Tuesday, November 3, 2009

26.2 miles of the NYC Marathon

First 3 miles

The Verrazano-Narrows bridge. I couldn't help but run a little in the beginning since everyone else was running. I quickly made my way to the bottom deck of the bridge, away from the side (to avoid the urban legend of yellow "rain" from the top deck). As soon as I was in the safe zone, I started walking. During my last training run, I did try out my running pouch. The pouch wasn't full so it felt snug on back and wasn't bouncing around. But during the race, with a full pouch, I felt it bouncing up and down as I ran. Annoying but there's nothing I could do about that now.

It was uncomfortable to be just walking since everyone else was running pass me but I decided I'd rather be slow than aggravate the IT band trying to run up the bridge at the very beginning of the marathon. I was also aware that running up the bridge would take a lot out of me. So I just walked and tried to keep up with an elderly man in a green windproof jacket and holding a stick. I only passed him when I was safely at the top of the bridge and I started running a little but when I slowed down to walk, he would walked pass me.

When I got to the bottom of the bridge, I took off the throwaway long-sleeve cotton shirt that I had on and left it by the road side. I passed a barefoot Japanese runner holding a big flag. He stopped and posed for photos with spectators by the side of the road.

Miles 4-13

I wasn't expecting many people to call out my name so I thought I'd try to keep count of the number of times I hear my name being called. I lost count immediately. I used my interval watch and kept to "run 1 minute: walk 2 minutes." But occasionally the cheering and music were so loud that I couldn't hear my watch beeped. Hearing the loud cheers made me want to run longer which I did. After my watch beeped (1 minute run was up) I would decide to run to the next stop light instead of walking immediately. I think by around mile 5 or 6, I realized that I still have a long way to go so I'd better keep to my strategy.

I raised my hands when I heard my name being called.
I high-fived little kids by the side of the road.
I tried to pass and eventually passed a man wearing a miniature Eiffel Tower.
I tried to pass and eventually passed a joggler (a person who runs and juggles at the same time).

Halfway point (13.1 miles)

Ran through the checkpoint in the middle of the Pulaski bridge, checked my Nike pacing band and I was right on pace.

Mile 14-15

Feet started to hurt, especially the balls of my feet. Maybe I should have worn thicker socks. Chatted with a middle-aged man whose pace was similar to mine. Then it was up the Greensboro bridge. Almost everyone was walking up the bridge. Since there were no spectators on the bridge, it was quiet...an eerily quiet march of the walkers. And then I felt a twinge in my left knee...ITBS flare-up! I think this was one of the most disappointing stretch of the marathon. I wasn't sure if I could continue running or if I should just walk the last 10 miles. Walking 10 miles would take a lot of time :( Said many short prayers for God to keep the ITBS away. And I also felt a pre-cramp on the back of my right knee/calf. At the medical station in the middle of the bridge, I asked for and then ate a packet of salt

Mile 16-19

1st Avenue (Manhattan) was supposed to be the stretch with the most and the loudest spectators but I was too caught up in mind with the ITBS flare-up to enjoy the spectators. Besides by the time I got to 1st Avenue there weren't as many spectators around compared to when the elite runners ran by that area. I decided to keep to my "run 1 minute: walk 2 minutes," but when I ran I made sure I ran fast. After a while I realized my left knee wasn't hurting badly, it was just a twitch uncomfortable when I ran.

It was a funny sight because most of the slow people were either walking or running slowly and here I was running fast passing many people and the crowds was excited to cheer on the lone fast (or slightly faster...hehehe) runner. But when my 1 minute was up, I would start walking so it would seem like their cheers didn't spur me on :) It did but I had to keep to my strategy.

Mile 20-22

Tough stretch. It's all a blur. Feet hurt, exhaustion. I walked a lot and was around 2 minutes behind according to the Nike pace band.

Mile 23-25

The stretch to the entrance to Central Park seemed so so long. Occasionally my mind was in a haze. Hmmmm... I wonder if this is what hitting the wall feels like. I had to eat another energy gel to get some sugar in me. I was rather worried that I might faint. When I was running, I kept chanting to myself, "Run and not faint, run and not faint, run and not faint." It is actually "run and not be weary, walk and not faint" but "run and not faint" worked. Or I'd keep running this line in my head, "Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord." Both taken out of context :D but I needed something to keep my mind focused.

Saw Christine and Ivan cheering and taking pictures. Raised my hands and kept running.

Last 1.2 mile

I wanted to keep running but couldn't sustain it, had to walk and run. 300 yards to finish line, I had to walk to conserve some energy so that I could run across the finish line.

I saw the finish line around the corner and started running. There was a group of 4 male runners in front of me. I tried to stay back from them so that my finish line photo would not be obstructed but they were rather slow so I couldn't run fast across the finish line.

Finish line

6:00:12 - I am a marathoner!

Monday, November 2, 2009

NYC Marathon 2009: From the expo to the starting line

Expo (Friday)

From NYC Marathon 2009

I went to the Marathon expo on Friday afternoon. Got my bib, a long-sleeve technical shirt and the goody bag. I really like the shirt, can't wait to wear it on my next run.

From NYC Marathon 2009

The goody bag wasn't much of a "goody" bag. A bottle of water, a bag of almonds, lots of paper stuff, a key chain, a small bag, a pocket-sized anti-bacterial spray... that's about it. I went around the expo and tried some powerbar samples, got some adhesive fabric-like nametag to write my name on, got a fake running photo taken at the New Balance exhibit, and got a customized 6:00 pacing band from the Nike exhibit. Took the free shuttle bus to Paragon Sports and so happened, Deena Kastor (a top American women marathoner) was in the store signing autographs. So took a detour and lined up to get an autographed poster of her. She wrote: Ailsa, Reach for the stars!

