My experience training for and running the 2019 NYC marathon, and a peak at what's next....
I didn't have any real goals coming into the race. I developed plantar fasciitis back in July and I took a few weeks off during training and instead swam laps, biked to work/beach and used the elliptical.
I was having a good time exploring other activities...the highlight was the NYC Century ride with Rachel and her friend Molly.
After seeing the doctor and watching countless YouTube videos, most of my issues involved tightness in my calf and a bad gait, which I developed when I sprained my ankle years ago. Why it crept up now, after years of running? I think this was due more to bad walking form and all the ultras that involved a lot of walking toward the later miles.
So after taking the week or two off here and there, I went back to fitting in daily runs. I had a lot of maintenance to work on, including stretching, strength, massages, supplementation and just watching my form.
I did most of my runs alone, or if I did run with anyone, I took it slowly (thanks Rachel and Lisa)....just so I could focus on my form. Much of it involved making sure I rolled off my toes correctly. I suspect I am stiffening my toes up, not contacting and rolling off the floor with them, which caused my arch and heel to experience increased forces and tightness with every strike.
This focus definitely helped immediately...both when running and walking. And whenever I didn't roll my foot correctly, my foot felt like a stiff piece of wood and I had to stop or run through the stiffness and pain.
So within a couple weeks of these workouts, I was able to ramp up my mileage quickly. I wasn't too concerned about the 10% increase in mileage rule, just cause I've done a ton of high mileage runs in the past, and a lot this year with UMTG...plus all the cross training I was doing instead.
This mostly worked out well and I even changed my shoes to the zero drop Altra Torin plush, from my usual Brooks Glycerin, which I still alternated into my workouts.
For my peak mileage, I fit in a couple 50+ mile weeks and three 20+ mile long runs (20,22,21), in back to back weekends, the last one two weeks out. My peak 56 mile week was short of the 70-80 mile weeks I ran in the past years, but I was happy I ran a week with at least twice the mileage of the marathon distance itself.
For the 2 weeks before the race, I decided to bike commute 3 of the days, just to give my foot a rest. What I found by the end of the week was my foot and body overall, was actually much stiffer...to the point it was hard to move when sitting for long periods.
I right away incorporated some yoga routines, foam rolled and ran every other day up to marathon day. I right away felt an improvement and although I didn't regret biking, I'm assuming the sitting shortened my leg muscles/ tendons too much, causing all the stiffness.
By race day I was feeling good. I was planning to take it easy, and run 15 to 30 minutes slower than last year and treat this more as a training run for the NYRR 60k in 2 weeks.
A couple days before, Oren invited me to pace with him and Nick, since we were both in the same corral. I said I'd try starting out with them and see how i felt.
I popped 2 advil an hour before the start and 2 more at the start (something I rarely do cause of possible dangers i hear) and took Magnesium orate and malate, also at the start.
With some light stretching at the foot of the Verrazano, I stuck with them for the first 12 miles. I was feeling very good, even though my pace was 30 to 60 seconds faster than planned if I went out alone!
The highlight was when all three of us sped through the PPTC cheer area at mile 3, giving high fives as we past!
Somewhere at McCarren Park, about mile 10, I lost site of them both. I'm still not sure what happened, but Oren ended up 6 minutes ahead and Nick 6 minutes behind, from what I saw on Strava afterward.
I still kept on at an eight minute pace on my own...still having a good time.
At the donut mile, I spotted Heather, which I expected. I didn't reserve a donut, so didn't expect one, but she called my name after I past and showed me a special sign she created just for me **blush** Thanks Heather (sort of....haha)!
In my previous 2 NYCM's, my quads were shot after the Queenboro bridge, which made the last 10 miles more challenging at best.
This time I had no quad pain and pretty much no issues at all (which I owe to all the UMTG hill repeats, better form and leg exercises at the gym). I continued at a steady pace of 8 minute miles. The last 5 miles were a bit tough, but I powered through it. I even muttered to myself out loud, "c'mon, you got this!", and then said it louder to help encourage others around me!
It was nice seeing Rita, Emily and Yuni at 87th/1st, Hilary after the Bronx, and then Aung (who finished near me in 2017, 2018), Ashley and Gerritt (part of the UMTG posse) at Central Park.
Despite my attempt to sprint the last few miles, I pretty much did an even split the entire race, mostly slowing at any inclines.
Finishing at 3:31:56m put me at my second fasted marathon time (3:29:06 NYCM 2018), which I was happy with, considering the injury issues and not planning to break 3:45:00.
What's next for me? Feeling partly recovered by now, I'm prepping to run the NYRR 60k, which is 9 loops within Central Park, this Sunday the 17th!!
What went well during the race:
My quads were not shot after exiting the Queensboro Bridge. During the 2017 and 2018 NYCM, my quads were in pain for the last 10 miles. They didn't hinder my performance, but the rest of the run was uncomfortable.
What did I do different this time around? During Ultra Marathon training, I learned to lean forward on big descents, to decrease the pounding on my legs. Using this technique, I found myself passing people.