Herald of Victory Marathon -Recap

The long and curious absence from my blog can be summed up in one word….

BUSY

Well, many words can actually describe my absence.  Packing, moving, job change, vacation, graduation.  They all equal a complete and total lack of time to blog.

Well, I’m back.  Let me catch you up on a few things.  I celebrated the graduation of my youngest son a month ago with family in town and a very expensive dinner.  We had a blast.  The most important thing being that my son enjoyed every moment of it, and is just about six weeks away now from walking onto his new college campus to start classes for the next phase in life.  I’ve been getting myself used to not seeing him as much, as I have given him a lot more independence this Summer.  He takes the reigns on his own life very soon.  Sad, but true.

In the midst of everything, I had a trip to see my Dad in NY, and to run marathon #27. My Dad and I had a blast together.  The marathon?  Maybe my toughest one to date.  I can sum up the race in one word…  Well two,….BEASTLY HOT!  Seriously, the race was the day before Memorial Day, usually a moderate temperature time of year for upstate New York.  Not to be.  It was hot and humid my entire four day visit.  Topped off with race morning temperatures in the low 70’s, and about 92 degrees by the time I finished.  I normally don’t race just to finish, but I race that day with the goal of surviving the heat and living another day.  It worked.  Get this, the Herald of Victory Marathon was an inaugural race.  Never done before, but so attractive to me because it gave me a chance to run a marathon where I grew up.  Even though the conditions were excruciating at times (most of the time) I had a smile on my face and a positive attitude from start to finish.  I knew I would finish, even in those temperatures.  I took it easy from the very beginning, thoughts of not wanting to have nothing left in that kind of heat 20 miles in.  I finished.  I ran through Binghamton, Vestal, Johnson City, Chenango Forks, over bridges, through beautiful parks, past cheering spectators in utter and complete appreciation for every volunteer along the way keeping me hydrated and pumped up and energized.

With a finish time of 4:30:33 (a personal worst), the Herald of a Victory Marathon was a huge victory for me personally.  Victorious over another grueling 26.2 mile run.  I managed my race very well from start to finish.  I owned it!  Believe it or not there were only 8 finishers under the 4:00:00 mark.  Eight!  A race with 113 finishers in 90+ degrees, I finished 24th.  My worst time, but a stunning accomplishment on the day.  I’ve learned a lot about myself as a runner, fighting conditions, letting my body and mind do the work.  I never cramped, I was never overcome by the heat.  I did the right things that day and made it to the finish with a smile, my Dad welcoming me over the finish line.

Since that day I’ve only run once.  Once in six weeks. I needed a break.  Five marathons this year, my muscles and really the rest of my body needed a break.  Time to relax and rejuvenate.

I promise I will be better with my blogging, too.  Back on the streets today for a run, and back at the blogging game.  So, how have you been?  Are you enjoying the Summer?

Here are a few pix from my NY trip before I head out on errands today.

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Running New York

Someone once told me that selling a house and moving is one of the most stressful things in life to do.  I completely agree!  I have been in the the middle of this stress for the last three months.

After making the decision to go ahead with plans to sell the house (youngest graduating in a few weeks) and downsizing, a lot of work was in front of us.  We painted and updated almost every room in the house during spare time from work, projects taking just over two months.  Contractors taking care of things we couldn’t, mostly on the exterior and yard.  Going through everything in the house from top to bottom, organizing, packing, throwing things away, donating others.  Cleaning, staging, and finally listing the house.

We had an offer in 1 day!  1 day!

Now it’s go time!  I thought the tough work was done?  Oh no, there’s more to do.  Now to do final organizing, and packing everything else that hasn’t been packed.  The scheduling, finding a new place, yep, this is stressful.

I’ve only moved once since my college days.  Because I took a relocation opportunity with my employer at the time, the selling of the house, the packing, the moving, were all done for me.  Not true this time.  That was 17 years ago.  Fast forward to now, and not only am I much older, but much less forgiving.  This has been a very hard process!

