Four weeks after a disappointing Chicago Marathon I am back at it again. Straight back on the horse and out to right the wrong and prove to myself that I can actually do this. Chicago had been my A race, the race I had spent all summer building up for and training hard to run a sub 3:20. I had picked Chicago as the A race and one to achieve this goal because of the flat fast course. New York had always been about returning to where I ran my most memorable and favourite race in 2017 (NEW YORK CITY MARATHON 2017 RACE RECAP). I had not planned to race this one, I was just going out to have fun and enjoy the amazing atmosphere, partly due to the course not being that PB friendly with its bridges and hills and the weather can be against you in November too.
Well, after missing out on my goal in Chicago, it was all down to New York. Have I wasted a summer / autumn marathon session or can I go and run a PB over a hilly course? the goal for this race remains the same. To run the sub 3:20 I was aiming for in Chicago, I will just do it the hard way and run it in New York instead of the flat fast Chicago.
All summer long I have had achilles pain and calf cramping at various points. I have not been 100% for a long time. The four weeks between Chicago and New York were tough. Firstly I had to get my head straight and put that disappointment behind me, secondly I needed to quickly work out what coursed the cramping and why this has happened twice in the last three races and thirdly, I am just so damn tired. All of the weeks training for the spring marathons, Ironman and then the autumn marathons has combined to 50 weeks of training and racing. Is New York one race too far? was Chicago one race too far?
In those weeks between the two marathons my achilles has hurt a lot more than in the previous months, even lying in bed it has been hurting. Trying to run a marathon with an injury is going to be tough, but this is the last race of the year so its time to give it everything and hope the body holds up just for another 3hours and 20 minutes. Then I can ease off and relax.
Arrival & Expo (Friday November 2nd)
I flew out to New York from Manchester Friday afternoon, arriving into JFK just before 4pm, I was due to land at 3pm which would have left 4 hours to get through customs, make my wall to my hotel in Midtown and then walk to the expo before the 7pm cutoff. With running the Abbott 5k Dash Saturday I had to collect my race number on the Friday so this was going to be a bit of a rush, even more so with landing an hour late.
Thankfully, the lines at boarder control were not too bad and I had my bag within 45 mins of landing. I decided to take the AirTrain to Jamaica and take the E train over to 7th Ave. This should take around 50 mins, traffic from JFK to Midtown is likely to make the cab a lot slower and at $50, far more expensive than the $8.75 train fare.
Hotel checkin went smoothly, I dropped my case and backpack in the room, made sure I had my race confirmation slip from NYRR and my drivers licence before walking from 56th street down to the expo on 35th. Grabbing a Starbucks on the way this walk wasn’t too long and it felt so warm in New York. I had my jacket on when I left the airport, then swapped to a thin hoodie for the walk, but even that was too hot. It was a short sleeve night. It is November right?
Having been here last year, I knew to expect the expo to be huge and yep, it was still huge. Despite the size of the place and the number of people running the marathon, the queues were not that big at all. This was at 6pm on a Friday night so I don’t know what the Saturday would be like, I can imagine it would be crazy busy.
I got my race number for the marathon and the 5k, along with participant t-shirt for the marathon. They gave us a hat for taking part in the 5k which I thought was a great idea. I have hundreds of race shirts so a hat will really come in useful, especially over winter.
I didn’t buy anything at all from the New Balance stand, I wanted to wait until Monday to see what the finisher gear is like. I did spend half an hour having a wander around looking at various stalls. A few people came over to chat to me, firstly recognising me from Instagram and then someone saw my Ironman UK hoodie so he came to talk to me about Ironman. This is one thing I love about the running community and especially on social media, you get to meet so many people who all have that same passion and desire for running (or triathlon) and you can just chat to them like you have known them for years, even thousands of miles from home.
I was out of the expo before 7pm, a successful trip by all accounts, the only money spent was on a second Starbucks when leaving. Coffee was needed, I was starting to feel tired with the time difference and the long day travelling.
I walked back towards the hotel, via Times Square, just look at the number of people standing around here!! its crazy!!
I found an Italian restaurant on Broadway called Angelos Pizza. I stopped in here to have some diner and get the carb loading kick started ready for Sunday.
Once fed, it was back to the hotel to unpack, shower and get my gear out ready for the 5k tomorrow morning.
