A marathon that is actually FUN to run? I did not think it possible. Clearly I get something out of running marathons; I’ve been doing them for the last ten years. But I can honestly say that I’ve never really enjoyed the actual act of running one. Of course the feeling of accomplishment and all of that makes it worthwhile, but it’s always been grit-and-get-through-it during the actual race.
However, I must admit: I had fun running the NYC Marathon yesterday. The course? Awesome. The weather? Perfecto. The spectators? Absolutely amazing. My legs? Surprisingly strong. It’s the first marathon I’ve run – and it was my ninth – where I haven’t felt like death during the last few miles.
And my time? Not too bad. I ran a 3:54, which is not my PR, but is the fastest I’ve finished in the last few years. I’ll take it!
(Of course, I went out way too fast. I always do! At the halfway point, I was averaging 8:20 minutes/mile. That is much faster than my training pace for long runs over the last couple of months; I could kind of tell I wouldn’t be able to stick with it for the whole race. So, I just relaxed, decided to slow down a bit and enjoy the race. In the end my average mile pace was still under 9 minutes, which I feel is pretty respectable, considering I wasn’t really training to run a particular time!)
A few raves about the race:
- I have to hand it to the people that put on this event….it was SO well run and well staffed. Hanging around the start area, you couldn’t spit without hitting a helpful volunteer.
- The wave/corral start system worked out incredibly well, at least for me. At first I was a bit miffed that I was put in the third (last) wave, with the 4:30 pace group, after stating on my entry that I expected to be under 4 hours. It worked in my favor in a big way though. I was in the very first group of that wave, meaning that I was literally one of the first runners off the line, ensuring NO crowding whatsoever at the start. And also, it was fun to pass people throughout the whole race. 🙂
- The course was very cool. With a couple of rare exceptions, there were literally crowds of people cheering the entire way. Major thanks to all of those spectators….especially considering that with the wave starts and the size of the race, by the time I passed it had been quite some time since the race started and the exciting (fast) runners came through.
And just a couple of (relatively minor) gripes:
- Chocolate PowerGel washed down with Lemon-Lime Gatorade?! Really? Who the hell thought that flavor combo was a good idea. It was like eating chocolate frosting and washing it down with a margarita. Yuck!
- The finish area. It was kind of a disaster. I realize that there is perhaps no logistical way to avoid this, but I do NOT want to walk for a mile, at a painfully slow shuffle, down a congested one-way path after running 26+ miles. My feet were absolutely killing me; all I wanted to do was sit – just for a minute! – to loosen up my laces and stretch. Ugh.
Post-race soreness hasn’t been too bad so far. A little stiffness in my legs, some beat up feet, and it takes me a while to descend the 5 flights of stairs from our apartment. But overall I am no worse for the wear! Looking forward to a week completely off of running though.
Overall, NYC Marathon was fantastic. I can truly say that this is probably the only marathon I’ve run that I would be very excited to run again.
But in the meantime….how about Chicago 2010??