The NYC Half Marathon is one of my favorite races. Home turf… good distance… and you get to run down the middle of Times Square without any tourists in your way! Last year I PR’d with a 1:20: 48 and this year I wanted to break that number (at least by a couple seconds).
Wednesday before the race was set off with me having a voracious bout of food poisoning or some sort of stomach flu. I staying home from work and tried not to die. I couldn’t drink water (and keep it down) until 7PM. I love water.
You have never felt more alive and happy than you do the day after food poisoning. I may as well have been in the NYC version of The Sound of Music while walking to work Thursday. Lookout Julie Andrews!
Thursday was also St. Patrick’s Day, which happens to be my favorite holiday ever. Our office sits on 5th Avenue so I get front row seats to the parade every year which delights me to no end. After work Abbe and I had planned to find a quiet bar to have a drink, then get some sushi. This is also her favorite holiday as well.
What say you?! No Irish Pub?!
NYC St. Patrick’s Day Explained: From noon until midnight my lovely town gets invaded by people from New Jersey (I’m from NJ so I can say that), Long Island and other strange places. These people disrespect my town and the holiday by being complete drunken morons, peeing on the streets and annoying me. It becomes impossible to enter ANY irish pub because they are packed. I spend a lot of my normal calendar year frequenting irish pubs anyway, so it doesn’t bother me to go experience a different food culture on this holiday.
Friday was 70 and sunny, strictly amazing. For lunch I wolfed down an entire fresh cut turkey sub (and a pickle) that upset my stomach big time! I wasn’t over my stomach flu from Wednesday and this set it off again.
That night I met Abbe and her parents for a drink before heading to my friend Colette’s birthday party. She had booked the entire roofdeck of the hotel ink48! It sits on the water and has fantastic views of the city. She totally lucked out with the weather! There were some 150 people dancing and socializing until 11PM, a great party. At 10, I left to meet Abbe and Erica Sara in Hell’s Kitchen to discuss the race game plan as far as cheering goes.
Saturday (per Coach Sonja’s instructions) I did ‘Race Pace Intervals’ around the Park to get my system rev-ed up for Sunday. It was a beautiful morning and I felt awesome. I had not eaten anything since Friday at lunch because my stomach was all wonky, but I was doing just fine.
Later, I biked down to meet my friend Brian at the East 6th Street Track and train his 10 year old daughter. She wants to make the track team, so we went over some basic stuff like form, and how to do quick bursts. I also taught her race strategy and the concept of ‘Running Through the Pain.’ I am really excited to see how she does.
That night me and Abbe, her parents, and friends Jason, Jordan and Katie (who is running the Half Mary too) met at Bar Baresco to have pre-race dinner. My tummy was feeling okay at this point so I had some pasta to get my carbo-load on. The food was actually quite fantastic. Seeing as how all of us were waking up early, whether it be to race or spectate, we took off at 10 to get some rest.
Waking up at 6AM, I had severe indigestion and heartburn. Aimlessly wandering around my apartment I finally got some coffee going. Juts as it started to percolate and the aroma entered the air I got very nauseous and ran to the bathroom. I was very sick and (without going into to many details) I basically emptied my stomach… dinner, water, vitamins, a necklace I thought I had lost…
Afterword, I was really shaky and extremely worried about racing. As Abbe was sipping her Cafe Bustelo, I secretly wanted her to say, “No way mister, you aren’t racing now!” and then I would go back to bed and happily sleep until noon. Instead she said, “I bet a good run will knock that flu right out of you!” and with that we set off to the start.
We met Katie on 3rd and 83rd and walked north, my request was that we find me some bananas STAT!
At my baggage truck I finished eating my single banana and got ready, helping the gals with their pins and bibs. Just then, a woman came up and asked if we were ‘running the marathon’ today and before I could think of something witty to say my gaze went past her to the sealed up UPS baggage truck ready to take off! I booked over to the driver and begged him to wait! Running back and jamming all my crap into my bag then sprinting back I handed it to him thanking him dearly! I honestly have no idea what I would do being left with a full backpack? Cry?
I said goodbye to them and ran up to my corral as it was closing. Weaving into the crowd and moving towards the front it had the usual smell of Ben Gay and farts. Normally I run into some of the Runner Army, but today I saw no familiar faces. After a few words from the usual crew and the National Anthem we prepared for flight.