I’ve been in my attic four out of the last six days, going through boxes, uncovering things I had forgotten all about.  I am tired!  I did uncover some true gems though….  like my High School letter jacket, old vinyl albums, tennis trophies from my younger days of competitive tennis, scrapbooks, and countless photo albums and pictures from a life that seems a lifetime ago.  Treasures really.  I found my class ring, and I found this, which I had no idea I actually saved.

Introducing, an artifact from 21 years ago.  My first race bib!

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I don’t remember that I ever kept it, that was the most surprising discovery of all the last few days.  My first ever race, back in 1995.  A race in Batavia, NY.  A 10k.  I have no idea what my finish time was, believe me, I’ve tried finding online results, they just don’t exist.  I just remember that day in July being scortchingly hot, and running my heart out til I almost collapsed.  I have the race shirt somewhere, too.  I just can’t find it, but one day I will.

This journey of packing up my life to move has really been eventful.  I’ve dusted off some old memories (even popping in a few Prince cassettes, yes cassettes, into the tape deck to listen to) while I worked at cleaning up my life in the house.  It’s now time to finalize my life here, where my kids grew up, and start a new journey.  It’s all bittersweet, but looking forward to this next step in life.

Once I finally have a permanent new home, that race bib will be the first one hung.  That bib signifies a running journey that began so long ago.  As the final days approach before my 27th marathon, having stolen a peek at where my running days began kind of brings this race full circle.  Even though my upcoming Herald of Victory Marathon in Binghamton, NY will be in a different city from my first foot race, it will still be in the same state where it all began for me.  Back on the streets of New York.

Marathon 25 – 5 days away!

When I sit back and think about it, I am truly astonished!

The Quarter Century mark!  I know there are people out there who have run hundreds of marathons.  You know, those 100 marathon clubs, and such.  Well, with my marathon this weekend, I feel like I am really hitting a pretty significant milestone.

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The All American Marathon this Sunday will be my 25th marathon.  What began as a simple quest, pushing myself further than I ever thought possible, has turned into quite the passion.  It all began in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2012.  My first marathon.  Races, places, I’ve been a few places since that first one.  My journey has taken me to 8 different states.  Of course I’ve run the majority of my marathons in my home state of North Carolina, but I’ve ventured out a few times.  ;). Tackling America’s Toughest Road Marathon in Virginia, enjoying plentiful neon at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas marathon in Nevada, running past Moose at Big Cottonwood in Utah, being cheered on twice by millions of spectators in Illinois at the infamous Bank of America Chicago Marathon, running high up in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and most recently taking a running bite out of the Big Apple at the TCS New York City Marathon.  Many, many more inbetween.

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Yes, the journey continues.  Still loving it, still competing, and doing more pacing.  I’m not shooting for the elusive Boston Qualifier this weekend, I am pacing instead.  I will lead the 4:00:00 group to a fun finish for my 25th this Sunday.  I’m getting very excited!  The All American Marathon this Sunday is a milestone to celebrate for me.  It also kicks off a new chapter.  Where will the next 25 take me?  The possibilities are endless!  Cheers!

Herald of Victory Marathon

When planning out a racing season I look at many things.  I look at race history, cost, course layout and elevation, swag, ease of logistics, etc..  I pick local races a lot, and why?  Those races are typically, in the end, cheaper all around because they don’t involve travel costs or lodging.  Sometimes though, I just have to look at races that do involve travel because it often times lends to a change in scenery, a new race, a chance at a mini vacation, and so on.

This coming May, I chose a race that involves a very long drive.  Yes, of course I could fly, but that would add more expense.  I originally heard about this race last Fall, and jumped on early pricing.  This race happens to be an inaugural race.  Now, I’m not always keen on brand new races, as most often waiting a year or two for the race to work the kinks out can be a very good idea.  This time around I chose to give it a chance because of the location.  It’s a brand new marathon, where I grew up!  I couldn’t pass up the chance to run a marathon there.

