Sunday, November 12, 2006

New York Marathon 2006

The NY marathon is safely behind me and normal life has resumed for a little while at least. I finished in a little under 4 hours, slower than I'd hoped for but with the way my training had gone in the month before the race, better than I expected. The logistics were masterfully organised. Over 30,000 people are bussed to the start between about 5am and 7am - the start (see the picture on the left) at the Verrazzano bridge is over 16 miles from Manhattan and there's no easy way to get between the two unless you're into double marathons. But the consequence of this early start and a kickoff time of 10.10am is that a good 3 hours is spent hanging around. The weather, at least, played its part - the skies were clear, the sun shone and the wind took took the day off. The race itself is tough. The start is slow and it felt like I was running at half pace as I dodged in and out of runners all around me, many of whom were busy kicking off sweat pants or jerseys as they ran, leaving piles of clothing on the floor for the unwary to get tangled in. I was on the top of the bridge so avoided the oft-told (apocryphal?) story of golden rain from above. It took a while to get into stride and my pace, even then, was a lot slower than London through the first half, but then it didn't slow as much in the second half. I ran the first 21k in about 1h 55m, the second in about 2h 3m. The main difference between London and NY was my pace at the start. I was on the white start line for London and was able to hare off at a speed that I probably shouldn't have done, spurred on by the 10,000 or so people who overtook me in the first 20 mins. In NY I started in 16,646th place (assuming that the numbers on the front correspond to starting position) and finished 11,786th. With the two graphs side by side like this, it's really quite startling how much I slowed in the second half of London. The average pace times aren't that different - around 5:20/km in London and 5:31/km in NY, but the volatility is very different. Justgiving tell me that I've raised over £12,000 online in the last 18 months and I know there's a further £3,000 or so from offline donations. £15,000 to a great cause for running a couple of great courses. Seems a fair deal to me. Best moment of NY? Coming off the dreaded Queensboro Bridge - a mile and half of uphill slog, mostly in the dark, eyes fixed on the guy in front looking out for any change in pace to avoid smashing into him or tripping over his legs, hoping that whoever was behind was doing the same - and seeing Macmillan supporters, friends and family lining the street cheering and waving, before making the turn onto 1st Avenue where the crowd was easily 10 deep on both sides of the street for several miles. If you see my time for km 27 on the graph, you'll see how much faster good support can make you run. The support throughout the whole race was awesome - they say 2 million people turn out to watch it. Worst moment? Coming down any flight of stairs the day after the race. Oh, and that sodding hill running alongside Central Park from about mile 22 to mile 25. A big thank you to all those who supported me through the training, made generous donations to Macmillan and who encouraged me on race day, whether I knew you or not. Your turn next year folks?

2 comments:

  1. The real reason you were slower than London was that you climbed to the top of the Verrazzano Narrows bridge to take that photo.

    Congrats, Alan!

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  2. Anonymous6:50 pm

    I gave Sarah a bonus for getting to within 30 mins of your time. So what's the next challenge? DC

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