"If Chicago was your VICTORY dance, then New York City should be your HOMECOMING!" A friend had suggested this a week or so ago when I was still too exhausted from 10/10/10 to think about my own motivations for running this race. After all I had already achieved my big hairy audacious goal (or BHAG) earlier this fall so I have every right to run this race with no expectations and no goals. The curious thing though is that as race day appears closer and closer and I find myself running less and less (in the spirit of the "taper"), I have begun to secretly question what NYCM means to me and what I hope to accomplish in this, my fifth version of the race. That's when I realize that I'll never be able to run a marathon with no objectives or goals. Even if times and pace are not what I'm after, I still must have a set of criteria or measurements of success to focus and chase after that is applicable and worthwhile to me. Otherwise, a marathon will be no different than just another 26.2 mile training run, with a few extra friends and spectators along the way. Not only so, but this is the NYC MARATHON, the biggest of the big city marathons. Hundreds of thousands have tried but not many actually get to run this spectacular race. Running to Central Park from the depths of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in Staten Island the first Sunday of every November has become a sacred annual pilgrimage for me. As those who have run it will say and those who have not run it yet will soon find out, the NYCM is a special race unlike any other.
Towards that end, to commemorate my 5th running of this race, I'd like to present:
My 5 Goals for the 2010 NYC Marathon
1. To Have More Fun Than I've Ever Had - In each of the four previous times I've run this race, it's always been about times and goal paces and PRs and BQs. For the first time on this course, I want to run this one for FUN! Although I will not run in costume or hop off for lunch on 1st Ave, like some have suggested I do, I plan to have the most fun I've ever had regardless of time. Just how I'm planning to have my fun is for me to plan and for you to find out on race day.
2. To Acknowledge and Greet as Many Friends as I Can - Ever since Chicago I've been thinking that marathons are a lot like weddings. Although the planning and execution falls on the actual participants, the main purpose of the actual ceremony and reception is to announce and celebrate the occasion with fans, the family and friends who've supported the couple all along. Similarly, I want to share the joy of running NYCM with friends and spectators who'll be lined up in various sections of the course. I've never been the best at spotting friends or acknowledging crowds in my previous marathons. I hope to change that this time around.
3. To Run More Consistently Than I Ever Have in NYCM - By now, everyone knows that NYCM is not an easy course to run. There are massive bridges to climb, sharp turns to navigate and tough hills to conquer. However, I believe that having run the course four times before, I have somewhat of an advantage on the mean streets of NYC. So one of my goals this year will be to negotiate this course and maintain a stable consistent pace throughout. If I can keep my mile times all within a 30-second window between the fastest and slowest mile, I would consider that a victory for me.
4. To Run One Mile with My Brother...His Mile on 5th Ave - To date, none of my immediate family has ever come out to watch me run this race. However, this coming weekend, my little brother will be out there among the spectators to see my run. To commemorate this momentous occasion, I've asked him to accompany me to run just a mile, HIS mile, on 5th Ave. I'm hoping this will inspire him to run a little farther a little faster so that one day in the near future we can tackle the entire 26.2 mile distance together. I'm hoping anyway.
5. To Crush FIfth Avenue - I've always had trouble with this long slow uphill mile along the side of the venerable Central Park. From my first marathon where I had to crawl 2 city blocks here to reach the medical tent (to fix my cramped up legs), to last year's version where I was on pace for sub-3 until I fell apart and had to walk a portion of this hilly route, I have always thought of 5th Avenue as Mile 23 or the place where dreams die. However this year, I would love nothing more than to return the favor and beat Fifth Avenue with the help of my brother and friends. If I can escape the jaunt at anything faster than my slowest mile up to that point, I would claim victory over my NYCM archnemesis, the Fifth Avenue Mile.
Now that I've got my goals set, I think I'm ready for NYCM! In six days, I will be running again. It will be GAME ON! I can hardly wait.