The race predates 2012 so I’m going to go back to the 2011 NYC Marathon, the moment Sam, Oliver, Yehuda and I decided we were going to try and qualify for the 2012 NYC Marathon. We didn’t know it at the time, but it wouldn’t be as easy as we thought it would be that day.
In order to qualify, we would have had to post a 1:23 or better for the half marathon (or a 2:55 for the full marathon) before January 31 of 2012. We figured that January 29 was as good a time as any and we heard that Miami offered a notoriously flat course, and so we set our sights on this race.
The 4 of us went about training for the race differently – Yehuda approached the race through much rest, Oliver had a more laid back schedule, running when and how he felt like on each particular day, and Sam followed some plan, I think, after taking a week off after XC championships 10 weeks out.
It being 10 weeks out, I felt there was no time to lose and jumped right into training.
4 weeks later, I sprained my ankle in a wrestling match, which forced a 16 day break for me. I returned to running on January 1, running the midnight run very painfully. That day, I put in 13 miles. The following week, I logged over 40 miles.
Much to my dismay.
The following week, 3 weeks to race day and counting, my iliotibial band decided that I was working him too hard, too quickly, and rebelled. On every training run (in Miami, at the time), I was forced to walk after 5 miles. On one long run (a 12 mile goal at the onset), I ran 4.75 miles, felt the pain, and turned around to walk home. I managed to run a 9:00 pace after a bit, and that was relatively pain-free.
There I was, 2 weeks to race day, with a swollen IT band and much less than the requisite fitness I would need to run a 1:23 in 2 weeks for 13.1 miles.
So I tapered.
More accurately, I sat around and did nothing, hoping my body would respond positively to the overwhelmingly crippling amount of rest I threw at it.
6 days to race day, last Monday, I decided I would see if my body was thankful for the rest I had bestowed upon it. Maybe my IT band wouldn’t rear its ugly head, causing me to complete my run with the walk of shame I detested so. How wrong I was. I ran 3.5 miles, fine, no problem. Turned around and stopped at a red light 1 mile later. There I was, 4.5 miles into my 7 ez, unable to move once the light turned green. My leg wouldn’t uncoil.
I limped (crawled?) 7 blocks to the closest train and dragged my sorry butt back home, vowing to minimize my movements until that Sunday – race day.
My trip down to Miami (hotel, meals, transportation, coaching) was all provided by the charity I chose to raise money for – Emunah. The faction I chose in particular was the Israeli orphanage house Bet Elezraki. I’m still a little short, so if you’d like to donate, click here. Sam decided to raise money for the organization that Yehuda introduced us to (therefore, Yehuda was running for them as well) while Oliver decided to foot his own bill.
Additionally, my little brother Shaya would be running the race for his second year in a row and our grandparents came down for a week just to cheer us on! Thanks very much grandma and grandpa.
Thursday night we flew down, Sam, Yehuda and I along with teammates Gabe and Adam from the men’s team, and Rose, Baila, Meirah and 2012 XC-hopeful Rebecca. Rivky and Pessy would be there too, running for themselves.
The expo on Friday paled in comparison to the NYC Tri expo and the 5150 Iowa expos, the only other expos I’ve been to, but they did have some hidden gems. I picked up a pair of CEP compression socks which I’d been looking into for a little while and a pair of running shorts (Frank Shorter running gear is comfy and light!).
We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton hotel and ate by the Mimosa.
Sunday morning, I woke up at 3. I used the restroom, showered, shaved (not face, just legs/body) and used the restroom again.
I woke Shaya at 3:30 and got dressed. Shorts, check. Tee, check. Sweats, check. Rivky was staying a few blocks away so I took a short jog over there for our pre-race meeting. It was way too hot for full sweats so I lost the pants.
At the race, we changed into flats, lubed up with some body glide and checked our sweats, tee, trainers and everything else. Because I was so nervous about my IT band deciding to make a comeback, I lathered the entire upper outside part of my right leg in atomic balm (similar to ben gay) most generously.
Sam and I made our way over to the port-a-potees where neither of us experienced much success. Today wasn’t starting off on the right foot.
We pushed our way to the front of Corral C (Corral A was for wheelchairs and Corral B were for wheelchairs. Corral C were for slowpoke MOPers) and somehow miraculously found Oliver. My goal was a 1:23, their’s a 1:19. Also notable, Rivky somehow found me in that mix. She’d be running the full with a 3:23 goal.
The handicap athletes took off, followed by the pros 5 minutes later…followed by us 15 seconds later.
As soon as we began, I had lost track of Oliver and Sam which didn’t bother me as I hadn’t been looking for them.
6:40 (6:35 goal, +/- 5 sec.)
This mile was slightly uphill, so I paced conservatively. The mile was right on pace. I didn’t know how foolish it was at the time, but I had adopted an 8k race strategy for the half marathon. At the start line, I told Sam and Oliver over and over not too go out too quickly. That it was 13.1 miles and there was plenty of time to make up lost seconds. Unfortunately, I seriously overestimated my current fitness level and severely underestimated the effect of the last 6 weeks’ relative inactivity on my body.
This first mile would have been awesome if my body were ready to run a 1:23. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
6:18 (6:20 goal, +/- 5 sec.)
Like I said, I had strategized as if I were running an 8k and decided to get into my race rhythm early on. A terrible, terrible mistake on my part. What if I ran a 6:30? What if I ran a 6:40? That games fun, but it won’t get anybody anywhere. This mile had a slight downhill section to it and a long, sullen stretch of bridge with water beneath us on both sides. Running required much less effort when I ran behind/next to another runner/pack of runners.
