2016 TCS NYC Marathon Recap

So, yeah…it’s been three weeks and I haven’t posted my race recap. Most might not be interested anymore, but I’ll write it anyway. 

The New York City Marathon is quite literally unlike any other marathon in the world. The size of the field, the number of volunteers and the logistics involved make this race absolutely unforgettable. I was lucky enough to receive my entry through the lottery on my first try (sorry to those who’ve been trying for years) and this was my second year in a row after running for Team Up with Autism Speaks in 2015.

It was great to know what to expect this year which left me able to enjoy the day more without worrying about the fine details of when, where, or how. One of the best experiences of the race is the start village. This year I was assigned the orange corral and when I arrived I was greeted with an amazing sunrise.

The weather was about as perfect as possible for early November and the few hour wait in the start village wasn’t bad. I met up with Chris before the race and we wished each other good luck before I headed to the start corrals for my wave 1 start.

What I think New York does better than anyone else is the start. The introductions of the elite runners, the singing of the National Anthem, the boom of the cannon signaling the start and then the playing of “New York, New York” as you begin your journey of the five burroughs is truly a sight to behold. If this race is not on your bucket list, add it!

Now, on to the race. It didn’t go well. I wasn’t expecting to run a PR after a good run in Chicago weeks earlier, but I was hoping for better. Unfortunately, the week leading up to the race I injured my groin at work and wasn’t 100% healthy when I lined up on the start line. I tried to run a fast race but by mile 11 I knew it wasn’t possible as the pain began to get worse. 

I understood there was more to the day than the time at the finish so I continued on. I first saw my wife right at Mile 17 on First Avenue in Manhattan. It was exciting to see her since she wasn’t able to come along last year, to have her there to share the day with, and because she had pain killers! After stopping for medicine I was back on my way, albeit way off target pace. 

Although I was in a decent amount of discomfort, I took in the sights and sounds of the final miles more than I remember doing last year and I took my disappointment and tried to encourage others as they passed me. Jen was waiting for me just before Columbus Circle with about a 1/2 mile to go. I ran over and gave her a sweaty hug and big kiss – thanking her for supporting me this year as I began to get emotional about the day, the disappointment of the race and everything I did this year.

For the first time ever in a race, I took my phone out near the finish line and recorded a short (and very shaky) video. I crossed the finish line in 3:31:23. Although I know this is a respectable time, it was disappointing to finish over 16 minutes slower than Chicago. Despite the time, I received my medal with the biggest smile on my face. 

I know I’ve written a lot about how running has changed me. The reason for frequenting this topic is because running does change you. The changes aren’t just physical, but mentally and emotionally as well. Every time I train for and run a marathon, I learn. I learn to ignore the naysayers and the self doubt that all to often creeps up. I learn about discipline, dedication to something, and most importantly, I learn that hard work has more benefits than a time on a clock. 

I watched as my family supported me, as my children wished me good luck every time I went for a run, and as I ruined shoes and some clothes along the journey to the Finish Line in Central Park after running over 1,900 miles this year. Now, I’m watching as the calendar creeps toward 2017 and as my body continues to recover from injury preventing me from running. I look forward to the next chapter and where it takes me and wonder what I’ll learn along the way.

Friday Five 8/5: Let the Games Begin

Good morning and welcome back to the Tale of 2 Halfs. Today we are concluding our drive to Michigan and are looking forward to some relaxation over the next week. After arriving tonight, you can bet that we will be watching the opening ceremonies of the Rio Olympics. With the world’s eyes set on Rio, we thought we would share five things we are most excited to watch. 

1. Michael Phelps: What an amazing athlete! Phelps is younger than Travis, and we have been watching him for over 16 years. We appreciate his success for Team USA, but more significantly, we recognize that he is in fact an imperfect human being. He has been down, in trouble with the law and retired from the sport. He was selected by Team USA to carry the US flag in the opening ceremonies, a tremendous honor for the greatest Olympian of all time.

2. The Marathon: What kind of Olympic fans would we be without watching  the signature event of the modern Olympics. There are numerous storyline of interest – including the suspicions of Kenyan athletes drug use, the last Olympics for Meb Keflezighi and also the emergence of Galen Rupp on the men’s side. With Amy, Shalane  and Desi representing the American women hopefully we can pick up a medal.

3. Beach Volleyball: A favorite for Jen, this Olympics marks the end for Kerri Walsh-Jennings. A three-time World Champion and undefeated in the Olympics, having never lost a game in 2004, 2008 or 2012 with former partner Misty May. A fun sport, with a great location on the famous Copacabana Beach.

