Monday, November 8, 2010


Once upon a time.......Look at all my arm muscles
If you had run a marathon before, it was put on your bib for  seeding purposes. The time was from my first,  the Detroit marathon in 1984 when I had a 2 year old and 5 year old at home.

I was watching the NYC Marathon yesterday with longing. Steve and I ran it 25 years ago, a year after we ran our first one in Detroit. We had to enter a lottery to get accepted but we both were. Unfortunately that day was unseasonably warm (80 degrees and I do best when it is less than 60).
The run began in Staten Island and we were seeded by time theoretically but some how, we were way back. I think our first mile time was over 25 minutes, 10 minutes alone to get to the starting line. We immediately climbed 250 feet on the top level of the Verrazano Bridge, which vibrated from the combined forces of 20000  pounding feet. Almost half of the run alone was in Brooklyn. Here we benefitted from a tailwind. We went through numerous neighborhoods of different ethnic groups. I would ask Steve what neighborhood were we in now (he grew up in Brooklyn). After a while, he was too tired to answer. Over the Pulanski Bridge into Queens, Long Island City, which looked drab at the time but now is 'up and coming'. Around the 16 mile mark, we took the Queensboro Bridge into Manhattan on what they called The World's Longest Carpet, laid down to protect our sore feet from the metal grating. Well it was long, but very narrow and we were in the middle of the pack, so no room for us on the magic carpet. On the downhill side, Steve asked if we couldn't slow down. Ha! I have to gloat here. It is very hard for me to run with someone, particularly Steve, as we have our own paces. On training runs, he would say that if he ran at my 'slow' pace, he could run forever. Also, I don't speed up going down hills as I am trying to protect my knees whereas he does speed up so I was surprised when he told me to slow down. Second Avenue was lined with cheerers. Lots of energy! Went through the pricy Upper East Side into Spanish Harlam over the bridge for a mile or so in the Bronx. Somehwere in the Bronx, Steve told me he was going to walk. Now I am not against walking in a marathon. I do it for a few seconds while drinking water but if I do it for more than a minute, the short acting endorphins fade and then I am in big trouble. So we parted ways at the 20 mile mark. Some people say that although mathematically 20 miles is more than 75% of the marathon, in effort it is only half of it. The last 10K is especially brutal and no amount of telling yourself, you're almost done..less than an hour, can erase that. This seems especially true for men. Yep they have the bigger muscles and a more favorable lean mass to fat ratio but it seems to take much more training to get the same level of endurance as a woman. I found this especially true in long distance biking. I would start rides with muscular men struggling to keep up with their superior speed but after an hour, my job would become easier and easier.

My name was on my chest and women runners were relatively rarer so I got lots of cheers, especially in the Bronx. Into Manhattan and Harlem. I tried to admire the architecture but the late fall setting sun's in the south glare blinded me. I stopped at one point to stretch my cramping legs and immediately I am swarmed by on-lookers wondering if I am OK. Yes, just need to stretch. Into Central Park. As it is warmer there than in Michigan, no fall colors. It is amazingly hilly or maybe my fatigue just makes it seem so. Also the roads are very narrow and all those once speedier men are fading into slow-moving zombies blocking my way  annoying me as I don't want to run any extra distance trying to get around them. We leave the park briefly to run on 59th St  and then re-enter at Columbus Circle. Now I know that I will be done in less than 4 minutes and I am re-energized.  The route to the finish is wider and loud music is playing. I try to sprint the last 100 feet. I am not sure if I ever got a picture of me finishing. There were so many more runners here. My time was a disappointing 4:10  but if corrected for that really bad 1st mile, was well under 3:50. Pictured above, the true time (after being held up 4 minutes at the start, was 3:48). I look like a drowned rat as I throw the water I can't drink on to my head to cool myself. It is hard to look pretty running a marathon, not that I cared. Right after I finish, I have stand for quite some time in a finish chute to make sure of our running order. They cover each one of us with a mylar blanket. However, especially after exercising, I faint unless I move. I start to faint and workers hold me up. I think I was put briefly in a medical tent, I really can't remember. I know I was worried about Steve and how he would find me. He finished 10 minutes later, must have done alot of walking We take the subway back to Brooklyn to his parent's apartment where the kids were staying.
We are tired beyond belief.

Yesterday runners included the Chilean miner. He didn't want to be trapped in a mine for 60days plus to interfere with his training schedule so he made himself some sort of harness so he could run in place against a force. This is a dedicated runner despite not having the build (he is very squat). He was clearly living his dream.

If I somehow could lose all this excess, I would like to run another marathon. Running so much while large is putting me at risk for injury. As it is, I think I have a stress fracture in my toe and the pain of it was leaking through the cloud of endorphins yesterday. And I am now so impossibly slow. Age? Weight? Really bad form?

But I am out there, slowly pounding the pavement, preferably the hard packed clay kind, absurdly swinging my arms (which I try to correct if I think I am being watched). It doesn't seem to be making much of a dent into my now ( compared to early years) huge waist. I do have legs of a younger woman though and great circulation. I look healthy. Hopefully tomorrow, I won't find something to  dispute that.

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