2013 NYC Marathon Training: What Worked

It’s so close! The New York City Marathon is now just a few days away. As my daily mileage has steadily dwindled down to the low single digits, I’ve started to reflect on what changes/lessons helped me get to this start line prepared (I hope!) and  injury-free:

  • Mixing it up. Like this year, I ran 5 days per week while training for the 2012 Chicago Marathon, and 4/5 days were spent within Prospect Park. Don’t get me wrong, I love my park and I’ll take it over it’s tourist-ridden bigger sibling, Central Park, any day, but I’d be lying if I said those miles didn’t get a little monotonous, especially when they were in the form of multiple park loops. This time around, running to work and participating in coached speed work resulted in only 2-3 Prospect Park runs each week, which I now looked forward to.
  • Run commuting = an easy way to get more miles! As much as I wanted to incorporate a mid-week long(ish) run last summer, I just could not drag myself out of bed before the 6AM hour to get it done before work, and evening runs were out of the question (that’s feeding time, y’all). This summer I was able to jump on a Groupon for a cheap gym membership near my office, so I started making the 8 to 9.5-mile journey to Rockefeller Center once a week. To be honest, when I initially examined my training plan I was absolutely dreading the peak weeks when I’d have to run to work the long(er) way. I surprised myself by loving the opportunity to fly up the West Side Highway for some faster miles, and it took me back to my college days of running there in the early mornings before classes. Oh, nostalgia. I was actually sad when taper called for scaling back to the “short” route up the city streets.
  • Speed work is more fun in numbers. In the past it’s been really hard to hold myself accountable in terms of completing solo speed work since I don’t live very close to a track or any particularly flat terrain. Lucky for me, Jackrabbit held a summer track class in Red Hook, and the Prospect Park Track Club came to the rescue when it ended in the fall.  I made the decision to officially join PPTC in order to participate in their speed program, so you can catch me sporting their signature red singlet on race day!
  • When the Garmin starts to become your nemesis, spend some time apart. When I first got this running toy in 2011, it was a huge confidence boost to study my splits after PR-ing in every distance from the 5K to the marathon. Once I started to have to work to break those PRs, the constant obsessing over that pace monitor strapped to my wrist started becoming more and more negative, especially in races. So I went back to my old-school $10 digital watch from Target for my run commutes and ran one of my best long training runs essentially on feel. Speaking of running on feel…
  • It is possible to run fast without a Garmin (shocking, I know). I’ve yet to PR without one since acquiring it (maybe that’ll change on Sunday!), but my favorite part of coached speed workouts ha been leaving it at home and depending on someone else to call my fast (for me), even (!) interval splits.

I’d be lying if I said there was no self-doubt about whether I’ll be successful in terms of my sub-4 goal, but for some reason I’m feeling less anxious about it than I was last year. As much as I would love to break four hours on Sunday, I’m also at peace with the fact that I have my entire life to do that. For now, I’m keeping myself occupied by reading up on others’ recaps and watching videos from past Marathon Sundays to remind myself of what’s so great about this race. To all my fellow NYCM runners, who has you feeling most excited and inspired regarding this race? My favorite NYCM success story is Meb Keflezighi’s 2009 win. That was the last time I ran this marathon, and while I felt my own personal sense of accomplishment after finishing it (my first 26.2!) I also vividly remember what a big deal it was that an American had won this race for the first time in decades, nonetheless one who had overcome such adversity to make an incredible comeback (after fracturing his pelvis during the 2008 Olympic Trials right there in Central Park, it was widely speculated that Meb’s running career was over). Check out this video of his home stretch. I think it’s great that he’s grinning (no pain face!) as he gives the crowd a thumbs-up and motions to the “USA” on his singlet to get them to chant it. I also love that they played “Always on the Run” as he finished! Better believe that’s going on my playlist (though I’m still holding out hope that I don’t need music at all on Sunday).

This “Road to the Finish” clip is also a great one to watch to get psyched for race day; it does a fantastic job of detailing the highlights of each borough. Pay close attention around the 8-minute mark to catch my sister, Emilia, running up 1st Avenue in 2010! I can’t wait to run those streets together this year.

January's Houston Half Marathon was the last race we both ran.
January’s Houston Half Marathon was the last race we both ran.

I’m so excited for that finish line, but I’m prepared to savor every mile leading up to it: across the Verrazano, up 4th Ave (favorite leg back in ’09!), around to Lafayette, over to Bedford, through Greenpoint, up the Pulaski, into LIC, over the Queensboro, through the Wall of Sound on 1st Ave, up to the Bronx, back down 5th Ave, and into every NYC runner’s backyard, sweet home Central Park. Let’s do this.

A final note: I’m bib 26756 in the orange second wave. If you’ll be in the orange start village, let’s hang out! If you’ll be out spectating, tell me where!

3 thoughts on “2013 NYC Marathon Training: What Worked

  1. This post, that video, man, it gave me chills and tears!!! I’m so excited for you, Carla!!! I hope you have an amazing race and I can’t wait to cheer for you. And I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT WAIT TO RUN THIS FREAKING RACE!!!!

    1. Thanks, Steph! As pumped as I am to run, I am actually kind of bummed that I won’t get to watch it since it’s been so long since the last NYCM! For that reason, I’m leaning more toward spectating (and cheering YOU on!) in 2014 instead of running.

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