My TCS New York City Marathon experience

Earlier this year I decided to take on the challenge of competing in the New York Marathon. Prior to this the furthest I had run was 15km, and to be honest I’d never had any desire to run any further.

I like to think I am a pretty determined person though so once I made my decision there was no looking back. I had 30 weeks to get myself in top shape. My training consisted of 5 workouts a week, 4 runs and one swim. To ensure I stayed motivated, I planned to take part in 3 competitive half marathons as part of my training plan, the Wanaka half marathon in March, the Wellington half marathon in June and the Pelorus Trust half marathon in September. It’s amazing how through these events I could notice my fitness steadily improving (I managed to knock 5 mins off my intial time). When I did my first half marathon it seemed like a big challenge, now I could go out and run one without breaking a sweat (well almost).

When I landed on American soil it all started to become real. By the end of my training, and after tapering for 3 weeks, I was feeling fresh and ready to tackle the marathon. A few days before the marathon I went to the race expo to pick up my number. The New York marathon is the biggest in the world but despite this everything was so well organised!

On marathon morning I woke up at 5am, headed to the hotel lobby at 5:30 and then got a bus to Staten Island at 6am. Our corral wasn’t being let off until 10:30am, so I ate breakfast on the bus. I wanted to make sure I had enough food to keep me going so I had porridge and blueberries, a banana and a museli bar, followed by a bagel later on.
Our bus dropped us off at the start village at 7:15am, by the time we had gone through security we had 3 hours to wait outside in the cold until the race started, I was very grateful to be with a friend. In order to keep warm everyone comes wearing clothes that they are prepared to throw away. All discarded clothing gets collected and given away, the homeless population of New York must love the marathon!

Since over 50,000 people enter the marathon everyone starts at different times, depending on what their predicted finish time will be. My friend, Jessie and I both predicted we would finish around the 4 hour mark, so we started in Blue Wave E, corral 3. The start of the race was pretty casual, the gun goes off for each corral then everyone just makes their way to the start line in their own time, stripping off their throwaway clothes, and taking a few selfies along the way.

IMG_4467

The New York marathon is a once in a lifetime opportunity to pound the streets of all 5 boroughs of New York, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronyx.

Once you go over the start line your timing chip is activated and it’s straight onto the Staten Island bridge. It was a pretty windy, exposed 2.5km stretch, but everyone was so excited that it didn’t matter. Once we were off the bridge we entered Brooklyn. Here we were met by crowds of people, all holding amazing signs and it was impossible not to smile.

Along the way the crowds were so supportive, cheering, holding signs, giving away bananas, bagels, twizzlers and anything else you can imagine.

By the time I got to the 32.5km mark I knew every step I took was further than I had ever ran before, and surprisingly I still felt really good. Before the race I was worried about all the hills, but coming from New Zealand I was well prepared and didn’t even notice them. At this point I decided I had enough energy left to pick up the pace a bit.

By this stage each kilometre was ticking over pretty slowly, but the end was in sight and I was still feeling good. The crowds were amazing, every time my energy levels dropped I would run next to the people so they would all cheer for me. How can you possibly slow down when hundreds of people are yelling your name?!

It wasn’t until the 40km mark when the smile on my face turned to gritted teeth. I just hoped I could make it to the finish line. I’d been pretty smart with my nutrition, I had a Gu gel at 1hour, 1:45, 2:30 and 3:15, along with plenty of water along the way, so I knew, even though I felt like I had nothing left, I should be fine to make it to the finish line.

When I saw the 26 mile mark and the 400 metres to go mark it all started to become real, the end was literally in sight. My legs were so ready to give up, but I managed to sprint to the finish line. I had done it. I had run the New York marathon in 3:56:48.

Once I crossed the finish line I could barely move, but I was not alone, everyone around me was hobbling along. We had about a kilometre to walk before we could exit Central Park, all I wanted to do was sit down, but I was so cold I knew I just had to keep walking. During the journey out we were awarded our medals, photographed, and given ponchos and recovery packs.

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It was such a fun event and I would highly recommend it to anyone thinking of doing a marathon. I never would have thought I would have been capable of doing a marathon, but the human body is pretty amazing. One thing I’ve learnt about myself is how mentally strong I can be, with most people, the mind will give up before the legs do, but I didn’t let this happen. If you can put the time into the training you will easily be able to accomplish anything.

