Mile 1: Over the Verrazano we went. It was crowded, but I tried not to do too much dodging. But I had to a little, just to keep some space to run. I tried to keep in mind that iwas a long day ahead. I ended up running the first mile (which is uphill) in 9:29. Nice slow pace, I thought to myself.
Mile 2: I kept up with what I thought was a slow and comfortable pace. Until I passed the marker, and hit the Garmin. 8:18. Fast, but I figured it had the downhill part of the bridge.
Mile 3: Still keeping a steady comfortable pace. I wasn't wearing headphones so I could concentrate on my breathing - which was totally fine. Finished the mile in 8:07. I was concerned that it was too fast, but I felt really good. Who knows, maybe it was a good day for a PR. Definitely the perfect weather for it.
Miles 4-8: I felt like a machine. 8:07, 8:07, 8:04, 8:04. Nice and steady. I'd forgotten how enthusiastic the crowds in Brooklyn were. They were amazing, cheering each runner like they knew them. (I found myself looking at the fans sometimes to see if it was someone I knew - they called my name with such excitement!)
Miles 9-10: The various starting colors merged here, and it got a little crowded. Not terrible, just a little less space. 8:18 and 8:08.
Miles 10-12: Ran through Williamsburg, home of many Hassidic Jews. Always interesting to see their reaction, and there were a fair amount of people cheering - albeit in a much more subdued fashion. 8:08, 8:18, 8:03. (That included a re-tying of one shoe.)
Mile 13: I'd been thinking about the bathroom at eah mile marker when I saw the portapotties. I remembered from reading my old report that I went at mile 13 last year. Part of a scheme to add the time to my first half, in order to get a negative split. I did the same thing this year - though I actually used a portapotty this time. :) 9:07 for the mile with the break.
Mile 14: Over the Pulaski Bridge. I heard someone complain how the bridge was ugly and in such a weird place. I said "look to your left" and as she did she say the Manhattan skyline. "I feel much better" ws the response. I passed the halfway point at 1:49:15. I was feeling really good. I definitely kept in my mind that the race really starts at the end - but I wasn't tired. I made some calculations in my mind and figured out that even if I slowed down in the second half, I could still set a PR. Unexpected, but it would be really cool. I finished the mile (which included the bridge) in 8:24.
Mile 15: This includes the beginning of the Queensboro Bridge - the real monster of the NYC Marathon. I managed to keep running even as many people slowed to a walk. But it's a long bridge. Only about a third of this mile included the bridge, and my split was 8:45.
Mile 16: The bulk of the bridge. I felt like I was putting in the same effort, but my Garmin was showing my a pace of over 10 min/mile on the uphill. The distance measurement was passing noticeably slower. After thinking about the PR in the morning, I could feel it slipping away here. 9:06 for the mile.
Mile 17-18: A little surge of the downhill ramp, and the entry into Manhattan. Tons of crowds at this point, and it really energizes a runner. I was supposed to see a friend here - but way too crowded and I never saw him. 8:34 and 8:40. Not bad splits, but I could feel that it was harder to get these splits.
Mile 19-20: The crowd thins out as we moved higher up on 1st Avenue. And then the Willis Ave Bridge. I remembered stopping to stretch here in 2005, and I just kept pushing on. 8:54 and 9:10. I had no ability to speed up and this point, and the PR was clearly gone. I had a secondary goal which I'd been saying all week, and that was to finish in under 9 minute miles. That's what I was shooting for now.
Mile 21: The Bronx. My home borough, though not really in that neighborhood. They had pumped up music there and a giant video screen where you could see yourself. It was exciting, but I was really tiring. 9:14
Miles 22-23: I was really struggling. I was calculating in my head how likely it was to reach my goal. I was counting on 10 minute miles, and my chances were looking good. My main motivation at this point was just to keep running - I didn't want to stop and walk. That had really been devastating to me in 2005, and I just forced myself to keep going. 9:16 and 9:25.
Miles 24-25: I saw the first friend here after missing all the others. Was really nice, but I was in bad shape.
(I faked the smile for the picture.)
I entered Central Park at 90th and tried to energize myself. There were small rolling hills, and I had nothing left. I was cramping every few minutes. Nothing that made me stop running, but it was altering my stride and I was very uncomfortable. I was grimacing, but I wasn't going to stop. 9:49 and 9:36.
Mile 26: The last mile. In my previous effort, this was my fastest mile of the day. But this was a different day. I was not doing well, but kept focusing on continuing to run without stopping. I had serious cramps in my calves, particularly on the left. It had been bothering me all week, and was really making its presence known now. I soldiered on to Central Park South where I heard someone call my last name. Too crowded to see who it was at the time, but I just wanted to finish. I saw the sign for 1/2 mile left and was really getting excited to be done.
And then, BAM, I got a major cramp just as I was heading back into the park. This was about mile 25.9. This time I had to stop and grab my leg as I hobbled a few steps. One runner ran into me and I apologized as I tried to move to the side. A race volunteer came over to me and put her arm around me, and asked me if I needed to stop. I was so close. I really didn't want to stop, and I said no thanks and hobbled away. After ten or twenty feet it subsided and I continued on. Even with all that drama, I still hit 9:47 for the mile.
Mile 26.2: The big finish. I knew I had nothing left for a sprint, but I guess I tried to speed up just a little. I had reached my goal of continuing to run, I had reached the 9 minute mile goal, and I had reached my next arbitrary goal of getting in under 3:50. I had nothing forcing me to sprint except wanting to finish strong. I just kept up the pace and raised my hands as I came into the finishing area.
And then just for fun, I got another major cramp as I crossed the line. (Should be interesting to see that in the pictures.) I crossed the line hobbling, and only stopped my watch a little later. My official time, I later found out, was 3:49:04.