2019: New York City Marathon

Like many aspiring marathoners, I had entered my name in the 2019 NYC Marathon Sweepstakes Application as well as the general lottery about 10 months ago. But the random numbers weren’t in my favor, on both occasions, for this World Marathon Majors event. New York Road Runners (NYRR), the parent organization caring for this marathon, provided an option to earn a guaranteed non-complimentary entry in 2020. All I had to do was sign up for a virtual marathon (i.e., run 26.2 miles in a single activity along my chosen course) within a certain window of time, tag it as a race in Strava and wait for NYRR officials to verify it. So, I had signed up and expected to make this virtual marathon the last race of the 2019 calendar year. I was content with training towards 2019 Chicago Marathon and looked forward to being a part of the world’s biggest road marathon in 2020.

TeamULTRA

While scrolling through my instagram feed in early June, I happened to see a sponsored (i.e., sponsored by Instagram) post titled Plog Your Way Into The 2019 TCS New York City Marathon. Although I didn’t know the term plogging until a couple years  ago (i.e., until doing it with my friends in Keweenaw Running Group once or twice a year), it was something I had been doing for many years … well before I got into running. I turned in my entry and to be completely honest, I didn’t think anything would come out of it.

As my good fortune would have it, I happened to be one of the 95 chosen to be a part of TeamULTRA 3.0 to run the 2019 New York City Marathon! Truth be told, I thought the email notification about the award/reward notification was spam and had deleted it. I was/am glad that deleting a message in Gmail only puts in the Trash and doesn’t purge. I was/am even gladder (if it’s even a word?) I could retrieve the deleted message back to the Inbox and not miss out on this wonderful opportunity.

Change of plans

I had stayed true to the prescribed schedule for week #01 of a 15-week training cycle starting from early July culminating in Chicago in mid-October. I had rationed the week #02 miles do well in 2019 Run The Keweenaw – A Festival of Trails but had suffered a mild sprain/hyper-extension of the left ankle. The pain had re-surfaced over the final few miles of 2019 Canal Run Half Marathon at the end of week #03. I am eternally grateful for a family of friends visit the Yoop from the UK in week #04. If not for the blessing of their good company with good food and outings, I would have very likely trained through the pain and the potential injury resulting therefrom would have likely wrecked the longer term training. 

On the other hand, in only two weeks of interactions, the TeamULTRA folks organizing and coordinating various aspects of the Big Apple trip had been super kind and very efficient. With a seemingly endless list of amenities they provided making me feel like an elite athlete, I figured the least I could do was to honor them with dedicated training and my best performance to date on race day. Taking the healed ankle into account, I designed a 14-week plan … re-starting my training in late July ending in New York City with TeamULTRA organizers, teammates and their families.

Training cycle & eye candies

Notation: Easy (E) | Long (L) | Race (R) | Speed (S) | Tempo (T)
Distance in miles and time in h:mm:ss
Wk Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
Week Cycle
01 07/29
E 6.00
10.25
1:29:32
07/30
S 2.00
6.52
1:29:50
07/31
E 6.00
10.38
2:24:31
08/01
T 3.00
6.30
1:26:53
08/02
E 6.00
10.04
2:56:27
08/03
L 12.00
13.16
2:05:27
08/04
Rest
-
-
35.00
56.65
11:52:40
35.00
56.65
11:52:40
02 08/05
E 6.00
11.35
1:45:11
08/06
S 2.00
6.40
1:27:59
08/07
E 6.00
10.34
1:37:54
08/08
T 4.00
8.03
1:09:28
08/09
E 6.00
3.15
1:59:55
08/10
L 13.00
13.11
1:38:06
08/11
Rest
7.16
1:11:56
37.00
59.54
10:50:29
72.00
116.19
22:43:09
 

W02D06 (08/10) was the 2019 Paavo Nurmi Half Marathon in Hurley, WI.

