Saturday, November 8, 2014

TCS NYC Marathon race report; Guest blogger & 4 time finisher, Sean Pinney

Guest blogger of the day is my good friend Sean Pinney.  Sean just finished up his fourth NYC Marathon and this is what he has to say about the race.  Thanks for the write up Sean and again, congratulations!  Enjoy!


Although this was my 4th NYC marathon, it was the first I have run in 11 years. What I remember most about it was the wind. It was present throughout the day. From the time I picked up the bus at the Meadowlands until I finished, the wind never went away. The staging area was just brutal. For safety reasons, they could not put up the tents so we were all huddling together without any protection. One guy actually crawled into a plastic trolley being used for clothes donation to hide from the wind.

Running across the Verrazano was like running in a wind tunnel. I wanted to run in a pack to get protection from the wind, but I started at the tail end of the third wave and was exposed. The wind was unrelenting and was blowing us sideways. Those were 2 long miles.

A highlight for me was running through Bay Ridge. I was on the green start and it took me on a different route through the neighborhood. It was a great pleasure to run into co-worker who was waiting to cheer me on. I saw her, ran over and smiled. I gave her a high five and then kept on running, making the turn onto 4th Avenue. 

The fans in Brooklyn were fantastic. They were packed several deep along 4th Avenue and cheering loudly. I loved hearing all the bands, in particular the one playing “Danger Zone” from Top Gun, and another who was playing something from Rage Against the Machine. That definitely got the blood pumping. 

I also loved running through Brooklyn because of the diverse people from one neighborhood to the next. Going from 4th Avenue to Lafayette and on to Bedford Street, the look and feel changes. I saw a woman in Williamsburg wave hello to a Hasidic man who did not wave back or respond in any way. In Greenpoint, there was a group of friends on a balcony who were in great spirits and probably had already consumed a great amount of spirits as well. Running through Brooklyn there would be times when the wind would disappear for a while only then to come back and hit you in the face. I just smiled and kept on going.  

My right knee started hurting at the 9 mile mark. Prior to that, I was running perfectly consistent 10 minute miles in order to conserve my energy. After my knee started hurting, these miles began to stretch out a bit. I made the halfway point at the Pulaski Bridge at 2:13, which I was pretty happy with. I was feeling good and still had lots of energy. I had plenty of gas in the tank. My knee still hurt a little, but my legs weren’t too bad. I figured I would make 4:30 at this pace and would be happy with it.

I was very nervous about the Queensboro Bridge. I was afraid that the winds would be like headwinds going across Verrazano. Also, the Queensboro Bridge was my nemesis in 2003. I had unexpectedly hit the wall back then between mile 15 and 16. It crushed me. This year, I was mentally geared up to get across. It turns out that there was little wind going across and I was psyched that I made it without any problem at all.

I turned the corner at 16 and smiled because I knew I would make it and would finish strong. I felt that way until up until the Willis Avenue Bridge. Crossing into the Bronx, my legs began to get sore and cramped up at the 21st mile. I had to walk a bit and stretch them out, but was able to start jogging again. It was great to make it across the Madison Avenue Bridge and be back on 1st Avenue. I got hit again by the wind and just smiled and kept moving on. What else could I do?

At the 23rd mile, I passed by Mount Sinai where I work. It was good to be back on familiar territory where I spend my days. I turned back into Central Park at 90th street and felt tired, but good. Then when I was running downhill, I had to stop because the pounding really hurt my knee. Who walks on downhills???

I finally ran out of the Park and turned onto Central Park South. The crowds were still packed 10 deep and cheering loudly. My knee was a little sore and my legs were tight. I had to shorten my stride, but I felt good and very excited to finish. I made the turn at Columbus circle and pushed for home. I made sure I got my arms up as I crossed the finish line. I did not feel exhausted or drained as I had in years past. It was probably because I ran slower than in the past. Final time 4:45:03.

I loved getting the finisher’s medal, wrapping myself in the Mylar blanket and feeling that immediate warmth.  Finally there was something that could break the wind.  Walking from the finish back to my car on the east side, people would stop and say “congratulations.” People always say New Yorkers are mean, but they really are nice. That’s what makes the NYC marathon a great experience. When else are New Yorkers going to stand out in the cold and cheer for you?

There were so many great sights and memories along the way. I came across people running their 30th marathon and looking strong. I saw a guy who was dribbling a soccer ball the entire way. Apparently there was also a guy juggling and another bouncing a basketball, but I did not see them. Everyone running was having a great time.

Some of the great signs I saw:

Toenails are for wimps.
You look great.
In your mind you are a Kenyan.

The phrase I heard the most from the crowd, “You got this!”  Running the NYC Marathon is always a blast for me. It’s a great way to experience the city and to see different neighborhoods. I cannot wait until I run again next year.

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