On November 7th, we took the bus provided by the Runner’s Stop. We left Lynbrook at 5:40 in direction to Staten Island. This year, we didn’t get dropped off immediately, but stayed on the bus parked near the start until 8:30, shortening the long wait in the cold weather. The 1st wave didn’t go off until 9:40.
I was in the green start of the wave 1. I paid attention to loud speaker announcements and got in the corral on time to avoid the last year adventure. The run across the Verrazano bridge was slow due to the strong wind. I kept my throw away jacket on across the whole span, tossing it in Brooklyn. Shortly after the jacket, I threw away the the shirt, too, keeping just the gloves.
I licked some salt, used a gel and swallowed an Ibuprofen pill. At each fluid station I sipped a little without stopping. I planned to stop at mile 7 in Brooklyn and greet my family. I got a gel, salt, vaseline, and a water bottle from them. At that point I was only 50 sec. behind my goal to finish the marathon under 3 hours.
I felt excellent and strong. I didn’t panic and kept the same pace except few fluid stations where I stopped and refilled the water bottle. After each stop, I looked for a guy from Martinique. His jacket was shiny lime color, highly visible, and he never stopped while running in similar pace with me. I knew I would be on the same pace whenever I got to him again.
Miles were passing by and I was still 40–50 sec. behind depending on if the course was uphill or downhill. Around mile 12, on a downhill, I left my pacer from Martinique behind and concentrated on arriving to half the marathon mark within 1 minute behind my goal. When crossing the mark, I replayed my last year half point crossing. I definitely was more tired then, than I was this year. Last year, I just didn’t know about it. I was confident I could get back on time, as I was planning to start pushing the second half.
I was comfortably climbing up the 59th Street bridge when the beep of my watch alerted me I should be near the mile 15 mark. Yet, that was not the case. I lost additional 1.5 minute on that climb and didn’t even register how that happened. I was 2.5 minute behind. I sped up on the other side of the bridge and continued pushing on the First Avenue. I was still confident at that point I could finish under 3 hours. I felt good. I was passing more people than being passed.
One guy, I remember specifically, as he passed me unusually fast for mile 17. I was considering staying with him for a while, just to get out from my monotone pace. But he was way too fast for me. I didn’t want to expend all my energy running on the First Avenue. Soon I found out the cause of his spur of speed. He was greeted by a group of people. After that encounter, the distance between us stopped increasing and later, around mile 21 I got past him. I had an another entertainer.
Around mile 19, I started hearing behind me very loud shouting of encouragement and was listening to it. Slogans like: “dig deep”, “it’s 90% mental, dude”, “no one is gonna give it to you, you have to earn it” were making bystanders laugh. I was not laughing. It was serious for me.The shouts continued and got closer. Evidently, it was a runner pushing some other runner(s) and they were getting up to me. I followed the slogans and pushed harder. I felt excellent and needed that push, as the First Avenue long uphill increased my gap to 3 minutes.
Nevertheless, the pusher got ahead of me and I was looking for his company. He had none. He was screaming his lungs out for himself. Of course, until he reached me. I hooked up with him. We were in The Bronx. I knew he was my only chance to get those 3 minutes back. We were passing many runners, but his loud shouting got to him and slowed down. I was alone again. Not for long, though.
Shortly after mile 22 marker, Jacqueline showed up from the crowd, asking what I needed and was running with me. I asked for the water only. The small 6 oz. water bottle I got at mile 7 proved to be the best idea I introduced at this marathon. I can’t drink from cups distributed alongside the course. I always spilled, filled my nose even when squeezing the cup, choked, than coughed. Instead, with the bottle, I stopped, filled the bottle, started running, and then sipped. It was more efficient.
After Jacqueline adjusted to my pace, she jumped ahead and was leading me through the crowd. Her goal was to eliminate the 3-minute gap on the 3 miles she wanted to run with me. Something what I wasn’t able to do on the past 7 miles. We were flying, weaving, passing probably several hundred runners. Many were already just walking, mainly younger guys who overdid the beginning and ran out of fuel. I replayed my last year run through the same section. I was in the slow lane, I could not move faster, seeing the faces of bystanders blurred and their cheering was just a distant noise to me.
Jacqueline really did great. She helped me reduce the gap by a minute which I kept for another mile to the final time of 3:02:07. When walking away from the finish line to the UPS truck, I realized how beaten I was last year. Even after Boston marathon, I was more exhausted than after this marathon. Experience and preparation count. And if I had a training partner of the same pace, I could run a marathon in 2:50. Yet first, I still have to achieve my unfulfilled goal of this marathon—break the 3-hour barrier.
Statistics: bib # 3-706, time 3:02;07, overall place (compared to 2009 results) 1053 (1961), age group 108 (242), pace 6:58 (7:18)