After conquering the courses in Boston, Berlin and Tokyo, Coach Pani is now on his way to Chicago and New York.
To read Part 1 of this journey click here.
To read the second part click here.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the Chicago marathon has the highest elevation of all the WMMs? The course is known for its fast times and run through 29 unique neighborhoods.
The Chicago Marathon was first held on 25th September 1977 and is always held on the Sunday of the Columbus weekend.
This was my 2nd WMM in 2017 and having gained entry via lottery, I arrived in Chicago 6 days in advance. The weather was great, and I did two 10K runs alongside the Lake Michigan to get accustomed to the beautiful city of Chicago and spent some time touring the city.
The marathon starts and finishes at Grant Park and is broken down into 3 Waves and different corrals.
Wave 1: Corrals – A, B, C, D, & E. Allocation based on the verified qualifying times.
Wave 2: Corrals – F, G & H. Allocation based on estimated finish times.
Wave 3: Corrals J, K & L. Allocation based on estimated finish times.
On race day, I woke up by 2 AM, took 2 tabs of Fast & Up Activate / Reload in 500ml water. An hour later I had a banana, bun with jam and another round of Activate / Reload tabs in 500ml water.
@ 5 AM, I jogged down to the Metra station on 56th street (about 1.4K) and got off at Van Buren Station and walked to the start line. I had to wait to deposit my luggage at the Gear Check because the weather was freezing.
Individual corrals are allocated a colored gear check (Red, Blue or Grey) and in my case, I was allocated a Red Gear Check and Corral D. I did a short warm-up jog, some drills and waited for my corral to start. We had a 03:35:00 pacer in our corral and since I had the same target pace in mind, I decided to stick with the pacer.
7:45 CST – it was kick off time and as planned, I followed the pacer for 2K. The first 2K split were 05:36 and 05:28. My goal was to maintain an even pace of 05:00mins from the start and hence I decided to break away from the pacer. I was going well until the 33rd kilometer when suddenly my hamstring and right calf started to cramp. I took it easy for a bit but 4K later, I increased my pace and finished the race in 03:34:44.
47TH TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON: 05TH NOVEMBER 2017 (50,761 FINISHERS)
The world’s largest marathon weaves itself through the city’s 5 boroughs ending at Central Park thus giving you an opportunity to enjoy the full NY city experience.
The marathon was first held on 13th September 1970 and is now held on the 1st Sunday of November.
My 5th WMM and 3rd in 2017. More than 50K runners took part with nearly 42% being women and is the only WMM which has seen more than 50K finishers 3 years consecutively.
I got entry by submitting my 2016 Berlin timing of 03:33:04 since the qualifying time was 03:34:00 for my age category of 60-64yrs. I arrived 3 days ahead of time, collected my bib and did some typical NY city sightseeing. I stayed close to the NY Public Library, from where the buses take you to the start point (Staten Island).
The run kicked off with the Elite women followed by the Elite men with a 40minutes difference between the two. At the start, there are 3 points distinguished by Blue, Orange & Green colours with corrals from A to F.
Wave 1 (Color Blue, Orange & Green, Corrals – A to F) starts at 9.50 AM
Wave 2 (Color Blue, Orange & Green, Corrals – A to F) at 10.15 AM
Wave 3 (Color Blue, Orange & Green, Corrals – A to F) at 10.40 AM and
Wave 4 (Color Blue, Orange & Green, Corrals – A to F) at 11.00 AM.
The Blue and Orange Corral runners run over the upper deck of the Verrazzano Bridge and sometimes have to tackle strong winds. The Green Corral Runners, on the other hand, run on the lower deck of the bridge. All the three-color start runners will meet at Mile 8 and run together. The Waves and Corrals are allotted to faster runners first and then to the slowest runners at the end. I was allotted the green wave 1 Corral F with a start time of 9.50 AM.
The morning of race day, I woke up at 02:30hrs and did my regular ritual of hydrating and eating a small snack before leaving the hotel. At 05:00hrs, I walked for about a kilometer from the hotel to the New York Public Library and stood in the queue to catch the bus to Staten Island. The buses were loaded in no time and departed in quick succession. They were checking our bibs and the wrist tags before letting us inside the bus. The journey took more than 60 minutes to Staten Island. Each color starts have mobile toilets, bottled water, hot beverages, food (bagels, bread, bananas) medical tent and helpdesk. There were big screens displayed where we got to watch the start of the wheelchair and women elite flag-offs. Regular announcements were made for the start of different waves, colors, and corrals with the corral gates opening up at their respective timings. In the wait for my start time which took close to 2hrs, I had some more snacks and hot coffee. I had carried one extra layer of clothing to be discarded at the start and it came very handy while waiting in that cold weather.
Now came the flag-off for the Elite Men’s category at 9.50 AM(local time) followed by waves 1,2,3 and 4. Since I was running in the lower deck of the bridge I wanted to take it easy as I just finished the Chicago Marathon less than a month ago. Every 5K there is a timing display which helps you to adjust your pace if required. Though I was running fast I wanted to see how far I could hold that pace. Till 35K, I felt comfortable with my pace and then it was a struggle all the way to the finish. The second half becomes a little tricky towards the finish at Central Park. It is a gradual uphill for almost 2K and the humidity levels also increase and literally struggled to cover that distance. If you see my splits you can understand better (10K – 47:33; HALF – 01:43:25; 35K – 03:05:29; 40K – 03:39:38; FINISH – 03:55:32).
Throughout the route, you can see the spectators cheering the runners. It’s a great course to run on except as you approach the bridge as there is a slight inclination. After the finish, I had to walk more than one kilometer to collect my baggage. I was very tired and couldn’t walk but slowly managed and reached the hotel.
For the future, I plan to be back in 2020 for the 50th TCS New York City Marathon.
The final part of this journey is here.