In the last few days before NYC, it seemed like potential-catastrophes were waiting for me nearly every day—just stupid shit that, any other time, I probably wouldn’t do, like, ya know, cutting myself shaving my legs so badly that I could feel the stinging 12+ hours later (insert fear of amputation here), or cutting my toenails and inadvertently taking off half of one (insert fear of… toe amputation here), ya know, things that fall under the self-inflicted-bodily-damage-that-would-seriously-implicate-a-marathon-performance category. With the controlled chaos that is the backdrop to my life right now, I felt like NYC was almost an afterthought for those 21 days between 10/13 and 11/3. I kept running and training immediately after 10/13 because I knew I had another mary coming up soon, but what I wanted to do in said mary was anyone’s guess.
In the final 10 days leading up to the race, I had no idea what I wanted to do at NYC. Chicago was my goal race, and though I was (and am) incredibly, incredibly happy about the PR, those 6 seconds stung and pissed me off enough that I thought I should try again to go sub-3:20.
I didn’t want to be greedy, but I knew that I could do it. I could feel it, my workouts pointed to it, and the idiotic and novice mistakes I made in Chicago cost me the time I wanted—not because the fitness wasn’t there. And? Probably most importantly? Even if I hesitated to admit it, I had physiologically recovered from Chicago. I don’t know how, I wouldn’t necessarily advise anyone to do what I did, but I just somehow knew (felt?) that there was still something left, that some cards were still in my mary 2013 hand that I needed to play before saying “enough.”
Going into NYC, I knew the course was decidedly different, if not also significantly more challenging, than Chicago, and that a super-tight 3 week turn-around time from race day to race day wouldn’t necessarily be in my favor…but my interest was piqued. Maybe this is denial, or arrogance, or something else entirely, but something was up, an idea that I couldn’t shake. For the months leading up to my Chicago-NYC dance, the goal was always to work in Chicago and play in NYC; hell, I was even entertaining the idea of not wearing a watch in NYC and just shooting for a sub-4. In fact, I distinctly remember in Chicago that I had begun bargaining with myself, saying if you work your ass off here, NYC doesn’t matter.
But by about Wednesday of race week, 10/30, I knew that I was going to try again and go for it. Some good conversations with a handful of run buddies, as well as my frequent ruminations about the idea during runs in those final ten days, set me over the edge.
Once I actually started to verbalize this goal, whatever fear or intimidation or thoughts of Erin?! What the hell are you doing?! immediately disappeared; strangely enough, it was as though a burden was suddenly lifted off me, a burden that I had placed there all by myself and that no one actually cared about but me. It suddenly became a fact of life, not a scary or terrifying idea, just something that I was going to be doing in NYC on Sunday morning, with 45,000 of my new best friends, and to an audience of a million strangers lining the city’s streets. It was just there, something that I needed to do before partying with my Bootlegger buddies (#BRC) in Manhattan Sunday afternoon and evening.
For what it’s worth, I have never thought of attempting to break a marathon PR (on a fast or challenging course) like this before.
In a fast and furious text message exchange with Austin Friday morning, when I was on a bus en route to the expo to meet Corey and Lynton, I finally put to words what I had been mulling over in the week leading up to NYC but hadn’t yet really said:
I’ve been waffling for a while and finally was just like…dude…fuck it. No point to hold myself back here for fear of ____ (insert BS reason here). The training is there, I’m recovered, I know I can do it, and I know I can run tactically and strategically on a course like this that requires it. Maybe that’s arrogance or naivete or a combination therein, but I won’t know I can do this until I try (again). Run and race and live without regrets, ya know.
I guess I finally realized that I have this awesome opportunity again, and all the variables are in my favor, so I’d be a fool not to go with it and see what happens.”
So. That was the plan.