The NYC Marathon is huge. It is getting close to 50,000 runners. To accommodate all those runners and ensure everyone a safe and comfortable start there are three start lines and three start times. At some point all the runners have to come together and that point is mile 8.
The first time I ran NYC in 2007 it got a bit congested at mile 8 and I fell off my pace. Overall, it was a minor inconvenience but it was annoying. I really did not like mile 8. When I ran NYC in 2009, the course changed very slightly to help ease this congestion. I give NYRR a lot of credit because if something is even the slightest bit broke they fix it. The fix was easy, just take a righthand turn at the next street which is wider. So in 2009 I mentally prepared myself to deal with mile 8. I was expecting some congestion and decided I would just roll with it. If my pace slowed, it slowed, I was not going to bob and weave through the other runners to stay on pace. I figured it is a long race, I can make it up. Much to my surprise, when I got to mile 8 in 2009, I saw the other runners merging with me but my pace was unaffected. The change of streets had worked perfectly.
Mile 8 is now one of my favorite turns in the race. I consider it the first turn although it really is not. You will take a few turns coming off the Verrazano but then you run straight for five miles along Fourth Avenue. As you start to see downtown Brooklyn in front of you, you know the mile 8 turn is coming. For some reason turns always give me the feeling that I am making progress. At mile 8, I like the feeling that the full race is finally together on one course. I am not quite sure why, but it gives me a little boost. Perhaps it is because I feel Queens getting closer and I know I will soon be able to check off another borough.
When I was out on my long run last Saturday I realized it was my fifth long run in a 16 week schedule. I concluded that if I back out the last three weeks because they are my taper, I only have eight more weeks that I really have to work hard. So essentially I am halfway through training. As I am typing this, I am realizing that is a bit of a disturbing thought to have on a long run. Granted it was raining and I was in a bit of a sour mood but week five is too early to be counting down. I think this is just my way of making marathon training appear manageable. Afterall, the eight weeks are going to fly by.
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