Thanks so much to all my family and friends (especially my sister, Amanda for travelling from London to support me) for the fantastic support and for Marathon World Travel for making it possible. I couldn’t have done it without you.

What next?

A lot of people have been asking me if I will do another marathon. At this stage I am pretty happy to have ticked one off my list, and I think I will focus on other challenges and getting PBs in half marathons. I think one day I may do another full marathon, but it is such a heavy time commitment.

I’ve recently set up my own business selling cards to help new parents document all the special moments in a baby’s first year, check it out www.mimosadesigns.co.nz or facebook.com/mimosadesignsnz or Instagram: @mimosadesigns I like the idea of a new challenge and I’m looking forward to pouring all the time when I would have been running into this!

Well, that’s it from me. It’s been a fantastic journey! Thanks for sharing it with me!

1 day until I leave for New York

It is only 1 day until I fly away! It’s all becoming very real now.

I’m spending 4 nights in Washington, before getting the train to New York, where I will be for 6 nights.

I’m looking forward to lots of shopping, eating, touristing, and a bit of running.

The marathon is on the 2nd of November. I’m feeling pretty good about it. I’ve been training for about 30 weeks, which works out at around 150 training sessions, wow!

If you are interested in tracking me in the marathon, you can download the ‘TCS Track the Runner app’

http://www.tcsnycmarathon.org/race-day/mobile-app-and-runner-tracking

I am number 41707

Wish me luuuuuuck! Hopefully the concrete jungle is good to me!

32.5km done. Bring on taper time

I have just completed my longest scheduled run before attempting the ING New York City Marathon. I managed to knock out 32.5km pretty easily, so i’m feeling pretty good about the whole thing.

I had initially planned on getting up to about 35km, but I was told there may not be much advantage to doing that. The last 10km will always be hard on the day, no matter how far you have gone in training.

It’s been a long road to get to where I am now, I have definitely been struggling for motivation these past few weeks, but very happy it is taper time now. I’ll still continue to train 5 days a week, but the weekly mileage will go down a bit, and I won’t do any more super long runs, until marathon day.

Not long to go now. The end is in sight. Really looking forward to getting to New York now, any tips on fun things to do as a tourist?

Run Soph Run

Mid-week motivation

A few very motivational videos for those of you who have trouble finding motivation to exercise.

 

When I find myself questioning whether all the training is worth it, these videos help me refocus and feel inspired again.

What do you do when you find yourself lacking motivation?

My week in workouts

PetoneHi there,

Just a quick update to let you all know what i’ve been up to. I’ve been a bit slack updating the blog, but only because i’ve been so busy out running!

This week my workouts have been:
Monday: 30 minute swim (30 laps, 1km)
Tuesday: 9.10km – 50 minute progression run, First 3km at 6.10 pace, then picking up the pace (5:40, 5.20, 5.10, 5.00, 5.00) then cool down
Wednesday: 8.15km – 55 minute hill run with a 300m elevation.
Thursday: Rest – My favourite
Friday: 7km – 43 minute easy run ahead of a big run on Saturday
Saturday: 28km – 2:39:50 loooooonnnnng run
Sunday: Rest day – Before I do it all again next week!

It was a pretty successful week overall, totalling over 52km of running!

As Marathon day draws closer (9 weeks away) I am really noticing a big increase in the time I am needing to spend training. I have been trying to get training over and done with in the mornings so I can still do things with my evenings, but it does make for some early stars before work!!

Yesterday I completed my longest run. For those of you familiar with Wellington, I ran from town to Petone and back.It ended up being 28km and took 2:30:50. It was supposed to be an easy run but I was feeling good so ending up going slightly faster. It was a long time to be on my feet for, but I still felt like I could have gone further at the end, and today I feel like I could do it all again, so that’s a good sign! I took two gels along the way, but unfortunately I didn’t take any water with me and there wasn’t any fountains along the way, so I was rather parched by the end.

I think I need to invest in a hydration belt. I probably only need one with room for one bottle and some gels. What would people recommend?

My other question is how do did other people run before their first marathon?

