Scroll all the way down to the end of the post for the tl;dr version.
I started training for the 2017 New York City Marathon back in July using one of the plans in Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger. It’s been a tough training cycle, mostly due to the hot weather. Physically, I’m holding up well, though. I’d like to run a sub-3:30 marathon in November but I’ve struggled to hit goal race paces in my workouts. This race would be my first opportunity to see what marathon pace might be for me. The week before this race, I ran hard through Wednesday and then had two easy days.
- 10K PR: 42:41 (6:51 pace) at the 2012 Clarendon Day 10K.
- Most Recent 10K: 46:43 (7:30 pace) at the 2017 Lawyers Have Heart 10K.
Achievable: Sub-49:00 (7:52 pace). I managed sub-8:09 pace during my last tempo run. I thought 20 seconds/mile faster would be reasonable even with the heat.
Stretch: Sub-46:00 (7:23 pace). This would be slightly faster than I ran my last 10K and would indicate some improvement since then, which would boost my confidence.
Strategy: Start off at 7:23 pace and run it as long as possible.
I couldn’t find a course map online! The course is an out and back on Dulles International Airport‘s Runway 1R. The elevation was zero. There isn’t any crowd support because – it’s on an airport runway! There was one water stop at the turn-around.
I didn’t see anything on the website to indicate headphones were prohibited, so I created a playlist with 46 minutes of music.
I hadn’t done this race before and wanted to get to the race site an hour before the 7:40am start. I’d registered for the race a while ago, which was good because it sold out. I woke up at 4am, which was just under 6 hours of sleep. I had water, coffee, and peanut butter toast for breakfast and then left the house a little after 6am. Parking was at The National Museum of Air and Space Udvar-Hazy Center, which I’d never visited. I knew it was near Dulles Airport (obviously), but turned on Waze for navigation assistance. I made good time to the race site. The parking lot was ushered and well controlled. As I headed to the Udvar-Hazy Center, I noticed there was a security check. I went back to my car and left everything except what I wanted for the race to avoid any hassles.
I arrived at the race staging area by 7:15am. There were port-a-potties to the left and then bag check and packet pick up to right. I got my bib quickly. I took a risk and didn’t go to the bathroom before the race. Instead, I did warm-up laps in an open area away from the crowds. I walked over to the “Finish” line assuming it was also the “Start” line with 10 minutes until race time. Since this was a small race, I lined up pretty close to the line. With very little fanfare, we were off at 7:40am!
It would be 60 degrees at the start, which seemed downright pleasant given how hot and humid it’s been this past week! Winds were calm, too. But, humidity was about 90%.
Early Miles – Miles 1 to 3
The problem with small races is that I end up behind sub-6 minute runners. A few yards down the runway, I checked my Garmin and it was showing 6:50 pace! I didn’t panic, though. I gradually eased off the effort until I was closer to 7:20 pace. Despite warming-up before the race, my hips were a little sore at the start. I wondered if the hard surface was irritating them. I noticed the runway was a little sticky on this stretch. At the time, I guessed it was tar but after researching this later, it might have been rubber deposits.
The tarmac widened just before the one mile mark and I encountered the 5K runners, who started 10 minutes before us. Looking ahead, I kept my eyes on a male runner in an Air Force shirt who had passed me moments before and two women who started ahead of me – one in a white tank top and another in a crisscross strapped sports bra. The crowd cleared when we hit the straight-away on the runway.
I stayed as close to the cones as possible. I felt there was a slight wind so I tucked behind runners at different points along this stretch. The 5K runners split off around our two mile mark. The runway seemed never-ending! I focused on picking off runners ahead of me but not running too much faster than my goal race pace.
Splits (by course): 7:24, 7:24,7:16.
Later Miles – Miles 3 to 6.24
I hit the lap button on my Garmin at the Mile 3 marker and a few strides later, was on the turn. The one water stop for the race was on this backstretch. The woman in the crisscross strapped sports bra ahead of me grabbed water but I ran through it. Moments later, on the home stretch, I passed her. I looked ahead and next up were Air Force runner and a woman with a pony tail. They were pretty far ahead so I took in my surroundings as I worked to reel them in. I glanced to the right and saw a plane landing. I was very glad I had music because there wasn’t much to focus on. As I drew closer to the pair, I realized the woman with the pony tail was actually a guy. I pulled up step behind him and let him pace me for a bit. At the 5.5 mile mark, the course re-joined the 5K route but we were separated from them by cones. The woman in the white tank top was getting closer. I told myself, “You can catch her! Don’t give up!” But, I had my doubts. There was a lot of course left and she was still running well. But with about a quarter mile to go, I passed her! I started to kick thinking maybe, just maybe, I could catch the next woman in front of me. I hadn’t noticed her earlier. But, the runner in the Air Force jersey sped up, too and it momentarily demoralized me. I regained my composure, though, and dug a little deeper. I was closing! But, she crossed the finish line a few seconds before me.
Splits (by course): 7:21, 7:08, 6:56, 1:41 (6:29 pace).
I crossed the finish line and my stomach was seizing so strongly that I thought I was going to throw up. I went over to a grassy patch and bent over until the nausea passed. I walked over to the post-race refreshments and the line was long. I opted to get my bag, sit down, and wait for the award ceremony. On my way out, I finally grabbed a water, banana, and a cereal bar.
My time was 45:08 (7:14 pace) [Log Details]. I was the 34th finisher overall out of 740 (top 5%), 4th woman (top 2%), and 1st in my age group (top 2%). I missed placing 3rd for women by only 4 seconds!
The top finishers received round-trip tickets from United Airlines! As an age group winner, I received a pint glass and $25 gift certificate towards breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Dulles Airport Marriott. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I’m not sure it will get used.
I thought this was a well-organized race. I enjoyed the unique opportunity to run on an airport runway even through the scenery was a little boring.
I crushed my race goal! I didn’t expect much since my training times have been so slow. But, I tend to race better than my training would suggest. For race prediction, the McMillan Calculator correlates the race to a 3:31:45 marathon but the VDOT table in Daniels Running Formula puts me around a 3:28 marathon.
The 2017 New York City Marathon is only six weeks away! I only have three weeks of hard work left until I start my taper.
Next race: 2017 Army Ten Miler on Sunday, October 8th. (My Complete Racing Schedule.)
This was my first race of the 2017 New York City Marathon training cycle! The course was completely flat and the weather wasn’t terrible. I ran fairly splits. I started picking off runners mid-way through the race. I moved into 4th place at the 6 mile mark and was seconds away from out-kicking the 3rd place woman at the end! My time was 45:08 (7:14 pace) – almost a minute faster than where I thought my fitness was!
Time=45:08. Splits=7:24, 7:24, 7:16, 7:21, 7:08, 6:56, 1:41 (6:29 pace). Overall pace=7:14.