03 08/12
E 6.00
11.46
1:53:28
08/13
S 3.00
7.41
1:33:49
08/14
E 6.00
10.14
2:06:07
08/15
T 5.00
9.10
1:48:23
08/16
E 6.00
10.03
2:37:23
08/17
L 15.00
15.62
2:12:21
08/18
Rest
-
-
41.00
63.76
12:11:31
113.00
179.95
34:54:40
04 08/19
E 6.00
7.59
1:27:33
08/20
S 2.00
5.04
0:45:14
08/21
E 6.00
6.89
1:23:19
08/22
T 4.00
5.24
1:00:44
08/23
E 6.00
10.10
2:59:59
08/24
L 11.00
13.64
2:39:38
08/25
Rest
7.19
1:16:14
35.00
55.69
11:32:41
148.00
235.64
46:27:21
Wk Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
Week Cycle
05 08/26
E 6.00
-
-
08/27
S 3.00
6.31
1:02:11
08/28
E 6.00
10.57
2:16:46
08/29
T 5.00
13.32
3:13:49
08/30
E 6.00
3.37
0:31:56
08/31
L 17.00
18.12
2:22:22
09/01
Rest
12.64
1:56:59
43.00
64.33
11:24:03
191.00
299.97
57:51:24
 

W05D06 (08/31) was the 2019 Marquette Half Marathon in Marquette, MI.

06 09/02
E 6.00
5.47
1:03:48
09/03
S 4.00
-
0:30:00
09/04
E 6.00
-
1:30:00
09/05
T 6.00
-
-
09/06
E 6.00
2.58
0:22:51
09/07
L 18.00
9.37
1:11:04
09/08
Rest
-
-
46.00
17.42
4:37:43
237.00
317.39
62:29:07
 

W06D06 (09/07) was the 2019 Last Chance BQ.2 Marathon in Grand Rapids, MI (DNF).

07 09/09
E 6.00
12.66
1:49:07
09/10
S 3.00
6.46
0:58:04
09/11
E 6.00
8.42
3:31:39
09/12
T 6.00
-
-
09/13
E 6.00
-
-
09/14
L 20.00
16.60
2:08:06
09/15
Rest
5.01
0:52:55
47.00
49.15
9:19:51
284.00
366.54
71:48:58
 

W07D06 (09/14) was the 2019 Last Chance BQ.2 Marathon in Geneva, IL (DNF).

08 09/16
E 6.00
-
1:30:00
09/17
S 4.00
6.64
1:14:56
09/18
E 6.00
8.40
1:16:49
09/19
T 5.00
-
-
09/20
E 6.00
-
-
09/21
L 13.00
20.21
2:55:00
09/22
Rest
6.27
1:08:32
40.00
41.52
8:05:17
324.00
408.06
79:54:15
Wk Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
Week Cycle
09 09/23
E 6.00
6.26
1:05:59
09/24
S 4.00
7.05
0:59:21
09/25
E 6.00
10.03
2:01:25
09/26
T 7.00
7.14
3:12:10
09/27
E 6.00
-
-
09/28
L 20.00
16.11
2:03:06
09/29
Rest
5.45
0:55:45
49.00
52.04
10:17:46
373.00
460.10
90:12:01
 

W09D06 (09/28) was the 2019 Bridges & Bluffs Half Marathon in Ironwood, MI.

10 09/30
E 5.00
-
-
10/01
S 2.00
-
-
10/02
E 5.00
5.52
0:48:37
10/03
T 4.00
-
-
10/04
E 5.00
6.28
2:00:42
10/05
L 10.00
10.01
1:56:07
10/06
Rest
12.03
1:44:39
31.00
33.84
6:30:05
404.00
493.94
96:42:06
11 10/07
E 4.00
3.21
0:33:33
10/08
S 2.00
-
-
10/09
E 4.00
7.02
1:33:41
10/10
Rest
-
2:00:00
10/11
E 3.00
3.12
0:30:45
10/12
R 26.22
26.31
3:29:27
10/13
Rest
-
-
39.22
39.66
8:07:26
443.22
533.60
104:49:32
 

W11D06 (10/12) was the 2019 WhistleStop Marathon in Ashland, WI.