4. Utter Domination: Some times you have an individual or team come along that is leaps and bounds (Olympic humor!!) above the competition. We look forward to the USA dominating in Basketball, Women’s Soccer, Women’s Gymnastics, Women’s Volleyball, and Women’s  Water Polo with outstanding individual performances from Ashton Eaton, Simone Biles and Katie Ledecky to name a few. This year’s women’s team is crazy good!

5. Different Sports: The great part about the Olympics is the coverage of “other” sports that we may only get to watch every four years. Personally my list of different sports I love watching include all thing Archery and Shooting, Rowing and Canoeing, Track Cycling and BMX. With good medal chances in all except Canoeing, these events should be fun to watch.

We hope you take time to support Team USA as they Go for Gold and represent the very best of the United States athletically. These athletes have trained for years, decades for some, and have earned the right to be called an an Olympian. Best of luck to all!

Weekly Wrap #21: 4/18 – 4/24

Is it just me, or is the week leading up to vacation always madness? We leave for Florida on Friday morning, and the to do list for the week just keeps growing. I need a few more sets of hands or maybe a clone to get it all done this week. There’s been weird work hours for Travis  and time sensitive things popping up at the very last (and worst possible) minute. I feel like I’ve spent the majority of the day on the phone. We are definitely looking forward to some major downtime next week!

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The weather has been nice so we’ve been trying to get out for a walk with the kids after dinner to help burn some extra energy before bedtime. Parker has been learning to ride his bike and Peyton has been enjoying a little freedom outside of the stroller. They seem to have limitless energy these days so it’s nice to be able to get them active on the evenings that Parker doesn’t have T-Ball.

 

Travis: Well I don’t have much to say this week because I’m starting to sound like a broken record, and that’s not fun to listen to or read about. I still have blisters, so bad that I have actually stopped running and ordered a new pair of shoes. I’m not doing myself any favors by trying to run with blisters, so I am trying to allow my feet to heal, get my new pair of shoes on Tuesday and get going again tomorrow. As a result, my mileage and training took a huge hit, and hopefully I won’t have horrible results in Buffalo in a few weeks.

Quantum 360
New ASICS Gel Quantum 360

Monday: 8 mi @ 7:46 pace

Tuesday: 8 mi @ 7:48 pace

Wednesday: 6 mi @ 8:06 pace (a.m.)

4 mi. @ 8:57 pace (p.m.)

Thursday: 5.25 mi.– This was supposed to be a 14 mile run, with speed work,

but I was unable to get through the run after developing new blisters.

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: Unplanned Rest Day — 22 miles was planned

Sunday: Unplanned Rest Day

Total Weekly Mileage: 31.25 miles

 

Jen: Nothing overly exciting for me either. My long runs are back in double digits. I’ve been enjoying doing my longer runs on a trail that’s about 20 minutes from our house. It’s a paved 3.2 mile loop around a golf course- actually it’s the same trail we do our Piece By Piece 5K on. It’s nice to not have to worry about any traffic aside from the occasional biker that manages to scare the daylights out of me. I’m enjoying having the extra rest day added into my plan. I was doing fine with the six days but by the end of the week I was starting to get a little spent. My legs aren’t feeling quite as fatigued and it’s made for some very enjoyable runs. I do some extra stretching and foam rolling on my rest days instead.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 3.3 miles

Wednesday: 2 mile warm up, 4×400/2 minute recovery, 1 mile cool down

Thursday: 3 miles

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 11.3 miles

Total Weekly Mileage:  26.6 miles

We’re linking up with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap

WeeklyWrap

Weekly Wrap #20: 4/11 – 4/17

Good afternoon on this gorgeous Marathon Monday. As we write, we are watching the race unfold. It is always exciting to watch the athletes at the top of their game compete at Boston. It just makes us want to be there more every year. Unfortunately, we are not fast enough. The motivation from watching this awesome event comes at a great time with our next race only 6 weeks away now and the final push is beginning with both of our training plans.

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The weather has finally taken a turn for the better and has allowed us a great opportunity to get the kids outside to play, get yard work done and simply enjoy spring. Starting tonight, Travis begins coaching Parker and 11 other four and five year-olds in a Mini T-Ball league. Stay tuned next week to see if he has any hair left!

Here’s a look at our workouts from last week:

Travis: My training has not been going well over the last few weeks as I have had to deal with numerous blisters. I have been running for years, as you all know, and I have never had more than a random blister over the years. Lately, I can not make it through a single run without getting blisters on both feet. I’ve been trying to care for my feet in addition to doing research to try and figure out what changed. I am open to any suggestions that may help as I have my longest run of 22 miles this weekend and would like to be able to get through it. As a result from all the frustrations and as a chance to relax, I may have not run yesterday due to too many adult beverages.

