New York City Marathon Tips, Course Strategy and Info!

You know the “don’t wear anything new on race day” and all the basics… now, let’s do NYC Marathon as right as we can. I write things down because I forget, but I’ve done this one before and I keep running into people who haven’t and are nervous. I just compiled a lot of my emails, and here we go! Let me know if you have any specific questions!!

PRE RACE LOGISTICS

Make a marathon list of what you’ll need a week or two before and sort it all by stages, here is an Marathon Packing List to start with. Get everything in the list ready as soon as possible.

The expo is big (probably the biggest one in the US after Boston!), so please bring some patience, cash (there WILL be a few things you’ll want), and comfortable shoes. Don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your registration card and photo identification. Don’t wear the marathon-shirt before the race (come on!). Note: running stores all over the city have amazing gear and discounts too (organized list HERE), and if you can wait, a lot of the official asics gear will be half off in the nyrr’s website by January!

Set your clock back on Saturday night. If you use a smart phone like 99% of the population, you’ll be fine. If you set your Garmin, it will update automatically too. Sleep!

Bring a lot of cheap or throwaway clothes to the start. Find a mylar blanket from your last marathon (and don’t throw away the blanket or poncho you’ll get at the finish here!). You will need them until the last minute in the corral (I wear one as pants with tape and one as a cape). I wear my throwaway cardigan or a sweater (cut in the front for easy peeling, kept it in place with a safety pin!) during the first mile too! Go to the dollar store and get knee-high socks, cut the toes part and you’ll have throwaway arm warmers! I keep half of it on until Mile 3, it can be windy on the bridge, mostly if you are on top (blue or orange waves).

Gearusually the marathon is in the 40s or 50s, so bring a few options to the start and decide there if you’re checking a bag. Be smart, and make sure you can peel off layers comfortably. If you don’t want to carry your phone, at least carry a $20 bill, a metrocard, and an ID with you, just in case.

Ferry, you can hop on ANY of them, but don’t go too early or you’ll wait out in the cold unnecessarily. Get on the ferry that leaves 2.5 hours from your wave start (10 am wave, 7:30 am ferry). As soon as you land in Staten Island, go to the bathrooms in the terminal, and stay in the terminal if it’s too early.

Write your name on your shirt, do not even question this. If you don’t want your name, write something funny you’ll want people to scream to you all over the course (Speedy?). It will make your race 100 times better. If you don’t want to ruin your gear, cut the letters our of duct tape (like I do!) and voila, they’ll peel right off!

Headphones? If you are used to racing with headphones, bring them. I like to leave them on, and turn them on only when necessary. Sometimes I need a distraction, and though the crowds will carry you through everything, you might need an extra oomph, like on the quiet Queensboro! When you want some quiet time, you pump the music up and move to the middle of the street when you won’t be engaging with people. Big disclaimer: the spectators ARE the marathon, and if you use your music you will miss out on a lot. They can push you so much more than you can on your own, so use that energy up. You’ll have tons more fun than you expected. And no one will let you slow down or walk here! Disclaimer 2: if the music is on, make sure you can still hear what is happening around you!!!!

Place your spectators in spots where you’ll need them. I usually set 4 spots. One in Brooklyn around mile 5 or 9, and then really high on First Avenue, past 118 where the crowds thin out, so then they can cross over to 5th avenue, the third spot, and see you again and then zip over to the finish line (4th spot!)! Know exactly on what side of the street they’ll be so YOU can spot them (they won’t be able to spot you!). Send them with something big: a flag, a sign, balloons, huge funny hat, etc. Here is a great tool that estimates where/when they can see you and all the train stops closeby! Tell them to get comfy shoes, really warm clothes and to bring food. It will be a long day for them too!

If you need an extra push, ask for help!! FORCE all your friends to come watch you. Ask them “where are you going to be?” or/and use the tool above to see where is easier for them to get to. Then tell them a time you’ll go through there, give or take 10 minutes, and decide if they’ll be runner’s Left or Right. Then make a little-tiny list you can carry in your pocket (Example: 74th st, John, left / 32nd st, Mike, right, etc.) in order or appearance, put clear tape all over it so it won’t get sweaty and basically go from John, to Mike, to etc… Let them pull you along the course and that’ll break the course in parts, instead of think “AH, I gotta go 26.2, ugh” you’ll think: “I am just going to 74th, mile 5, to see John, then we’ll see!

