THE “LEG” MILES
Mile 11 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
“Don’t bring the people to the races,” (Fred) Lebow said. “Bring the race to the people.”
I continue onward on
I finally saw R.H. at the end of this mile together with her roommate, screaming wildly and cheering like madwoman dressed in oversized plastic glasses and puffy feathery dresses. “This must have been their leftover costumes they didn’t wear to their Halloween party!” I thought to myself as I approached them. I chuckled, gave them a hearty big wave and cruised on by.
Mile 12 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
One day his sister asked him. “Why do you care so much about strangers?” Lebow responded…”There is no such thing as a stranger; every human being is special.”
Maybe it’s a defense mechanism. Or maybe it’s the delirium that accompanies running on for so many miles. I’m convinced though that there are stretches in the tough middle miles of a marathon where the mind will play tricks on you. It’d make you perceive things that are not really happening or go through emotions that would seem out of place and irrational otherwise. It wants to make you alter your plans or stop you dead in your tracks even when everything’s physically fine and you’re having the time of your life.
I should have been so happy at this point in the race. I had stuck with the game plan and had run quick even miles while expending very little energy. In fact I was running faster than I’ve ever had in a marathon and still felt I could have sped up a bit more if I had wanted. I just saw one of my spectating friends with promises of more to come once we hit
But instead, I was downright miserable. Up ahead, an Italian guy was playing helicopter with the crowd, weaving in and out of the road to slap the hands of all the youngsters cheering from the sidelines. He looked so happy swerving left and right and entertaining the spectators with his antics. Another foreign runner was posing for pictures with a mob of his
In order to stop the floodgates from opening up, I made a promise to myself that one day, after I’ve hit that running plateau that so many others have warned me about, I will run this marathon course slow, perhaps with a friend, just to dance to the music, play with the crowds, eat all their free giveaways and generally see all that I’ve missed out on in all the years I ran this marathon for a BQ or a time. Yeah, that’d be nice.
Mile 13 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
“The thing that sets
The crowds are more boisterous and loud in this part of
One country that I did visit this year was
Once I was out of
Mile 14 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
A marathoner is obsessed with details. Miles, minutes, split times, weather, calories, aches, pains, blisters, black toenails, heart rate, lactate threshold, sleep hours, ice baths, training partners, races, courses, shoes, energy gel, Gatorade flavor, feelings—it is all log material. Past performance must instruct the future.
In many ways, running through the ethnic neighborhoods of
Coming upon the 13.1 marker, I was almost giddy with anticipation to see what my time for the half would be. Before the race, I had made a nominal goal at the start to cross the halfway point under . This time would not only be the fastest half in a marathon for me, but also provide a good barometer to gauge the second half effort. With short strides and a relaxed posture, I crossed the timing mat at . I felt a slight exhilaration upon seeing the yellow digits flash up on the timing screen. Not only was this more than a minute faster than what I ran last year, I was actually on pace for a sub 3 hour marathon – if my body wanted it.
The significant of this moment was not lost on me. I remembered a time not so long ago when breaking the benchmark for a half-marathon was both a physical and psychological barrier for me. Although I’d get close on multiple previous occasions, it took me more than 2 years, over 7 different tries for me to finally conquer that time. During those days when I would habitually break down in the final two or three miles and finish a minute or two over the 1:30 mark, I seriously thought that I’ve ever be taken seriously as a runner because I was neither fast enough or strong enough to make my time. And now that I’ve done it multiple times, and for the first time in the first half of a full marathon no less, I felt grateful for all those who’ve stuck with me and wouldn’t allow me to give up on myself.
As I crested and fell over the bridge and took my first steps into hometown
Mile 15 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
“I don’t have a coach, I don’t have a manager, so I have these arguments with myself,” Ramaala said. “I tell myself when it’s time to go.”