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So, the Herald of Victory Marathon, in Binghamton, NY will essentially close out my long distance events before the Summer.  The course will take me all over the greater Binghamton area, and has a fair share of elevation change, but looking at the course profile, nothing too difficult.  My Father lives in Binghamton still, so it will be a great chance to once again visit, and have him attend one of my races.  A win win!

Not sure originally that I would be able to break away from work on a holiday weekend, I am going to make it happen.  I am full on planning this trip now.  The race is on Sunday before Memorial Day, so I will make the 10 hour drive on Friday before, and either head back home on Memorial Day or the day after.  Accommodations are booked just in case it ends up being more than just me who make the drive up for the weekend.  If it’s just me, I’ll stay with my Dad.

Believe it or not, I have run two races in Binghamton in the past.  Actually it was the same race, run two different years.  It was a 5k, too.  The Kelly LeBare 5k run during the yearly Spiedie Fest in August.  I wasn’t in running shape for either of those races, in fact I really wasn’t a runner at all back then.  I ran those races back in 2003 and 2004, so it’s been well over a decade since I last raced in Binghamton.  Should be a ton of fun!  So, even though this is a brand new event quite a ways away from home, I have plenty of reasons to give it a shot.  Hoping the Herald of Victory will be an amazing race capping off an amazing trip to see my Dad.

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Abbott World Marathon Majors

Slowly but surely….

It may take a while, but with conviction and commitment, I will run each of the worlds major marathons.  What an accomplishment that would be!  To get to do what I love and mix in traveling to places I’ve never been would be a huge treat!

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As it now stands, at the beginning of 2016, I’ve run two of the six.  What started as a six year plan (when I first learned that I had made it into Chicaco in 2014) I thought about trying to run at least one of the six every year for six straight years.  Of course that plan could change at any time depending on when and if I qualify for Boston.  My best being only 7 minutes shy of my qualifying time, I know I can get to Boston!  When and where that lucky qualifying race will be is still in question.

So, in 2014, I made an epic start to the Six, in Chicago.  I followed that up with another run in Chicago in 2015, along with the second of The Six, in New York City.  My plan for 2016 was Berlin, but that fell through with a disappointing email that stated I didn’t get in through the lottery.  So, what to do now?  Is 2016 lost?  I think not!  My focus for the first part of 2016 will be really finding a routine again.  The last two months of every year are really tough on me work-wise. The holidays are just so tough, and busy it leaves me so little time to really run.  I usually just end up using November and December as full on recovery mode from busy racing years.  It typically works well to my advantage, as in years past when my racing commences the following year, I feel fresh and renewed.  My last few weeks of running have felt really good.

My 2016 plan begins with finding rhythm.  I am pacing three marathons and one half marathon over the next few months, and it all begins this weekend in Charleston, South Carolina.  My reasons for pacing are many.  First and foremost, I find pacing super gratifying because I can give back to my fellow runners.  Using the skills that I have learned through running over the past five years, and completing over 30 Halves and 22 Marathons, I feel very comfortable leading a group of runners to a certain finish time.  It’s a social event, too.  As a manager/director in real life, I am used to leading people.  Being the supporter, and helping people reach goals both personally and professionally.  This flows so naturally into my running, so my comfort level while pacing comes through.  Let’s talk, lets uplift and encourage, and get that PR.  Love it.

I will be pacing the Half and Full in Asheville in March, and then again pacing the Full at the All American Marathon at the beginning of April.  From there I have two more marathons planned before the Summer begins.  I plan on working on speed work, doing 800’s, and hill work during the Summer, and really pushing my own envelope when it comes to speed.  I need to if I want to really concentrate on getting a coveted Boston Qualifyer.  That race will be late summer if all things come together.  My tentative plans for Fall were a hopeful trip to Berlin, so I’ll need to focus on a new plan.  It will come with time.  I do know though, that I will keep focused on my plan of completing each of the Big 6.