Get yourself a course specific pace bracelet, this one is the BEST!  And it has way more information than you could ever need. Hill info, spectator info, all. Print a few different options and decide that morning!

Plan your nutrition way ahead. For the race: try to practice in training with what they’ll have at the race: water, yellow Gatoraded and Powerbar Gels (water and G at every Mile and Gels around Mile 17 only). You can buy gels at the expo if necessary. But for race morning, get bagels/oatmeal and whatever you need the day before as there will not be a lot of delis open at 6 am.

If you need to move around, go to Central Park. You’ll see many of your race-buddies and get to enjoy the best place in the world as a runner. There’s a 5K early on Saturday, go watch/cheer if you can. The parade of Nations and fireworks Friday night are fun too to get in the marathon weekend spirit.

Find a mantra, or two, you might really need them. I write them in my hand where I am sure I will see it.

The race WILL be crowded, so PLEASE, if you need to stop for a walk or move over another lane for water, please please please signal with your arms, and look around behind you before you make any moves. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, DO NOT just stop or go sideways. Be considerate of your fellow runners who trained hard and could trip and lose their dream race! On the other hand, you’ll always have someone to run with, pace of, or follow when you’re tired. Pick them up when you feel strong, encourage them when they need it, and keep your eyes peeled for anyone who might need help!!!!

If you are in the GREEN corral and you’re scared you’ll be peed on…  don’t! There *might* be someone peeing on top of the bridge but IF (BIG IF) it happens, you’d only feel it if you’re in the outsides of the crowd, and if the wind is going in your direction. I’ve been green once before and saw/felt nothing. I’ve also been on top a few times and saw very few people peeing. The odds that you get peed on are about 0.0003. Okay? If you’re scared, just stay in the middle, with the roof over you.

RACE STRATEGY

Break the race in parts, so you will know how to tackle each segment. Device a plan and stick to it no matter what. A smart plan is to aim for even effort. Still, I always go for negative splits, as hard as that seems in this course that has many uphills/bridges in the second half, but if you keep it strong and conservative throughout the race, it is possible. I am an average runner and have negative split in all my NYCMs but my first. Ask Bart Yasso and he’ll tell you: “NYC for sure is a 100 % negative split course. Hold back in those early miles and it will pay off later in the race.”

If you are still not sure, check a few of my NYCMs. Again, I am just an average runner! Check how the faster I went through the 13.1 mark, the slower my marathon was! This is quite telling… Check 2009 and 2010 where I only PRed by 3 minutes. Check how in 2010, I started a LOT slower… my first 5K was 1:30 slower! By 13.1 I was FOUR minutes behind… and I still ended up PRing by 3 minutes… Unbelievable, right? It happens! (you can also see how this starting-slow works at the end of this post)

2013 New York City Marathon Negative Splits

Basically: You have to believe in yourself.

Onto the race parts then!

2013 New York City Marathon Elevation Profile

Mile 1-2. The Verrazano

Don’t go out too fast. You will be tempted, resist with all you can. Let people GO. I promise you: sooner or later, they will come back to you. They will. LET. THEM. GO. Enjoy the  excitement of the first 2 miles, and relax. If it feels annoyingly slow, you are doing it right. If it’s crowded, DO NOT WEAVE. They’re doing you a favor by keeping you tied up, relax. Biggest mistake most people do is going too fast on mile one and as soon as they get off the Queensboro on First Ave, don’t be one of them! Mile 2, you will be forced to speed down the bridge, you will feel tempted to roll with it (and everyone around you), get out of your cage and pass people. Remember: hold your horses a bit still, don’t ruin your race.

Just remember this: Bank = Bonk! Mile 3 is when the race starts. You need to make sure you get to Mile 10 feeling as if you haven’t started the race yet.