Monday: 8 mi @ 7:29 pace

Tuesday: 2 mi. warm up; 8 mi. Tempo; 2 mi. cool down

Wednesday: Unplanned Rest Day (Blisters)

Thursday: 2 mi. warm up; 6 mi. @ marathon pace (7:20); 2 mi. cool down

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 13 mi. @ 7:24 pace

Sunday: Unplanned Rest Day (Blisters… & Alcohol consumption, oops!)

Total Weekly Mileage: 43 miles

 

Jen:  We made a little switch in my plan for the weeks going into Buffalo by adding in another rest day on Mondays and just focusing on stretching and foam rolling on those days. Speed work was also added back in this week following my recovery week from Syracuse.

Monday: Rest Day

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 2 mile warm up, 3 mile tempo, 1 mile cool down

Thursday: 3 miles

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 9.4 miles

Total Weekly Mileage:  26.4 miles

We’re linking up with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap

WeeklyWrap

Weekly Wrap #19: 4/4 – 4/10

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? We’ve been busy this week! Travis had most of the weekend off so we took advantage and caught up on some projects around the house that needed done. We tried to fit in some yard work but Mother Nature had other ideas. The seasons are apparently backwards in Upstate NY. We’re still getting inches of snow at a time, followed by 40 degree days. It’s a mess!

springforward

I’ve been keeping busy working on a baby shower that I’m hosting for a good friend of ours next Sunday. I love party planning, and would totally do it as a job if I could! However, due to our busy schedule the last few weeks, I’m having a hard time getting everything done.

On Saturday, Travis and I spent almost the entire day in Syracuse. For Christmas last year he had gotten me tickets to see Luke Bryan, Little Big Town and Dustin Lynch and the concert was this past weekend. It was nice to have some time away and the kids had a great time with their babysitter! We spent some time shopping, had Hibachi for dinner and then headed to the show. The act of getting to the show was a little challenging though! It was held at the Carrier Dome which is in the middle of Syracuse University’s campus, so there isn’t any parking near by. The parking garage that was suggested was going to be a nightmare to get to with traffic so we opted to park over a mile away and walk. Our seats were fantastic! They were just above floor level and off the side of the stage so we had a perfect view. The concert itself was awesome. It started at 7:30 and we didn’t leave until midnight!


Here’s a look at our workouts from last week:

Travis: On Monday, I had the opportunity to answer a few questions for Runner’s World magazine in a short article they posted about the Syracuse Half Marathon titled Syracuse Half Marathon Runners Go Through HailI’d encourage you to click the link and watch the video from the race. Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

Although there were a few edits to my training plan this week, my mileage was good. The first came on Monday, after the Syracuse race, when my legs felt like Jello from running in the snow, so I removed my afternoon run of 4 miles. The second edit came over the weekend as my schedule did not allow me to do my long run on Saturday, so I flipped Saturday and Sunday’s runs around. The final alteration came during my long run on Sunday. I have been having a problem with blisters during this training cycle and this weeks long run was no exception. I only made it through 13 (out of 20) miles before a massive blister formed. I stopped my run, came home, bandaged my feet and slowly limped through the remaining seven miles on the treadmill with a fresh pair of socks and different shoes a few hours later.

Monday: 8 miles @ 8:37 pace

Tuesday: 2 mi. warm up; 5 x 1 mi sprints w/ 1:30 rest; 2 mi. cool down

Wednesday: 6 miles @ 8:29 pace

Thursday: 10 miles @ 7:21 pace

Friday: Rest Day

Saturday: 8 miles @ 8:03 pace

Sunday: Part 1 – 13 miles @ 7:42 pace

                  Part 2 – 7 miles @ 8:37 pace

Total Weekly Mileage: 61 miles

 

Jen: This was an easy week following the Syracuse race last weekend. My legs didn’t feel as trashed as I had expected them to but the runs we’re still kept light for recovery. The focus is shifting to Buffalo now as we’re about 7 weeks out.

Monday: Off

Tuesday: I ran one easy mile and walked another just to loosen up and followed it with a ton of foam rolling

Wednesday: 3 miles

Thursday: 3.5 miles

Friday: Off

Saturday: 3 miles

Sunday: Unplanned rest day. We didn’t get home until 3 am after the concert and I was completely wiped out all day yesterday.

Total Weekly Mileage: 11.5 miles

We’re linking up with Holly and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap

WeeklyWrap

NYC Marathon Weekend Recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and the start to your work went went smoothly. I’m now back home from my weekend in New York City and ready to share with you my experience.

I ran the NYC Marathon with Team Up! with Autism Speaks, my second event with them after Chicago in October. I arrived to the area late Thursday evening and stayed with a close friend in New Jersey for the weekend. On Friday morning we hopped on the NJ Transit and headed into the the city for the race expo.

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We arrived at the Javits Convention Center and headed straight to packet pick-up.

There was absolutely no line and I walked right up to receive my bib – 7870.