12 10/14
E 3.00
5.03
1:23:43
10/15
E 4.00
5.01
0:52:14
10/16
E 5.00
4.12
1:08:04
10/17
E 6.00
6.25
1:04:19
10/18
E 8.00
8.37
2:18:44
10/19
L 13.00
10.13
2:50:48
10/20
Rest
12.97
2:20:55
39.00
51.88
11:58:47
482.22
585.48
116:48:19
Wk Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
Sun
Week Cycle
13 10/21
E 5.00
-
-
10/22
S 1.50
5.04
0:48:13
10/23
E 5.00
6.06
1:01:48
10/24
T 2.00
5.30
0:48:43
10/25
E 5.00
-
2:30:00
10/26
L 10.00
6.37
0:50:12
10/27
Rest
7.05
1:15:28
28.50
29.82
7:14:24
510.72
615.30
124:02:43
14 10/28
E 3.00
3.24
0:33:05
10/29
E 3.00
3.25
0:59:40
10/30
E 3.00
3.27
3:02:05
10/31
Rest
-
-
11/01
Rest
-
-
11/02
E 3.00
3.30
0:39:18
11/03
R 26.22
26.22
3:38:19
38.22
39.28
8:52:27
548.94
654.58
132:55:10
Spectrum of activities by type (time)
Spectrum of distance by range (run)
Spectrum of distance by feel (run)
Spectrum of heart rates by zones
Spectrum of footwear usage by distance

Race weekend

Thursday

Travel arrangements – flying to New York and lodging therein – had been taken care of by lovely folks of TeamULTRA in mid-to-late July. Given the uncertainty of weather this time of the year in our part of the universe and the likelihood of weather-/airline-induced travel delays, I had chosen to fly out of Green Bay, WI. Part of the preparations included watching (and re-watching) Run For Your Life – The Fred Lebow Story, reading any number of race reports from other runners and borrowing the GPS file from Susan Hales (a fellow teammate) to learn as much as I could about the course and (history of) the event. 

Though I made a packing list and had been putting the items on the list away for a couple days, I didn’t necessarily pack anything until Thursday noon. After completing packing and grabbing a bit of leftovers at home for lunch, I left Houghton around 1:30 pm. An uneventful drive with a couple of pitstops took me to Green Bay by 4:30 pm local time. Liz Robbins’ A Race Like No Other kept me good company during the drive. Good ole friends, Katie and Kelley, were able to free up their schedule on short notice to meet me for dinner. The venue, HuHot Mongolian Grill, was a no brainer. She had taken me there years ago, and it has remained a favorite in spite of exploring and expanding culinary frontiers in Green Bay. The food and the experience did not disappoint, and the company made it all better! HuHot had even added Zoodles (i.e., spiralized zucchini) as an unprocessed alternative to traditional noodles! A quick stop in Run Away Shoes for a chat before calling it a night before 9 pm in the cozy comforts of Hotel J.

Friday

The very reason I booked my flight out of Green Bay was to avoid any potential delays. In an ironic turn of events, the flight out of Houghton/Hancock took off on time while the mine out of Green Bay was delayed by an hour. But the TSA, flight crew and fellow passengers made the Green Bay-Chicago flight go by like a blink of an eye. Taking a lesson out of Meb’s book, 26 Marathons, I decided to not check any of my luggage, and kept everything I needed for race day in my backpack with me at all times. Though the original 2-hour layover in Chicago was cut short to about 45 minutes, the Chicago-NYC flight wasn’t boarding on time. There were a group of NYC-bound runners (one of them wore The jacket) willing to chat making the time go by easily. In spite of all this, the flight crew even got us to LaGuardia Airport (LGA) several minutes ahead of schedule as Liz Robbins’ A Race Like No Other kept me good company during much of the flight.

