Wrapping up 2016 running and what’s next

I just wanted to throw out a few more things about the NYC Marathon and then I’ll shut up about it.

Getting to the start-line issues:

I had mentioned how annoying/difficult it was to get to the start of the race but I can’t say this enough: Don’t let that deter you. The actual race makes up for any transportation or crowd issues. In spades (is that a phrase that I can use here?)! I doubt I’ll ever experience such an amazing marathon again in my life. Actually, I’m kind of worried about this, but I really don’t know how it can be topped. I would run it again in a heartbeat, flaws and all!

Pacing strategy:

All along, I knew this would not be a race or PR attempt for me so I took that mentality into my training. I tossed out all the “but I ran such and such pace last year” thinking and let my heart rate tell me what to do. I think that in doing so, I built a strong aerobic base, and learned how to pace like a pro. The NYC Marathon app has a pace predictor tool and I plugged in my training stats a few days before the marathon and it spit out the following:

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At first I was a little bummed that they were predicting a 5 hour finish but then again, it really did make sense based on the pace I was running most of my long runs. Also, McMillan predicted a 4:45 finish (and that’s what my pace bracelet was set at).

I let the idea of being a 5 hour marathoner settle in and it all worked out for me. I didn’t put any pressure on myself and I felt super relaxed* at the start of the race. Now that I’ve done it and succeeded in running a well-paced, good marathon I know that I can do much better. In fact, I know I could have run NYC just a bit faster and still finished strong.

*My heart rate was anything but relaxed at the start, which is why I used my pace band instead of HR. I don’t know if this happens to other people, but my heart is always pounding like a bunny when I’m in a new environment, surrounded by, oh, 51,000 people, preparing to do something incredibly wild and crazy.

Negative splitting is rewarding in and of itself but getting free stuff is a bonus. Strava officially acknowledged my successful completion of their Back Half Challenge. Now I just need to find a pair of shoes that I really like and will wear (I don’t run in NB shoes anymore).

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And just a few clothing/gear details:

Determined at mile 26
Feeling cool at mile 26

I forgot to mention an important new addition to my race gear: “Gu bands.” I’m too lazy to look up what they’re really called, but Robert lent me his 2 pocketed wrist bands. They hold gels, or whatever, and you can see in the photo above that I’m wearing one on each wrist. I was able to store 2 GUs in each band plus one in my bra (that I lost AND THEN FOUND, MIRACULOUSLY, at mile 22). Anyway, they’re great. I’m also wearing a SPIbelt, which held my phone, some cash, and an MTA pass. Headphone cables, per usual, are also shoved in my bra, which is probably why I temporarily lost my GU in there. Really, if you know me in real life, you know that I have a lot of spare room for things in my bra.

My whole clothing/gear set up, from top to bottom was very comfortable. We really lucked out with the weather (just under 60 degrees, and mostly sunny; there was rumor of wind gusts but I was around so many people I felt nothing except for on the bridges). I had no chafing or blisters, and I realized once I got back to my hotel that I really didn’t sweat, either. At least not that, “Gross, I’m covered in white salt” kind of sweat that happens during warmer races or poorly hydrated races. (Seriously, I smelled my hat and bra. Honest. I didn’t sweat.)

***

I am recovering from a whopper of a cold that hit me right after I got back from NYC. It started off pretty mild and I thought I was over the hump after a few days so I stupidly went out for an 8 mile run one week post-marathon. The run went okay (it was a little hard to take in deep breaths) but when I got home from the run I realized that I was completely wasted and what was a tiny thing became a huge coughing, phlegmy thing. I was completely out of commission for about 6 days and am finally starting to feel semi-normal. I have a bruised rib from so much coughing, and I still can’t hear out of my right ear or smell anything but I actually got some sleep over the last few nights and feel like I’m out of the woods. Let’s not ever do that again.

Fortunately, this all happened at the perfect time. I’d finished my marathon and I needed to rest, physically, and mentally, anyway, so I didn’t feel too bummed that I wasn’t able to get back to regular running right away. However, I am really anxious to get back out there now that I’m back amongst the living and I think that my lungs will be recovered enough within the next few days to go out for a little run. There’s a local turkey trot on Thanksgiving morning that I’m considering. It’s downhill and full of kids and dogs so it’d be an easy/fun little comeback.

As for running goals beyond just getting back out there, I want to maintain a base over winter but somehow avoid running in the dark. Currently, my plan is to run commute into work 2x/week and then run Sat/Sun, for an average of about 25 miles a week. I’m not signed up for anything in 2017 but that needs to change soon because I like having something to train for. Hopefully I’ll get something on my calendar within the next month. I think I’ll at least be running the B.A.A. 5K in April again since I’ll be there with Robert and maybe this time I’ll be uninjured and can actually race it. Half marathons are a distance that I really like so maybe I’ll try to work on that area a bit in 2017.

2016 has been a pretty good running year for me so far despite the nearly yearlong hamstring injury. I’ve run over 1000 miles, plenty with hills, and I’ve done hours of productive-for-running strength training and I’ve figured out some great yoga routines to keep my left hip in alignment. I don’t want to fall back to being an average, always-on-the-verge-of-being-injured runner. I may continue to run slower but I’ll be running stronger and happier.

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