After receiving my race bib we headed further into the expo starting with the race merchandise section. This area was absolutely huge and crowded as ever. I tried to take a picture capturing the scale of merchandise but my photo does not do it justice.
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I decided against buying anything here for two reasons – I preordered what I wanted and the checkout line took over an hour!! We continued making our way around the expo, stopping at booths, taking pictures and even talking with Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World. We spent about three hours exploring the expo before we left and took a subway to Central Park to visit the finish line.

Central Park was a fury of activity with crews and volunteers preparing fencing around the finish line, completing the finish line area, setting up medical tents, grandstands and hauling the supplies and gear needed on race day. Add to that the visitors to the park and the NYC Marathon Pavilion located near the finish line and it was pretty crowded. The pavilion included race merchandise, photo opportunities, and a stage with guest speakers and video presentations.

After a while we found our way back to the subway and headed to Times Square and the Hard Rock Cafe for the Team Up! charity dinner. Dinner was delicious and served up with inspirational stories and speeches from runners from all walks of life. I met one person, Chris Beck, in Chicago last month as he continues to run all six Abbott World Marathon Majors in one year for Team Up! and enjoyed getting to catch up again before this race. I would encourage you all to follow him on his journey – Instagram and Twitter @IRunForOwen.
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My day was almost over but first I made a pit-stop at Junior’s to pick up a slice of cheesecake for the wife. On Saturday I did absolutely nothing. I mean that in the most literal since of the world as my Garmin only registered 2,600 steps for the whole day. I spent most of the day on the couch with my feet up while I hydrated and watched television. I made sure to get my gear ready for the next morning and I was in bed early.

4:00 a.m. comes early no matter how much sleep you get, but luckily I was excited for the race so getting up was not an issue. After getting ready and eating a simple meal, we loaded up and headed to Meadowlands Stadium to catch the participant bus that would take me to the starting village on Staten Island. I arrived and loaded onto the first bus leaving and was on my way to the starting line.

As my first New York City Marathon experience, I thought the villages were well organized, well staffed with volunteers and believe it or not had plenty of porta-potties. The lines, at least where I was, were short with under a five minute wait. I wasn’t thinking ahead about blogging but I managed to remember to take a few pictures. My corral, Wave 1 – C, opened at 9:00 a.m. and I was one of the first through and right at the front.
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After entering the corral, I decided I was warm enough to remove my extra layers and as soon as I did something amazing happened. Individuals noticed the Team Up! shirt I was wearing and would come up and introduce themselves and share with me that their child has autism. They would wish me luck, some snapped a photo with me and then would go back to readying themselves. One gentleman in particular, running his 10th New York City Marathon, talked with me until the cannons signaled the start of the race. It was honor to meet each and every one of you.

The cannons blasting early in the morning signaled the race was underway. I crossed the start line 1:10 after the elite men, and that millisecond in time was the closest I’ll ever be to an elite!! The race, as always, was a blur.

For three hours plus I took in the sights of the five burroughs, listened to the roar of spectators, the awesome music being played on the course, dodged spectators crossing the course with strollers (seriously people?) and struggled with the painful realities of running a marathon.
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One of the best runners in history, Emil Zatopek would say: “if you want to run a race, run the mile, but if you want to experience something, run a marathon.” Experiences cannot be explained in a short blog. They must be lived. The New York City Marathon is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I encourage everyone to live it themselves.

Unfortunately the race was not my best. I struggled with the difficult course and my legs were zapped of energy; possibly the byproduct of Chicago 20 days earlier. I struggled after mile 18 and it tested my mental and physical strength. Getting a text from my wife towards the end helped get me across the finish line. I finished in 3:28:39. It wasn’t the race I wanted, but it was the race I was blessed with.
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I struggled with what to say about my race while writing this post, and then I found words very fitting. Written by Elizabeth Maiuolo, Development Director for Team Up! Autism Speaks in New York, she said, “The marathon is not about running a fast time, the marathon is about survival, it’s about showing up and measuring up to the challenge, it’s about the fight of the human spirit. It is tough, but you showed you are tougher. A marathon is a daunting task every day, no matter if it’s your first or your 10th, it is always hard. That is why the achievement is so special.”

She’s right. Some of the most inspiring stories are not mine or the winners; I’m inspired by those who couldn’t finish, but gave everything they had. I’m inspired by those who finished hours after the crowds had gone home and the streets grew dark. I’m inspired by those who helped others reach the finish line, sacrificing their personal goals for the collective.

New York was not a goal at the start of the year, I hadn’t even attempted entry. A profound chance of luck allowed me the opportunity to experience the world’s largest marathon. It truly is a wonderful, challenging race deserving of the World Marathon Major title. I’m grateful to Team Up! for the opportunities this year and look forward to races with them in the future.

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