Wouldnt it be amazing to be able to say one day that you completed all of the Abbott World Marathon Majors?  Boston, Berlin, London, Tokyo, Chicago, New York.  Wow!  That would be something, wouldn’t it?

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Have you completed any of these races?  Would love to hear your stories!

2015- My Racing Recap

I finally have a day off, with some time to actually sit down and compile a look back on another really awesome year in running.  It’s truly hard to believe that it just takes some dedication and good health to push out the kind of results that I have been able to achieve in just five years.

What truly began as a quest to help my son when he joined his High School Cross Country team, has become a passion of mine that would be hard to give up.  I don’t want to give it up, in fact, I am still striving for more.  Getting that BQ is really the only thing that I didn’t achieve in 2015, but that’s ok.  I had so much fun on the pavement, so let’s have a look back.

Hilton Head Marathon- 2/7/15. My first ever AG placement in a marathon!  2nd place!  Was thrilled with my performance in my first race of 2015.  Finish time 3:46:53

Asheville Half Marathon- 3/15/15. I paced the 1:50:00 finish group, on a beautiful day in the mountains of North Carolina.  The race is so challenging, yet running here evokes so much respect and history that even the hills are welcome.  Finish time 1:49:17

All American Marathon- 3/22/15. My second year in a row racing from Fayetteville to Ft. Bragg.  I had a really hard fall and got pretty banged up right before the race, so just finishing in one piece was a big accomplishment on the day.  Finish time 3:50:51

Rock ‘n’ Roll Raleigh Half Marathon- 4/12/15. The intense marathon course here in 2014 prompted me to only take on the Half this time around, and then they changed the course, and left me wanting to run the Full.  Feeling a bit of a let down, a good race almost turned sour with leg cramps toward the end.  I pushed through it with the help of cheering supporters.  Finish time 1:47:46

New River Marathon- 5/2/15. A fist time running way up in the northwest corner of my state, the course was absolutely breathtaking!  Very challenging in parts, but a quiet, small event with so much to offer.  This race was one of the highlights of my year.  Finish time 3:50:13

Run the Quay 10k- 6/6/16. So much fun running my hometown event, and then watching my younger son run the 5k right after me.  Sub 8 minute mile pace on this undulating downtown course with about 35 turns.  Finish time 48:48

Aspen Valley Half Marathon- 7/18/15. Adding a new state in a 50 state quest that will probably never be completed, I paced the 2:15:00 finish group high up in the Rockies.  I felt privileged to be running such an awesome event, and the salad during the post race festival was amazing!  Finish time 2:14:41

Revel Rockies Marathon- 7/19/15. Taking full advantage of my weekend in Colorado, this challenge was a first for me.  A Half on Saturday, then this Full on Sunday.  Back to back.  The elevation and a lack of proper hydration killed my BQ attempt, but with ten miles of intermittent killer calf cramps, still managed to finish.  Finish time 3:46:46

Carowinds Run & Ride Half Marathon- 9/13/15. Pacing again for Beast Pacing, a weekend riding roller coasters with my son was reason enough to run this race.  Although the course was mega short, I made sure to get as many runners to the finish line in under 1:50 as I could.  Finish time 1:49:18

Marine Corps Half Marathon- 9/19/15. Ran this Half for the first time, and with my older son.  Been wanting to fit it into my schedule for a few years, and glad we finally ran it.  Race day’s weather was really tough, with temps way to hot and humid for a half marathon, but we both managed to win age group medals, so it was a father/son double.  Finish time 1:48:08

Chicago Marathon- 10/11/15. So happy to return to such an amazing marathon in one of my favorite cities ever!  I absolutely love this race, and would do it yearly if I was lucky enough to get in and had the travel funds.  Not my best race of the year, but certainly a blast with millions of spectators cheering me on by name!  Finish time 3:49:38