Making an effort to get to know as many of the TeamULTRA teammates via a social platform over the last many weeks helped relate to Andrea, a runner from Oklahoma … at a street crossing on my way out of LGA. We and another couple (guess what, they were also in town for the marathon) shared the Uber ride to our respective accommodations. My original plan, once checked into the hotel, was to run a few easy laps around an extended city block in Jamaica. No, not the Jamaica in the Caribbean but the one that’s known to help gain self-transcendence (more information about this Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race is here and there). But the divinity was in the details – the metro mode of transportation, though economical, would take me over an hour each way and the Uber mode, though not much faster, gave a 3-digit estimate.

With self-transcendence ruled out for the evening, I checked the official app to see if the packet pickup was a possibility. That’s when I found out about the official opening ceremony in Central Park within walking distance from the hotel. I had seen the last year’s video footage of it and the Parade of Nations had looked very festive. Walking the final few tenths of a mile of the Sunday’s marathon course, with banners hanging from lamp posts honoring legends to find a seat in the Grand Stand was quite goosebumpy!

Waiting in the said Grand Stand for nearly an hour for the ceremony to start was well worth it: I got to sit in the very front row, next to a lovely and supportive family, across from a very vociferous Kiwi contingent and not too far from the never difficult to miss group from Brazil! I was expecting each country’s athletes/runners to make up the parade but turned out it was the citizens of New York City who showed up to show off their country pride. The cutest one of them all was a 80+ year young lone representative from a battle-/conflict-torn country carrying the groceries (likely for dinner that night) in both hands accompanied by a flag-bearer!

As the hour-long Opening Ceremony was drawing to a close, I headed out of the Park with walkways lit up mostly by a spectacular display of fireworks. Getting to meet many of the Boston Buddies (BBs) that I have only known by name or their Facebook profile (e.g., Edgecombe, David, Irena, Kati, Mike, Tim, Tom, Vince, …) at The Three Monkeys as well as emptying two (yeah, TWO) customized bowls (Broadway Bowl: brown rice, black beans, roasted corn, tomato, cauliflower, cilantro, red onions, chili cumin, lime vinaigrette with avocado and quinoa; Quinoa Bowl: quinoa, bell pepper, jalapeño, red onions, tomato, roasted corn, black beans, avocado, cilantro and mango curry sauce) while chugging down (and often double-fisting) pints upon pints of neat Lake Superior Vodka made for a lovely evening.

It felt rather surreal to have returned to this region – that I once was local to – as a new (because 10 years have passed) and improved (because running and nordic skiing have brought me in touch with so many lovely people over the past 4-5 years) version of myself.  In less than 12 hours of being in the city, I had already heard of or seen the likes of Amby, Bill, Deena, Eliud, Frank, Joan, Kathrine, Meb, Paula, Shalane and more. There were even confirmed rumors that some of my nordic skiing heroes – Caitlin Gregg, Brian Gregg and Kikkan Randall – would be blazing the five boroughs as well! The collective energy surrounding this event was quite unmistakeable and I was feeling a little giddy being a starstruck fanboy! Being the night before the night before and that, in turn, being my last best chance to get a full night of sleep, I was back at the casa and called it a night well before 10 pm … excitedly looking forward to the pre-race day experience.

Saturday

When I woke up early on Saturday morning, first thought was to take a train out to Jamaica and gain some self-transcendence. But it being the day before, there were plenty of shakeout runs to pick from and I decided to run solo down Broadway and up on 7th Avenue. Garmin expectedly had difficulty keeping up with satellites in the concrete jungle. So, I went from a distance-based run to a time-based one and completed the shakeout run around 8:15 am – more than 24-hours before the scheduled start of my wave. A quick shower and an Uber ride later, I found myself at the expo to pick my race packet. Thanks to TeamULTRA folks working their magic, NYRR extended a VIP status and the result was a breezy fast time through the expo.  

Not wanting to be late for the group photo with the Buddies, I took another Uber ride to Columbus Circle. Though I missed the photo, I finally got a chance to meet the legendary Dr. Gene Dykes. While we were looking for other Buddies and chatting about future races, etc., I happened to notice a tall guy walking with his luggage and mentioned to Dr. Dykes, That looks like Amby Burfoot. Low and behold, it was Amby Burfoot – winner of 1968 Boston Marathon and the author of many books as well as Runner’s World articles! It wasn’t a surprise that those two knew each other but I was blown away by both of them making me feel like I had known them all my life!!