Miles 3-15. Brooklyn

Your goal for the first half of the race is to get to the Queensboro in one piece, feeling strong to climb over the bridge and to get yourself in the city in fighting shape. Exercise all your patience here and keep yourself in good checks to not let yourself go. If you are running comfortable, you are doing it right.

Miles 3 to 8 will be easy and flat, this is when you save your energy, you are definitely going to need it later. There is a little hill at 8.5 and the Pulaski Bridge right at the halfway mark which might seem like a mountain if this is your first time. Slow down and go for even effort and not even pace on the bridges for now. It’s not the time to break out your sword.

There will be water/Gatorade in every single mile, so if you miss one, don’t stress. Don’t go for the first table as everyone will do that. There’s many tables, go to the last one. Portapottties are also at every mile so keep an eye out and don’t dart sideways!

Mile 16. THE Almighty Queensboro/Ed Koch Bridge

The Queensboro is quiet. Savor this you time while doing a whole body systems check. Focus on the sound of the foosteps or take out the music if you prefer. This will be the quietest time on the whole race and it’s a long bridge… I like to embrace the solitude of this mile, savor it and prepare for what’s ahead. Back down on the pace a bit so you can get to the top of the bridge with enough strength to take on the downhill! Rolling down the 59th st bridge onto First Avenue is surely the most exciting moment in the whole race (well, to me), and maybe, in all marathoning. Also, the best pit stop is at the bottom of this bridge!

Mile 17 to 19. First Avenue

First Avenue is where a win is made or lost. Many an elite runners broke their strategy here and paid lots for it. Don’t get taken by the really loud crowds. Keep in mind there are still a few bridges and long uphills ahead of you. The marathon starts at mile 20 and we are not there yet. AT ALL!!

Plan to set on a steady pace here so you can start making up some time. Do not force a lot of speed, and if they crowds are getting you too excited, make sure you hold back. Move to the sides if you need cheering or to the middle of the road if you have to focus. Cautiously break out your fourth gear and start focusing on the goal. If you have followed a smart strategy up to here, you should be right on goal pace by Mile 20, or maybe 30 seconds behind (which is always a LOT better than 2 minutes fast!). Gels will be around Mile 18, so start checking if you need one for the last miles, and think what color/flavor you like!

Mile 19 to 23. The Bronx/Harlem Experience

This is when you will use up your training and start working hard… and it will get REAL fast. Not only you’re hitting twenty, but there will be a few bridges and in some areas the crowds will be gone. Dig deep and stay focused on your pace, ease up on the uphills and bridges but make sure you don’t get too distracted or discouraged. This is a really nice stretch to start pushing the pace when you can. Focus on getting to 110th st, where Central Park starts! If you see trees ahead, keep in mind the Marcus Garvey Memorial Park will intersect the course on 125, and then you’ll be back on 5th ave. Just focus on getting back into the city in one piece to face mile 24.

Mile 24. Fifth Avenue, the ninja hill.

Fifth avenue will provide you a long straight stretch, so rare in this race. It is going to hurt, there’s a long uphill (you won’t see it coming!) and you’ll be tired: use your mantra here. There will be enough spectators to help but this is when you have to start digging deep and see how many gears you have left. Keep in mind you might not notice the uphill at first so don’t go all out crazy just yet but keep focusing on the finish line pulling you. If you start on the first wave, you might find some pesky annoying sun blinding you, and it can get a little crowded, but just focus on getting to 90th, when you go into the park! Fred Lebow won’t be there to salute you as always, so all you can do is recover ALL those people who went out too fast at mile one, you’ll spot them easily. You might even have a little chuckle if you run it smartly. Pick a bright target 20 feet ahead and don’t let them go. One at a time!