Hope all is well xx

26.2 Things You Never Knew About the NYC Marathon

By Heidi Pashman from shape.com

Welp, I did it! The NYC Marathon was Sunday, and I am officially a finisher. My marathon hangover is slowly but surely wearing off thanks to lots of rest, compression, ice baths, and idleness. And while I thought I was so prepared for the big day, I definitely learned a few things about the race.

1. It is loud. There are people screaming, cheering, and yelling the entire way. And then there are bands playing, people singing, and more people yelling. Forget about going into that meditative running state—for me, it was nearly impossible. For all the stimulus on my body (i.e. the constant pounding), there was just as much stimulus on my head and ears.

2. Sprinting to the start line isn’t the best way to start. I was assigned to be on the last ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island. Then, because I decided to wait in the 45-minute bathroom line at the ferry station, I almost missed the bus to the start line. So I sprinted to get there. And again when the bus arrived at the start and we were warned we could miss the corral close. Fun times before running 26.2 miles.

3. Security is alive and well. The start line was bordered with counter terrorism NYPD policemen. Check out my Instagram for a pic.

4. The view from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is AH-mazing. None of the other views are that great. Besides the finish line of course.

5. There’s a stripping act for the first two miles. I was doing high knees at some points because of all the discarded jackets, vests, and shirts on the ground during miles one and two. Talk about danger zones.

6. You might high-five every hand in NYC. I did. And then I popped energy chews into my mouth with bare hands. Gross.

7. First Avenue makes you feel like you’re in the greatest parade on earth. And you’re the star. But as soon as that feeling wears off, you can’t wait to get to Central Park—and then you realize you have another borough to run to and through.

8. The Bronx is the worst. Jokes aside, I thought about stopping many times between miles 20 to 26.2. I did have to stop and stretch myself out on Willis Avenue Bridge, a.k.a. the Bridge of Annoyance and Pain, because my legs were cramping up a storm.

9. Almost the entire stretch of Brooklyn is a steady incline. That was a fun surprise.

10. It’s hard to spot the people you know cheering for you. I knew of a couple of people stationed throughout the course, and while I did see most of them, it was only because they shouted at me (or in one case, my very determined friend Sara ran after me onto the course and got my attention that way…I’m not advising this, but it was very effective). However it’s just so chaotic, it’s best not to count on seeing them.

11. No name on your shirt? No problem. I forgot to put my name on my shirt, but that didn’t stop people from cheering me on: “HEY, PINK VEST! YAAAAAAAAA.”

12. Forget about listening to music the whole way. Did I mention how loud it is? Although I cranked up my volume all the way, at some points I couldn’t hear my tunes in my earbuds over the roar of the crowd.

13. Two words: banana stations. Whoever thought handing out bananas to a stampede of runners was a good idea clearly didn’t think about the implications of banana peels. (Um, hello!) I almost slipped a few times while simultaneously yelling “Bananas!” in warning to the other runners.

14. You might get angry at the crowd. I’m kind of ashamed of this, but I won’t lie—I got downright mad at some of my fans. One time someone screamed at me around mile 24, “You can finish!” and I thought, “Do I look like I might not?? How rude!” At another point, someone yelled, “YOU GOT THIS!” when I was really struggling, and I was like, “HEY, you try running 26.2 miles and see if you’ve got it!”

15. The importance of fueling and hydrating cannot be over-emphasized. I’m happy to say I mastered this on race day. I started drinking my first sips of Gatorade and water after the first five miles. Then I ate energy chews around the half-way mark and again at about mile 21. I hydrated the entire way and also mixed in a few cups of Gatorade at the end of the race. And when I finished, I wasn’t hungry really at all.

16. Mother Nature may call. The only problem with being a master hydrator and fueler: I had to pee at mile 22. Like any other smart marathon runner, I turned around to find the last bathroom I had seen since I wasn’t sure when the next one was. If you feel that might be a concern later in the race and you spot a bathroom, don’t be ashamed to stop. You could save yourself the 10 minutes I wasted trying to find one when the situation was dire.

17. At some points you’ll feel like you’re an ant running out of an ant farm. The NYC Marathon, like everything else in NYC, offers a lot of people cramped into one space. Sweat just makes it better.

18. Some people are walking by mile 13. Not everyone is there to beat a time. This makes the ant farm effect an exciting challenge. (Perhaps they could make a walking lane?)