After some more photos (thanks to another BB, Edgecombe and her friend, Tom), I headed down to Grand Central Station to meet a good ole friend, Jess, who graciously spent a few hours (and helped me pick out a pair of shades) showing me around the city I hadn’t explored before! Shortly after 4 pm, I got a bite of reliable food in a mom-and-pop diner not too far from the Penn Station, and arrived at the TeamULTRA dinner with fellow teammates around 6 pm. It was so cool to meet many of them in person and it felt like I had known them all along. One of our teammates happened to be Dean Karnazes! He too was kind enough to spend meaningful time and make me feel like I had known him all my life!!

Shortly afterwards, I headed back to the home base and set up the race day gear. Knowing that the subway rat had seen its shadow which meant good weather for the marathon, I peacefully called it a night around 9:15 pm.

 

Race day

The prelude to a marathon is one of the life's strangest yet most vivid times. It is a time of intensity yet relaxation, apprehension yet resolve; a time of deeply introspective solitude in the midst of the biggest jostling throng most of us will join. So many people, intent on a separate inward commitment, but united in one common physical endeavor. Our motive is private, the context public. We are strangers who are instant comrades, competitors bonded by the shared knowledge that we are all about to undertake one of the hardest tasks in our lives. Ahead lie strenuous effort, weariness, and pain, but we will endure it all voluntarily, for the sheer enjoyment of trying.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
And the final moment before the race everywhere is the same, and it is magical. The music, the anthems, the speeches, the cheers, and the chatter all cease, and at last the runners are silent. For runners compulsively in motion, it is a unique moment of stillness. For 5 or 10 seconds everyone in that vast crowd looks silently inward and forward. All feel the premonitory glow, the flicker of readiness, like dry wood about to flare into a flame. Then the gun is fired. And the marathon begins.

I was grateful, thanks to Jess, to have had just about the right amount of walking to tire me out just enough so that I could sleep through the night. I woke up fairly well-rested a few minutes before the first alarm went off at 4:30 am. If TeamULTRA hadn’t been treating me like an elite, I would have had to be up much sooner and get myself to the Staten Island ferry. And catch a bus/shuttle in the said Island to the start village in Fort Wadsworth. But myself and rest of the team were transported to the start village in a coach … just like the sponsored and elite athletes! We left our Manhattan hotel around 6 am and we arrived at the start village in Staten Island around 7:45 am …. without a hassle or a headache! A portion of the ride time was spent chatting with fellow teammates and rest in wrapping up the final preparations – reading a series of freshly minted articles, The Bridges of NYC, in Podium Runner. 

Getting through the security screening and into the village was a breeze … given the number of runners in the event! It was close to 8:15 am and I found a few square feet of unoccupied area to meditate. An unknown but fellow runner (I am rather ashamed I didn’t ask for his name or note down his bib number) graciously offered 2-sided sticky tapes that could securely attach the bib to my singlet without needing any pins. And it worked like a charm! As I was getting done with that task, an announcement came over the public announcement system that it was time for wave #1 runners to get into the respective corrals.

I recall spending about half my time in the corral chatting with previously unknown folks. The other half was spent quietly meditating, contemplating a conservative start per recommendations from Stephen, Ray, Laura, Natalie, David, Dr. Robinson (in his Podium Runner article) and fellow runners as well as imagining one final time as to where I should be after mile #20, how I should feel when I enter the Central Park and such. The overall collection of my feelings in the moments leading up to the start – the way I felt them and the way I wish I could write about them – are immaculately articulated in Chapter #1: The Prelude To A Race of 26.2: Marathon Stories by Kathrine Switzer and Dr. Roger Robinson.

