Thursday, November 18, 2010

Homecoming: The 2010 NYC Marathon
Part IV - The Bronx, 5th Ave and The Finish

Coming to Terms with Da Bronx

Ever since my first NYCM, I've always thought of the short jaunt through the Bronx as a visit through my own personal hell. In past years, I've cramped here, I've walked here, I've even once thought about DNF'ing here. It's no wonder then why I continue to have nightmares about this place well in advance of the race. This time though, as I strode confidently into the belly of the beast, the underworld of the Bronx, shortly after the 20th mile, I was not at all worried about my legs or my pace. I was more concerned with finding my Flyer friends on the left side of the road coming off the bridge and then running back to the right sidelines to find my other group of Flyer friends right before the next bridge.

But find them I did and I was able to double-high-five both parties (of two each) prior to exiting the borough in the 21st mile. My times for both the 20th (7:33) and 21st mile (7:07) were very pedestrian at first glance but they actually represent one of the fastest times I've ever recorded running through here. My effort was helped out by a Flyer lady teammate DC who called out to me as she was running. I was a little shocked to see her there. Since her self-reported projected time was about 10 minutes slower than I'd figured I'd run today, I didn't know whether she was having an exceptional day or whether I was just running exceptionally slow. In either case, I was reminded by her presence that I should run faster in earnest just because I could.

Reaching the Madison Ave Bridge, I found myself running back into Manhattan at a faster pace than I did when I left a couple of miles ago. I was grateful that my legs held out well for the most part through the borough that had always given me such trouble in the past. Although my legs were started to grow a little weary and my hamstrings a little bit tight, I was happy to know that the finish line was just a 5 mile jog through Central Park away.

Hi Five Tally for The Bronx - 3; Total - 24.2

Running with Lil Bro on 5th Ave

The crowds were spilling onto the streets by the time I made my way back to West Harlem and back on 5th Avenue. Between pedestrians trying to cross through the marathon route and runners cramping and walking along the course, I had difficulty finding much running room on this stretch. I kept my eyes peeled to the left side for my brother who I was expecting at mile 22 to jump in and run a mile with me. As I looked around, wondering if/when he was going to show, I felt myself wondering if he'd be able to hold my speed now that I was running sub 7 minute pace again.

At mile 21.8, right before the course hits Marcus Garvey Park, I spotted my brother, gave him a high-five and he jumped in to run with me. Actually, I believe it was my cousin J who first spotted me out on the course and had the wherewithal to record this video documentation of my brother joining me in the race.

To this day, I have no idea how she managed to turn on the videocamera at the exact moment as I was coming through. (Major kudos to Cuz for the shot!)

Tackling the 5th Ave Mile with my brother was a major highlight of this race for me. Not only have I dreamt about this exact scenario on many occasions in the past, but now that it was actually happening here, in between the 22nd and 23rd miles of the NYC marathon, which in the past versions of this race have been dedicated to my brother and my sister respectively, made the entire experience very surreal for me. We ran easy, we ran fast, and we passed more people (including Minnie, a fellow teammate, and a CPTC'er!) than I ever though I could running uphill on 5th Ave. At times, it felt was as if we were rollerblading while everyone else was standing still! Yes, it felt that good. We held a strong pace until I bid him adieu at the entrance to Central Park at Engineer's Gate. Mile 22 in 6:56. Mile 23 in 7:09. It was the best two miles EVER!

Finishing Strong in Central Park

After leaving my brother in the outskirts of Central Park, I maintained a strong pace all the way through to the end. In my mind, after mile 23 was passed, it was just a 5K to the end and it was for the most part downhill. I stopped for a second or two to hi-five two twitter/DM friends Sam and Madame Erica in front of Cleopatra's Needle but otherwise it was pretty much an all out sprint to the finish. Although the objective data weren't very impressive (Mile 24 in 7:22, Mile 25 in 7:18, Mile 26 in 6:59), it was the fastest closing stretch I've ever run in my hometown marathon. Not only so, but I also managed to cross the finish line in sub-3:05, which was a loose time goal I had when I was planning this run out in my head.

Hi Five Tally for 5th Ave/Central Park - 2;
Final Count for NYC Marathon - 26.2

After The Finish
The post race festivities were awesome as many teammates and I gathered at a local bar to share a few pints, show off our medals and regale each other with our race stories. The best post-race moment for me though came immediately after the finish when I met up with my brother and cousin after the race and they asked if I had seen their sign. "What sign?" I asked. Then they hi-fived each other, laughed and showed me this.
It was the best sign I NEVER saw while running the New York City Marathon!


lindsay said...

lol at that sign! guess it's a good thing you didn't see it :)

loved the video! had to laugh at your bro hopping in with his bball shorts on. he will learn from the master! (meaning you, in case you were confused)

Anonymous said...

hahah to that sign! great video too.

i love that your brother jumped in like that for those 2 miles. awesome :)

Marlene said...

Wonderful wrap-up to the series!

I got goosebumps watching that quick vid where your brother jumped in. TOO COOL.

Congrats again on a strong a memorable homecoming!!

aron said...

SUCH a great report as always but this one was even extra awesome. so glad you got to have such a fun victory race on your home turf and got to run with your brother too. congrats again :)

chris mcpeake said...

great video and report

Anonymous said...

Great video and the priceless! Homecoming is the perfect title. :)

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