It’s Taper Time for the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon! This is how I should have felt at the end of my last long run this past weekend. However, my my last long run didn’t go as planned. I was supposed to run for 23 miles in this final tune up for the big day.
Instead, I finished with 15 miles. I know the graphic says 14.42 miles. However, I didn’t actually start my Garmin watch until was already a little more than a half mile into the run. Don’t know why I keep forgetting. The good thing about the marathon itself is that I’ll be starting at 11am. So, I won’t forget. Part of the reason my last two long runs have been off on the Garmin is that I start these runs before the sun comes up. Since I can’t seem to figure out how to see what’s going on with the Garmin before the sun comes up, I start off with both the Garmin and my Nike Plus running app going. Once the sun comes up, I can turn off the Nike App and just use the watch. When I ran 20 miles, because I had those technical difficulties, I kept the app going the entire time. Since I just missed that first half mile, I didn’t do the same this run.
So, here’s the thing. I had to alter my route a little bit from that 20 miler because UCLA was playing at the Rose Bowl. When that happens, they shut down the Rose Bowl loop to us runners. I devised a route that would take me over the same first 4 miles and then, diverge. This was going to be my last time over that first four miles in more than a year. It was that thought that got me out the door and lead to a relatively uneventful first 4 miles. On my 20 miler and my 15 miler, I had a battle with nerves over the distance. No such problems existed this time.
So, here’s how the splits turned out. Since this was not only my last long run before the NYC Marathon, but my last double digit run I have planned until I’m ready to run a half marathon again (probably not until 2019 or beyond). Those first few miles were spent thinking back over the many times I’ve run this route. I remembered how hard the hill in mile 3 was at times. I remembered how, when I was training for the 2015 Los Angeles Marathon, I actually got so much better at running them! This last time up that hill wasn’t my fastest and it wasn’t my slowest. However, I hit every run interval as planned! So, I can leave this route knowing that I stuck to my plan over such an incredibly difficult hill!
Mile 4 is a less steep incline, almost unnoticeable. I knew that getting to the Tournament of Roses house would mean I was almost to the end of that mile. This mile is a tricky one. It looks flat, but isn’t. There were times where I thought about that. I kept plugging away. I was reminding myself over and over how this was my last time over this path for quite some time. The next time, I told myself, I run here, I’ll be stronger. I’ll be faster. I’ll be better. You see, the next time I run this route will be after I can run a 10K in under an hour. So, finishing 4 miles in over 50 minutes would not be an option.
As I turned to go back down Colorado Blvd., it was odd to be running this way in the dark. I was used to coming back down here after laps around the Rose Bowl Loop and with the sun up. It was odd to be doing this in the dark. I was running 30 seconds, walking 90 seconds. My time was OK…not great….not bad. This whole first part of the run was sentimental. I made it back to my apartment at around the 10K mark. I was happy to get there in under an hour and a half! That’s when I started doing the math. If I kept this up, when I would I finish 26.2? I liked that number at the end of 6.2 miles.
After getting to my apartment, I turned down the path that is the first mile of a 6 mile loop I run. This path I will more than likely run sooner than the other path. I thought of how this part of my 23 mile run was more similar to how it will be in New York. Miles 3 – 8 are pretty flat on the NYC Marathon course. Even though I was running rolling hills this past Saturday, the climbs weren’t too much and overall, I was actually on a decline.
In Mile 8, I got a twinge at the end of one of my run intervals. It happened at 27 seconds in that interval. First thought was, “Oh crap! This is happening too soon.” So, I skipped the next run interval and tried to figure out how to proceed. I remembered hearing about one of the ambassadors of the LA Marathon this past year dealt with cramping in his legs. It was a breathing issue. So, when I got to the next run interval, I focused on my breathing. No problems. The next few run intervals, I was very focused on my breathing. No cramps. So, I kept going.
I approached this park in Arcadia that I would run around in mile 12. At 11 and a half miles on the Garmin (probably the end of mile 12 in reality), things fell apart. I got a cramp at the end of two consecutive run intervals. I tried focusing on the breathing and it didn’t help. Finally, I cramped up in the first few seconds of a run interval.
I was seriously bummed. I had hoped I could hold this off until the half marathon mark. But, it wasn’t happening. So, with 11 miles left, I decided to just walk it out. Again, I got very nostalgic. I remembered that first 20 miler I attempted in training for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon. I cramped up at around the 10 mile mark and had to walk the last 10 miles. So, I knew I could just walk it out. I also remembered how I had an amazing 23 mile run a few weeks later. That helped boost my spirits a little. I’d love for that history to repeat itself and find myself running really well at the NYC Marathon. Time will tell.
I got to the Santa Anita Race track entrance at 14 miles. I knew that simply walking all the way back to the apartment wouldn’t be enough to finish 23 miles. I also knew, that if I got back to the apartment, I would quit. So, I thought I should try to walk around the race track and see how much distance that added. As I made my way up the parking lot, I also thought a lot about how it would be around another 3 hours before I’d finish the 23 miles walking. Did I really want that? I mean, I had a decent 20 mile run already.
By the time I got to the entrance area, I realized that I couldn’t do laps around Santa Anita Race Track the way I could run around the Rose Bowl Loop. That’s when I made the decision to call it a day.
This has been my journey as a runner. I’ve had successes and failures. I’ve kept going when I probably should have quit and quit when I probably should have continued on.
In October 2013, I set a half marathon PR at the Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon. It felt amazing! I was working towards a bigger goal when I set it. That day, I felt strong. The last few miles were excrusiatingly long. My excitement was building from the end of mile 10 all the way to the finish. I was tired. But, the clock kept telling me good things.
Then, in January 2014, I joined the 1 percent who would finish a marathon! Again, it was an amazing feeling. It was also the only time where I’ve run 20 miles or longer without my feet hurting. As awesome as that was, it was also the last time where I felt like I was able to finish what I started.
More than a year later, I finished the Los Angeles Marathon. It was the hottest Los Angeles Marathon ever run. It’s a race that bums me out. My training for this race was so strong in the final two months. I was dreaming of a sub 6 hour marathon. Then, the week before the race, the temps in LA spiked. I’ll never forget being in mile 23 and passing this bank where I saw the temperature was 91 degrees. Yeah. I know my finish in this race was beyond my control.
Ready or not, I’m in the taper period now. No matter how disappointing this finish was, I’ve come to far to quit now. I’m going to give the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon EVERYTHING I’ve got. I enter this taper period without any time goals for the main race. The only thing I want from the TCS NYC Marathon is to get here….
If I get here in the full upright position and a smile on my face, it will be a success. Bring on that taper! Bring on NYC! I can’t wait to take on the 5 Burroughs. Less than 2 weeks to go!