While inside the tent, I had heard the cannon go off and Frank Sinatra singing Start Spreading The News to send Des Linden, Queen Mary, Sarah Hall and rest of the elite/pro women off. It was only a few minutes before the start of my own wave that I realized, thanks to fellow teammate Lauren, that elite/pro men were just a couple hundred feet ahead on the upper deck! Just as I looked up, there were parachuters coming down with colorful smokes and waving the American flag. I recall hearing a few words from Michael Capiraso (the president and CEO of NYRR) and Jim Heim (the race director), and the cannon went off again. Frank Sinatra started singing Start Spreading The News yet again as wave #1 runners – including pro/elite men of the likes of Abdi Abdirahman, Jared Ward, Geoffrey Kamworor, Lelisa Desisa – took off ascending the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.

26.22 mi, 3:38:18, 8:20 min/mile (5:10 min/km), 7.20 mph (11.58 kmph)
Garmin Forerunner 935 and Tempe Sensor, Stryd Power Meter, and WP GPX Maps Plugin

For one of the very few times and maybe the first of times in a marathon (hopefully, of plenty more to come), I started well within myself. As much as I would have loved to start on the upper deck of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, running on the lower deck saved me a few feet of ascent and descent. I had kept the first mile well outside of my intended target pace, I had saved my calves on the downhill into Brooklyn and remembering Dr. Robinson’s article in Podium Runner, I had maintained a one-way communication with the crowd that lined up few deep on either side – just absorbing the kind energy they offered and I offered nothing in return to any of them. I won’t lie, it did feel selfish but I opted to focus my resources on what mattered to me – good and easy breathing, relaxed and tall posture, cadence in the neighborhood of 175 and keeping the heart rate in Z2-Z3. What energy remained was used to stay committed and engaged  (if not married) to the blue line whenever it was visible. The aid-station volunteer outfits were also color-coded (orange for electrolyte and green for plain water) – a stroke of genius, if you ask me – eliminating the need to think whenever I passed through one.

Remembering more lessons, I offered all the respect that every bridge commanded, up and down, and picked up the pace a little whenever the course permitted. Off the very few things I do remember from the run were dozens of spectators offering paper towels and napkins (to wipe our face or blow the nose) and fresh fruits. One other thing I do remember, only because it nearly ended my run as well as that of few others around me, was a spectator trying to cross the road with their bike in Brooklyn. Other than these and briefly looking for a dear friend on the Queens side of the Queensboro Bridge, the race was a blur …. at least until I completed mile #20.

