'It was twenty years ago....redemption ~


Life in the Fast Lane 

It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.........

  Well ok, it was not twenty years ago today but it is almost the twenty year anniversary of perhaps my single greatest racing performance of my life...not in terms of winning, I have been blessed to win my fair share of track and road races, in fact on this occasion I did not even meet my expected time goal but oh, on so many levels I surpassed every goal I set for myself and perhaps on this day in 1997 I realized for the first time that I could now legitimately call myself an elite runner, or at the very least, an athlete with an elite mindset.....

    Seven years earlier at age twenty seven, I was a marathon, and indeed a racing virgin, fragile and unsure, lacking in confidence and experience both, mostly running scared more so than running and definitely not racing, just surviving.....

    In the seven years that followed from my first marathon, my first New York Marathon in 1990, so much had changed about me~ my location, my environment, my goals, my desires, my will, my determination, my friends~ I morphed from a weak minded distracted individual to a person on a mission not willing to let anything or anyone stand in my way...the marathon in New York in 1990 did not change my life, it gave me a life !

     So much had gone wrong in that first race, looking back of course it is no surprise, if I were coaching that runner from then now I would have scoffed at the choices and arrogance of someone who had no business even attempting a marathon but the one saving grace, the one thing that I did do that stoked the fire was that I did finish the race. I am quite certain that if I had not, I would not be where I am today, sitting writing this blog to you my reader. But finish it I did and I now returned to New York for my 9th marathon having run 4.41.43 back in 1990....this time seven years later I was looking to run 2.35 or better...I had run 2.42 one year earlier in NY and was so comfortable in doing so in perfect conditions that I actually went on a cool down run in Central Park post race...I had intentionally not run a marathon in the Spring of '97 preferring to focus on working on my shorter races distances on the road and track...I had worked into the low 16's for 5k and got my mile time down to about 4.37 (both these times would drop greatly in 1998), I raced at the National Masters Championships in San Jose California, raced extensive summer track and felt ready to take on the marathon distance once again later that year.  With the help of great training partners since the spring of 1996 and the help of my excellent coach Greg Brock I was now heading back to New York a different person and a different athlete.

      However come race day in 1997 the one thing that is always beyond our control is the weather...as you can see from the finishing picture below, the light was dark before 1pm, a nor'easter had come to pay a visit and wreak havoc on the best laid marathon plans....The final week of preparation had gone really well staying with my sister slightly upstate New York and I was at ease traveling by bus to the start with friendly runners from the Rockland road runners club..

       The great Bart Yasso, a good friend of mine and the Chief Running Officer of Runner's World Magazine has famously stated that the New York Marathon is ten minutes slower than the other major international city marathons....is it ten minutes slower? I am not sure, it is open to debate but for sure it is several minutes slower....to run a sub 2.35 on this course I think you have to run a low 2.30 effort of another course such as Chicago. Now add into the equation gale force gusts, torrential rain and downpours and consistent rain and black as night skies and I would say to run the 2.42.21 as I did on this occasion (ten seconds faster overall than in 1996 in significantly worse conditions) I believe I ran the equivalent to a 2.26-2.28 marathon performance...in the picture below you can make out a runner about five meters behind me or so..I met this runner as we so often do on the course and we raced together mile after mile after mile, creating that never forgotten bond, I do not remember his name and I doubt he remembers mine but I do remember that he ran 2.32 in a Belgium marathon earlier in the year and as we hit mile 25 right around the Plaza hotel on Central Park South we both went into overdrive, neither one of us wishing to concede, no longer racing 'partners' but now true racing adversaries, in the spirit of true competition and through the driving rain and across the puddle laden road surfaces of CPS and Central Park we hammered away, as we hit the 26 mile marker I remember having such confidence from all the speed workouts Coach Greg had given to me and from all the track races I had raced earlier in the Spring and Summer and I knew I was going to win the mono e mono battle..and win it I did, finishing up what I truly consider to be my most complete and gutsiest of races in my twenty six year career....2.42 was not what I traveled across country for but the parts far outweighed the sum and no coincidence that following on from this performance I went on to have my most successful training and racing year of my career in 1998......#runtallruneasy #eldragon

#NewYorkMarathon #distancerunning #RunTallRunEasy #Marathon #NewYork

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