Like a pack of migrating pigeons, we landed ourselves in my hometown of
Given the lackluster scenery and uninspiring nature of the crowds, I for one have checked out of this place barely a mile into it. Mentally, I’m already preparing for the challenge of the
Mile 16 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
“It’s like coming home,” Radcliffe will explain (referring to the
I reach the bridge and the first thing I notice is how quiet and dark it is here. There is no talk, there is no light. There’s not even a water stop or a poster ad to break up the monotony of this uphill mile. Other than the opening mile at the entrance to the Verrazano, this is the steepest incline on the entire marathon course. For me, this serves as the unofficial half-way point for the marathon. Although there is no banner or marker signifying it as such, I have come to realize that my efforts after this point will have as much to do if not more than anything I did up to this point in determining my final time. In essence, the key to the city serves as the key to my race.
I, like the rest of my fellow compatriots, are forced to focus on our thoughts as we migrate like nomads over this bridge. At the midpoint of this brutal climb, I start to feel some pain in my right knee. I have slowed down considerably since crossing the halfway point, but refuse to succumb to the temptation of slowing to a crawl. In my mind, I have confidence that the pain is only temporary and is accentuated only by his steep mountainous journey. Instead of fixating on the fatigue and pain, I chose instead to hold my form, stay relaxed and recollect and reflect on all my positive running accomplishments since I was last at this point one year ago.
Mile 17 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
“You really feel like everybody’s there cheering for you,” Harrie (Bakst) will say. “You’re running this race with 38,000 people, but it’s almost like the spotlight is on you.”
Having crested the bridge, I can hear the thunderous cheers of the
I was still recovering from the tortuous climb when I ran down the off-ramp and exited onto the streets of
I gathered myself quickly though after reaching
Mile 18 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
I progress northward on
As I prepared to run pass each of these checkpoints, I told myself to avoid the temptation to linger but keep a good pace moving through. The object was to leave everyone with a good impression, even if internally, I was doubting my ability to maintain my focus and my pace. I was slowing down now with each successive mile, and even the promise of free beer on the house by my favorite bartender wasn’t able to motivate my legs to drop the pace again.
Given all that was going on, I’d say I completed my run through this emotional mile very admirably. I didn’t drop off the pace too much and found and greeted everyone I was supposed to at all the designated place. The only person I missed was my friend SS who brought a kickass sign for me that I somehow missed. She’d tell me afterwards that she spotted me flying by her looking faster than what she’d imagined at this late stage of the marathon. I’m hoping she’d bring her sign out next year so I can get to see it first hand in a race.
Mile 19 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
“His (Fred Lebow) whole thing was to make people happy,” Sarah added. “He got people volunteering for nothing, for maybe a T-shirt.”
I left the last of my designated cheering squad at the beginning of this mile and now am on my own for the rest of the journey, at least until
Physically, I was a bit beat up now, but not suffering any excruciating pains in any one area. My legs were sore, as I would assume they would be at this point, while the pains in both my feet never crept up beyond a mild soreness and tingling. Pacing wise, I had settled into the min/mile zone for the past three or four miles, which meant that sub-3:00 was now out of the question. Still, I was excited that my pace has remained only in the 7 minute range, which meant that my sub-3:05 as well as my sub-3:03 goals were still within reach.
I allowed my legs to carry the pace so my head can be focused for the challenge staring right at me…the
Mile 20 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
"I recall the
There are certain miles in a marathon where conquering the distance is more of a mental struggle than it is a physical one. Mile 20, for all intents and purposes, was that mile for me. It wasn’t so much that there was any tangible reason for this mile at this point to be so tough. It was more the vivid memories of past performances during this stretch that haunts my race today. It was here in my first marathon that I first physically broke down and had to walk and eventually crawl my way in to the finish. It was here in my second marathon that my pace completely dropped off and it took all of my energy and strength just to keep it together for the final 10K. Now, as I prepared for battle a third time around, I hoped that these past experience will prove more of an ally than an adversary.
I gulped down a GU and tossed the empty packet aside as I cautiously take my first steps across the
I arrived in the