Congratulations to Bonnie Averbuch for her PR of 3:16:59 at today's Marine Corps Marathon. This is Bonnie's first full season of serious training, and she shows no sign of slowing down. Congratulations Bonnie.
Today let's take a look at the details of the NYC Marathon course.
The start is the hardest part of the NYC course as you climb the Verrazano. If you're lucky enough to start near the front, be careful not to go out too fast. In fact, if you race well it should be your slowest mile of the day because of the elevation gain. If you're starting toward the back, you may be tempted to weave around folks to make good time up the hill. Resist this temptation at all costs. Make sure that you run 1.0 miles in the first mile. Wasting energy trying to get around other runners will certainly bite you in the butt later. It may be frustrating to shuffle for the first mile, but the good news is you'll still have 25+ miles to make up any lost time. After you reach the top of the bridge, you'll have a fast, downhill mile. Once again, don't waste energy by attacking the hill to aggressively. Lean into the hill gently and relax.
Once you exit the Verrazano, you're in Brooklyn. This will be your first exposure to the cheering crowds, and the terrain on 4th Avenue is flat and fast. Settle in and find a steady pace - preferably right around your overall goal marathon pace. Just as you need to resist the urge to go too hard in Staten Island, don't let the excitement of the crowd push you too hard just yet. Harness the energy. Don't bother giving a high-five or hugging your adoring fans. When you pass the Williamsburg Savings Bank building (they're condos now FYI) you'll still have great crowds and fast terrain. Mile 10 is on Bedford Ave. The terrain continues to be flat and fast. At this stage you should feel great, and hopefully will have maintained a solid pace in Brooklyn. Once again, you need to be disciplined. Too many marathoners decide that they feel good after 10 miles and think they can adjust their goal. Now's not the time to think on your feet. Stick with your game plan. Assuming that you're feeling comfortable, that plan should be to pick up the pace slightly for the next several miles. An adjustment of 5-10 seconds per mile is enough.
You'll reach the halfway point on the Pulaski Bridge as you enter Queens. The bridge is a little challenging. Don't push it too hard on the ascent. The next few miles include some rolling hills and turns. Be sure to cut the tangents so you don't have to cover any extra ground. (NYRR has made a few changes in the course this year which eliminates some of the tightest turns, so it should be a touch faster than in the past.)
Your next bridge is the Queensboro Bridge. While this is a challenging one, the "wall of sound" awaits you on the Manhattan side. When you head up 1st Avenue, you'll have a slight uphill for most of the first 1.25 miles, then downhill to 96th and back up most of the way to the Willis Avenue Bridge. As you head north of 96th Street the crowds thin and you'll probably start to feel the miles. Keep your concentration and discipline, as the next few miles are mentally challenging.
You'll hit 20 miles as you enter the Bronx. While I've stressed the need to stay disciplined and not go "off script" by speeding up and trying to "bank time" earlier in the race, now's the time to listen to your body. If you've raced conservatively, you may find yourself able to pick it up a little.
The course in the Bronx has been extended slightly this year, as you'll head across 138th, north onto Rider Avenue, west on 140th and south on Rider Avenue before picking up 138th again. You'll soon cross the Madison Avenue Bridge and re-enter Manhattan. Look for the official City Coach cheering section on the right side at 135th St as you head down 5th Avenue. The farther south you go, the deeper and louder the crowds will get. You'll need them as you head downtown on 5th Avenue, as there's a gentle but seemingly endless incline south of 110th Street. You'll enter Central Park at Engineer's Gate and it's mostly downhill from there. Exit at the bottom of the park, run along Central Park South, then re-enter the park at Columbus Circle. From there, no matter how tired you are, you can gut it out to the finish at Tavern on the Green that you all know so well.
For those of you who aren't sick of hearing me talk about the marathon just yet, come on out to JackRabbit's Union Square location on Thursday at 7p. I'll discuss logistics, course management, race day nutrition, carb loading, and anything else you'll need to know if you're running NYC. Even if you're running another fall marathon, come on by.
With the NYC Marathon just around the corner, let's go over a few glycogen loading basics.
Keep in mind that your body can only store about 2,000 calories worth of glycogen. Fully loading your glycogen tank - coupled with prudent race day nutrition - will help ensure that you avoid "hitting the wall". Despite what the old school used to say, there's little or (probably) no reason to deplete your glycogen stores before loading. Because you're tapering and significantly decreasing your caloric expenditure, in most cases all you need to do is eat normal sized portions of complex carbohydrates in order to fill that tank. Nancy Clark - perhaps the best known and most respected sports nutritionist puts it best, "loading up on an unusually high amount of fruits and juices might cause diarrhea. Too many white flour, low fiber bagels, breads and pasta might clog your system. As Marathon King Bill Rodgers once said 'More marathons are won or lost in the porta-toilets than they are at the marathon...' Fuel wisely, not like a chow hound.
Just as there's no need to stuff your face all week, if you plan the 3-4 days before the marathon correctly, there's no benefit to a large pre-race dinner. In fact it can work against you by causing gastrointestinal distress. Have a large, healthy, high carb lunch and then a lighter dinner. Keep in mind that even if you overeat, you can't make your 2,000 calorie tank can't hold 2,500 calories, but it can land you in the porta-potty along the course. While you're loading, be sure to stay well hydrated with water and other fluids. Watch out for alcohol and too much caffeine, as they are diuretics.
