Official Time: 2:44:38. I actually timed myself at 2:44:17 and am unable to explain the discrepancy.
I woke up at 4:30 and took a cab to the bus pick-up area, where I was let off at the Verazzano Bridge on Staten Island at 6:10am. From that time until the start, I spent my time eating and trying to stay warm. I even spent some time in a “Johnny on the Spot” port-o-potty avoiding the wind. I only managed to run a slow 6 minutes before the race with no strides. I was cold at the start and pretty tight so not ideal. I also peed in a bottle in front of thousands of people.
I spent the first 10 miles just hanging out, running around 6 minute pace and wondering where the hell the mile markers were. I was trying to make the pace feel as natural and easy as possible. The only issue I experienced with the first few miles was my right hamstring which had been bothering me since the Falmouth Road Race. It got very tight around 5k but luckily it went away after a few minutes. Disaster averted.
I took gels right before the start and at miles 5, 10, 15, and 20. Water, but mostly Gatorade Endurance, was taken every 2-3 miles. I couldn’t drink it very well so most of it ended up on my face, chest, and arms.
The first feelings of fatigue didn’t surface until nearly the halfway point. I only noticed it on the uphill portions of the race when I felt myself slowing. I couldn’t do much about the slowing, but was able to quickly recover on the flats and downhills.
Going over the Queensboro Bridge at mile 16 was one of the hardest hills on the course – you can tell by my 16th mile split. My girlfriend and her sister, two college friends, and my mom were there cheering. It’s incredible coming off that bridge. There are thousands of people going crazy and that one moment is probably my favorite.
The shit hit the fan around mile 19 when I was unable to continue 6 minute pace. After a few short miles, I was running over 6:30 pace and there was simply nothing I could do about it. My left calf nearly cramped around mile 22 but luckily held out. The last miles were pathetic, averaging nearly 7 minute pace. As cliched as it sounds, the last 10k is when the marathon really begins and it separates the men from the boys.
Each footstrike was incredibly painful and I had an intense burning sensation in my groin, hip flexors, and quads. While I passed about 10 people per mile since the 5k mark, in the last 2 miles about 15-20 people passed me. One of those people was a senior citizen who cruised by me like he was on his Sunday drive.
After I finished I experienced the worst feeling of the race. I think my body had gone numb by the end and I was just very used to the feeling of running. When I stopped moving, my body didn’t know what to do with itself and I experienced numbness, cramping, incredible lactic acid buildup, and dizziness at the same time. I was shuffling to get my bag and 3-4 volunteers asked if I needed medical attention.
No race will make you feel like a marathon will afterward. I was unable to walk normal until more than 48 hours later and I was still moving very slowly. Four days later it was still painful to walk down stairs.
Racing a marathon is one of the hardest things you’ll do. As hackneyed as that is, it’s true. It will test you in every way possible. Now that that’s said, here’s the caveat: you really won’t be tested until the last 40 – 60 minutes of the race when you start falling apart. And you will fall apart. The majority of a marathon is an exercise in mental and physical patience.
While I enjoyed my first marathon and I’m glad that I did it, it’s not even close to my favorite distance. I do not want to be known as a marathoner. In fact, I think specializing in the marathon is lame. Aside from the tiny majority of elite runners who can race a marathon like a beast from start to finish, there’s no glory in running them. I know athletes very close to Olympic Trials qualifying times who finish marathons well over 6 minute pace. While the overall time is fantastic, it’s not the way I like to run races. I’ll never be able to run a PR marathon time by negative splitting the last few miles, as much as I like to boast I can. Closing in 7 minutes for the last mile makes you feel like a failure, even if your overall time is good.
It’s also way too long to be enjoyable. I was running a very slow tempo for most of the race. Big deal, I was bored most of the time. It’s not a race that interests me very much.
With that said, I can’t wait to run my next one. How did you feel about your first marathon?