Abbott Dash to the Finish 5k (Saturday November 3rd)
After getting an early night last night (10pm), I woke at 3am and at 4am eventually giving up and getting up at 4:30, I could hear the rain pouring against the hotel window and as you can see from the flat lay above, I had no rain jacket this weekend so I would just have to run in the rain and get wet. I killed a few hours by writing my CHICAGO MARATHON 2018 EXPO & 5k and CHICAGO MARATHON 2018 RACE RECAP blogs. I had been meaning to get these done ever since leaving Chicago so that was a relief to find some time to get them done.
I left the hotel at 7:45am for the 30min walk to the United Nations where the 5k starts. I stopped off at Starbucks to grab a cinnamon roll and coffee. Don’t worry, that isn’t my proper breakfast, just something to tie me over until the race is done. By now the rain had stopped and it looked dry on the forecast for the rest of the day. A bit like how the weather was in Chicago.
When I got to the start point for the 5k, it had started to rain again but I managed to dodge that by sheltering under a building. I was hoping to meet up with my friend Marcus @TheMarathonMarcus but with 10,000 other runners all waiting around the same area we didn’t manage to meet up.
The plan for this one was just to take it easy and not go mad. Last year I ran a sub 21 5k the day before the marathon, this year I have learnt to be disciplined and hold back my pace, save it for tomorrow. Around a mile in a spotted someone in a Vegan Runners singlet and I knew that it could only by another Instagram buddy Mark @run_cycle_life so I ran up to him and we ran the rest of the race together having a chat, finishing just over 29 minutes. My worst 5k time ever but thats a good thing… as long as I get the business done tomorrow.
After the race I walked back to the hotel, giving the other runners some support on my way past.
I even stumbled upon the podium presentation for the girls.
After a quick shower and change I headed out for breakfast at Juniors on Broadway. One thing I am putting a lot of effort into this time around is making sure that I eat and eat a lot. In all of my previous international marathons I have struggled late on in the races, the UK based races I have been fine. After chatting with yep another Instagram friend, Victoria @VictoriaStears about race nutrition and generally eating the right things, I found that when I travel I don’t eat enough. Being by myself I always feel funny about asking for a table for one and sitting by myself so I if somewhere looked busy I wouldn’t go in or if I couldn’t see something on the door menu which took my fancy I would walk away, but with no backup plan so all to often I would just go back to Starbucks for a coffee and cake. In fact, when I returned from Chicago I was 7lbs lighter than when I left 5 days earlier. So in New York I was going to eat, eat and eat!
After breakfast/brunch, I went to the NYRR Runcentre as there were some talks going on in the afternoon. Whilst there I bumped into another mate off Instagram, Michael @Michael_Koball who had just moved from London to New York. He invited me into a talk for the Abbott Global VIP runners who were getting race tips and logistical hints from the guys at NYRR.
Then the talk I had wanted to go to started. Emma Coburn, who is the current women’s 3,000m steeplechase world champion was talking about the mindset of an endurance athlete. Talking about what she does when her mind is telling her too slow down, its too painful etc. This was really beneficial for me, I am guilty of slowing and walking when my minds screams enough is enough, I have given in too easily so picking up some tips from Emma to try out tomorrow could give me that extra edge come race day. Obviously nowhere near to her level but it might still help me to finally run the full 26.2 miles without stopping.
After meeting Emma I went over to Central Park where I was meeting up with some people from a Facebook Group I was part of. The guy who had started the group was hosting a get together for around 200 of us. It was amazing to get to meet and talk to Runar Gundersen (guy who started the group), he was about to run his 40th consecutive New York City marathon tomorrow!! how amazing is that? 40 years of running New York and he isn’t from New York too, not even from the US!! he flies in from Norway every year to run this race.
I also had the opportunity of chatting with some of the other group members who were running NYC for the first time or first marathons here. I always find it so inspirational meeting and chatting with other runners and hearing their stories through training and past races.
After the group meeting I went back to the hotel to relax and to warm up, it had suddenly gone cold and I was shivering in the park. I sorted my race gear out for tomorrow, got all of my nutrition packed up in the race belt and measured out my porridge and pre-race electrolytes. Everything was ready and waiting to go.
It was back to Angelos for a pre race tradition…. PIZZA!!!