It's good to have goals, like breaking 3 hours in the marathon, but it's even better to crush them underfoot, as I did Sunday while racing to a 2 hour and 48 minute finish in the New York City Marathon, good for about 317th place out of 37,899 finishers. It was perhaps the hardest thing I've ever done - not so much the actual running, but the 4 months of hard training, capped by weeks of meticulous preparations. I was relatively sure I could break 3 hours, but I had no idea I could run so fast for so long. (Tristan apparently did, though, since his contribution to Tonya's email from the night before the race was "Have a great marathon and get as close as you can to 2 hours and 50 minutes. Or less.")
My sincere apologies to those of you who were either disappointed or worried when you couldn't follow my progress on the New York City Marathon Web site, but there was a snafu regarding my timing chip at registration (see "Adam Running the New York City Marathon," 2008-10-27). So I don't have an official time or place yet, but I alerted the marathon organizers and hope they can resolve the problem soon.
Wonderful as this experience was, I don't think I'll be racing another marathon any time soon. I simply don't have the time in my life for the necessary level of training, and I'm not certain my body can handle the strain over a long period of time. I'd rather be running comfortably at age 70 than have a few more marathons under my belt. And of course, it might be disappointing if my next marathon was a lot slower.
Big thanks to Tonya and Tristan for their support during the months of training, to my many friends in the Ithaca running community for their much-appreciated advice and camaraderie, and to everyone who sent an email or tweet of encouragement. Our neighbor and TidBITS reader Kathie Hodge even left an envelope in our mailbox with a good luck card and a four-leafed clover, and long-time TidBITS friend Chris Pepper and his wife Amy and daughter Julia cheered me on at the 7 mile mark (I'm the guy in the red shorts in Chris's photo). As much as I had to retreat inside myself to maintain my pace after mile 20, all the public support up to that point was instrumental.
The combination of elation and pain after the race took me by surprise, and although I'm used to talking with fellow runners after races, I was also pleasantly surprised at just how New Yorkers in general opened up and became downright chatty as soon as they saw my race number on the walk, subway ride, and ferry trip back to my aunt and uncle's house on Staten Island. It's nice to see such an event make the big city feel more like a small town.
Now it's time to focus on healing the damage I did to my body - pretty much every muscle below my rib cage hurts when I move. I'll be downing lots of water and nutritious food, stretching to the extent I can, and massaging out all the trigger points that are causing much of the pain. I hope to be back on the roads and trails soon for some easy runs.
To leave you with something of general utility, I'll note that one side benefit of all this training is that I've developed a significantly deeper understanding of muscular anatomy and have found that trigger point therapy (a form of massage you can do to yourself) is tremendously useful at addressing all sorts of pain. Trigger point therapy is certainly no panacea, and is itself uncomfortable, but I've had great success with it addressing plantar fasciitis pain in my right foot, knee pain due to IT band syndrome, and even back pain due to working at the Mac for too many hours in a row. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend "The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition," by Clair Davies and Amber Davies, thanks to its real-world advice and easily followed directions. Also useful is "Trigger Point Therapy for Myofascial Pain: The Practice of Informed Touch," by Donna Finando and Steven Finando, which has better diagnostic pictures but far more technical text aimed at massage therapists.