclimatized. It also helped that I was able to stay in the comfort of my brother’s (and his girlfriend’s) apartment!

Fast-forward to Saturday, the day before the big race. I have already picked up my race pack from the NYC Marathon expo. I have also mapped out how I am going to get to start line and have packed all of the things I need to take with me, including my breakfast. I have even written down the 5K splits that runners on Strava of the previous year did with a time similar to my target time. I assumed they did even effort (can’t use even pace on an undulating course!).

 

With everything set and planned in advance, there was one thing left to do. With Daylight savings ending in the early hours of Sunday, I decided to manually “wind the clock back” on my iPhone.
Sunday morning. I wake before the alarm sounds and have had a good night’s rest. I head to the subway. I notice that the time on all clocks is an hour later than what mine says. A mild sense of panic overcomes me. But after talking to someone who has done the race before my concerns are put at ease. I can catch the 0700 ferry when I was scheduled for the 0600 one. There should be heaps of time before the race. I arrive at the terminal to board the Staten Island ferry, along with thousands of other runners.
On a fine morning The Staten Island ferry is the way to get to the start line. There are fantastic views of NYC as well as a view of the Statue of Liberty. The ferry ride ends but then there is massive queue for the bus to Fort Wadsworth. The wait for the bus is agonizing. Finally I board the bus. After 15 or so minutes, the bus driver does something odd. He does a three point turn and begins to backtrack for 10 whole minutes! The bus driver was lost! He manages to find the correct route but by then it is a mere 30 minutes until I am meant to be started. Everyone in the bus is flustered.

 

I run to the “Start Villages”.
20 minutes remain!
With my heart racing I search for the bag drop.
15 minutes remain!
I line up to go to the toilet.
10 minutes remain!

 

With a mere 10 minutes before start (instead of the planned 2 hours), there is zero time to have breakfast. I will start this marathon without sustenance!

 

I search for my start corral. I eventually find it but have have to un-apologetically weave through thousands of runners! I finally arrive with minutes to spare. And the race is off!

The first mile is up the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and is uphill. I reach the first mile marker right on track (6:49), and same with the 5K/10K/15K/20K points. Despite feeling fine, I’ve noticed that my heart rate has been higher than usual. I reason to myself that this is just to do with state of euphoria that I’m in. With most streets packed full of passionate supporters, who wouldn’t be excited?

 

I reach half way at 1:20:20. This is well within my target time and I’m happy with this. But as the 30K marker comes around, I’m feeling worse for wear. Would I soon pay for the higher than usual heart rate? Would I soon pay for the lack of breakfast? Unfortunately, the “wheels fall off” from herein. And the wheels really fall off at 20 miles!

A mere six miles remain to the finish line, but this is a long, long way when your tired and fatigued! I eventually slog it out to the finish line in 2:50:05. While it is not the time I was aiming for, it was certainly an unforgettable race!

Notes to myself:

  • 74.6kg two days before race (76.0kg race weight).
  • Ran in Asics Kayanos 23 (US 11 / UK 10, 340g per shoe). They have had 1200 – 1500 km of running so far.
  • After the two week taper I felt fresh, but hard to tell how well it worked due to pre-race drama and lack of breakfast.
  • First marathon without strapping feet! Did not have any blisters afterwards.
  • Had a gel and a muslie bar before race. Usually I have this and a large serving of oats with brown sugar. Next time have breakfast!
  • Had four gels during the race, and generally a third of a cup of water or Gatorade at each mile aid station. There was no problems holding two gels in each hand.
  • Bring hot water in a thermo flask next time! This would have allowed eating breakfast during transit.
  • The Race Screen app for my watch worked well. Remember to disable auto lap (need to manually lap)!
  • Set my watch to use GPS + Galileo (normally GPS only), as per advice from Garmin at the marathon expo. This worked well – the watch overestimated the distance by 230m (less than usual).
  • I still don’t know where the hour discrepancy came from! Perhaps my iPhone further adjusted the time, despite disabling automatic timezone settings? Darn daylight saving time changes!
  • Consider printing name on singlet! Some runners did this and got an extra boost from bystanders!
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