ING NYC Marathon Tune-Up 18M

September 28, 2008

ING NYC Marathon Tune-Up 18M
Central Park, New York, NY
Sunday, September 28, 2008

Official time
2:13:30 (7:25 pace)

Mile marker: lap/split
Mile 1: 7:43/0:07:43
Mile 2: 7:30/0:15:13
Mile 3: 6:56/0:22:09
Mile 4: 7:03/0:29:11
Mile 5: 7:07/0:36:18
Mile 6: 7:03/0:43:21
Mile 7: 7:10/0:50:30
Mile 8: 7:22/0:57:53
Mile 9: 7:04/1:04:56
Mile 10: 7:09/1:12:05
Mile 11: 7:23/1:19:28
Mile 12: 7:08/1:26:36
Mile 13: 7:19/1:33:54
Mile 14: 7:49/1:41:43
Mile 15: 7:42/1:49:25
Mile 16: 7:53/1:57:18
Mile 17: 8:10/2:05:27
Mile 18: 7:51/2:13:18
Mile 18.02: 0:09/2:13:27

Not even until the race started did I know how to approach this race.  Was it a training/long run or was it a race?  I read the Runner’s World discussion boards and it seemed most had an excuse not to give it their best.  I wasn’t sure.  I decided to run it comfortably hard and not to look at my Garmin at all, not for any reason.

I had been dreading the Tune-Up because a single 6-mile loop of Central Park is difficult, and here we had three loops.  The start of the race was on the east side of the 102nd St. transverse heading north counter-clockwise around the park.  I like the position of the start because right away the course leads into the first of three runs up Harlem Hill.

Finally, in my 12th race, I learned how to drink out of a paper cup.  I had been walking through every water station, which cost me a lot of time, especially in the Brooklyn and NYC Half Marathons.  I had been hearing about “pinching the top” but it didn’t occur to me that meant pinch and seal the top half of the cup.  Such an elusive concept, and so lucky I figured it out before the marathon.

I received a blue bib designating my starting position in the first corral.  I arrived at the start area before the starting horn but too late to make my way up through the anxious crowds.  I located some standing space among the green corral runners and set off for 18 miles, my longest race and second-longest run ever.  Throughout the race I consistently passed runners, with the exception of a few speedy runners in the first mile wearing Central Park Track Club and Warren Street jerseys who, unlike me, really did come late.

True to never looking at my watch, I set the Garmin to auto-increment the miles so that I could do a post-analysis of my run.  Mile after mile I was passing runners, it was so many in fact that it seemed I had passed more runners than started ahead of me.  Then I realized that on the 6-mile Central Park loop I was actually lapping people.  This was a difficult idea to grasp, although I suppose it could only be expected that runners would separate significantly over an 18-mile distance.

There were two PowerBar Gel stations at miles 9 and 15 (it was the same spot, laps 2 and 3).  On my first pass there were surprisingly few people picking up a gel; I grabbed a few gels chose my favorite, Double Latte (double caffeine!), and tossed the other gels on a water table, all in stride.  On the second time around the park I found runners at the gel table content standing around and sorting through the flavors.

My mile times show that I mentally checked-out at mile 14.  I did not feel like I was slowing down, but I do remember being glad the end was near – the last time around the park.  Cat Hill was brutal on the third time around, but those final 2 miles are flat sections and there was no reason not to have maintained my speed.

I finished the Tune-Up in a satisfactory but not amazing 2 hours and 13 minutes.  I was off my goal pace, but it did help boost my confidence.  I still have several weeks and a few long-runs before the Marine Corps Marathon on October 26th.