Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


Me versus the Marathon – a TKO

New York City marathon, you knocked me down but I’m not knocked out. Five years ago I entertained hopes of placing in the top three for my age group at NYC but this year I moderated my ambitions and I quietly hoped for a top ten finish.  Sigh, my age-group place was 29th in a time of 3:50:21, a full 40 minutes slower than I ran the Detroit marathon 6 years ago. Now I know what it means to feel like a shadow of my former self. My confidence has taken a beating.

NYC Marathon Bib

The event was a marvel of logistics from the race-kit pick-up, busing to the race start and athlete’s village, not a glitch to be had. Granted, like everything else in NYC the entry was an expensive $273. The day was absolutely perfect, I can only imagine how much slower I might have plodded were there rain and wind. One insight gained was that over the course of my 21 marathons, this is really the only marathon were I did not achieve my minimum goal. So I should count my big picture blessings.

An hour or so after finishing, thoughts that it was time to retire from marathon running floated freely. But, never trust anything a disappointed marathon runner says during the week after the race. My plan had been to run Boston in 2012 and having surpassed the qualifying time by 30 minutes last year in Sacramento, I was guaranteed a spot. However just before New York I realized that I forgot to enter and 2012 is sold out. Now, I see it as a good thing as I want to feel close to top form and confident when I run Boston next.

Over the last miles of the marathon I had to harness my thoughts as I found myself quite distracted from the task-at-hand as I mulled over what might be the cause of this lackluster run. The last mile was a marathon in itself, the longest mile ever. Boy was I happy to hit the finish line.

I never hit the wall hence a TKO versus a KO but from the start my legs never had any pep and the rolling course with a lot of downhill running on concrete took its toll. My thoughts as to the cause are. . .

1) Racing a half-marathon three weeks before the marathon

2) Poor sleep during period of high-stress at work and peak training

3) Age

4) Slacking off with my lower body weight routine

My legs never did recover from my 1:41 half-marathon that suggested a 3:33 time was possible and sleep the wonder drug was not in supplies plentiful enough to ensure that my training was being positively absorbed by my body. As for age, I’m thinking that I have to shorten my training cycle and expect one peak and limit the length of lead-up races to the marathon. I find it hard to accept but I cannot train close to the way I used to. Sometimes one fully realizes that value of an activity when you stop doing it. Such is the case with my lower body weight training. At age 56, everything that makes the lower body tougher is a boost to top performance.

After the marathon I found myself humming Chumbawamba’s famous song.

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never going to keep me down

Stay tuned for my spring racing goal!