Bull City Race Fest Half Marathon- 10/18/15. Amazing event in downtown Durham, my son and I paced a race for the first time together in the same group.  An epic experience that we both really enjoyed.  We paced the 8:30 per mile group and came in just under goal time in 8:29.  We rocked it!  Finish time 1:51:14

TCS New York City Marathon- 11/1/15. What can I say?  The NYC Marathon was the crowning achievement of 2015 and my last race of the year.  One of the Big 6, this race has it all.  Big city, big production, millions of spectators, and too many bridges!  Having my Dad and Brother there cheering me on was the highlight of my year.  Finishing in the top 15% was more than I could hope for.  It was also my fastest marathon finish of 2015.  Finish time 3:45:23

 

All in all, just an amazing year of running and racing.  Six Fulls, six Halves, and a 10k sprinkled in for good measure.  Happy New Year to you all, and hope that your running takes you places in heart and sole, that you never thought possible.  Here’s to 2016!  Make it EPIC!

New York City Marathon – Race Recap

The much anticipated, and probably the longest wait for a recap.  Honestly, just so busy, and tired that I just haven’t had the time to do a recap justice.  Hopefully this will sum up not only the race, but also my busy New York trip.

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It all began with a 630 mile road trip to upstate NY on October 28th.  I haven’t driven to NY in over ten years, so it was a really long day.  Destination, my Fathers house in Binghamton.  My roots are still so deeply embedded in update NY, although if my Dad still didn’t live there I probably wouldn’t ever go back.  My family (Dad and Brother) are the reasons why this trip was even happening.  I’ve written about it previously, but I entered the lottery to run NYC because my brother did.  It was my chance to run with him, in another marathon, but this time in our home state.  The fateful day came when they drew lottery spots….  my brother announced on Facebook early in the day that he was IN!  I waited all day for notification.  I checked my email at least a hundred times, nothing, nothing, nothing.  Finally at around 6:30pm it arrived.  “We’re sorry….blah, blah, blah”.  My dreams were dashed in that one instant.  That shitty email.  It took me all of about a day to figure out that I HAD to race.  I had to find a way.  I turned to looking into charity teams, and vowed to raise money.  I think it was within a week that I was accepted onto the charity team for the James Blake Foundation.  I pledged a $3,000 donation to the charity, and paid my way into the race.  Done!  Fundraising began later that day once my fundraising page was set up.  I thought to myself, “how hard will it be to raise $3,000 over the course of seven months?”  I antied up $100 to start my campaign, and I was off and running.  Well, as it turns out, it is not easy raising that kind of money.  **Flash forward to race day**… I didn’t meet my goal, but came awfully close.  Through the help of family, friends and complete strangers, and awesome people like you, I managed to raise $2,590.  I have until the end of the year to hit the goal, but my personal goal was to hit my pledge by race day.  So, before I get back into the real gist of this post, here is a link to my fundraising page, because I can still use your help.

Armed with the knowledge that I was in the race, I spent the next several months planning, and planning.  I knew I wanted my Dad at the race.  He was so excited!!  To get to watch both of his sons running the New York City Marathon?  Who wouldn’t want to see that?  Not long before the race however, came bad news.  My brother was going to have to cancel his entry due to medical issues.  I was heartbroken for him, and it made the entire trip bittersweet.  How in the world was I supposed to be excited for this, knowing that he was equally agonizing over it?

Dad and I - Binghamton in the background

Dad and I – Binghamton in the background

Ok, I am getting off track a bit.  I knew this recap wasn’t going to be easy to write.  So, after 10 hours on the road in mostly raining conditions, I finally was pulling into the driveway at my fathers house.  Exhausted and road crazed, my Dad and I caught up for a few hours before I had to hit the hay.  With a decent nights sleep behind me, we took it easy most of Thursday.  We went out for a late breakfast, drove around town and hit a few “hot spots” I didn’t want to miss while I was there.

