Training for a marathon isn’t easy, especially during a humid summer. When you finally think that you’re making progress, you’ll eventually experience a running session that kicks your ass and teaches you a lesson. This is the story of one of the worst running sessions in my life but also one of the most memorable.
Monday: 4.51 miles @ 9:00 min/mile pace. A job well done! A 7:54 min/mile pace at mile 2; can I please keep this up 🙂 ?!
Tuesday: 5.1 miles @ 9:40 min/mile pace. Monday’s run somehow messed up my right leg. So I took it easy; this will just be considered the “recovery session”. I’ll train hard on Wednesday.
Wednesday: 3.41 miles @ 9:50 min/mile pace. I feel like absolute Poo after getting home from work. But ‘there are no excuses’. This wasn’t the quality training session I was hoping for. How will I ever improve 😦 ?
Thursday: 4.51 miles @ 9:55 min/mile pace. Well at least my leg is feeling better. I’ll assume that this means that I’m ready for the Saturday long run; its gonna be a tough one.
This is the TFK’s infamous NYC marathon simulator. In the actual NYC marathon, mile 16 is considered to be the toughest part. Why? Because to get into Manhattan from Queens, you have to cross the QBB (Queensboro Bridge). Its long and steep, oh, and you cross it during mile 16. Saturday’s route starts on 59th street, cross the QBB, then head to RI (Rosevelt Island) bridge, 3 laps around RI, then head back. Long story short, I completed the course but almost passed out. Short story long…
Mile 1-3: So humid! Like almost 90%, everybody is sweating before we actually begin. I decide to run with the advanced team (the wolf pack). The bridge itself is a mile long, but wasn’t as bad as it seemed. First of all, its mile 1. Second, going from Manhattan to Queens is easier since the bridge isn’t symmetric; not as steep. Unfortunately, the actual NYC marathon is from Queens to Manhattan. Anyway, there is a great view of the city. The pace picks up as we approach the island between boroughs. We then cross this small bridge into RI. After a brief water/Gatorade station stop, we all head out for the first loop (3.5 miles).
Loop 1: I’ve never been on RI before. There are nice views of course. Its mostly flat so naturally the pace speeds up. I thought it was just me, but there were some runners shouting out “hey control the pace”. Forget about having conversations, I was breathing too hard to say anything. And the heat; I feel it now. And the worst part; there is only ONE refueling station on the island which is once every 3.5 miles!
Loop 2: I inhaled the water at the refueling station. 2 more laps in this heat, you’ve got to be kidding me! It doesn’t even take 5 minutes; I fall behind. But I’m not upset this time, it was inevitable, and I’m fine with that. Run smart instead of run fast; endurance is the key. I’ll just tag along until I catchup eventually. Besides, we all have to conserve the energy for the bridge at mile 16.
Loop 3: Once again at the refueling station. I decided to wait for the intermediate group. I should be fine running at a more reasonable pace. Haha, I couldn’t keep up with them either. I actually stopped and just hid in some bushes so they wouldn’t notice that I stopped. There’s no energy left in my system. All that pasta for nothing. By this point, there is nobody in sight; I’m alone. I might be the last one off this island, oh no. This is the thought that keeps me going. And then, my right earphone dies out, lovely. Grrr, I must get the hell off of this island!
The Escape From the Island: For some reason, my mouth became numb, my vision started to get a bit hazy, and I felt tingles in my arms. This can’t be good. Using energy and strength that I did not have, I pushed to the refueling station for one last time. I could already see people heading back via the RI bridge. That should be meeee! I drink a few more cups of water and wait 5 minutes for another group to form (I’m not the last one on this island after all). Then we all head back. My legs are stiff and shaky.
The Final Mile – QBB: I collapsed right before the QBB. As I watched the group pass by me, I wondered about my life, about all of the times I failed at something. I also remembered all of the times I tried again and succeeded. Never in my life have I failed this many times! No pain, no gain, so bring the pain! Up the bridge I go, with nothing left, running at walking pace, dragging my feet, with the angriest grill face. I felt every step. Thirsty, sweaty, sleepy; the eyes only focus forward desparately waiting to see the slope of the bridge reverse. At this point, I snapped. The Running Madness! I ran as fast as I could going down the bridge, like a crazy maniac. And then, FINISH!
Uhhhhh, I’m dizzy and seeing stars, too messed up to even stretch with the group. It feels like being drunk and high at the same time. Did I not drink enough fluids at the refueling station. This must be what it feels like, to be dehydrated. I can see my calf muscles moving and twitching as if there is an alien in there preparing to burst out. After a 45 minute train ride, I still feel the effects.
Big lesson learned… hydrate hydrate HYDRATE! I’ll be ready next time!