19. Spectators can only get so creative with running puns. The most common sign was some variation of “You’re kicking so much ASSphalt!”

20. You think you’re done. But you’re not. It’s about another two miles to get out of Central Park once you cross the finish. Or at least it feels that long. There’s no real way to describe the sense of desperation you have when trying to walk (or crawl) from the finish line to get out of the race zone and meet your dear friends or family who have agreed to carry you home. I was just glad I wore my walking shoes.

21. The medic tent is Mecca. I was driven to the medic tent after I finished because I was having problems walking. Not this serious of problems, but cramp city was settling into my calves and hamstrings. When I got the medic tent they gave me hot cocoa, veggie soup, and a massage, and it was paradise.

22. There are no cabsnowhere. Like every other scenario in New York City when you could really use a taxi, when you’re physically incapable of walking after the race, there will be none. Be mentally prepared for the subway (and the stairs involved).

23. Because it’s New York, you’ll walk a lot on top of the 26.2 miles. I ran-slash-walked 33 miles in total that day. I think my Fitbit was ready to implode with joy over the whole thing.

24. You can measure your self-worth by seeing how much faster (or not-that-much-slower) you are than celebs. I’m speedier than Pamela Anderson, but pokier than BIll Rancic. (But only by a few minutes!)

25. And you’ll feel like a star on race weekend and the week that follows. Seriously, forget getting engaged, having a baby, or passing the bar: If you do the NYC Marathon, you will feel all the love in the world and receive so many congratulations no matter how fast you ran.

26. New Yorkers are just great. Even though the noise was overwhelming and I felt crazed and irrationally angry at times, there were countless numbers of people who pushed me through the five boroughs. A special shoutout to the guy who retrieved a recovery bag for me at the finish when I couldn’t walk to get it and then opened my water bottle for me. You are my hero.

26.2. Two-tenths of a mile is the most annoying distance in all of life. I vote they ixnay the 26-mile marker. Seriously, it is such a tease. I mistook it for the finish line from afar, and oh the sweeping sadness that washed over me when my eyes focused and I realized that I had another 0.2 miles left!

 

New York City Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Info!

Check out the link below for a great article about the logistics and course strategy for running the New York Marathon.

http://runningandthecity.com/2013/10/22/nycm/

It is quite hard training for a marathon in a different city / country. On the one hand people tell me New York is flat, but then I hear other people complaining about the inclines in the marathon course. I am trying to prepare for the worst and hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised when I get there!

Has anyone else come across links that may be useful for out-of-towners running the New York Marathon?

 

 

A runner’s meal

A Runner's meal

It’s important to fuel your workouts with delicious runner-friendly meals. I branched out and tried a new Jamie Oliver recipe last week and thought and I would share it with you all.

Pasta is usually a staple in any long-distance runner’s diet, but if you’re like me, you’ll get sick of the same old pasta recipes pretty quickly.

This Jamie Oliver recipe is surprisingly simple, and very delicious. You should give it a go next time you’re at a loss for what to cook!

Ingredients
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary

  • 12 Jacob’s cream crackers

  • 2 heaped teaspoons Dijon mustard

  • 500 g quality minced beef, higher-welfare pork, or a mixture of the two

  • 1 heaped tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1 large free-range egg

  • sea salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • olive oil

  • 1 bunch fresh basil

  • 1 medium onion

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • ½ fresh or dried red chilli

  • 2×400 g tinned chopped tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 400 g dried spaghetti or penne

  • Parmesan cheese, for grating

 

Method

Meatballs are fantastic! They’re perfect like this, with a one-minute homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti, but you could also try polenta or simple chunks of fresh crust bread. I like to make meatballs with a mixture of beef and pork, as I think it gives a really wonderful flavour and texture.

Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalks and finely chop them. Wrap the crackers in a tea towel and smash up until fine, breaking up any big bits with your hands. Add to a mixing bowl with the mustard, minced meat, chopped rosemary and oregano. Crack in the egg and add a good pinch of salt and pepper.

With clean hands scrunch and mix up well. Divide into 4 large balls. With wet hands, divide each ball into 6 and roll into little meatballs – you should end up with 24. Drizzle them with olive oil and jiggle them about so they all get coated. Put them on a plate, cover and place in the fridge until needed.

