Sunday, November 20, 2011

Race Reflections on NY 2011

After all the dust has settled, the congratulatory welcome has faded, it's time to assess the race.
New York was a wonderful experience. The crowd was amazing. I had a fabulous time. New Yorkers were warm and welcoming. For one day, it was a time where runners and spectators alike shared a unique experience. It was a total celebration of life. There's nothing quite like it.
It was an honest race for me. I gave it my best shot, however I still feel a little bit of disappointment. I said I was proud of my time, I am. But lurking behind my mind, is the fact that, I could have done better, if only—.
  • ...I retired earlier, 2 nights before the race and had gotten better rest. How do you balance this? I was in New York and there were so many sights to see. I was visiting a long time friend, we had a lot of catching up to do. Before we knew it, it was past our bedtime.
  • ...I remembered to take my gel at mile 5 so the body didn't have to adjust to something new. The marathon is already hard as it is. I practice the timing for nutrition in my training runs. My body expected food at every 45 minutes increment in the duration of the race. But I threw it off when I forgot.
  • ...I used my water belt at all and saved time dilly-dallying at the stops. What was the point of lugging the belt around with an extra 5 lbs of weight on my waist if I wasn't going to use it? I don't know, I guess I didn't use my noggin.
  • ...Instead of taking my time to the water stops, if only I learned to drink “on the run”. This is hard to practice. The week before the marathon I was reading an article, marathon tip on how to grab and drink on the run. I should have paid attention to it. Pinch the cup on one side, hold your breath and swallow, toss the cup and run. What do you say? That might take 7 seconds tops? Right? Yes, but not the way I did it. Walked to the table, swallow, continue walking, second gulp, walked some more and third gulp and ran. It took 30 seconds X 25 times, do the math. I don't want to think about the total time I could have saved!
  • ...I stopped taking pictures. It was hard not to, this was one of those once in a lifetime moments. Plus, my blog would look boring without pictures.
  • ...I remembered to put on my “go to pump me up music” when I needed it on mile 24, when the wheels fell off. If you only knew the countless hours I must have spent perfecting my playlists for long runs, for tempo work, for easy days, for strides, for times I need a power boost! I have a "go to" playlist just for that rough patch, and I didn't even use it.
  • ...I used my mantra at mile 24, when I finally blew up. “Lighter, softer, faster, stronger like a ninja.” Go ahead and laugh!
  • ...I dug deeper instead of focusing on the negative, on what hurts. I had no calf, thigh or leg cramps the whole race. But what I had was fatigue and timber legs. I knew what this was from-I didn't hydrate enough.
  • ...I had that extra fight in me in the last 2 miles. I can't explain this one. Compared to my experience last year, at the very same spot I was feeling much stronger. I felt like I was more alert. This time, I felt like I was in a fog, ready to throw in the towel. I don't even know how I managed to keep a 10:40 pace at this mile because it sure felt like I was going in slow motion.
  • ...I had hydrated. On the plane, I was holding off on drinking. I was always seated by the windows (SLO, LAX and Houston flights) and I felt like I was a nuisance if I had to keep getting up to go to the bathroom. So I compromised my plan to limit my water intake. I thought I would make up for it when I landed. Friday and Saturday was no better. I was on the go and I worried that I wouldn't be able to located a RR since I am not from the area. Well, this backfired, and this was why my legs were timber. Next time, I won't do this ever. So what if I had to keep getting up—I was running a marathon. I can't believe I sacrificed all the 18 weeks of training and hold out on water the very last minute! Clearly I was not thinking.
They say hindsight is 2020. This was one of those, I guess. I am keeping notes. This will be good to work on in my next training cycle. Don't get me wrong, there were things that went right. For instance, I remembered to take salt at the halfway point which led to no cramping at all. I have no blue toenails, nor blisters. I owe it all to the wider toe box of the Nike Pegasus 27. Best of all, there were no surprise-burning-chaffing once I hit the shower! I guess I did a good job lubing up those problematic sports bra areas. You know what I'm talking about ladies. Recovery was quick, by Thursday I was ready to run, but to be on the safe side, I waited until Friday to resume training for Cal International Marathon. I really have nothing to complain about.

Asics Ad of 2011 finisher's names at Columbus Circle Train Station, picture courtesy of Maria's daughter, Arielle. Thank you Arielle!

After 18 weeks, 662.26 miles, 2 pairs of Nikes, I am done with the training for marathon #22. This training cycle was a huge success, no matter what I said above. I can proudly say that with this cycle, I didn't take any shortcuts. I stayed true to the core of Hal Higdon's marathon training program. I may have missed a few days here and there and took recovery days when the body clamored for more rest. But the intrinsic value of the pace runs, the intervals, hill repeats, tempo work, the middle of the week long run and of course, the meat and potato, the Sunday long run, all meshed perfectly together to mold me into into a better runner. I've come a long way to mess this up. Maybe there's another shot at redemption at CIM—in two weeks.
May you run long and happy...


  1. Great reflections Aileen. I'm a firm believer that learning from past experiences makes us stronger. I have no doubt that CIM will be a great race for you!

  2. Thanks Mike! Yes experiences like this surely lights a fire under my seat!

  3. Hi Eileen - Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving! Good luck on your race next weekend :) I'm sure you will do great.

    p.s. The Asics add is all runners participating. ...hopefully they all finished...and Arielle says "you are welcome and it was a pleasure"!

  4. Hi Maria! Thanks for the correction! Arielle was so sweet taking that picture! I've never seen that before or even knew about it. Thanksgiving was awesome. My mom in law came down from AZ--she and hubby cooked it all. I know I was spoiled! I hope you had a great one too! Can hardly believe the holidays are upon us I can't even think about it until after the next marathon is over and done with!