Sunday, October 28, 2007

Six Days to Go...


That's my bib number.

The big day is Sunday, November 4.

If you would like to track me online, I believe if you go to the ING NYC Marathon results page on the day and input my name and/or bib number, it will display my last split time. There is a service called Athlete Tracker that sends e-mail alerts when I pass the split time mats, but it isn't reliable and I don't recommend it.

If you will be on the course, let me know exactly where you will be, and more importantly, what side of the street you will be on, and I will try to make it over there to say hello. Keep in mind that even though the starting gun goes off at 10:10, I might not get to the starting line for 20 minutes. I started approximating when I'd arrive at certain points along the course but it started giving me anxiety attacks so look further in this post for some helpful hints to my finishing time and do the math. This is a link to a simple course map from last year, better than the one on the offical Marathon website, although the official site has some fun video and course descriptions. There are more detailed maps online if you're looking to stake out a good locale.

Which leads us to...


A simple one.

Whoever guesses my actual finishing time -- not the time I cross under the clock, but my chip time -- without going over (thank you, The Price is Right!) will be the GRAND PRIZE WINNER! I'm not sure of what, yet, but you'll win it!

Now, to make this prediction, you can access my training log, compare my half marathons and long runs (the rule of thumb is, take your average half-marathon time and add 15 minutes) and make an educated guess.

Or I'll give you my prediction as a guideline: somewhere between 4 hours 15 and 4 hours 30. Hopefully not more than 4:30, ideally less than 4:15.

There are lots of factors that may play into my time. First and foremost is the weather, which is currently slated to be low of 51, high of 62, and cloudy (and if you don't think I haven't been checking it obsessively...) But it could rain; in fact, they were predicting rain on Sunday up until sometime tonight.

Secondly, I am in the green start corral, which means that instead of the glorious views of Brooklyn and Manhattan from the upper roadway, I will have the inglorious view of the contruction project on the lower roadway. Additionally, they are sending the green corral out in waves, and I will be in the last wave (thanks, Road Runners!) And if it isn't raining on Sunday, there will almost certainly be golden showers overhead (that has nothing to do with my start time, but it's an interesting, if disgusting, bit of trivia.)

Lastly is the unpredictability of my peanut bladder. In case you didn't read last year's blog, I went to the bathroom 7 times before the race even began, and I needed to go almost immediately after crossing the start line. I have vowed to drink only one cup of coffee at breakfast, and to not wait in line for a portapotty, if you know what I mean. But I might wuss out, should I need to go.

All those aside, I am in the best shape of my life, and the good thing about the green start is that it will hold me back for the first two miles and force me to go slow. And as we can see from the sidebars and previous race reports (like the one coming up in a moment) I do very well when I start out really slow and pick up the pace later on.

SO, all those factors, my do the math. Send your predictions to

Today was the final race before next Sunday's little jog, the Poland Spring Marathon Kick-Off. A five-miler. 52 degrees. 6,000 people. Here's how it breaks down:

Mile 1 -- super-crowded. Started way back. We didn't move until 5 minutes after the starting gun. Enjoyed being held back by the crowd. Time -- 11:21

Mile 2 -- no iPod, no water bottles, nothing. Running nekkid. Listened to conversations instead. Ran for a bit with a small group of ex-addicts, they were really interesting. One of their group was embarrassed about wearing their shirt, he was teased. Higher powers were praised. Talked with another person who was skeptical about walking the water stations, and confirmed his friend telling him to walk them. Time -- 9:43

Mile 3 -- Started passing people, but only pushing to pass them. Powered up the slight uphill past the ballfield. Barely felt it. Decided that each mile now needed to be faster than the mile before, even though I wasn't hugely pushing. I could hear some people really straining out there. I didn't know if they were pre-marathoners or just running a 5 miler. At this mile I felt soooo good. My tendonitis --barely felt it. No foot pain. No back pain. Legs felt great, plenty left in the tank. Time -- 9:13

Mile 4 -- Now we're on the last two miles of the marathon course. I paid careful, careful attention. Needed to get past packs of Team in Training people. I'm glad they're running for a purpose, but could someone teach them not to run five abreast? It's rude. The start of the downhill portion of the course. I let myself really fly down Cat Hill. At the uphill part of 72nd St, right when you pass the transverse, I saw Jen, and I powered up that hill to catch her. She was motoring, and into her iPod, so once we hit the 4-mile mark I moved past her. I didn't even feel that friggin' hill, and I always hate that hill. Now I embrace it. Time -- 8:49

Mile 5 -- Sauce time, and this time there was plenty of sauce in the tank, and legs strong enough to pour it all over Central Park. I paid attention to everyone and everything. I saw the turn-off to Central Park South, where we'd be exiting the Park. We hit the bottom of the lower loop and started rounding the bend back up towards Tavern on the Green. This is uphill and usually I have a lot of difficulty at this point, because I'm usually exhausted. Today I felt like I was just getting warmed up. I didn't look at my watch as I approached the finish line. I have never felt so strong. I charged across the finish line.

Did I keep to my word? Was the fifth mile a faster one than the previous four?

Time --7:53

The best five-miler, and perhaps the best run of my life.

This is my strategy for the marathon, played out in miniature: start slow, and gain speed as I go.

After the race, a quick shower and then the traditional team brunch at City Grill. Here are some photos to finish off tonight's post, you can view all the brunch photos, and my candid team photos taken throughout training at my Kodak Gallery site.

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