Pick the basil leaves, keeping any smaller ones to one side for later. Peel and finely chop the onion and the garlic. Finely slice the chilli. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Next, heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and add 2 lugs of olive oil. Add your onion to the frying pan and stir for around 7 minutes or until softened and lightly golden.

Then add your garlic and chilli, and as soon as they start to get some colour add the large basil leaves. Add the tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar. Bring to the boil and season to taste. Meanwhile, heat another large frying pan and add a lug of olive oil and your meatballs. Stir them around and cook for 8–10 minutes until golden (check they’re cooked by opening one up – there should be no sign of pink).

Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer until the pasta is ready, then remove from the heat. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions. Saving some of the cooking water, drain the pasta in a colander. Return the pasta to the pan. Spoon half the tomato sauce into the pasta, adding a little splash of your reserved water to loosen. Serve on a large platter, or in separate bowls, with the rest of the sauce and meatballs on top. Sprinkle over the small basil leaves and some grated Parmesan.

Here is a YouTube link to how to make it if you are more of a visual person:

Bon appétit

 

Wellington Shoe Clinic Half Marathon Race Recap

Last Sunday I completed my second half marathon, the Wellington Shoe Clinic Half Marathon. It was a scenic there and back run from the Westpac Stadium along the waterfront.

Prior to the event I had been doing lots of marathon training, but no specific training for the half marathon. I knew I was fit enough to complete it relatively easily, but I wasn’t sure I would have the speed to beat my last time (1:54:38).

I was mainly just doing the run to ensure I stayed motivated and kept running during the colder months, but I still couldn’t help getting some pre-race nerves!

On race day I woke up a few hours before the event, had two bits of Vogels toast, a banana and a mandarin and headed to the start line.

I initially set out aiming to run the first 5km at 5:30 pace, I wasn’t sure how this was going to go though as most of my training runs had been at about a 6:00 min pace. At the 5km mark I was feeling really good and decided I would definitely be able to beat my last half marathon time, it was time to pick up the pace!

I found I spent the second half of the race overtaking people who had set out too fast initially. It was pretty motivating slowly passing people that sprinted off at the beginning and I presumed i’d never see again.

I’m now so used to doing long runs that the distance was absolutely fine. There was only one point when I was about 500metres away from the finish line that I thought “Man I want to stop and walk.”

I managed to find enough energy to sprint to the finish line to achieve a PB of 1:51:16, so I was pretty stoked!

Throughout the race I had a berry Clif Shot Blok and a salted caramel Gu energy gel. This was perfect as there were definitely times that my body was needing  boosts of energy.

I’m really pleased I did the run as it has given me confidence that my marathon training programme is working. I also think that the experience you get on ‘race day’ is invaluable. Not getting distracted by other runners pacers is definitely something that I have to consciously focus on. I also find you always seem to be able to go so much harder in races than you can go in training. What do you find different about race day?

Shoe Clinic Half Marathon

My week in workouts – 20 weeks to go

I am now in the 10th week of my official training schedule and I have 20 weeks to go, so I am 1/3 of the way there! I am proud to say I am yet to miss a workout!

Here is what I have done so far this week:
Monday – 40 min swim – Low-impact day.
Tuesday – 1 hour run – 10.4km – Progression run, 6:00 minute k’s for the first 3, then 5:40, 5:20, 5:10, 5:00, then 6:00 minute k’s for the remaining time.
Wednesday – 40 min run – 6.69km – Easy pace, including 5 short 50m sprints.
Thursday – Rest day.
Friday – 47 min run – 7km – Easy pace, including 4 30m hill sprints.

I only have one more workout to go:
Saturday – 1:40 min run – I am aiming to run about 17.5km.

On top of the running and swimming I am trying to make a consistent effort to stretch. I know this will really help me in the long term, but I am finding it much harder to make time to stretch than I do to make time to run and swim.

I have my proposed weekly schedule on Training Peaks, a software that lets you plan out workouts and nutrition and record it once you have completed it. After each run I fill in post-activity comments and upload data from my Garmin watch. They say that you are 2x more likely to achieve your goals with a training plan.

What did your week in workouts look like?