New York, USA, November 2nd, 2014, Finished my toughest Marathon ever as the 1st Romanian

Back in the New York groove, back in the NY madness for the 5th time in my life. After my official Marathon debut in 2010 with a time of 2:59:34 h I simply wanted to come back one day to improve that mark. The weather forecast was absolutely bad for us runners as very strong winds were predicted for Sunday. I really tried to ignore that as well as the fact that this course simply cannot provide a personal best for no one. Either way I was ready to get it on as I had prepaired better than ever for this race. I just couldn't wait to cross that glorious finish line.

Til then it was still a long, long way to go. First I had picked up my bib number and enjoyed some great moments at the Marathon expo. Thousands of people were cramped together hustling to get their package, buy products or just have a look at all the great stuff that was being offered there.

Right after that I coincidentally met the whole men's elite group that was gathered in front of a bus. I shortly spoke to Stephen Kiprotich and wanted to give him a pair of running shoes that were meant for Kennedy Kipyego. He told me to meet back at the Hilton and Towers Hotel, where I later waited for him. There I also bumped into Mary Keitany and Edna Kiplagat whom I spoke to for a few minutes. Edna's manager was very fond of Romanian athletes and is himself managing a female Romanian Marathoner. A few minutes later I met Stephen and gave him the shoes wishing him good luck for Sunday's race.

On Saturday morning I had an appointment with German Silva in the Hilton's lobby. He and his huge training group from Mexico as well as tenths of fans from Puerto Rico were all together following him in a warm up race to the finish line in Central Park. In my opinion he has a lot more fans than the Kenyans and people are crazy to get an autograph or a photo with him. We spoke a little bit during our jog as I had wished to run the race by his side but his plan was to escort a runner who was aiming a 3:05 h. Back at the Hilton I said goodbye to the whole group and wished him all the best in future.

A neighbour of mine from Siegen was also in town, he has just finished a long 6 month long journey that started in San Francisco and coincidentally ended right in New York. Ludwig was supposed to return on Tuesday to Germany and we intended to meet after my race to have some fun together.

After 2 days without sleep I finally managed to get some sleep and was ready to take the Staten Island ferry at 6:30 am on Sunday. Gusty winds were blowing thru the streets of New York in the early morning hours making it appear quite creepy. But all this couldn't stopped me from soldiering towards my destiny, taking the subway to the Whitehall Terminal. Thousands of people were already waiting for the next ferry and from that moment on I knew it's on, there's no way back. A few minutes before the start I met a great man from Italy, Stefano Ciotti, a former 2:28 h runner, but that was back in 1992. On this day he was aiming at a 2:47 h but he cleary admitted that all of us would have to make new plans due to the horrible winds that forced all 50,869 runners to start cautiously.

The gun went off at 9:40 am, 30 minutes after the women's elite field had left. The Verrazano Narrows bridge possibly proved to be the toughest challenge that each of us has ever encountered. We were pushed sideways, from left and right while we seriously tried to avoid approaching the margin of the bridge. Half-way of the bridge I had to accept another tough fact when I noticed that my music player's battery was almost empty which meant I'd have to run the whole Marathon without what motivates me the most. Nevertheless I proceeded my trip over that bridge which lasted about 12 minutes after which I took a deep breath, so from then on it was time to rock and roll. After 19:54 I reached the 5k mark and was surprised how slow I actually was in spite of feeling very fast. I knew right then that this was going to be a hell of a piece of work. At 10k the clock showed 39:08 so at that point I was at least able to run my PB pace. The 15k mark in 58:20 was giving me hope but deep inside I knew that I had to produce a lot more effort than under normal conditions. Approaching the 20k in 1:17:32 h I thought that maybe I can keep this pace over the second half and crossed the half-way point in 1:21:54 h which was in fact faster than my initial plan of 1:22:03 h.

On the Queensbridge I first realized that I would have to pay a high price for my fast start and could actually feel hitting the wall at 25k and 1:37:51 h running. From 25 to 30k I was gradually slowing down and simply couldn't believe how much energy got lost for battling those gusty winds. Right before the 30k mark in 1:59:51 h I took my first and only gel during the race which really gave me a strong boost so that I almost regained my pace from the first half by the 35k point in 2:20:39 h. But shortly after the 36th kilometer I hit another mean wall, the first time ever I had to go thru two walls. Even though the winds came from the north west direction as predicted, right when I reached Halrem and Central Park they have turned and came from the south.

This was it, the hopes of at least keeping it at least sub 2:50 h just withered away as I felt as I was standing and having to allow at least 4 non-elite women to overtake me. I tried to fight back but it only made things worse as my battery was already empty which felt like crawling towards the 40k mark after 2:43:42 h. After that I performed my slowest finish (2.195k) ever in 10:47 minutes. FINISH! 2:54:29 h. Whuaaa. This was it. From then on I slowly stumbled towards a medical tent as I was hypothermic and could no longer utter a single clear word. After about 45 minutes in that tent I was free to go back to my hotel, meet Ludwig and finally have some fun and celebrate. But it was only on the next day that I realized how strong my performance actually was by becoming the 1st Romanian for the second time after 2010 as well as the 7th out of 1823 Germans which I am really proud of. At the JFK airport I bumped once again into the Kenyan elite group and spoke to some of them. Best thing of course was my selfie with Mr. Wilson Kipsang, winner of the NYC Marathon 2014. In the end everything was ok and I had to be grateful to God for having survived all this in spite of having my hernia and achilles issues all the time.

New York City Marathon 2010 (8°C, wind NW 10 mph) New York City Marathon 2014 (8°C, wind NW 50 mph)
running time
5k splits
running time
5k splits
18:09 - 5k
18:09 19:54 - 5k
36:07 - 10k
17:58 39:08 - 10k 19:14
54:26 - 15k
18:19 58:20 - 15k
1:13:59 - 20k 19:33 1:17:32 - 20k 19:12
1:18:36 - Half Marathon
(4:37) 1:21:54 - Half Marathon
1:36:58 - 25k 22:59 1:37:51 - 25k 20:19
1:59:52 - 30k
22:54 1:59:51 - 30k
2:24:53 - 35k
2:20:39 - 35k
2:49:10 - 40k
2:43:42 - 40k 23:03
2:59:34 h - Finish
2:54:29 h - Finish

Classification percentage in 2010
Classification percentage in 2014
904th of 45, 103 finishers overall = 98.00 %
392nd of 50, 564 finishers overall = 99.23 %
843rd of 28, 845 male finishers = 97.08 %
363rd of 30, 034 male finishers = 98.79 %
179th of 3, 856 in my age-group = 95.38 %
100th of 4, 140 in my age-group = 97.61 %
33rd of 920 Germans = 96.52 %
7th of 1823 Germans = 99.68 %
1st of 4 Romanians
1st of 21 Romanians

New York Marathon
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