From NYC Marathon 2009

Last minute preparation (Saturday night)

To bring or not to bring? Long sleeve or short sleeve? Thin socks or thick socks? Sunblock? Sunglasses? So many decisions to make...

Then it is time to pin the bib on the shirt. Wrote my name on the fabric name tag and stuck it on my shirt. Attached the timing D-tag on my shoes. Turn back the clock on my watch and cellphone, set the alarm for 5:30am. Made my peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches. And went to bed by 11pm and tried to get some sleep...

From NYC Marathon 2009

Race day (Sunday)

5:30am - Woke up, quickly got ready, took some pictures, double-checked that I didn't forget anything.

From NYC Marathon 2009

From NYC Marathon 2009

6:25am - Left my friend's place for the Roosevelt Island tram station. Took the tram, walked a few blocks to the subway station and took the train to the ferry terminal. Saw several runners with their UPS bags in the tram. Saw many more runners at the subway station. Ate half a sandwich and drank some Gatorade on the way.

7:10am - Arrived at the ferry terminal. Lots and lots of runners there. I found a seat and ate a banana.

7:30am - Started to line up at the door to the ferry but had to wait around 15-20 minutes before I got on the ferry.

7:50am - On the ferry, ate the other half of my sandwich, drank more. Runners everywhere. I even saw a girl with Lehigh sweatpants on but didn't get to talk to her.

8:22am - Arrived at Staten Island. The staff/volunteers were directing the runners to the right exit to get to the bus. They were using words like "runners" and "marathoners" and I couldn't help but smile. They are referring to me as a marathoner. In actuality, at that moment I was still a would be marathoner :)

8:28am - On the bus. No more seats, had to stand. A lady nearby was complaining that she had to stand...haha.

8:45am - Arrived at Fort Wadsworths. From then on it was the march of the runners. Walked, stopped, walked some more. So many people.

9:10am - Arrived at the Green waiting area. The first thing on my agenda was coffee! And then got 2 powerbars. Placed a trash bag on the floor and sat down to get some last minute preparation done. I thought I had time but then I heard the announcement that the runners would have to place their bags in the UPS trucks before 9:30am. With that, I started pulling out stuff and made some last minute decision of what I have to carry with me during the race. Decided to keep the "throw-away" jacket and pants (warm clothes that are worn till the very last moment and then left behind at the start area) and stuffed them in my UPS bag. At 9:40am, heard the cannon for the first wave start. Excitement was in the air. Everyone cheered! After that, paid a visit to the potta-potty and as predicted...no toilet paper but I was prepared. Before I knew it, the announcement came on for all runners in Wave 3 to get to their respective corrals. Had a few more bites of another sandwich, ate another banana. Pour some gatorade into a small bottle (I wanted to have something to drink during the first 3 miles). Another march of the runners took place. Walked, stopped, walked, stopped.....

10:08am - In my corral, had to use the potta-potty one last time :) Left behind the throwaway hoodie. I had on my long-sleeve wicking shirt and another throwaway long-sleeve cotton t-shirt on top. Wore a pair of gloves. Had on my running hat. Four powerbar gel packets in my back pocket. In my spibelt pouch: a clifbar (energy bar), cellphone, Metrocard, credit card, tissue paper, lipbalm. In my front pocket: the pocket-sized antibacterial spray and sunglasses. Turned on my Garmin watch and waited for it to lock on to the satellites. Everyone was super excited!

10:20am - The cannon for wave 3 start went off..BOOM! The New York, New York song started playing. Since there were so many people, we had to slowly shuffle towards the starting the line. Crossed the starting line...time to race!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


That's my bib number.

I think there will be a race tracker thing online on Sunday morning. I can't find the link now but you may be able to find that by going to http://www.nycmarathon.org/ on Sunday morning.

Time to pack...

Marathon weekend is almost here. Tomorrow I'll be taking the bus to NYC and heading to the expo to pick up my bib number and goody bag. I should be packing right now but I'm still lazing around. The past few days have been pretty busy research-wise and I haven't been resting well. I didn't do any running this week, went for a spinning class on Monday and that's it.

Charging my cellphone, Garmin watch and iPod now. I'm not planning to bring my iPod or camera to the race. I think my mind would be too caught up in the "fun" or more likely the "agony" of the run that I won't be in the right mood to snap pictures. But I'm pretty sure there will be many things that I will see on Sunday that I will wish I had my camera with me.

I'm bringing some of my own food to NYC: bread, peanut butter, strawberry jam, banana, clif bars (white chocolate macadamia). All that will be for breakfast on Sunday morning. There will be bagels at the start area but I'm not a fan of bagel with nothing...tough, chewy, dry bread :P

Now I need to decide if I should bring my laptop with me - to NYC, not to the race!

I was watching a Runner's World video last night. Ryan Hall's advice is to be in the moment and not worry about the miles ahead of me. I'll try my best to follow that advice.

Here's a video that shows the NYC marathon course:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oct 25: Run/walk 8 miles

Distance: 8.01 miles
Duration: 1:49:23
Pace: 13:40/miles

The very last long run before the marathon!

Run 1 minute: walk 2 minutes, except for the last mile which I ran the whole way.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oct 23: Run/walk 5 miles

Distance: 5.06 miles
Duration: 1:10:11
Pace: 13:52/mile

Knees felt ok. I ran continuously for the last mile.

9 more days....

Oct 21: Run/walk 3 miles

Distance: 3.12 miles
Duration: 39:18
Pace: 12:35/mile