Mile 25 to 26.2 Central Park

If you did things right, you will pick up a LOT of people in this stretch. A LOT. Ondulating hills all the way to the uphill finish, you’ll be able to change biomechanics often that you won’t be too set on one form, which is great. Find your fifth gear and ram it home. Enjoy those last two miles, they go by fast and you’ll be stopping soon so USE ALL YOU HAVE LEFT! Make sure your bib is visible when you get to the turn on Columbus circle or you might get tackled down! The hill at the finish is the steepest of the whole race so just ride it as hard you can, as long as you can still finish with a smile! Pose for the finish picture!!! That’s it, you’re home. The most famous finish line in the world. Cry if you want (I always do!). You can stop now. Just make sure you don’t stop right at the clock, or there’ll be a human pile on top of you ;-)

then…

Walk, get your medal, take pictures, get your stuff or your poncho, meet your friends, get drinks and clothes on, eat, enjoy, celebrate, stretch, ice bath, rest, eat more, sleeeeeep! Go to the finish line store early Monday morning, tell everyone about your race, eat some more, walk around (you only wear the medal on Monday if you are a tourist!), go downstairs backwards, have a congratulatory donut, look for your name in the NY Times on Monday, tell people you won’t act crazy anymore, and won’t be doing another one of these ever. Sign up for another marathon right away and celebrate some more. Celebrate the whole week if you want. You earned it. If doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done this race, or any, finishing NYCM is always amazing. I dare you to not cry once. This marathon is our victory lap through the city, after all our training. ENJOY YOURSELF.

2013 new york city marathon medal

2013 New York City Marathon Medal

Questions?? Anything to add? Anything you want to go over?

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The official New York City Marathon Course Map.  More info on their course page, including a video of the course.

Love this: Toby’s Essential Last Minute Tips for NYCM

Sights from @NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile: the Pros

ooops, that took me a while to upload, sorry! enjoy!

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Sights from the @NYRR #FifthAvenueMile @dashingwhippets

great job guys!!

The Pros next!

#LifeOutsideTheOvalOffice @NickSymmonds @theiambrand #FifthAveMile

All the hot athletes are in New York City for the Fifth Avenue mile and I got to spend a few minutes with Nick when I picked up my copy of his new book. I will be saving it for my honeymoon in 10 days and I’ll tell you all what is up! You all know I heart Nick!

I have to convince Nick to come with me to Argentina for some fishing! The good thing is that Juan is not jealous type ;-)

Opposite Results from Matching Runs

800s, mile reps, tempos, long runs, long intervals are all great workouts, but always think what workout is right for you and your training, you can’t possibly fit them all in a micro training period.

My last two long runs had quite similar results… if you saw these two runs details, you’d think they were both the same,  right?

w1 detail

w2 detailJust a 10 second difference in overall pace. The same, right?

Well, not so. You can see the laps right below but on the first one, the 8/23 workout, we started easy, we picked it up and we hammered it at the end.

w1 laps

A 7:32 mile at the end of 17 miles is quite a confident booster for me. I had no idea I could sustain that pace throughout or even get faster at the end. Blaise and Patricia are faster than me so I knew what I was getting into.  When they started going at 8:20s pace in mile 8, I figured I’d hold on until I couldn’t and then drop out. Quality over Quantity is always fine with me. I just can’t handle both yet. THERE ARE NO MEDALS IN TRAINING.

The next week, feeling quite confident, things went quite different. Blaise suggested an 18 mile progression run, insert AndreA who had already run half her miles and boom: we started a bit faster, then got a lot LOT faster and I was toast by Mile 13. TOAST. I wanted to drop out but Andrea had left and Patricia was doubling back home: and Blaise really wanted to finish the 18 and he needed company: I felt like I was walking and it was a struggle to finish and then I wobbled home. I felt awful.

w2 laps

The thing is, both are great workouts. The first one is a great fast long run with a super fast mile at the end. It made me feel super strong (and I was so sore the day after, plus all the blood on my sock!), I needed that confidence booster to move my training up a bit. The second long run is ALSO a great workout. It is. It was like a long run with a tempo in the middle and then a few extra (cooldown?) miles to boost your endurance and run while tired, which will usually happen at a marathon. It’s always a great workout to be able to keep running when you feel like you can’t even breathe. You know you’re pushing your body in a way it doesn’t want to. Both were great workouts but with completely different purposes. One worked my sustained speed over distance, the second one was burn and keep going. In both I was working my endurance (speed on the first one, energy depletion on the last one) but such different psychological training! I rather feel like I did after the first one, but the second one is probably the one I’ll tap into more often in the future when I am struggling. If I had been alone (or been the pace setter), I probably would have started at 9:30s and finished with 8:40s but nothing this spectacular, I tend to go too slow on my own, so I’d never crash. I like my pace being challenged as much as that hurts.

