I've always said that the New York City Marathon tuneup is one of the most important training pieces for the New York City Marathon. If you can take this race at marathon pace you can feel confident that you can run that marathon at that pace. It might be 8 miles less than the New York City Marathon but it's hillier, it's probably going to be warmer and it's not the thing you've been training for. You're not gonna go to work the next day wearing a metal because you completed the Tuneup. But it's important. Very important. If you can finish this race feeling okay, you'd know that you can finish the marathon feeling less than okay.
Yeah, three loops of Central Park on a day that the calendar still calls summer.. My plan was to run 90 seconds and walked 60 seconds. And I knew this, like all plans get scrapped when you get punched in the face. And those Central Park hills are a punch in the face. I was just going to walk the hills. Anyway, my running pace is only slightly than my walking pace. I wasn't anticipating being much faster than 20 minutes per mile. But, walking is really hard on my feet. I land really flat-footed. However, while running is better on the lower body because I can roll my feet a little, heel-to-toe, it's a little more exhausting. It takes a lot of work to lift those legs.
The plan was working great. When I was finishing my second loop I stayed silent as so many people cheered for me. I know, "You're almost there!!" Did not apply to me yet. But after I ascended the Harlem Hill for the third time I got a puzzled look from a Roadrunners club staffer. I don't blame him. I had 5 miles to go and everybody else was finished with their 18 miles. He got out of his truck and told me that because of the heat they had closeed the course. And he wanted me to walk over to the finish line. I hope I was nice to him, but I told him I was okay I knew where the water fountains were and that I intended to finish the whole race. I didn't need anyone to hang around and wait for me. He wrote down my bib number. And I continued with my plan,
But my plan was not working out so well. At mile 15 I felt like I had 2 to many cups of water in my gut. I asked Nicholas to reset the run walk timer so I can sit for 90 seconds. As soon as the thing beeped I got up and continued with the plan. But that only worked for less than another mile. Just north of Tavern on the Green I sat down again. This time I thought it was for good. I just wanted to drink a gallon of water and then throw up. I found a shady spot and made that my new plan. I apologize to Larry and let him go home to his girlfriend. Then I started talking to Nicholas about how to get on with the second part of his day. I was gonna head home by myself. But he wanted to get to the finish line before moving on with his day. He said that he did wake up at 5 o'clock in the morning to not finish. I gave him a handshake and wish them well.
I wasn't sure how time moved after that. But after sometime between two or 20 minutes I stood up and started walking out of the parking lot at Tavern on the Green. I started thinking about which subway I was gonna take home. I felt sad, knowing I was gonna go home without getting over this important hurdle in training for the New York City Marathon. But then I realize something crazy. If I am well enough to wonder what subway I'm gonna take home I'm well enough to get to that finish line... I didn't wake my son up at 5 o'clock in the morning so I wouldn't finish the race. And then out of my mouth in front of all those tourists and in the voice of Samuel L Jackson.....
"Get back on that motherfucking course! You have a motherfucking bib on your chest and you can't think about doing anything but getting to that motherfucking finish line!"
So I did. Without a soul left from the roadrunners club I walked in the last 3 miles. No, I walked in the last 2.95 miles. I got back on my heels and toes and ran that last half a 10th of a mile. I dug out my cell phone and saw that it was 2:51 PM. So I figure the race started about five minutes late and I know it took me 9 1/2 minutes to get to the starting line. So on the report to the roadrunners club that it took me 7 hours and 35 minutes to finish.
I was glad there was no one at the finish line waiting for me. I used organize races like this and the finish line doesn't have to be for the 0.0001%. I was able to stand up tall and walked back to Fifth Avenue. I sat on a shady bench and made this somewhat deranged Facebook video. (By the way, when I got to the subway I found a Metro card with one day left on it.)