Event distance: 26.22 miles; Goal time: 3:29:28
Lap Cumulative
# Time Avg.
HR
Avg.
Cad
kCal Elev
Gain
Loss
Avg.
Temp
Distance Time Avg.
Pace
Elev
Gain
Loss
Projected
Finish Time
Differential
Goal Time
01 9:36 153 175 119 141 23 53.6 1.00 0:09:36 9:36 141 023 4:11:42 -0:42:14
02 7:26 151 176 91 00 177 50.0 2.00 0:17:02 8:30 141 200 3:42:52 -0:13:24
03 8:06 160 175 104 39 13 57.2 3.00 0:25:08 8:22 180 213 3:39:22 -0:09:54
04 7:56 161 175 102 23 20 55.4 4.00 0:33:04 8:16 203 233 3:36:45 -0:07:17
05 7:49 162 175 101 13 33 55.4 5.00 0:40:53 8:10 216 266 3:34:07 -0:04:39
06 7:41 164 175 100 20 49 55.4 6.00 0:48:34 8:05 236 315 3:31:57 -0:02:29
07 9:01 159 152 100 23 36 55.4 7.00 0:57:35 8:13 259 351 3:35:26 -0:05:58
08 7:49 164 174 101 30 03 53.6 8.00 1:05:24 8:10 289 354 3:34:07 -0:04:39
09 8:01 162 174 98 59 33 55.4 9.00 1:13:25 8:09 348 387 3:33:41 -0:04:13
10 7:38 163 176 95 07 52 55.4 10.00 1:21:03 8:06 355 439 3:32:22 -0:02:54
11 7:58 164 173 100 43 07 57.2 11.00 1:29:01 8:05 398 446 3:31:57 -0:02:29
12 7:50 163 174 94 13 49 57.2 12.00 1:36:51 8:04 411 495 3:31:30 -0:02:02
13 7:54 165 173 98 30 23 57.2 13.00 1:44:45 8:03 441 518 3:31:04 -0:01:36
14 8:00 166 174 98 46 49 59.0 14.00 1:52:45 8:03 487 567 3:31:04 -0:01:36
15 8:28 167 173 109 69 07 57.2 15.00 2:01:13 8:04 556 574 3:31:30 -0:02:02
16 8:40 166 172 105 82 66 57.2 16.00 2:09:53 8:07 638 640 3:32:49 -0:03:21
17 7:53 169 175 95 20 66 55.4 17.00 2:17:46 8:06 658 706 3:32:22 -0:02:54
18 7:44 170 173 103 30 52 57.2 18.00 2:25:30 8:05 688 758 3:31:57 -0:02:29
19 7:52 172 173 105 03 00 57.2 19.00 2:33:22 8:04 691 758 3:31:30 -0:02:02
20 8:24 169 171 107 46 16 57.2 20.00 2:41:46 8:05 737 774 3:31:57 -0:02:29
21 8:20 171 172 110 26 39 60.8 21.00 2:50:06 8:06 763 813 3:32:22 -0:02:54
22 8:21 170 170 109 10 20 64.4 22.00 2:58:27 8:06 773 833 3:32:22 -0:02:54
23 9:06 165 169 104 20 13 64.4 23.00 3:07:33 8:09 793 846 3:33:41 -0:04:13
24 9:40 165 167 106 85 07 55.4 24.00 3:17:13 8:13 878 853 3:35:26 -0:05:58
25 9:22 161 170 81 33 66 64.4 25.00 3:26:35 8:15 911 919 3:36:19 -0:06:51
26 9:03 163 169 88 39 30 66.2 26.00 3:35:38 8:17 950 949 3:37:11 -0:07:43
27 2:44 165 169 30 13 03 59.0 26.31 3:38:22 8:17 963 952 3:37:11 -0:07:43
The units are as follows: miles for Distance, m:ss (or h:mm:ss as applicable) for Time, min/mile for Pace, bpm for HR, spm for Cadence, ft for Elevation Gain/Loss and F for Temperature.

The final cumulative time, 3:38:22, may not match the actual time owing to rounding errors. The overall distance, 26.31 miles, may not match the designated event distance owing to idiosyncrasies associated with GPS data collection and in some rare cases, incorrectly measured courses. As a result, the cumulative pace and the projected finish time might not match the recorded values as well. The Garmin Tempe sensor doesn't work at times and as such, the recorded temperature could be that of my body ... shifted by prevailing ambient temperature.

Starting around the halfway point, I had been using only one in every three aid-stations to gain a few seconds and it worked. Two goals Ray had suggested I go after were to keep the final 10 km under 50 minutes and not have any mile splits slower than 9:59 min/mile. I had completed mile #20 a few ticks shy of 2:42 and accomplishing both those goals would have potentially earned me a new PR. Miles #21 and #22 weren’t that bad – the sign from one of the spectators, Last Damn Bridge, made me chuckle a bit.

But the onset of cramps in hamstrings area in both legs coupled with the longish ascents of 5th Avenue and Central Park slowed me down noticeably. With one of the two goals, final 10 km under 50 minutes, out of reach, my focus shifted to achieving the second one. Fearing I might not be able to run if I stopped to stretch or walked, I attempted a few 6-8/8-10 seconds surges (similar to what I had done in WhistleStop Marathon over the same-ish miles) and butt kicks to engage different muscles. With about 0.50 miles left in the race, the cramps disappeared!