How do your long runs usually feel? Do you start slow and speed up or do you crash and burn?

 

Giveaway: the coolest running tshirts!

People, check these tshirts out: IAM Funny Shirts

They have a running shirt section with a few funny, clever running designs. All the shirts are made with a tri-blend fabric, so they are extremely soft, and the ink is dyed into the fabric of the shirt, so it does not feel like a bumper sticker on your chest. And they are hand-printed!!! Here is a video for a little more info about then. I loved all he says, and to tell you the truth, I assumed the tshirts were going to be sooooo expensive with all that stuff and all hand-made (and they’re not!)

I LOVE them!!! they’re SOOOO soft it’s unreal!!! and they fit nicely (if you need to compare for shopping, I picked S, I like them loose!)

 

 

Sooooo sorry about the indoor pictures, you know I am usually better than that, but they’re in the laundry now to do anything about it! Plus, I was obviously  OFF cause who gets two t-shirts in the same color??? Yours truly!

Anyway, you can win a shirt of your choice!! Giveaway is HERE, feel free to share the love and enter all you want. We’ll pick someone randomly on September 17th. You have many many options to enter, so don’t be left out! One thing: if you don’t live in the US, we’ll ship it to a friend of yours in the US to hold it for you, ok?

And if you don’t want to wait for the giveaway to be over, here is a 20% discount code you can use: RUNNINGANDTHECITY

Go for it! Good Luck!

There are two types of triathletes: the ones who have had a bike crash, and the ones who will have a bike crash (plus my run!)

My husband said that to me many many times. He’s also very very careful so I never thought anything would ever happen to him, no matter how many times he’d say it. Then he’d tell me about reading on facebook that so or so had a crash. Noooo, that’ll never happen to him.

Also, I had told him many times that the bike stuff scares me, so I knew he was being careful, because, Pre forbid, something happened to him on the bike, I’ll never be ok with it again…. he was extra careful.

Come Tuesday morning, August 19th, when I get woken up at 6 am “I just crashed my bike. I have to go to the hospital. I am fucked up“.

Earlier that day, around 5:30 am, a waimaraner off-leash, coming from a bend, got right in front of his bike. He only had the one second to spot him and hit the brakes because another Ironman was staring at it in horror and at Juan back and forth and that’s how Juan had that extra second to brake. Still, at 25 mph, it’s hard to stop a cervelo so he flew off the bike. As soon as he hit the road, the Ironman was there, our friend Cara, and a police car who was sitting on Juan’s back for a few miles (hoping he’d push the max speed? No Way!)

The policemen were ready to call him an ambulance. Cara was ready to call me or take his bike. He would have none of that. His thinking was that if he didn’t see me and someone told me he had an accident I’d freak the efff out (true!) so he asked for help to get up (which is when he noticed he was all messed up as he couldn’t grab anyone’s hand) and swore (lied!) that he was ok and rode the bike back home, knowing his shoulder was broken. He then brought the bike up four floors and sat in the couch hoping it’s all go away. It wasn’t going away and had the genius idea to wake me up to go the hospital, he was afraid he’d pass out and I’d have to find him unconscious on the floor.

He wakes me up, I  freak out and 10 minutes later we were at Mount Sinai. We run into another friend there, nurse Kat, in the middle of her shift. Luckily, the ER was empty and we got attention in minutes.

Juan becerra

Poor Thing got SO cold so fast.

They did xrays and stuff. First they said his right shoulder was dislocated and they’d sedate him to get him loose and they’d put it back where it was (he then made me swear I wouldn’t let them put him to sleep for that “I gotta take all the pain, it’s just gonna make me stronger!” ugh). Then more xrays, right clavicle: broken. I asked if they could check his left hand, it was swelling fast. Broken too. In a minute they had put a sling so he couldn’t bend his left hand… ugh.

