For those who may be interested, below is a report of my first marathon.
Last night, on the way to the place I was staying for the weekend, stuck in traffic, I received a call from my father:
Dad: Hi, Nader. Where are you going?
Me: Long Island.
Me: A race.
Dad: Oh, oh. How long?
Me: It’s a marathon.
Dad: Yes, yes, I know. But how long? 4 miles? 6 miles?
Dad: What-what-what? Ohmygoodness. Nader, listen. If you feel tired, don’t be afraid to stop. Don’t be a hero! You remember what happened in high school, when they had to call the ambulance?
Me: Yes, dad. Thanks.
Dad: Ok, here’s your mother…
I woke up this morning freezing, and checked the weather, only to find out that it was 44 degrees. I looked at the super-thin sleeveless shirt I had laid out. Fabulous.
I started out the race feeling a little tight and sluggish, having consumed a bagel and coffee less than an hour before the start (a logistical mistake, but - long story short - I felt I had to choose between that and not eating breakfast at all. In retrospect, a banana might have been a better option at that point). Having not run for the previous three days, running at that point felt like a new thing I was deciding whether I liked. It felt like having dinner with a friend I hadn't talked to for some time.
The first few miles were a bit awkward. Getting and staying under 9:09 at that stage was tougher than I thought, especially because of the fear of the unknown (i.e. not knowing how much I needed to save for post mile 20) I was experiencing.
3 miles: 28:10
As I got into the meat of the race, I started to feel better and stronger. I stopped at every single aid station and this coupled with the two bathroom breaks, I think contributed to late-race tightening of my quads (something I cannot remember ever experiencing during training).
10K time: 58:56
At the half point, I looked at my watch 2:02.02! Dang.
At that point I started pushing myself, realizing that in all my previous races (and I think also this one, to an extent) my downfall was saving too much for the end. I said to myself, "Not this time. You can rest after the race. Leave nothing here."
From that point on, I decided I was going to do everything I could to keep myself under 9:00, but over 8:40.
At mile 20 I didn’t feel winded at all, but my quads were becoming increasingly tight.
At mile 22, it was all heart. "No wheels are coming off nothing. Go."
It was heart that helped me disregard the pain from pounding ("push the pain to the sides of your mind" -Mikey) and giving up and walking. It was the tightening of my legs, especially the quads that kept me, despite my best efforts, from getting under 9:15. I am only now realizing that, after mile 20, holding such a pace was totally out of the question.
Overall, I'd say the course was much hillier than I anticipated.
Final time: 4:05:06
Place: 113/294 overall; 10/20 age group; 69/157 gender