Some of the tulips in Washington Park in Albany, NY.
It’s been a little over three weeks since I hit the highway south from Albany, NY and settled into a La Quinta in Oceanport, NJ to take on 26.2 miles of the Garden State. As I have taken the time to recover from the race, I’ve also taken some time to reflect in my 2nd marathon, for which I had settled on a goal of just beating my time from the first one in October 2014.
The time to beat was 3:43. I thought it to be a reasonable quest because for as well as I did on my first ever marathon, I crashed hard at mile 21 and did not even come close to doing well with my in race nutrition. Armed with a much better mileage base and a better sense of what I would need to avoid the dreaded “wall”, I was pretty confident I could do well.
The forecast in the days leading up to the race had changed several times, fluctuating between overcast and sun, dry to rainy. I stopped checking, though, because whatever the weather gods were bringing, I was ready for. With the chance of the rain, I bought Glide, to help prevent blisters and any other maladies that could befall me in that weather. I had never used it before, but let’s just say it worked as well as could be expected.
With the race taking place on Sunday, I travelled down to NJ solo on Saturday afternoon. It was a nice drive as the weather on that day was wonderful. I checked into the hotel, got myself settled in, and then headed to the expo. There, I checked out the course maps, got my bib and shirt, and perused some other booths. I’m not big on expos really, but that’s mostly because there are far too many people for my liking.
After the expo I headed to Chipotle (yes, I know what you’re thinking) and got my tried and true dinner of rice and chicken (nothing else). Luckily for me it was the weekend of the NFL draft, Red Sox baseball, and lots of other distracting television options for my pleasure.
While a bunch of my friends were running this race, I was very much on my own. And that’s perfectly fine by me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my running buddies and all the miles we put down together, but only one person is dragging me through that finish line. Lone wolf mode activated.
With a start time of 7:30, I was up at 5 to eat and get ready for the race. I ate my banana, Greek yogurt, and granola bar while hydrating frequently. The start line was only .7 miles from my hotel, so I felt like walking over would be the best for my body and a warm up.
I dropped off my bag, used the bathroom, and before I knew it was in my section ready to rock. It was about this time it started to sprinkle. While it wasn’t cold, the rain and slight wind made it feel that way. The rain started when we did and never stopped until well after I did.
My goal was to run the first few miles around 8:20-8:25 and then get faster as the race wore on. This was much different than my race strategy the first time around. I went out much too fast in 2014 and I didn’t want to make that same mistake. Basically, I wanted to run consistent splits and check where I was every few miles as far as how I felt.
I’m a Cliff Shots chews kind of guy and I brought two and a half sleeves with me. My plan was to take two every 3 to 4 miles for the first 15 miles or so and then increase the frequency to every 2 or so miles. I was not letting the wall beat me this time.
Here are my splits from the race: 8:14, 8:07, 8:15, 8:07, 8:11, 8:11, 8:07, 8:10, 8:08, 8:15, 8:06, 8:13, 8:12, 8:10, 8:10, 8:08, 8:01, 8:05, 8:10, 8:16, 8:17, 8:05, 8:13, 8:28, 8:23, 8:13, 3:33 (.45 miles).
As you can see I was pretty consistent up until miles 24 and 25 but got back to in in the final mile and change. 24 and 25 were slightly uphill and my quads were feeling it. Everything else felt pretty good, all things considered. I crossed at 3:36:42 by my watch, a PR by nearly 7 minutes. I was ecstatic.
During the race there were a lot of fun signs, people cheering, and more. The weather was not fun, the scenery would have been better on a nicer day, and the post race options left a little to be desired. I ran in to some friends (who passed me in the last mile) afterwards.
We made plans to meet up later and eat everything. My one goal after the race was pizza and chocolate milk. Both of those were satisfied much later, but it was also worth the wait.
We also had some drinks to celebrate so many PRs! It was a great race despite the weather and while my mind was contemplating what the actual hell I was doing this for again during those miles, afterwards I was already thinking about which one I want to do next.
I’m not sure I would do this particular marathon again. It wasn’t the weather that soured me, but the course itself had many turns and twists. I would do the half though. If I think about it, my next marathon would probably be in a different state. I don’t think I could do all 50, but why not run the country and see what I can see.
Since the marathon, it’s been pretty business as usual. Long runs are shorter, but my mileage isn’t down too much. I’ve recovered well enough to take part in the corporate challenge and beat my previous year time by a handful of seconds.
Well that seems to be about the sum of it. Spring and sweaty season is here and I’ve got many races to get ready for. I’ll try to be better about writing about them.
Until next time, keep on runnin’!