Don’t forget where you started. The 2016 was my first NYC Marathon, my aim was to break four hours. I completed it in 3:59:11 finishing 12,954 out of 51,274 runners.
Shortly afterwards I’d recently started working with Coach John I had gone through several training cycles. I was targeting sub 3:15 for my second NYC Marathon in 2018, where I finished in 3:22:03 placing 3,758 out of 52,706 runners.
My goal was to run sub 3 for my third TCS NYC Marathon. I crossed the line in 3:00:19. I’m 20 seconds closer to my goal. I placed 1,595 out of 53,508 runners. Earning a marathon PB, a course PB and Boston qualifying on the hardest of the three courses (Manchester, Berlin, New York) I’ve run this year.
I continued my work with performance mindset coach Duncan. The main benefits I gained from working with him, was learning to be more mentally prepared in training and the marathon.
A key thing Duncan did in our conversations was never to just give me the answers, he’d use questions as a way to enable and encourage my ability to problem solve, and I took this into training and racing.
Whilst mindset training is important, it’s something that you add on top of the physical work, which is built first. You can’t think positive for the work you haven’t done.
For Berlin I ran a disciplined race and made a conscious decision not to be gung ho, I finished feeling like I had more to give rather than feeling like I had blown up.
For NYC I wanted to be slightly braver, so it was a balance between pushing and being relatively sensible. I’d run the course before so I knew how tough the rolling course would be once I got to the latter miles.
I used the stopwatch on my Garmin watch as my guide. I had memorised and written down target paces on my arm as I crossed certain mile checkpoints.
Having a plan to be physically and mentally prepared for the marathon is essential. However there may be the situation where a challenge arises from the left field, and you have to problem solve in that moment.
This happened to me, I had my race mantras planned, which I set between my fuelling breaks. But the reality was it didn’t happen like in the same way as Berlin. From mile 3 – 20, I had some intermittent stomach issues, and for about 2 hours all I was thinking wasn’t my mantras it was … Just don’t shit yourself.
A sensible person would say STOP, there’s plenty of portable toilets so just use it.
But I’d talk myself in and out of needing to use the portable toilets, as I was focused on that sub 3. I’d tell myself just wait for the next toilet. So I’d convince myself to slow down and that it would pass (pun intended).
It will move you
Around mile 8, I spotted my photo from 2016, behind the band playing which is always humbling and amazing to see. However… The accompanying text said “It will move you” given my GI issues, any movement talk wasn’t what I needed!
I almost regretted the decision not to take a bathroom break, coming over the Queensboro bridge, one of the busiest parts of the course… I was hailing Mary, and praying like I never have, promising to be a better human being once I finished the race blah blah blah.
Whilst I’ve lost a degree of self modesty, being sick at the Manchester finish line… this GI issue was a step too far, to actually happen.
But I thank the Lord that I didn’t need to stop for the bathroom during the race, without any Imodium’s. From mile 20 – 26.2 my legs were very angry. Trying to convince them to move was like watching the Brexit process going through.
I rolled the dice and tried to push, even though I just missed my sub 3 goal, I have no regrets, because I know I gave it my all. Running the pace I did on a flatter course would had been a sub 3 run, so I know it’s possible and will go again in 2020.
The weather was perfect and as usual the crowds, the bands were incredible. This still remains my favourite of the six majors and if I could, I’d run it every year.
For the Berlin Marathon I was focused mainly on the time, and took my eye off enjoying the process. Even though I achieved a PB, I didn’t really celebrate or enjoy the experience. All my race photos looked so damn serious, and I had to change things moving forward.
I was determined not to replicate this in NYC. In training I’d remind myself that I don’t HAVE to run, that I’m healthy and I GET to run. That all those ordinary training days were building for an extraordinary day on Nov 3 2019.
So I definitely enjoyed the post race, eating a lot of Jamaican food with a few beers, and caught up with other runners.
One of the great things about running is I get to meet lots of people that I wouldn’t meet in my ordinary life. But we share common traits, such as enjoying a challenge, having a sense of adventure and seeing what their best looks like. Below are some photos of the people I caught up with.
Including Ron who completed all the six Abbotts World Marathon Majors this year, we recorded an interview to be released soon on @runchats_with_ronrunsnyc
Plus it was great to meet some current and former pro athletes. Paula Radcliffe, MBE is a three-time winner of the London Marathon (2002, 2003, 2005), three-time New York Marathon champion (2004, 2007, 2008), and 2002 Chicago Marathon winner. She was previously the fastest female marathoner of all time, and held the Women’s World Marathon Record with a time of 2:15:25 for 16 years from 2003 to 2019 when it was broken by Brigid Kosgei.
Ryan Hall holds the U.S. record in the half marathon. With his half marathon record time (59:43), he became the first U.S. runner to break the one-hour barrier in the event. He is also the only American to run a sub-2:05 marathon (2:04:58 at the 2011 Boston marathon). Hall won the marathon at the 2008 United States Olympic Trials and placed tenth in the Olympic marathon in Beijing.
Mary Keitany is a seven-time World Marathon Majors winner, including four wins at the TCS New York City Marathon. In 2019 she finished second place.
Thanks to everyone who sent messages, following my race progress, it was humbling to read them all post marathon.
Thank you all.
- John – Running coach
- Duncan – Sports mindset coach
- Friends & running community support
- Prodirect Running