When I looked at my watch after the race, I was bummed that I missed a PR by 10 seconds. Think about when Eliud Kipchoge ran London 2016 and he missed the world record by 7 seconds. While world record > my PR, and I cannot run as fast as Kipchoge, it is the same feeling! I have been thinking about how I could have made up those 10 seconds, but the only answer is that I should have run faster! I know that I did not run the tangents well because I did not know the course. My Garmin said I ran 26.5 miles. Were my legs recovered from Boston? Yes. (Coach Brian would probably say “No!”) Did I run as fast & as hard as I could? Definitely YES. Knowing that I gave it my all, I can accept my time and set my sights on that PR at another race!
Andrew knows that I hate training, but I love to race. I love a good race expo and I love a shiny new medal. It is hard to just run one race a season so I have often run back to back races. It is not as crazy as many people think. You pick one of the races to race and you treat the other race as a training run. Or you can race all of them! Your legs will learn how to recover and manage the high volume over time as long as you do not get injured frequently. If you are injury prone, then only sign up for one race at a time! Here’s my history of consecutive marathons run 1-3 weeks apart:
New York – Philly 2011 (2 weeks apart)
New York (unofficial) – 60K 2012 (2 weeks apart)
Chicago – New York – 60K 2013 (3 weeks apart, then 2 weeks apart)
Chicago – New York – 60K 2014 (3 weeks apart, then 2 weeks apart)
New York – Philly 2015 (2 weeks apart)
New York – Philly 2016 (2 weeks apart)
New York – Philly 2017 (2 weeks apart)
Boston – Big Sur 2014 (6 days apart)
Boston – Big Sur 2015 (6 days apart)
Boston – London 2016 (6 days apart)
Boston – New Jersey 2018 (2 weeks apart)
As noted above, all of my back to back marathons have included the NYC Marathon and Boston Marathon. Since those courses are tough, I have often used those as a training run. Going into Boston this year, I was in great shape (minus the sprained ankle), but the weather in Boston was not racing weather for me so I treated it as a fun run and prayed to the weather gods for good weather in New Jersey.
Imagine my excitement when I saw this in the weather app on the morning of the race….
Luckily, Andrew and I packed matching Marathon Tours ponchos! We drove to the start and sat in the car for as long as possible before the start of the race.
We managed to find our New York Flyers teammates before the race. The support from these teammates made this race more enjoyable!
My race plan was to try to stay at the back of the 3:25 pace group. I felt that my legs were recovered from Boston and I felt that I still had some speed in my legs so I decided to try to run a PR. I found the 3:25 pacers and fellow training teammates Justin, Mike, and Slava in the corral. Justin, Mike, and Slava were also going to run with the 3:25 group. I said to Mike & Slava that I hoped the 3:25 pacers run even splits. Behind us, I recognized the the 3:30 pacer, who I thought ran too fast in the first half of the 2017 Philly Marathon! He was one of the 3:30 pacers in NJ! That was extra motivation for me to stay ahead of him!
At 7:30AM, the race started and we were off! It was still raining a little bit and I noticed the humidity. The weather conditions felt a little like last year’s Steamtown Marathon where I PR’ed. Having PR’ed in those conditions gave me confidence that I could PR in these conditions as it was slightly cooler in NJ.
A 3:25 marathon requires you to run 7:49 minute/mile for 26.2 miles. In training, one of the workouts that gave me confidence was running 100 minutes at marathon pace. It was a workout that I dreaded, but with the help of two of my teammates, David and Na’eem, I was able to complete the workout at 7:47 pace. Na’eem BQ’ed at Revel Mt. Charleston the day before New Jersey and it got me really excited to race. I found myself during the race imagining that David and Na’eem were running with me just like during the 100 minute workout. It helped me mentally as there was a gap between me and the pace group for most of the race.
I stayed behind Justin, Mike, and Slava for the first half of the race to make sure that I did not go out too fast. Justin fell back after the half, so I kept my eyes on Mike and Slava. I had joked with Mike early in the race that he should not wear such a bright orange shirt because he was an easy target to see. Miles went by and I stayed on pace, but the 3:25 group seemed to be getting further and further away from me. Mike stopped to use the bathroom at mile 16. It took Mike about a mile to catch up and he said “Why didn’t you wait for me like Des waited for Shalane?! You could have won this race if you waited!” Haha. Mike quickly caught up to Slava and passed him. I caught up to Slava at mile 18 and he said he was okay, but ended up having to walk a little bit. After mile 19, I started to see other Flyers teammates on the other side of the road and it gave me a huge boost to see them and cheer them on.
The boost from seeing my teammates helped me stay on pace during that stretch because there was a serious headwind all the way to the finish. Our coach told us that he was going to be at Mile 20 to run people to the finish line. Coach Brian appeared a little bit after Mile 20 and he ran with Mike to Mile 21. I chased them for a mile and then Brian waited to run a mile with me. My legs were really hurting at that point and even though I was really happy to see Coach Brian, I could not show it. Sorry Coach! He asked me how I was doing and I think I said “Terrible” or “I hurt.” I ran behind him for a mile and we managed to catch up to Mike and then he went back to run other runners in. I told Mike “Let’s work together!”, but I ended up losing Mike. Sorry Mike!! I managed to hold my pace for another mile and then my legs started to shut down. The last mile was a blur. I knew the finish was on the boardwalk, but I did not know that we had to run off the boardwalk and back on right before the finish line! I remember seeing the New York Flyers cheer station at mile 25.5 and then running as fast as I could to the finish line.
Here are my splits! How I wish I could run those last 3 miles again!
After the finish line, I keeled over and leaned on the barricade for support. Someone told me to keep moving and I almost missed getting my medal. A volunteer saw me struggling to walk so she held me up and helped me walk through the finisher’s chute. I recognized a MarathonFoto photographer, Drew, who I met in Boston and I called out her name. She came to my rescue and helped me the rest of the way. Thank you guys so much!!! My legs were screaming “Why did you stop running?!” They were in a lot of pain. Imagine someone squeezing your leg, your quads want to explode, and someone is stabbing you at the same time. That kind of sums up how my legs felt after the finish. I cannot remember a time when my legs hurt that much after a race. I chugged a Gatorade while waiting for my teammates to cross the finish line. Many teammates ran PR’s, BQ’s, or PW’s that day. Andrew had a huge blister develop under his big toe and he had to stop twice to try to pop it. I was so happy to see everyone in the finish area and celebrate with them! Congrats everyone!!
Special thanks to the super Flyers Cheer Station at Mile 10 and Mile 25.5! Thanks to Andrew for driving both ways! Super husband!
Funny story: I always carry 2 Biofreeze packets on me just in case I get any leg cramps. They have saved me many times during a marathon. I did not cramp during the race, but my legs needed a little boost in the later miles so I used both packets. After the race, Andrew asked if I used Biofreeze on the course and I said “Yes! How did you know?” He told me that he saw an empty packet on the course and wondered if it was mine. It was! Hehehe=)