By now, I was already dropping pace. The first half of the mile went by easily enough but then I felt the humidity. This was coupled with the runners ahead of me (somehow. How were they doing that??) keeping pace, thus opening me up to random gusts of wind which would eventually die down…and remind me of the humidity. We were still on the bridge, and for the first time of the day (night?) I was ready to quit.
The mile ended on land, which made absolutely no difference to me. I looked at my watch, and much to my chagrin, I was behind schedule. Instead of settling in and re-evaluating my goals (Primary, 1:23, Secondary, 1:25, Tertiary, 1:30), I saddled up for a long day.
I didn’t know it at the time of course, but mile 3 would be the last time I recorded a mile in under 7:00. My pace began slipping and despite my best efforts, I was passed left and right. There were times where it felt like runners were crawling through my legs and leaping over my head. Nothing hurt yet, but my breathing became extremely labored and I was in a very uncomfortable place. I turned my watch to time mode, resolved not to look at it again the rest of the race (a little too late) and decided to run on feel.
I wouldn’t feel comfortable for another 3 miles.
I felt like I was running fast, but knew I wasn’t. I was drinking at every aid station, water first then gatorade, but I couldn’t get enough. I would grab one cup water, drink it. Grab another water, then quickly grab gatorade. Drink the gatorade, pour the water over my head. I had over-heated very early on and could not cool myself down. My breathing was beyond labored, but I focused on keeping efficient form.
This race was taking me for a ride I’d never been on before and I was ready to get off.
Pace was still slipping but I didn’t know it. If I knew, I doubt I would have cared. At some point, we ran across Collins ave. and 14th street. Our hotel was on Collins ave. and 43rd street. The amount of restraint it took to not turn right and continue up Collins, just coast the last 3 miles home, was superhuman. And that’s being conservative. My desire to quit was so strong that the only thing able to keep it in check was my desire to race in NYC.
That, and I’m not a quitter.
This mile had a few turns in it which gave me a chance to switch up my stride rate and my gait a bit. The result? A little faster of a mile. I was starting to feel better, if only a bit. I know it’s an oxymoron, but I was getting chick’d and ak’d and I didn’t mind. I was just along for the ride. I *think* this was about the time the sun was rising. I sucked down a gu packet at the start of the race, chased it with a bit of water, but was a bit skeptical of what it was doing for me at this point. Regardless, I wore these shorts for the pocket in the back, and so I may as well slurp up the other one I had with me. Unfortunately, the aid station I thought I saw up ahead was actually just a group of people cheering in yellow shorts. Nice…
I made a funny face at a photographer and tried to enjoy the trip.
We began to hop islands, connected by bridges. I didn’t notice the minor inclines and descents. I didn’t notice anything. My quads began to hurt. My left ankle began to hurt. My ankles and calves were compressed and quite happy about that too! Thankfully, my IT band had yet to even knock. It could have been the 2 painkillers I took when I woke up…
My pace slipped, but my spirits climbed higher.
We continued to island hop. The Rivo Alto Island preceded the Di Lido Island. Then came the Di Lido Island, Venetian Island, San Marco Island and the Biscayne Island. We followed the Venetian Causeway this whole time. I figured I had 4 miles left and every time I passed a mile marker, I caught a glimpse of the time. I knew my 1:23 was over, and so was my 1:25, but I (must have been given the water with a little special something in it because I) thought 1:30 was still within grasp. So I picked up the pace as mile 9 came to a close.
1:30 wasn’t within grasp. Not even close.
Working off my momentum built up in mile 9, I picked up the pace a bit. I was still over-heating, and it was only getting worse. I didn’t care. Less than 5k left, I was just going to empty the tank. I saw the Emunah Coach, Robyn, at some point, and as she pumped her little legs to keep pace with me, she asked me how I was feeling. “Fine.” She told me to keep pace, I was almost there. “It doesn’t matter, it’s over. I’m just gonna give it everything. Do or die.”
She, along with everything else, slowly faded into the distance.
Now that we were back on the mainland, there were huge clumps of cheering parents, sisters, friends and all other types of fans. They didn’t do much for my time, but they helped me forget about the pain that was quickly collecting in my legs just above my knees. Which each step, my legs felt heavier and heavier, and I realized that a 20:00 5k would be impossible to achieve.
For that matter, any one of my goals would be impossible to achieve.
I was just going through the motions now. I was waiting for it to be over. I was losing patience with this thing, I was tired of getting my butt kicked, and I was tired of the heat. I was tired of being chick’d and I was tired of men with more scalp than hair showing dart past me as if I were standing still. I had severely underestimated the half-marathon and I was paying for it. I just wanted to go home.
But I wasn’t done yet. I still needed to run 1 more mile.
This should have been my fastest mile. My legs were shot. My head was spinning. I was over-heating. I was dehydrated. I was not having a good time and I wasn’t enjoying the “cheering zone” (read: first false finish), the band playing some type of muzik, of which type, I have no clue (read: second false finish), or the timing mat (read: third false finish).
I saw grandma at the 13 mile mark, and she gave me the Israeli flag.
I ran the last tenth with the flag in my hand and flew it over my head as I crossed the line. I heard Dave Scott, “Representing Israel, Eli Fuld!”
That was cool.
Afterwards, I got 2 massages, met Ryan Hall, drank a beer before 9 am, and then met Rivky to give her the flag. She didn’t notice me as she blew by to clinch 1st in her ag and 24th in the women’s race with a phenomenally quick 3:22, qualifying for NYC.
Oliver ran a 1:24:05 for 7th and 75th. Sam ran a 1:23:58 for 5th (podium) and 69th.
None of us qualified.
- Didn’t take the distance seriously
- Raised money for Israeli orphans
In 2013, I’ll be back, 10 pounds lighter, and ready for a 1:25-1:30.