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The Cider Mill, in Endicott, NY.  To me this place means Fall in NY.  Fresh pressed apple cider, delicious donuts, and candy apples.  Of course we had to buy all of it.  We also stopped for some true Italian Bread from DiRenzo’s Bakery.  Later that evening, we hit the road for another three hour road trip to my brothers house in New Jersey.

A very relaxing few days ahead with family.  I did manage to get in one final shake out run on Friday.  Four miles on the towpath in Bound Brook, NJ.  I hadn’t run in a week!  Had to get loose and find my running legs.  Thankfully the weather was so nice the entire trip.  The last thing I wanted was a rainy, miserable marathon, but it turned out to be near perfect. Although a tad on the warm side.

Saturday we were up and at ’em early for a trip to the NYC Marathon Expo in the city.  Bob was running, and my brother at least wanted to pick up his race shirt.  A drive, a walk and 45 minute train ride later we exited Penn Station in Manhattan.

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That was my view as I hit the streets of NYC for the first time since 1996.  Long before the World Trade Center disaster.  It had been so long!  We walked a few blocks and within ten minutes were entering the famed expo.  It was crawling with runners!  The biggest marathon in the world on the last day of the expo, it was bound to be busy.

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We quickly picked up our bibs and shirts, stopped for a few photo ops, and shopped the 50% off Asics gear racks before studying the course map.  I bought a few pairs of logo’d shorts and a shirt!  Cheaper than I could get them online, so I was happy.

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After the expo, we headed back to Jersey.  A busy day all around.  The Mets in the World Series, Halloween, and the night before the biggest marathon in the world.  We needed some rest and relaxation with only a few hours left until race day.

A typical night before a race, I got all of my gear ready.  This time however was a bit more detailed.  NY is not a simple race morning process.  You don’t just drive yourself to the start.  It’s a long affair.  Patience is needed, and you need to be prepared for anything.  Packing for race morning is very important, so as not to leave anything to chance.

Donor names on the back of my charity shirt.

Donor names on the back of my charity shirt.

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That picture doesn’t show the last several donation names I got in the days leading up to the race, but you get the idea.  I was ready for bed, anticipating a 3am wake up call.

Race day!  All went off without a hitch.  I was feeling good, the weather was looking promising and I started my mental preparation for the race.  The long process of race morning began as my brother drove us approximately 50 minutes to The Meadowlands parking lot in NJ.  It was there that Bob and I would catch a race bus to Staten Island.  We arrived at about 5:30am, my brother snapping a few pictures as we got ready to board the bus.

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Armed with our gear we boarded a bus, and then made the hour long trip to Staten Island.  While we entered the Green Starting Village I was so impressed by all of the food and drink options available to us. We had about a three hour wait until the gun went off, so it was really nice to have.  As luck would have it, Bob and I grabbed a coffee and a hat from DD, and then I spotted a Bus Stop shelter right at the back entrance to the village, which we promptly called ours!  A bench, and shelter from any wind or rain.  Perfect!   It was the find of the morning!  Here are some photos from the village.  Yep, right next to the Verazzano Bridge that is, the start of the race!

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Home sweet home!  A random bus stop on Staten Island.  Love it!  That’s Bob in his DD hat, and throwaway gear.  We passed the time telling stories, talking about the course, numerous stops at the potties, etc…  It was a long wait.  We were comfortable though!

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Eventually the time came that we needed to abandon our shelter, and head to the starting corrals.  It was well organized, as you would expect.  The corrals were super tight, and I barely made it in.  My nerves starting to play some games, but I did manage to try to take in the entire experience.  We moved forward  after about a half hour, and things really started to get real.  I shed my hat, gloves, top layer shirt, and got ready for the business at hand.  The fanfare was electric as we entered the loop heading onto the bridge.  In place now, I could actually see the start.  My corral was on the bottom bridge.  Helicopters televising the event were flying overhead, clothes were flying to the sides, and before you knew it, Frank Sinatra, the National Anthem, the boom of the howitzer cannons, and the race WAS ON!  NYC here I come!

