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The 2009 NYC Marathon

OCTOBER 29, 2009
Every year is different.  On Sunday I run my 4th consecutive NYC Marathon.  My first, in 2005, I ran with blind enthusiasm.  As I got to the end of the race I could not believe how hard it was.  Bloody toes and a pulled hamstring ached as I trudged through those final miles.  The aftermath was exhilarating and I was addicted to running.  The races that followed that first marathon, the whole next year, were all geared towards running faster.  I ran all my quickest races that year.  Training was great (until I fell down a flight of stairs and dislocated my shoulder) and at my second race I ran fast and all was well until I collapsed at mile 25.  45 minutes later I crossed the finish line.  The year after that race was a year of finding why I liked running again.  I’ve never been knocked out as a boxer, but I’ve watched fighters I’ve admired get knocked out and never fight the same after.  This race made me understand the loss of invincibility.   This is hard to overcome.  That year I re-evaluated my health issues and got a hold of the blood pressure and ran races wearing a monitor to make sure I wasn’t going to keel over mid race.  I got a doctor’s clearance to run the race just before my 3rd marathon.  The race was an easy and even day.  I loved it.  So, the question is what to do this year?
After one of my winter races. To qualify for the marathon one must run 9 NYRR races plus volunteer for one.

First, I am an artist.  I make my living with my artwork and this year I was reminded of what all the years of hard work were for.  Now, was my running a healthy pastime or a career distraction?  I boxed through much of my early career so running is just my new thinking time away from the easel.  The second thing I had to get past is the annoyance of aging.  I began running at 40 in earnest.  For males at 40, the pace per mile averages decline each year.  Despite the training and diet, I am running against a biological reality that I despise.  My times for most of the year were all slower than previous years.  In recent weeks as my legs healed a bit, my times are faster again.  Still, father time seems to be ruthless. 

So, what is interesting to me is running knowing that times will decline as time moves on.  2009 was a year of long runs.  I started half marathons in February and ran one in Austin and then made sure every weekend to get one in.  All through training since June I’ve run more miles than previous years.  I guess it’s my way of thumbing my nose at aging.  If my times are going to not improve then I won’t help them by letting up on the training.

I walk around with multiple ice packs on my legs after races but don’t take painkillers.  I want to feel if anything is wrong.  This training period there was knee tenderness, an Achilles that ached a ton, and shin splints.  This week I have a sore groin muscle.  I try to keep calm and trust that on Sunday I’ll be just fine.  The weather seems iffy so this one may be the year I run in the rain, so I’m looking forward to that.  (Eyes roll)

Early morning, pre-race at the Austin Half-Marathon in February

This is from the year I passed out. I don't look at these images much. I can see the fatigue. I also overdressed and I tried in vain to tear my shirt open to cool off. On my hat is a little photo of Cassius. I was already feeling morbid about my run that year. I'm glad I lived to tell the tale.
In this photo you can see Fort Wadsworth to the left and the start. ON the road to the left is the GREEN corral. They run UNDER the bridge. IN the center is the ORANGE corral and they run on the left of the bridge on top and the lower group is the BLUE and they run on the right. I'm ORANGE this year. You can see the buses stacked end to end to funnel the runners into formation. The race starts with a cannon shot.
This shirt says it all for my running obsession in my house.

Still, I love this.  It’s a really amazing experience and it’s hard and at times painful but no other race compares to it. 

The night before I eat a ton of pasta and bread and a sweet potato.  Salt on everything.  I drink water all day.  At night, I TRY to sleep but most marathon nights it’s hard to fall asleep.  4 hours for me is common.  I wake at 5 and put on all my gear and go to Staten Island to sit at Fort Wadsworth from about 6- 9:15.  At 9:40 I start off. 

I don’t know what my time will be this year but I have a cheering section at 5th and 93rd street and I should be running by around 1 to 1:15 pm.


On the artistic side of this post, I just completed an important painting that I’m really into, and will post it here after the race.  I think I needed to do it to show myself that I could also pour my passion into my artwork.



Anyway, wish me luck.

I’m looking forward to beer again.