I ran the New York Marathon with Matt Blumberg yesterday. We started together, finished together, but only ran about 3 miles total together. This was my fifth marathon as part of my quest to run a marathon in every state by the time I turn 50.
Since the first or second question I get asked is “how did you do” (the other one is “how do you feel”), I feel surprisingly good today (only a little “extra soreness”) and finished in 5:06:45 (place 27,811, although I came in first in the “brown haired jewish guy from Eldorado Springs, CO 39 year old category). It was a little slower than I was shooting for (my marathon PR is 4:05 and I’m usually around 4:30) as it was hot, humid, deceptively hilly, and I was a little undertrained for this one.
The New York Marathon is one of the crown jewels of marathoning (there is a group of people trying to put together a “grand slam series” for marathons and New York will undoubtably be one of them.) The start is unbelievable – about 40,000 people congregate at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island and wander around for two hours eating bagels, stretching, peeing, drinking water, and peeing some more before the cannons go off. It took us about 10 minutes to get across the starting line, at which point Matt took off as he was planning to run faster than me. The race touches all five boroughs, although the bulk of it is in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Since I can’t recall ever being on Staten Island or in Brooklyn or Queens (other than passing through on the way to an airport), I feel compelled to rate them. Using a marathoner’s point of view, Manhattan was by far the best energy of the race, followed by Brooklyn. Queens was so so (and pretty bleak looking), Staten Island was a non-event (it was – after all – merely a two mile bridge run across the Verrazano-Narrows), and the Bronx was just depressing (at mile 20, you really want someone to cheer for you, rather than just sit on the steps of a building looking totally bored by your agony).
The race was surprisingly hilly. As I struggled down 5th from 120th to 80th (mile 22 to mile 24), I kept feeling like I was in an Escher painting as I remember running uphill on 1st from the 80s to the 120s (or maybe I was just delirious). I’m a good hill runner but I took the Queenborough bridge way too hard and was completely wasted at mile 18. It was a very long last 8 miles.
I passed Matt around 17 (he went out too fast, the heat got him, and he started struggling at mile 12). I was completely surprised to see him, not only because I expected him to sail through the race, but because I was already in tunnel vision mode at 17 and only looked up when I heard a mildly annoyed “Mr. Feld.” We stuck together a little and then I clomped on, only to hear a cheerful “Mr. Feld” at mile 23 as Matt caught back up. We stumbled through Central Park and put on a good show the last mile, passing about 1,000 people (but no Ethiopians) on the way to the finish line.
Matt and I were both very happy to be finished. The city of New York really showed everyone a good day – if you are a runner, this is one you must do sometime in your life.
5 down, 45 to go. The next one up is Miami on 1/29/06.