July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The 2021 NYC Marathon: Part 2

11:18 start. I’m running over the Verrazano Bridge. It’s both surreal and real.

The incline goes for a mile but feels like it will never end. If you have ever run on a treadmill, you know what I am talking about.

Mile 2—I exit the bridge and a group of New York’s “Strongest” are standing on a section of the ramp that we mere mortals cannot access.

They called out to me, “Ironman, Hey, Tony Stark!”

(Harbinger of things to come?)

Totally.

Mile 3—Hello Brooklyn! I’m over the Verrazano Bridge. I’ve exited the entrance ramp and I was running in the streets.

With the winds coming over the bridge, I was cold when I started the run.

“Now I’m overheating.”

(So, toss off your sweater)

What sweater? I’m running in a costume.

(Why?)

Keep reading, you’ll see.

Mile 4—I grab a cup of water.

(No Gatorade?)

No Gatorade, not needed yet.

Mile 5 to 7—I’m no longer overheating. My body settled into homeostasis.

(Thanks for the ninth-grade bio vocabulary.)

I’ve competed in enough triathlons to know that my body can adjust to both hot and cold given enough time.)

(But why would you intentionally put yourself into a situation where you were going to be uncomfortable?)

Read on…

Mile 8—Lafayette Street. I’m running up the road.

“Ugh, this incline is terrible.”

(Is there an incline that you like?)

Well, no. Usually, I can see the top of the incline and I aim for the apex where I will begin to run downhill.

(Not so much here?)

Sadly, no.

Mile 9-10—The first time I walked. Just a few feet.

(Feet. Ha)

No biggie. Did this run/walk in training.

(Why do you think you suddenly needed to walk?)

Food. I probably needed food.

(You were hungry?)

No, but I was probably sliding into a carb deficit at that point.

(Was there any food to be had on the racecourse?)

I grabbed a gel from one of the drink tables.

(A what?)

Runners & triathletes love gels.

(A what?)

A thumb sized squeeze tube that is designed to top off your glycogen stores that get depleted during long-distance running.

(What is “glycogen”? Is that like collagen?)

Umm… no! Collagen is a protein, not a carb. Collagen is made up of amino acids wrapped together as a triple helix.

(OK, “Science Mc-Know-It-All,” what is the difference?)

Collagen holds your body together. Ya know your cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Glycogen is a polysaccharide.

(Speak English!)

Glycogen is a carb your body stores in your liver.

When you run, your muscles send a request to your liver, “send fuel.” That’s when the carbs you ate earlier become important.

(I’m having a 9th grade bio class flashback!)

You should. C6H12O6 is glucose. When you run…

(No, when “you” run…)

… Glucose is used in cellular respiration.

(My cells breathe?)

Your body uses oxygen to break down food into chemical energy and the cells react.

(I’m sorry, I don’t speak SCIENCE!)

You move, you burn carbs, your muscles create lactic acid in the bloodstream.

(It burns, it burns!)

Not that type of acid. The lactic acid in the blood creates fatigue.

(So, what is a gel?)

Energy gels are made up of mostly simple sugar, which is your body’s preferred source of fuel during exercise.

(BUT WHAT IS A GEL???)

It’s a squeeze tube of cake frosting or a squeeze tube of jelly.

Mile 10-13—Running through Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

For those who do not know Brooklyn, this borough of New York City is home to several groups of Chasidic Jews, and the marathon runs through one of their neighborhoods.

Normally, when I run, I look for cars that come at me because the driver is texting or binging NETFLIX.

(Or trying to solve WORDLE

… when they should be watching the road.)

Crown Heights, Brooklyn is the only place I have to watch for random Chasidim running into me.

(Do they fall from the sky?)

As the marathon winds through their “hood,” the occasional Chasid will dart across the road, weaving in and out between the runners.

(Sounds like a video game.)

Human Frogger.

It was 1:47 p.m. by the time I “leveled up” by surviving that neighborhood. I had been running for 2.5 hours and I was right where I wanted to be…


David Roher is a USAT-certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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