Final Thoughts on the NYC Marathon

Back when you were in school, did you ever spend hours, days, weeks, etc. studying and prepping for a big test or project and you just knew you were getting an A, only to get the final grade as an 89? It’s still a great grade, not an A, but amazing and something to be proud of, right?

That’s the only way I can really describe how I felt right after the NYC Marathon. I actually think Kara’s blog post sums up my feelings and was able to put it into words perfectly (obviously I’m no elite, but my emotions were similar) but I will work on sharing my thoughts. I hope that you can see that while I’m happy, I know I’m capable of more. Please don’t see this as me being hard on myself or unhappy…it’s just more a list of thoughts and things to focus on next go round.

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I stick to a training plan. I don’t think I skipped a single run this training cycle. I went to PT, chiro, sports massage, cross trained and went to pilates religiously to make sure I was taking care of my body. In order to be dedicated to my training runs, I had to pass on Friday nights out with friends (and sometimes Saturdays because I was so tired), passed on alcohol and dessert more times than I can count, and often rearranged my personal calendar to get my workouts in. Yep. That crazy about this training cycle (very much a part of my personality- anything I do gets 110%, not just the marathon).

I truly felt prepared- I had done all of the above and felt confident going into the race.

I tried my best to stick to the race facts in my race recap, but want to share a little more about what I’ve wayyyy over-evaluated in the past week. It may sound like a bunch of crap to you, but it’s something I want in writing to remind myself of how I felt post race, things I need to work on in the future, and why the marathon didn’t go as perfectly as I had wanted.

The main thing I was disappointed in was my attitude. My first few texts and phone calls immediately post marathon involved frown faces and tears. I still hit my B goal and should’ve be SO excited with my PR and BQ but to be extremely honest, I wasn’t. AT ALL. It took a few hours to calm down and realize that some things were out of my control that day.

1. The weather. I said all along, there is a lot you can’t really predict on race day. Lord knows, 2014 has been my year to fight with the weather. I think I’ve only raced on a decent weather day 1-2 times out of 10 plus races this year. Why should I be so lucky on my marathon? 20-30 mph winds were INTENSE. I don’t think I realized how much of a difference they made on my race until I heard how it affected other people, too.IMG_93432. Those people the weather affected? Not only my friends, but the pro’s. The 2014 marathon results for the pros were the slowest since 1995. Seeing that they struggled somehow made me feel better.

3. When we all knew the wind was going to be an issue, I was given the advice to draft off of the people around me to block the wind. Well, that wasn’t really an option for me. I had originally put down a 3:43 goal, so many of the people in my wave were shooting for a 3:45 (pacer was in my group). I spent most of my race passing people, not able to stay and draft off of anyone, so I spent a lot of effort fighting the wind on my own.

4. I hit the wall, HARD. I somehow dug myself out a bit to still get a sub 3:40, but I lost SO MUCH time during those last miles. I felt so good in the beginning and the race seemed to literally fly by…until those last few miles. I didn’t want a positive split race, my goal was to go 8:10 until mile 20 and kick it into gear, not the opposite. The main reason I think that happened? See #5 next.758472-1081-0044s5. I couldn’t tell how much I had dehydrated until it was too late. I had read before the race that you need to make sure you hydrate enough because the wind and cool weather can be deceiving. I was following a hydration plan that had me carry 30oz of my own fluids, 4 hammergels, plus the aid stations if I needed them. I thought I had enough to get me through the race. I didn’t realize how much I had actually lost until it was too late.

I was sweating more than I thought, and once I took my gloves off (around mile 18 or 19) and felt my face covered in salt, I realized it. I tried to catch up with another hammergel, gatorade and more water, but it was too late. Once I took my hat off post race, it was half white from all the salt, too. And even after rehydrating, it took me a while post race to even have to pee. Obviously, I still failed in the hydration part. I’m going to continue working with my nutritionist to see what will work for me, but I’m thinking maybe salt tablets would help too.

6. The course itself is challenging. I think I underestimated this a TON. Rich bought ($5 so well spent) an excel spreadsheet that allowed you to put in a goal time that would help with pacing, tracking your runner (if spectating), etc. On the very first page, I saw this.Screen shot 2014-11-13 at 10.06.04 AMOh, a 3:35 in NYC is similar to a 3:30 on a flat course. Hmm. I really wanted to think that course wasn’t as tough as it was, and it wasn’t going to be as hilly as Atlanta. While that is still true, it’s where the hills are in the race that make it so challenging. Bottom line, it wasn’t like I chose a BQ friendly course, I just wanted to run what I knew I was capable of doing.

7. I ran a positive split race. That’s not something you really want to see. It was definitely not in my plan. And while I still BQ’d, I know that it’s most likely not enough to get into Boston in 2016. Last year’s cutoff was 1:02 and I only have 41 seconds off my qualifying time. Yep. That is that.

I have continued to question myself. Did I over train? Was my goal too lofty? Did I need another solid year of longer distance (more marathons) post hip surgery to really get me where I wanted to be? Was I just not ready for that pace at a marathon? These are things that I will never know.

One thing I do know, is that I have the most amazing set of friends and family, IRL and through the internets. I’m incredibly thankful for your support, kinds words, and thoughtfulness during my training and post marathon.

