As you may have read on my previous post, next year is my 10 year running anniversary. What better way to celebrate it then to run the race that started it all, the New York City Marathon. The goal… run a sub 1:25 half marathon in Brooklyn to qualify.
I took the day off on Friday because we had friends coming into town for the weekend.
Abbe wanted to write a story on Wylie Dufresne’s new doughnut spot in Williamsburg, Du Nuts, so she was going to run there. I had a race the next day, so I decided to bike there and meet her. Our timing was perfection and so were the doughnuts! They were delicious as far as flavor goes, but a little dense for me. I like a fluffy doughnut, sorry Wylie.
We met Adam and Kristin, along with their daughters Madelyn and Savannah out by Laguardia and guided them into the city. We spent the afternoon in Central Park, mostly riding the carousel, before heading o dinner.
Adam had requested some serious NYC pizza so we decided to take their family to a NYC staple, Gino’s on 83rd Street. We sat outside and enjoyed the warm weather. I opted for some pasta as I had to race the next day and I have learned that pizza never works, mainly for it’s lack of nutrition. Our friend and teammate Kelly popped by with her new dog Peanut… Madelyn and Savannah went bonkers.
In bed by 10:30pm.
We woke up at 5:00am to the sound of some Cafe Bustelo brewing, very similar to rising to a Mozart concerto.
We were in a cab and picked up Jenn and her boyfriend Lee by 6:05am, rocketing down the FDR towards Brooklyn. The weather was perfect, 60 degrees with a cool breeze.
With 15 minutes to spare and 5 blocks to the start we exited the cab. Jenn and I did a bit of a panicked warm up. We were on time, but not really. I said goodbye to her at B Corral and headed up to A Corral. As I entered with 5 minutes until the start I found my friends Elizabeth and Patrizia. Elizabeth was like, ‘Baker, what are you doing here, you should be up in the front!’ They had collapsed the corrals already and I was pretty far back from my normal placement. In my head I was kinda like, ‘Fuck it. Let’s just run for fun.’ But simultaneously another voice was like, ‘Keep the pace steady until Prospect Park and then drop the hammer. You have to give it a try.’ Angels and demons battling it out… we all have ’em.
The first 2 miles were painful. It was like being stuck in traffic. I tried to make progress by passing people but it was slow going. I was also being very courteous to my fellow runners and following protocol. I saw Kate and the GCR cheer squad which helped push me on. These miles were in the 6:50 range, 20-22 seconds per mile off my goal pace.
I saw Abbe and Lee at mile 3 and dropped off my belt which held my phone. I felt instantly lighter. I also saw my Seven Samurai (a group I coached to their first Ironman last year) cheering!
Right before we entered Prospect Park I heard a, ‘Hey Baker!’ It was Victor, also part of the Seven Samurai crew. We had a fun chat before I bid farewell. The streets were opening up and so I needed to make up time.
In Prospect Park I did a lot of bobbing and weaving. I was making steady progress and improving my overall pace, but I had to be careful. Prospect is only 3 miles in circumference, but is a series of rolling hills. It is very easy to blow up and lose your race here. I was running 6:15-6:20 range on these miles (3-6) through the park and was starting to feel confident in getting my mission completed.
Having run this 5 times I am pretty familiar with the course. As we approached mile 7 I started to pick it up, anticipating the straightaway that is Ocean Parkway.
Some think that Ocean Parkway is boring. It is. It is 6 miles on a flat highway with no shade. But… if conditions are right, you can use it to generate a PR. That’s what I was intending to do.
I dropped a 6:07 on mile 7 and tried to keep that momentum going.
Somewhere in the next mile or two I ran by my buddy Pat who yelled, ‘Great pace Baker, first beer is on you!’ We will come back to this later…
I was only taking water and gatorade every other aid station and my pace was hovering in the 6:20 range for miles 8-12. I felt fantastic! My legs were functioning perfectly, my heart rate was steady and nutrition was on point. I thought I had this thing in the bag.
Head down, feet plugging along I wondered if I would indeed achieve my goal. If I didn’t what would I do to get into NYCM? It was my introduction to running in 2008, I had to run it in 2018.
I decided, as the last mile approached, to check my time and see what I needed to pull this off. I thought I had been banking time and it would be easy street for the last mile. Wrong! I had just under 8 minutes to hit my goal and I was currently at a 6:20 pace. Too many variables were in play. I wanted this bad and was close so I just put my head down and dialed up everything I had.
I was watching the seconds tick by on my watch as I barrelled down Surf Avenue. As I hit the boardwalk I had 1 minute to go to keep it under 1:25 and my pace was a 6:09. It hurt bad.
Swinging my arms through the finish I knew I had it, but it was close. I finished in 1:24:16, just 44 seconds off my goal time.
As I made my way out of the finish chute and towards our after party I ran into my pal Allison. She had a great race as well. I also met her friend and another GCR teammate, Natalie. I left them in search of my Battalion crew.
In front of the Finish and Ruby’s Abbe, Lee, Dougie and Madison were cheering. I went into Ruby’s and secured us a table. I also noticed that the Flyers, another local team, were posting up behind us. I thought to myself, ‘Hey Pat is a Flyer!’ No sooner did I think that than he rolled in. We hung out for a hot second recapping our races before he joined his team. Man, I love the local running community.
One by one the Battalion crew rolled in! Some looked better than others, some had great races and some not so much. We had some drinks and some laughs before it was time to go.
I stayed in Coney with Abbe, Adam, Kristin, Madelyn and Savannah to hit the rides at Luna Park.
Mission 2 complete. Next year I will get to run NYCM, my 1st race ever. I ran it as a 30 year old in 2008 on a dare and I will run it as a celebration (and as a 40 year old) in 2018. Had I not run the 2008 marathon what would I be now? Please discuss.