As I made the final right turn into Central Park near Columbus Circle, I felt fresh and like I was making a stronger push. Channeling my inner Shalane Flanagan but keeping those magical words to myself, I crossed the finish line at 3:38:18 (official result here). It was good enough for 8195/53508 overall, 6525/30794 in gender, 1132/4858 in AG and 20/379 by country of origin. I gave Jim Heim, the race director who just happened to be on the other side of finish line, a sweaty hug and bartered my finisher medal for lot many more sweaty hugs and high fives with volunteers – not one of them flinched or shied away!

Thanks again to TeamULTRA’s magic and NYRR treating me like an elite athlete, there was a bag of goodies waiting for me in the VIP/sub-elite tent. The long walk back to the hotel was frequently punctuated with stops to thank the volunteers, law enforcement officers and congratulate fellow runners. It required a long walk through blocked off streets to get to the home base. It was such an amazing experience to see everyone’s smiley face, even if they were grimacing in pain, and for a NYPD cop to stop the traffic (they had green light) to let the runners cross the road!

Finding the TeamULTRA after-party pad took some effort but it got me moving, albeit slowly. After packing some nutrition down and chatting with fellow teammates, I went uptown to meet Drs. Poonamallee and Curran at their residence. It was kind of them to have me over on short notice and catch up! Getting to walk/move around for nearly 6 miles after completing the run was a good blessing and I believe it helped fight off soreness/stiffness in the muscles. All I do recall is falling asleep shortly after returning to the hotel!

Goals (in order of importance) and their status
01 Conservative start and even effort Yes
02 Keep the final 10 km under 0:50:00 No
03 Keep all splits faster than 9:59 min/mile Yes
04 Finish below 3:29:27 (minimum: 7:59 min/mile, 7.52 mph) and earn a PR No
05 Finish below 3:40:05 (minimum: 8:24 min/mile, 7.14 mph) and earn a World Marathon Majors PR Yes

Back to the Yoop

I woke up earlier than expected but fairly well-rested. With coffee in my hand and the medal around my neck, I walked to the finish area once more to get my medal engraved. The NYRR store opened at 7 am, I got there at with few minutes to spare and the line was already pretty long. Chatting with a fellow runner from Atlanta made the waiting time go by faster than expected and the engraving had a very quick turnaround. Given that it was the Monday after the world’s biggest marathon and expecting the airport to be crowded more than usual, I checked out and got to LGA around 9:45 am. The post-race party, I felt like, never ended. There were plenty with race jackets and/or medals, and everyone who did (or didn’t) run – TSA and airport staff included – was congratulating everyone who ran the day before!

The security screening was a breeze and the next 75 minutes or so before boarding the flight were spent in the lovely company of a kind couple from Cleveland, OH. The flight to Chicago, IL, was on time and went by uneventful. The one from Chicago, IL, to Green Bay, WI, was delayed by 80 minutes but was back on schedule after only a few minutes. Chatting up nearly the entire flight with an entrepreneur (originally from Green Bay but now calls NYC area home) made the puddle jumper a smooth experience as well. Due to unforeseen technical difficulties, I ended up staying the night in Green Bay and driving back to Houghton on Tuesday morning – sore but smooth and uneventful.

Overall, to say that being a part of this event was a transformative experience and the one that I won’t forget is an understatement. To think that picking up trash as I hiked/ran to keep our trails clean and writing race reports down primarily to improve my English … would transpire over the years to make me a part of the world’s biggest marathon seems like the stuff of fairy tales. And I have the kind fairies at TeamULTRA to be grateful for this one for the books weekend! Off to about two weeks of downtime and detraining before moving on to the next training cycle.


Thanks be to

the rejections and opportunities life has brought my way, event folks (organizers, sponsors, volunteers, timing folks, law enforcement officials, photographers, fellow participants and spectators), and the family of good friends in and outside of my community for all the unexpected, undeserved and unrewarded acts of constant encouragement as well as offerings of constructive criticism to improve myself as an athlete and a person. I am eternally grateful to all those who let me train with them, who shared their invaluable tips with me, who helped keep my mind, body and soul in good health, who helped me stay the course during the training cycle, who continued to teach me the value of work-life balance, and who cheered me on from home or along the course.

4 Replies to “2019: New York City Marathon”

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