Archive for October 18, 2011

If I can make it there ….

With the New York City Marathon now front and center I have started to set aside all of the other running, racing and training “distractions” and begun to really focus on the race on November 6th.  No more tune-up races, no more changes in the training schedule to accommodate them.  No more treacherous tempo workouts or other opportunities to get injured.

Just Thursday’s final hill-repeat session and our last long run of about 20 miles on Sunday.  We might cut that one a little short, we might not, it just depends on how we feel and what we think we need at that point.  Already with four 20+ mile long runs, including two 22 milers, our distance work has been done.  It’s now just a matter of keeping the sword sharp for November 6th and not peaking too early.

So now it is time to focus more on the mental side of things rather than the physical.  That starts with committing the course to memory and looking at the elevation profile to determine which parts of the course tilt in the favor of the runners, which parts in favor of Lady Marathon.

Miles 1-5

Mental preparation to me means fully committing to my race plan – 6:45-6:50 pace over the first half of the race.  Locking in to goal pace (6:52) and keeping the needle right there until we cross the Queensboro Bridge and make the turn onto 1stAvenue at mile 16.

Miles 6-10

I’ve heard that there is NOTHING like the sound of the roaring crowd at the turn off of the bridge.  That comparing it even to the scream tunnel at Wellesley College along the Boston Marathon course cannot do it justice.

Miles 11-15

I’ll need to then settle back down after the adrenaline rush and make a methodical climb up First Ave. from E. 59th street to the Willis Avenue Bridge at 127thstreet.  This part of the course is relatively flat, so it should be an area where I can lock in and stay right on pace – but there are some rolling hills to deal with according to NYC Marathon finishers I have spoken to.  I will run this part of the course when I arrive in NYC a few days before the race to download the mental images that I will encounter from miles 16-19.

Miles 16-20

After crossing into the Bronx we will arrive at mile 20.  There will be just 6.2 left to go and if we are still on pace for a sub 3:00 hour marathon at this point, we are going to have to strap ourselves in for the toughest 10 Kilometers of our life.

The Madison Avenue Bridge will be the final river crossing, heading back into Manhattan at mile 21.

Then it is a straight shot down Fifth Ave. around Marcus Garvey Memorial Park at mile 22 and on to Central Park.

Final 10 Kilometers

At East 86th street runners will enter the park off of Fifth Ave and take on the final two miles of rolling hills to the finish.

Fifth Ave., Central Park South, Columbus Circle and finally the last 400 Meter sprint to the finish at Tavern on the Green.

I have run close to 100 miles in Central Park over the past 5 or 6 years on trips to New York.  I have always gotten a big surge of adrenaline cutting into the park off of the city streets and been taken back by the beautiful rolling hills and trees that are tucked deep in the middle of Gotham.

In a little less than three weeks the streets in Central Park will be barricaded off with thousands of spectators lining the railings shouting encouragement to the runners as they try to hang on for just another couple of miles.

Normally I try to tune all of that out and just focus on what I need to do to keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it to the finish line.  This year in New York I am going to try to take it all in.  Let the crowds fuel me on and let me continue to hold pace as my legs start to feel like tree trunks, my shoes like they are filled with concrete.

None of this is supposed to be easy – and certainly the final stretch of miles will prove to be some of the most difficult I have ever run in my life.  But every stride will be one step closer to the tape – with a little bit of luck and good weather it may just all come together for us in New York.

If I can make it there …