Ran my 10th NYC marathon today, and it was actually in the top 2 of my favorite races at this event. A friend of Richie's, a guy named Tommy who went to high school with him and whom I have met and run with a few times, was again at the race with a group that Richie assembled for his Team For Kids team. Richie donates every year to the charity and as a result of the size of his generosity, he is awarded with a handful of race bibs to assign. He generally tries to get friend, family, and old high school track and cross country teammates to run. I have been the beneficiary of a few of those race entries.
Anyway, Tommy asked me before the race this morning, if maybe we could run together as he was hoping to get a Boston Qualifier of 3:25. His best time was last year at 3:29. I really had no specific goals for the day, and decided in the moment, to pace him and as the day unfolded, I am so pleased that I did.
He wanted to be conservative and run 7:45's to 7:50's early-on, but the day was really favorable weather-wise, and we found ourselves running closer to 7:30-7:35 pace. Most of the time, I allowed him to sort of dictate the pace, and I mainly just tried to keep us steady - and encourage him along the way. The effort was completely manageble for me and my HR was in the mid to high 140's which told me I could have gone faster. I thought that perhaps if the pace turned out to be too much for him and he dropped or needed to really slow to a walk, I could possibly finish out going faster. But that never happened. And as the race went on, I was completely comitted to getting him across the finish line with his goal time or better.
Tommy was a grinder and stayed with it; a very tough runner. I was so impressed. He only had a couple of late miles that were closer to 8 mins - but never worse. When I was doing the math, I thought we had the chance of getting under 3:20 and really insuring that he would get into Boston with more than just the minium qualifying time. I never said anything to him but knew it was going to be really close at the end. I ended up crossing the finish line at 3:19:58 and was bit disappointed to find out that his time was 3:20:01. Nevertheless it was a PB for him of over 9 mins.
The pacing role I had today, really gave me purpose and was quite fulfilling to see how well he ran and that I played a part of it.
My daughter Riley also ran today - her second marathon - and though her training had some set backs - she had a decent race at least for the first 20 miles or so. The last 10k was a struggle, but I was equally impressed with her determination and resolve to finish on what turned out to be a tough day for her.
Finally, it was last year that I did this race and had a very difficult time that later likely turned out a couple of weeks later to have been as a result of a significant blockage in one of the key arteries to my heart. I ran 30 mins faster today and felt great. As we crossed the Veranzano Bright in the opening miles I really took in the views and reflected on what a difference a year has made and felt very blessed.