THE “HEART” MILES
Mile 21 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
“Running in the
In all the marathons I’ve run so far, I’ve found only one universal truth. Everyone dies a little at Mile 21. For most there isn’t a physical death per se, although some experts might argue that the instantaneous transition to alternate fuel sources once all glycogen stores have been depleted constitutes as metabolic death at the cellular level. Rather there is an emotional and sometimes spiritual fight that occurs in this mile that forces the marathoner to confront his or her own faults and weaknesses. Whatever the consequences of that battle are, afterwards, there is a portion of the former self that will forever be gone.
There was a part of me that wanted to just die in the
I eventually begin the climb over the bridge out of the
Mile 22 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
The marathon distance is nothing if not merciless. Those 26.2 miles—especially the final six, where the real race begins—have the ability to expose even the slightest of injuries and create new ones.
I’m passing by
As a method of distraction, I chose to look around and soak in the sights. The crowd was dense and the mood festive in this corner of upper
Mile 23 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
“I am convinced that you can go through a lot more when you are physically fit,” Grete (Waitz) said. “It is both physical and mental. With the athletic background, you think more on the positive side—you can do this.”
After deriving pleasure from the cheers and good wishes offered all through
But just as in other venues of athletic performance, from the depths of some horrific circumstances can sometimes be found the most beautiful of life experiences. For every year, at this time, in this mile, when I’ve gone too far to just drop out yet am still not close enough to visualize the finish line, when I have perhaps overextended myself and have questions and doubts as to whether I should even be here running this race, I turn to talk to the one person who’ve always been there for me, encouraging me, pushing me forward, through any and all of life’s toughest challenges, especially at mile 23. I’m speaking of course of my little sister. (For those who never had the pleasure of meeting her, I’m sorry you missed out..you all would have really liked her…she passed away from a car accident when I was 10 and she was 8) I have extremely deep, personal, and emotional conversations with her every time out in mile 23 and she responds in kind by inspiring me, guiding me, and teaching me a few things I hadn’t yet learned about myself. So I know for a fact she’s listening. I only wish she were alive to see my run so well because of her, she would have been so proud.
Mile 24 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
If you allow yourself to say that maybe you’re working too hard, a lot of the times you’ll say that over and over again and then you’re not going to work hard enough. – Stephen Shay (brother of Ryan Shay)
After recovering from the emotional catharsis of the last mile, I finally reach Engineer’s Gate and make the turn at 90th into
If ever there was a place I’d call my running home, this would most definitely be the place. For it is within these hallowed training grounds, once roamed by legendary and current greats like Alberto Salazar and Anthony Famiglietti, that I learn, practice, and display my sport almost invariably each and everyday. And although some may find it a bit dangerous and congested with cars, bikes, runners and pedestrians all fighting for the same two lane road, it has always suited my purposes just fine.
But even for someone who is as familiar with the park as I am, I can’t help but be shocked and a bit overwhelmed by the sight of hundreds of spectators packed like sardines behind barricades cheering me on while watching me run. I hear my name being called out and am startled. I look to my left and see my dear friend D.S. off to the side waving her arms and yelling my name. I wasn’t expecting to find her out here today, so to have spotted her right in the Park was definitely a huge surprise. For a moment, I remembered back to a summer ago when she told me I inspired her to pick out new running shoes after a long time off from the sport. At the time, that was a turning point for me for that was when I really understood how this simple little exercise can have far reaching benefits way beyond my own.
Towards the end of the mile, as I reached the back side of the Met, I find my cousin J.K. and her boyfriend stationed on the grass off to the left. She had made a sign for me with my name in giant block letters for all to see. It felt just a little embarrassing but so exhilarating at the same time.
Mile 25 (Mile Time – ; Total Time – ; Average Pace – )
“It’s about going father than you ever thought you would have to go. You have to go way beyond, to a point where you are uncomfortable.” – Rich Bakst (2007 NYCM finisher)
Someone’s holding up a sign that reads “Pain is temporary, glory lasts forever.”
I’m flying down Cat Hill and running towards the lower east end of the park. I knew I was in store for a big P.R. but just didn’t know by how much. I’m extremely sore, but otherwise surprisingly strong. I continue to pass by hordes and hordes of walkers and joggers who are fighting to finish what they’ve started. Some are hanging on to the metal side barriers for support. Others are stretching out different body parts with the help of loved ones and strangers out on the curb. I stare at the
In my mind, I was perplexed by how even among this pact of faster runners, all moving at better than B.Q. marathon pace, there’d still be so much bonking, walking, cramping, and limping. Hadn’t they practiced this distance before? Didn’t they have a contingency plan for if something goes wrong? What’s the point of starting so fast if all you’re going to do is limp to the finish? I felt somewhat sorry for them as I calmly glided by, like a race car speeding past the competition to take the checked flag.
Mile 26 and The Last 0.2 (Last 1.2 Miles – ; Final Time – ; Average Pace – )
I am trained for this. In my mind I am going to fight to the finish. – Henrik Ramaala
I exit the park and take the right onto Central Park South. By the time I get here, I’m physically and emotionally spent. There are markers counting down the distance now; one mile to go, then 0.5 miles to go, then 800 meters, then 400 meters. I know they were meant to be informative for the greater running community, but when I saw them so straight forward and blunt, I couldn’t help but feel as if they were directly speaking to me, poking, taunting and pleading with me to sprint the remaining distance.
I passed by the spot whether a past champion once took an early turn off course, had to be redirected back and still had enough to recapture the lead and win the crown. At that moment, given my level of exhaustion, I thought about how likely I would’ve made the same mistake if a barricade wasn’t already set up there to obstruct the way.
I eventually do make the final turn back into the park. At 800m left, I decide to bear down and take off towards the finish. I close my eyes for one final time. In my mind, I am Paul Tergat running the final 0.2 miles with Henrik Ramaala in the form of two nearby Russian runners hot on my heels. I start to make out :XX on the clock above the finish line and make it my goal to finish before . I speed up some more, clearing out whatever reserved energy I had left. I count off the final steps as I cross the finish line under 3:03….officially, 3:02:20…capping the epic journey and my 3rd NYCM with a 6 minute P.R.!