So, what’s done is done and it’s time to move forward. Every marathon is a learning experience and you never know what you are going to get on race day. I know I will continue to work on the things that went wrong (mainly hydration/nutrition and more on that soon) and be proud of the things that I did right. I have no doubt in my abilities and what I will be able to do with more and more experience and mileage under my belt.  IMG_9445I’m currently planning out next year. Nothing is final yet, but I can guarantee a spring marathon in my plan to put it all there, again. I’m really excited to see what I can do. Here’s hoping for that perfect day where the stars align in my running world in 2015.

Do you overanalyze or are you good at putting things behind you and moving forward? Has something come in the way of your big goal on race day (weather, sickness, travel issues, etc.)? Are you running a marathon in 2015? If so, which one? 

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Elizabeth

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9 Comments

  • I appreciate your honesty, and I think one of the reasons I like your blog so much is that you lay it all out there. I think a lot of people talk about feeling dissatisfied or feeling frustrated with running, but in a vague way. I think you ran a great race given the conditions, and it’s so exciting that it was your first BQ (and a tough one at that). But I like that it doesn’t stop you from settling.

    I look forward to hearing more about your nutrition/hydration plan. I’m actually really bad about long runs in that I trained for and ran a half without really any plan at all. (My friend had a Camelbak, so I’d take a hit off her water occasionally.) Sometimes I’d take 50/50 Gatorade and water with me in a toss away bottle, but it was random when I did. I’ve never tried gels or Gu or any of it. But I’m a salty sweater, so I’d like to be smarter about training the next go around, and that includes nutrition/hydration around the clock so I can run a better race.

    I also wanted to mention that you (along with some other bloggers) got me itching to run a marathon in 2015. I’d actually really like to run NYC – even despite the unpredictable conditions, bridge-hills, etc. – but I certainly won’t qualify for time, so I’m not sure yet. Marine Corps Marathon is another one I’m eyeing.

  • Yeah NYC is a tough course on it’s best day. The wind made it absolutely brutal. I totally blew hydration as well. like I told you. I was chapped and dehydrated all freaking week. I have no doubt you’re going to come back and slay your next marathon.
    I remember being SO pissed when Chicago 07 was so hot it was cancelled when I was at mile 22. I felt like all I’d worked for went up in flames and vowed never to do another marathon. Suffice it to say I totally get your frustration. Your best race is still ahead of you, my friend!

  • I am so proud of you for putting down your thoughts like this. It’s what makes you a smart and tough runner. Every race is a learning experience, and unfortunately, the marathon offers the toughest of lessons and is the toughest to crack. And you often don’t know what you need to improve upon until you do it, and we only get that chance once or twice a year. You did the best you could with the knowledge and training that you had–and you can only go up from here! And now that you have the BQ, wow–huge–and those minutes will just come flying off. So proud of all of your hard work. And that you continue to work hard post-race to make the next one better.

  • This is a great post and shows so much insight and self-awareness. I think your reaction to the race sounds really rationale. It can be easy to blame the course and weather and things that are out of your control and move on and hope for a different results next time. While those things contributed the your race experience, you identified other factors that are things you can control. One of the most important things you can do to improve is identify things that are in your control and things you can change or alter for next time, it’s how we all get better. You obviously have so much to be proud of in this race – a huge PR, a BQ, and a good race in tough conditions. All of that, along with the lessons you learned, will help you in your next training cycle!

    I’m not sure if you have shared this before or would want to share on your blog, but I would be interested in hearing about what led you to work with a nutritionist and how it works, how it helps in your training, etc.

  • It was good to get to talk with you all about these feelings in person today. To answer you questions about were you really ready to run your goal pace, the answer is yes. You absolutely were and still are. The weather and (hills combined with the weather) makes only so much possible. Very few people I know who ran this race on that day had a good day. Your ability to run the time that you did with the obstacles you face is incredible. While I had a faster time in Chicago, I don’t know if I could have run as strong as you did in these elements. The best advice when it comes to races like this that I’ve heard is from Tina Muir about … you never know what a marathon is going to give you, and you have to perform the best you can on the day you’re given. You did that and then some. Hold your head high chica! Training through the winter will likely translate to some fast times for a spring marathon too, I’m sure. As for training. I do think higher overall mileage with long runs that are more manageable is the way to go, with more fast paced work in the middle and end of long runs to stimulate that fatigue at the end of the race. I hope one day we’ll get the chance to run a goal race together 🙂 Keep being awesome and get that hip in 100% shape. xo

  • I like your comment on the wind – I felt the same. It didn’t seem like it was doing much to me, but after seeing comments of others and the pro stats it made me think it really could have made a difference. You are right, can’t control the weather and I’ve also had some doozies! You’ll get the goal, hang in there. I’m planning for the SF Marathon in 2015 so likely not a PR on the hard course, but I love the race so much I want to do the full!

  • I love your honesty and determination. You inspire me to always try harder. Thanks for keeping it real and congrats on an awesome race!!

  • out of all the runners i’ve met in the last handful of years I don’t know anyone else who is as disciplined with their training as you are. Because you’re type A, I totally get having higher expectations for yourself and its hard to get over that “B+ vs A-“, but hopefully you won’t let that small 1% difference bother you too much.

    I agree with you that competition is getting stiffer and although you rocked that BQ, a spring marathon that gives your more grace period will solidify showing up at Hopkinton for 2016! Anxious to see which race you choose and hope its a memorable as all your other races you’ve completed this year!

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