As we started the race it was pretty packed up front. It always amazes me at a race of this caliber how long it takes for the lead corral to thin out and get situated. In my head I knew I had to break a 6:11 pace in order to beat last years time. This would continue to haunt me all day.
SIDENOTE: When I start a run I know within the first mile or so if it’s going to be good or bad. Today was going to be bad and probably not my day to PR. I would love to hear a few other runner’s opinions on this.
The bottom half of the Park was lined with cheering spectators, making the pain ease up a little and my spirits soar.
Moving up the West Side I started having to deal with all the hills. The plus side, was that I only had to deal with them one time. I saw Erica Sara, Jess and Tavia cheering me on at 86th Street which rocked, especially because it was right before the mighty Harlem Hill.
Speaking of which, I moved up the first half of the hill rather smoothly, keeping my form in tact and anticipating a quick descent. We were all in single file by this point in the race so there was a lot of leapfrog passing going on. Using the downhill to my advantage I just let go (keeping control) and barreled forward. At the bottom I made my decision to have my first drink of the race. “Martini, dry please.” All they had was Gatorade neat. I took it anyway and chased it with a water.
Running up the second half of Harlem Hill wasn’t as pleasant (if you would call the first have pleasant?) at all. It was during these moments I started to have doubts about even finishing the run. This put a dreadful fear into my mind because I never think like this (ONE) and (TWO) I had like 9 more miles of this monkey business left. Mile splits thus far: 6:19, 6:01, 6:04, 6:20.
One thing that lifted my spirits was knowing that the hardest part of the course by far had just passed. That got me thinking about a song by GH and I thought to myself, as the pain in my legs, stomach and core were knocking around, ‘All things must pass…’
Somewhere around 86th Street on the East I heard (as I was passing some volunteers) “Goooooo Baker!” It was Kelly! Then, in the 60’s I saw Susan, who actually yelled at me, but I needed it. Go Runner Army! We are everywhere…
As I made the turn onto 7th Avenue and out of the Park I felt a huge sense of relief, knowing that I was ⅔’s of the way through the race. Miles 5-8 were as follows 6:07, 6:36, 6:34, 6:25… definitely slowing down.
My favorite part of this race is being able to run through Times Square, so I was trying to ignore my body’s signals that death was near, and really take it all in. These 2 miles are also downhill so I was trying to make up for lost time by crushing it. Perhaps not the best idea, but neither is puking before a half mary. As I turned right onto 42nd Street I was actually hungry and took that as a good sign! I hadn’t had an appetite for a few days! Woo hoo, it’s goo time! I bit into my ‘Espresso Love’ Gu and was far from in love with it. It did, however, fill up my stomach with some sort of synthetic nutrient that was going to propel me though the next 3 miles. Mile splits: 5:46, 6:02.
Turning onto the West Side Highway we were confronted with a bone chilling wind. I tried to stay to the right as the runners around me were passing. This would normally aggravate me, but I was not concerned with my time at this point, I was busy just pushing forward. These next 2 miles would be my worst with splits of 7:16 and 7:33.
I saw Lady Southpaw and her band somewhere along the road and she gave me a shout out which was awesome. Then, I saw Maura and Brian at their ‘High Five Station!’ Totally cool guys, seriously!
A few runners were encouraging me to push on (remember, all of us were familiar with one another from running in the same pack for so long.)
I don’t know what happened to me on the last mile but I decided I was going to pick it up and finish this thing. I straightened my posture, took a deep breath and quickened my pace.
Cruising into the finish I saw Eliz shouting at me and a few others! I crossed with a time of 1:27:35 which is actually my 3rd best time out of 6 half marys.
I got my medal and silver superhero cape and pressed forward to get my bag. I ran into my running pals Robert and Antonio who had fantastic races and both PR’d. Congrats fellas!
My next mission was coffee. With that in hand I stood and cheered at the finish waiting for Abbe and Katie. They both finished in just over 2 hours! Fantastic! After we all headed uptown and had a huge breakfast. That wasn’t the real party though…
After cleaning up, all of us went to watch the College Basketball games and have some beers and hearty food. There were 20 of us, including my little brother Jeff and his girlfriend (fiance) who had gotten engaged the night before! Congrats you two!
Although I was bummed out I didn’t PR my half mary time, I was happy to have finished after such a rough start. My stomach flu was totally kicked from my system too! Running cures everything!
PS= Thanks to EVERYONE who came out and cheered us on. I heard my name many times and if I didn’t shout you out here on the report it’s only because I was delirious when I saw you!