At the start!

At the start!

Behind me

Behind me

The first few miles were tight!  Heading up the bridge I didn’t even notice the incline, but was more concerned with not tripping over anyone.  I stayed to the left so I could take in the views of Manhattan, the water, the Statue of Liberty.  It truly was magnificent!  What a way to spend the first few miles!  The downside of the bridge meant picking up the pace a bit.  I knew my first mile was slow based on runner traffic, so I tried to find a better more consistent rhythm on the downside heading into Brooklyn.  It worked.  My goals for this race were pretty simple.  Enjoy the City, enjoy the crowds, and keep my eyes out for family along the way.  My cousin Brad was to be at mile 11 at the corner of Bedford and N. Third St.  I checked for texts occasionally to make sure exactly where he would be.  After that, I would be on the lookout for my brother, dad, Melissa, Chloe and Connor just beyond mile 17, and then again in Central Park around mile 24.5.   As far as time goes, I just wanted a solid race.  My A goal was sub 3:50:00, and B goal was sub 3:40:00.  Time would tell.  Traffic was tight!

My 5k split was 23:46.  My feet and legs felt ok.  It was a tad on the warm side,  Proper hydration would be key, especially if I wanted to avoid cramping.  With the bridges on the course, I knew I wanted to keep my electrolytes in balance.  I thoroughly enjoyed the views of Brooklyn, the brownstones on both sides of the street.  The numerous bands, the cheering crowds.  A non-native to the city, this was my first time traveling these streets and it was so cool to be able to do it on foot.  I’ll say it again, runner traffic was tight, and very annoying at times.  I cleared the 10k mark in 47:31, so I was still managing to stay the course with my intended speed.  Brooklyn was long.  Knowing I would see Brad at almost the halfway mark was keeping me positive.  Around mile 9 all corrals merged onto the course and it became very unnerving.  It was just so crowded in my area.  At that moment I wanted to be running in a small marathon, and have some space to myself, but that was not meant to be on this day.  This is the biggest marathon in the world, stay calm and adjust to it.  I told myself to relax so many times.  I wondered though, as I heard so many people cheering names of runners why I hadn’t heard my name called out.  I knew my name was on my shirt, so why no “Go Paul’s” or “Keep going Paul’s”!  It was then I looked down and noticed that my name (which I wrote in blue marker) was completely gone, and now in a pool of sweat and blue ink on the bottom seam of my shirt.  That’s why!

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Brooklyn was long, but awesome crowd support.  Brad texted me to listen for drums and he would be in his designated spot.  In a hot pink shirt, with a sign.  I counted down the streets, and was getting close.  Soon enough I could hear those drums, and moved to the right hand side of the street.  There he was, smiling ear to ear, cheering.  I stopped to give him a quick hug, to which he responded, ok, go, go, go.  I took off.  I found out later he actually took a video of my arrival at that moment, which is so funny to see now.  Thanks Brad for being there to support me!  It was you that got me through Brooklyn.

The halfway point sent us over the bridge into Queens.  My half split was 1:45:00 on the nose!  On track, but feeling my legs getting heavy.  I needed a boost.  Knowing the infamous Queensboro Bridge was looming in the not so distant miles, I Gu’d up, hydrated and kept the faith that I would gain some energy before that long quiet bridge.  I had been warned that it was the loneliest, most difficult part of the race.  Now that I’ve lived through it, I can say that it clearly is!  It was pure hell. I felt so defeated crossing that bridge.  Loathe is a great word to describe it.  Dark, fierce, it will get you if you don’t stay ahead of it.  Like a knarly hairy monster.  Just pure dread is what I tell like on that bridge.  The only thing keeping you going is knowing at the end is Manhattan, and crowds galore.  I did not walk, I did not walk one bit.

