2006 ING NYC Marathon

Eighteen weeks of training in all kinds of weather and all kinds of terrain, and a winning ticket in the only lottery I’ve ever entered led me to this day. I finished the ING New York City Marathon today. I did this despite the shin splints that I developed (and still have) in my tenth week of training. This was my first time competing in the NYC marathon and I had ambitious goals. The race was much more challenging than I expected. My goal was to finish in three hours and ten minutes, but that was a bit lofty considering the number of hills in the NYC marathon (especially near the end) and the fact that I was trying to improve my time by more than 10 minutes. I finished in three hours and twenty-six minutes and can honestly say that after doing the course, I am very happy with my results, especially since my placement is in the top nine percent of finishers.

Jeannie and I spent the Saturday night before the marathon in the city. We stayed in a hotel room on W 95th about the size of one of our closets – the Continental Hostel. It had bunk beds and a television, but absolutely nothing else. There was one common bathroom for about six dorm-style rooms. At 4am, I woke and started getting ready. At 4:30, I said goodbye to Jeannie and walked to the subway station on Broadway. There were about thirty other people waiting for the same subway, also on their way to the marathon. Once I walked up the steps from the subway station near the New York Public Library I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were literally thousands of people being corralled like sheep down the fenced-in sidewalk by scores and scores of volunteers. Many volunteers held signs indicating what languages they could speak, to assist the many people from other countries who could not speak English. Enormous empty busses lined the streets and seemed to go on for blocks and blocks. Shortly after 5am, we reached a bus being filled with marathoners. Once we filled the bus, the driver shut the doors and we were on our way to the base of the Verazzano Narrows Bridge in Staten Island.

The “staging area” was nothing less than phenomenal. Once I exited the bus, I entered the blue staging area. This was just one of a few areas for marathoners to stage themselves. At first, it appeared to be the size of four or five football fields. There were many tents and loudspeakers and enormous billboard-sized television screens. What I soon discovered was I had only seen less than half the size of the entire blue staging area. The blue start was at 10:10am but it was only 6am so I decided to take advantage of the many amenities available. I got a pre-race message, had a bagel, lots of water and reviewed my clothes situation. It was pretty cold and many people were dressed in hats, gloves, scarves, and even coats. I simply had a sweatshirt and sweatpants and a piece of plastic to sit on. After about an hour of walking around, I found a spot in the sun with a good view of the bridge and sat down to read some Linux magainzes I picked up at the train station the day before. After I finished the interesting articles, it still wasn’t 8am so I set the alarm on my watch and took a nap.

I only napped for about 30 minutes, then I just sat watching the hundreds of people walk around. I quickly realized I should make another trip to the port-o-pottys. At 9am, the lines were getting long, despite the fact that there were more than 100 stalls available. I stood in line for more than twenty minutes. When I finished, it was time to go to my corral. I was lucky because I was in the first four-thousand runners whose corral was only accessible by showing one’s bib. Before I made my way there, I dropped off my sweats and magazines at the UPS truck which would deliver my belongings to the finish line.

I chatted with other people in my category. Topics of discussion included Lance Armstrong and Dean Karnazes. This was Lance’s first marathon but because of his celebrity status, he had a different starting location than us mere mortals. This was NOT Dean’s first marathon; as a matter of fact it was his fiftieth in fifty days. The NYC marathon marked the final marathon in a string of races part of the North Face Endurance 50. He ran one in each state, on consecutive days. Suddenly, our corral was called to line up near the start line. I could actually see the start line from my position at the base of the bridge’s on-ramp. The ramp was packed with people leaving no room to move. Many runners waited until the last possible moment to remove their extra clothing. Once removed, the discarded them on the side of the road by attempting to throw them. However, not many people could hurl their clothes that far and they landed on other runners’ heads. This became a regular occurance for about fifteen minutes; clothes became batons being handed from one runner to the next, until being thrown into the bushes. Race officials expect this and after the runners depart, they collect the clothes and provide them to the needy.

The starting gun was fired but it took about fifteen seconds before I was able to start moving. It took about 50 seconds for me to reach the starting line, then I was trekking my way across the lower level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge – the first hill in the race. What amazed me were the number of people who were stopping on the bridge to take pictures of the water with their camera phones. I had assumed the first four-thousand or so runners were serious, but this was not so. This caused several serious runners to fall as they tried to maneuver around the stalled runners.

My goal of 3:10 was within reach until about mile 15 when I crossed the first bridge into Manhattan. The hill stretched for almost a full mile, and then quickly changed into a steep down-hill turn into Manhattan. The uphill took its toll on my legs, and the downhill pounding made things worse. I was about one minute behind entering Manhattan, and things went “downhill” from there. After crossing into the Bronx and back into Manhattan, my pace had slowed to more than an 8.5 minute mile. My legs were in serious pain and I had to do everything possible to keep running after mile 23. I struggled through and made my way around and into Central Park. I finally reached the finish line at three hours and 26 minutes. When I stopped running, the pain increased and walking became almost impossible. Race officials know it is important to keep moving after a marathon, which is why the UPS trucks containing my belongings were more than a mile away. I slowly made my way through Central Park until reaching almost the end of the 80 UPS trucks to retrieve my warm clothes.

The crowds were awesome — very supportive. Their support helped most at those times after mile 23 when I was tempted to stop running. My stats are below. I hope to run the marathon again next year and compare those results to these.

Finish Time 3:26:06
Place: 3432 / 38,368
Gender Place: 3089 / 25,890
Runner Number: 3226

5K Time 0:21:28
10K Time 0:43:01
15K Time 1:05:09
20K Time 1:27:26
13.1 Mile Time 1:32:29
25K Time 1:51:22
30K Time 2:15:00
35K Time 2:42:44
40K Time 3:12:56
Pace/Mile 7:51

One Response to “2006 ING NYC Marathon”

  1. Run the 2007 ING New York City Marathon » Sconzo.com Says:

    […] I received confirmation of my placement in the 2007 ING NYC marathon today. I ran this race last year and did pretty well considering the difficulty of the course (3:26). Read about it here: 2006 NYC Marathon […]

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