Nine thoughts after my ninth marathon finish

  1. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. My hip is damaged in some way. I think it’s clear now that my old, old injury from college, when I jacked up my back playing rugby poorly (and I only joined to follow some friends… sigh…), never really healed. It was really deeply painful for most of my junior and senior years, and I got painkillers prescribed, Oxycodone. I could have ended up with a problem, but they were way too strong. I took two and was like, nah, I can’t function. Got rid of them. Eventually, I went to masseuses and a chiropractor and that finally got the pain to subside. And they were helpful and great. But apparently the damage was never resolved, and then, after I ran nearly 9 miles a day for nearly 2 years, the impact brought it back out, but the discomfort is in my hip instead of my back. I first noticed this during the 2016 marathon, and of course haven’t been able to last the whole way in any marathons since. Yesterday, like Hartford, I subconsciously ran higher on my toes, and I can do that for up to two hours (it works in 10 milers and halves), but my calves, strong as they are, can’t do it for three hours. So, between the Corbitt race and the Superbowl race, I will consult a medical professional for information and between now and the fall of 2020, I will either solve the hip problems or learn to run on my calves for longer, as that might actually be a good way to run. We’ll see.

  2. No marathons in 2019 for the first time since the 2012 one was cancelled. It’ll be weird. But I need not to spend more than 2 hours running at full speed for a few seasons. I will still get up to 60 miles as I train for the halves (Brooklyn. SI, Pelham) next year, and as my fitness is strong, I can get back under 1:21 to qualify for the 2020 marathon by time, hopefully under 1:20 for my own personal goal (why shoot for 1:20:59 and not go for 1:19:59, right?).

  3. I am excited to cheer for the NYC Half and NYC marathon for the first time ever. I’ll bring my puppy, too.

  4. You know, it SEEMED like perfect weather, but the sun was kinda blinding after all that time. Sun jacks me up after a while. Didn’t really slow me down. Just something to note.

  5. My timing plan was good! My fueling plan was… excessive! Four gels is plenty, three is probably ideal.

  6. I saw more signs about voting than anything else. I think it’s gonna happen tomorrow for us. Though baby Trump without the House is gonna be pretty terrible.

  7. I wasn’t the only one who cramped up. But I came up with a good plan. I made a deal with myself, that walking for a long time didn’t do more than just walking for a short time to calm my painfully spasming calves. So once I cramped up for the second time (I was just going to fight through it in my left calf but once my right calf fell apart too it was over), I said, okay, this is Manhattan, all the blocks are numbered. I knew I had to get to 59th street and we entered at 138th. I figured, that’s about 80 blocks. So I said, 8 blocks running, 1 block walking. And I made sure not to be walking when I knew I had people waiting for me (116th, 102nd). This helped a lot, and although those walking spots added a minute to each mile, I felt good enough. And I managed to run up the whole fifth avenue hill.

  8. I have seriously never seen a crowd like that, and I’ve never felt the love as strongly. I’m being less personal online, but suffice it to say, my sessions with good professionals have helped me see and believe in how much people care about me, and I really and truly felt and believed it yesterday. I hope I can always believe it, and when I doubt it, I’ll look back to this day.

  9. Finally, let’s rank my 9 marathons by how much I enjoyed them.

    9. Boston 2017 - We don’t talk about Boston.

    8. NYC 2016 - This is where my injuries came to life, so I had to rank this lowly.

    7. Philly 2015 - It was cool to run past my mom’s place twice but this course was really dull and quiet, comparatively.

    6. Hartfod 2017 - Similarly, it was, uh, cornfields. Which is fine, but once I struggled, having a crowd aside from my wonderful wife would have helped.

    5. NYC 2014 - My god that wind.

    4. NYC 2013 - My first! It was great because I’d never experienced anything like it. But there are better ones because, well, I know what I’m doing.

    3. Chicago 2015 - My PR, perhaps forever. I did not appreciate it as it happened, which is dumb, dumb, dumb. But I have never otherwise felt so strong for, like, 20 miles of a marathon (and then it was sunny).

    2. NYC 2018 - You know about this one.

    1. And finally - NYC 2015 - The happy feelings and improved mental health made yesterday truly special! But, you know, being actually fast was fun, too. I weighed them against each other, and combine the home crowd, the speed, and leading the team, and my first marathon with Alissa at the finish, it still wins, for now. Hopefully 2020 will end up at the top, and then I can take myself back to Boston in 2022 (god, I’ll be old and perhaps finishing a dissertation).

Thanks so much to all for their support. I have never appreciated it more.

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Justin Gerald

Age: 28 Hometown: NYC Location: NYC Career: Education Undergrad: Princeton Grad: New School Likes: Cooking, Baseball, Socializing, Parks, Pop Culture, Feminism Loves: Traveling, Running, Lifting, Trivia, Teaching, Equality