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November 2, 2022

Kyle Merber’s New York City Marathon Training Update Vol. 10

And now we rest. It was 13 weeks ago that I got my act together and decided it was time to start training for the New York City Marathon. When you read the next iteration of The Lap Count, you’ll be hearing how the race went — hopefully well! Tonight I cued up footage of the 2019 version of the race and studied the course, again. This week is about getting my legs under me, sleeping well, eating better, and visualizing myself floating through the five boroughs.

This past week I had one easier tempo of 8 miles at 5:19 pace. My goal was to run 5:20s and visualize what it would be like to finish having another 18.2 to go. Some good advice was passed onto me from a friend to not worry too much about the undulation of splits as they vary with the terrain. That’s a bit of an adjustment from the track. It’s a simple but important thing to remember: on the roads, not every mile is created equal.

If you feel like making a prediction in the Instagram contest, here are some facts and highlights that can hopefully help guide your gut:

  • Averaged 67 mpw for the last 3 months, but from 2012-2020 I routinely ran over 90 (when not hurt)
  • 24 miles @ 5:38 w/ a middle 16 mile progression averaging 5:19
  • 22 miles @ 5:45 in Central park w/ 2 x 6 miles @ 5:16 and 5:09
  • 8 x Mile @ 4:49 w/ 60 sec rest
  • Paces: 5:15s = 2:17…5:20s = 2:20…5:25s = 2:22
  • New York City is a hilly course that is considered 2-3 minutes slower than most flat courses
  • I have never fueled during a race before

With that in mind, my goal is pretty ambiguous. I’ve asked many accomplished marathoner friends how fast they think I could run to help me gauge my pacing strategy and their predictions are all over the place.

Based on my fitness, I think that I can run sub-2:20 in a well-executed race. But my number one priority is to enjoy the experience, avoid running any 6-minute miles, and walk away wanting to do another marathon again soon. My hope is that however fast I run, it will not be my lifetime personal best. If I die a miserable death, then there is a chance that it will be.

With that in mind, I want to go out conservatively. I have this weird idea in my head that the best athletes who end up winning New York regularly close hard and run a negative split. Yes, the second half is harder, but if I run it as a winner would, then it is possible. You should know when tracking my splits (Bib#488) in the NYRR app if I am successful in following through on this plan pretty early.

Now taking a step back from the performance side of things, please indulge me in a moment of personal reflection. When I retired from professional athletics a bit over two years ago, it wasn’t because I no longer enjoyed running. It was more complicated than that.

Pursuing a dream often means putting life on hold. I was fully committed to the craft and it was important to me that I would never have to doubt that. To this day, although I never achieved some of the things I had hoped on the track, I am quite content with the way my career panned out because of that. However, as I was entering my thirties some other realities started creeping up.

Writing this I have a number of things around me that serve as a reminder that it was the right call. In addition to having a good job that I enjoy, I have been able to pour a lot of myself into CITIUS MAG — which brings me an unbelievable amount of satisfaction and has allowed me to stay involved in the sport I love. And I’m fortunate that my wife and I were able to buy a house, which is not something we would have been in a position to do had I kept running competitively.

But most of all, today is my daughter’s first birthday. Having Laoise in my life lets me know that every decision that I have made up to this point must have been the right one. And with that comes a feeling that I have never before brought to the start line — one of satisfaction and calmness. Because unlike every other race that I have ever done before this one, there is no result that could make me any happier.


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