This isn't an English class, but let's look at the word carbohydrate and make note of the word "hydrate" in there. Glycogen holds 3x its weight in water. That means that if you fill your tank properly, you'll probably gain a few pounds throughout your loading phase. That's fine. It's normal. It's healthy. Relax.
On race morning you need to eat a light breakfast in order to replenish the few hundred calories that you expended while sleeping (or flailing around in the bed trying to sleep) and to stabilize your blood sugar. Since you'll have plenty of time between breakfast and the race start, you don't have to be too conservative, but be careful if you tend to have a "nervous stomach". Our friends at Nutrition Energy suggest Cereal, Pancakes and syrup, Applesauce, Bagels with Peanut Butter, Noodles, Fig bars, Oatmeal, English Muffins, Ensure, Boost, Energy bars, Bananas, Sports Drinks
On race day, you'll probably burn about 500-600 calories more than you can store. That means that you need to get some calories in during the marathon, or risk someone dropping a piano on your back some time around mile 20. Gels and sports drinks are usually your best bets.
So now that the Boston Marathon has filled in just 8+ hours, we're left with a lot of angry, disillusioned and disappointed runners. And there are almost as many suggested solutions as there are runners left out in the cold. Here are a few of the ideas I've heard so far.
Eliminate charity spots. As a purist, I feel that every runner who toes the line at Boston should earn their way in, so I have no problem with this suggestion, but there are two flaws. First and foremost, it'll never happen. Charity slots are free, easy money for the race organizer. (Some races charge the charities more money than the general entry fee, though I don't know if that's the case here.) The bottom line is that it would be horrible PR to eliminate them, so it'll never happen. Plus (according to the Wall Street Journal) only about 5% of the runners gain entry through charity slots, so freeing up those entries wouldn't accomplish much.
Eliminate "community" slots. I love the idea, but it'll never happen. Every year, a few thousand folks get into the race because of "connections". If you eliminate them, you'll also eliminate the much-needed cooperation from the organizations that got them in. Police Department, Fire Department, celebrities, VIP's, etc. all pull strings to get in, but there's no way that the BAA will ever do anything to alienate them.
Make qualifying standards harder. Ding, Ding, Ding. No more calls, we have a winner. But instead of simply making the qualifying times faster across the board, why not have a "tiered" system? For instance, the women's open time is currently 3:40. The BAA could open up the race to any women with 3:10 or better for a month. If spots remain, take women up to 3:20 for the next month. Then 3:30 if there is still room. This way faster runners are rewarded, yet others still have hope.
I feel bad for the people who would be left out in the cold, but I feel even worse for those who have worked hard and qualified and are now unable to race. As I said, I'm a purist. I've been offered the opportunity to run Boston on numerous occasions, and though I'd love to experience it, I've turned down the offer each time. If I ever race Boston, it will be because I qualified for it. Heck - I'd love to race the Olympic Trials, but that'll never happen either.
Ultimately, it's entirely up to the BAA. They can choose to let in more charity runners, relax the standards, have people wrestle for the slots, or do whatever they want. My guess is that they'll simply increase the entry fee.
We've used a few (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek mottos for our humble team:
Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead.
Ride it Like You Stole It
The Beatings Will Continue 'til Morale Improves. (Or "Moral" if you got the typo version/collector's item.)
But what I'm really looking for out of our athletes is the following:
Race Hard, Have Fun, Do Good
I think that as our team has grown we've managed to do a pretty good job of each of those three. We have some fierce competitors who race hard every time out. Whether that translates to a PR, hardware, a win, or whatever the case may be, I always appreciate an athlete who trains and races as hard as possible. In the process, we sometimes manage to have some fun. Whether it's loading up the car for a road trip, post-workout pancakes at Casa SinCane, or racing in high heels, we usually manage to have a laugh. And, as gratifying as anything else, many of our athletes participate in charitable events.
Which brings me to Adele Laboz. Adele is in training for the NYC Marathon in three weeks. I have no doubt that as usual, she will race hard and race well. A couple of weeks ago, Adele and 25 or so of her friends celebrated her birthday at the Regis & Kelly High Heel-a-Thon. No doubt she had fun. And this morning, she took a quick detour from her marathon training to do a little good. She traveled to Atlantic City where she helped the young man pictured below through his half marathon.
As documented with some of our earlier No Whining posts, dedicated athletes will go to great lengths to get their workouts in. But few have shown more mental toughness than Edison Pena. Pena was among the 33 miners trapped underground for over two months before their rescue over the last two days. Despite the conditions, Pena managed to run 3-6 miles per day in the mine shafts.
Next time you're about to skip a workout because you're tired, or hate the tedium of a treadmill, or because the weather is lousy, you might be well advised to remember Mr. Pena.
Congratulations to Bridget McKenna on her 2nd win at the Hamptons Half Marathon. Bridget clocked a PR of 1:26:08. I can't wait to see the damage Bridget does on the triathlon scene next season. (Of course I have to convince her to actually do a triathlon first, but that's beside the point.)
Honorable mention to Judie Zbeda who won the 25-29 AG in 1:32:11. Judie will look great it City Coach colors next season. (Of course I have to convince her to race for us, but that's beside the point.)
Congratulations to Adele Laboz who ran a PR of 1:38:41 at the yesterday's Diva Half Marathon. Adele was joined by Sara Bibi who ran the race as part of her 20-miler, and still clocked a very respectable 1:47:59.
Both ladies are right on schedule for a great race on 11/7. Keep up the good work.