Coming off the bridge I still felt very depleted.  I was off my game.  I think I slipped into a dark cavernous place in my head.  After that initial burst of energy from the crowd, I drew nothing from them.  I was in my head, and fighting demons.  The fact that I had just run Chicago three weeks prior might have something to do with it, but I was exhausted.  The only way I could force myself out of that head space was to think of my next cheering station.  I would see my Dad!  I would see David!  Thinking of them got me though.  The miles ticked by.  14, 15, 16…..  I knew they would be at mile 17.  On the left.  I steered to the left of the road well early in anticipation.  I had it so deeply embedded in my brain (Mile 17).  This finally brought me tons of energy.  I was running much better, felt better and was in positive spirits.  I counted the tenths of a mile as I approached mile 17.  Then finally I was there.  Where was my family?  I waited for my name to be yelled.  I scanned the crowds, I cranked my neck back and forth.  Nothing… I actually stopped and thought about running back.  How could I miss them?  That was not going to happen!  They were there to see me, and I needed them.  BADLY!  Finally about two tenths of a mile beyond the mile marker I heard my name.  There they were!  My cheering section.  Smiling ear to ear, I gave them all a big sweaty hug, and then left them behind.  I got emotional right afterward.  Pure joy, tears streamed down my cheeks.  That family energy lasted about two miles.  Then?  Back into my dark space.  I was clearly struggling physically, but I would not let it ruin my day.

Crossing over into the Bronx gave me a much needed boost.  Not the bridge, which sucked, but knowing that mile 20 was nearing.  You don’t spend a lot of time in the Bronx, and I had been told it’s sort of a drab, unsupported part of the course.  I found it amazing.  Maybe I had caught a second wind after coming off the bridge, but I found the crowds really supportive.  The bands were awesome, too.  Plus knowing that the final 10k and trip back into Manhattan was approaching was energizing to me.

Across the bridge into Harlem, and down 5th Avenue.  The end was near.   Hit the 35k mark in 3:03:01.  I knew I had to keep calm and run.  No more demons.  My thoughts turned to seeing Central Park for the first time.  Seeing my family again before huffing it to the finish line.  Trying to stay on pace, I knew I was slowing down.  I didn’t walk.  I didn’t even walk through water stations.  I actually became a little better at drinking while running without drowning myself.  I needed those moments to hit my goal.

Central Park!  It was finally here.  The cheering crowds became louder, the fall foliage on the trees.  Such a beautiful way to end this epic race.  I once again yearned for my family, and the strength they would give me to push through those last two miles.  I saw them again, and again was moved to tears.  I knew how much it meant to my Father to be there.  To witness such an event.  To see his son almost at the finish of the biggest marathon in the world.  As I paced to the finish, dying to actually see the finish line come into view, I thought about my charity, my donors and all the support I’ve received through my running career.  The end of my 22nd marathon was quickly approaching.  I threw up my hands in exultation as I crossed the line.  Immediately overwhelmed, completely debilitated as if the walking dead had entered my body.

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A long walk ahead, I could barely move after crossing the line.  An incredibly long wait for a bottle of water that I needed the moment I crossed the line.  The medal draped over my neck was worth the agonizing slog through the finisher village.  Mylar blanket donned, more water please.  Maybe a pretzel?  A banana?  Yes, they helped when I finally had them in hand.  As I exited Central Park in search of my family I realized that my cell phone was finally dead.  With the help of strangers, I finally connected with them about an hour after I finished.  I finished!  I ran the New York City Marathon!

Wish I could have snapped some more pictures along the way.  The memory of this race though will linger in my head as one of giant crowds, epic challenges and support galore.  Family.  In the end, it was really about family.  Thank you New York.  Not sure I will ever race the city again, but what an epic adventure through your five boroughs,  thanks for having me and treating me so well.

Official results:  3:45:23 finish time.  Goal A achieved!  My best marathon finish in 2015.

Overall:  7472/49365. Top 15%

Top 20% in age group. Top 21% in gender.

No complaints here!  I take it!

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