NYC Marathon 2018 Race Report: Part 6 — Takeaways

It feels weird to say that a race I didn’t finish was a success, but this felt like a win in a lot of ways. NYC definitely was a learning experience.

  • I love the marathon. Even in the miserable parts — and there were a lot of those — I was thinking “OK, so next time I need to do X and Y and … so I’m better prepared.” I’m not going to move to training for two marathons a year most years and focusing on that over all other races, but I’m definitely planning on running many more marathons.
  • One big thing: I learned what I didn’t know I didn’t know, like the precise pacing strategy given how I had trained by effort. Coach B gave me a plan, and it made sense to me — until about Mile 4. Now she and I both have a better idea of how to break down pacing for something like this. and I have a better idea of how the race should feel at various points.
  • My mental training was insufficient for the challenge, in part because a lot of what I’d focused on really needed me to understand what effort/pace I should be doing at that time, so when that fell apart on me, I didn’t have enough alternate strategies to compensate. Again, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Now I do, or at least have a better understanding.
  • The rolling hills were not something I really noticed as a challenge, but were definitely something that would have been a challenge for me (even over a shorter distance) a year ago. I’ve worked more of those rollers into my regular training routes, and it’s paying off. Sometimes those bits of progress come so gradually we miss them until we have a bigger chance to look back, and it’s good to do that periodically.
  • I had two original thoughts about running a marathon, back before Larry inspired me to run NYC and work moves pushed me to start the 9+1 process right away: I needed to be faster before I trained for one, and I needed to lose weight as part of that. I didn’t get where I wanted to on either of those goals in 2017 and the first half of 2018, and a lot of that was me not being willing to do what it took. When I was doing better with focusing on getting leaner early this year, I had a mindset when I made choices: “Is this something I’m going to be glad I did at Mile 20?” As the year wore on and training turned into surviving the summer swelter, I drifted from that. But now I’ve been to Mile 20, and I can look back and say for sure: No. Almost none of my not-great choices were worth the misery in the later miles. And being far enough back that the sweep buses could psych me out also was not worth it. Since I now know I love the marathon distance, I’m ready to make the decisions to put me in a position to be miserable because I’m trying to race up to my training, not being miserable because I didn’t train as well as I’m capable of.
  • That doesn’t mean I was under-trained or badly trained for NYC. Even for elites, the marathon is a distance that takes a few times to really understand. I came a long way from November 2016 to Sunday. I don’t know that I could have managed more because I was building in so many ways. But now that I know what I didn’t know, I also know how to build on my current level of training to get to the next level — or levels.
  • My original plans for 2019 were geared to that next level: Getting stronger, getting leaner and being selective about my races, including postponing Marathon No. 2 until spring 2020 so I could build a better chassis and continue the strong aerobic engine development that really amped up this year. Nothing that happened in NYC changes that. I want to earn that Marathoner status, but not enough to shortchange the development I know I need to be able to run them at the level I want to run them.
  • Professor Badass has talked about her route from a  5:30 marathoner to a BQ involved a complete change in her lifestyle and mindset. After NYC, I understand on a gut level how true that is, but also how worth it that will be. It won’t be easy, but the rewards are worth it. I keep coming back to my favorite mantra from yoga: Om Namah Shivaya. This call to Shiva, the Destroyer, translates to “We celebrate the dance of energy that is creation.” Often times, we have to tear down what exists to make room for what we want to create, and that’s true here. I have a lot of habits that won’t help me achieve what I want that need to be replaced with habits that will get me there. But to get there, it’s worth it.