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I have no idea how he is always in a good mood!! I have seen a whole week of this, jokes and stuff…. I am miserable when I sick!!!!

We wait, we wait. percocet is starting kick in but he’s in major pain… I had broken a clavicle before (plus all sorts of bones) and I know it’s no biggie, it barely hurts. He’s in some major pain though. Crazy, because he can take pain. He loves pain. He lives with me after all!!! But this is different… I had a tough time seeing him suffer, he never ever suffers or complains. So weird.

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At about 1 pm we go home, and he’s a bit useless. He can’t move anything in the right side, everything hurts, and he can’t use the left hand other than the tips of his fingers, so getting a shirt in or out is so hard and painful. Eating is challenging, pizza everyday people!!!  Worst part is, he needs to stay put!! And for someone like him, who never rests, with an insane amount of energy, that’s almost impossible to comprehend! how do I get him to stay put??? the drugs are not doing much to numb the pain or make him sleepy!!!! UGH

He also couldn’t talk or laugh much as his ribs hurt a lot. He bruised them badly and the area around it. This turned QUITE purple a few days after.

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Yes he has a I <3 nutella shirt on

That shoulder pain was crazy!! I had broken a clavicle and barely felt it, why is he in so much pain??? I couldn’t figure it out. He got so sick of the pain that two days later we saw a sports orthopedist. Well, here’s the kick, he broke the clavicle in two places, so they whole shoulder was pretty much hanging. The bit broken in the middle was a bit lifted and so far that it would be quite hard for it to heal on its own, so the Dr. gave us the choice: wait 4-6 months and see how it heals, or do the surgery now and make sure it heals properly. If we waited and it didn’t heal properly, they’d have to go in, break the bone, fix it and wait for it to heal again. I told him it was his decision. He was all drugged up so we made the decision together to get the surgery. ASAP.

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Before I forget, the bike was fine!

ASAP was a week later, so we had to wait a whole week for him to get any pain relief. He had a good day, Monday morning, and he felt he could go to the office. I wasn’t going to fight him on that. But I really wanted to. And I was going bunker all the time he wasn’t home. He can barely stay up at home or say a full sentence and now he’s around!??!??! Crazy man!!! After 4 hours he started to get really tired and the sling was making him hurt so he went back home, phew.

Tuesday was double the pain, for some reason. Wednesday: surgery time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! As nervous as any surgery makes me, I was happy he was going to be put back together and hopefully start healing! No food or drugs past midnight on Tuesday so he was in major pain Wednesday morning. Ugh, this needs to stop!

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all ready to go!

They told us to get there at 9:30 am, they took us in at 10:00 by 10:40 they put him in the stretcher, there was still someone ahead… I heard nothing until 1:30 pm, when the doctor came out with these pictures and made me a little drawing to explain how loose and up and twisted the little loose piece was. Surgery took two hours. He said it was quite probable not going to heal well if we didn’t have the surgery as the loose bit of bone was quite twisted and out of place. One more hour till he’d wake up.

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Seven screws!! Apparently, it was tough to get it all in place!!! now he has a huuuuuge bumpy bandage thing on the shoulder (I was barely able to put his shirt on one side to get him in a cab!!) and MORE MORE pain. When he woke up he told the nurse to shut up and get him food, hahahahahaaaaaa! crazy man.

As he hadn’t eaten all day, I wanted to make sure he had energy to go up all 4 flights of stairs… Nurse said no food until he was home… Emmm, how am I gonna get him home, he needs food!!! When I was changing him, I sneaked a few spoonfuls of nutella!!! yey! Instantly he felt better!

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Now we wait until the bones seal up in place, and then hopefully the mega pain stops. He had so much pain he didn’t sleep a second last night :-( but hoping it all gets better soon.

And, yes, of course he’s gonna get back on that bike as soon as he can. Hopefully, he’ll be back in 2 to 4 months… we’re more concerned about his swimming but I expect he’ll be ok and have all sort of movement from what the doctor said… YEY.

—–

Now, I left him alone very little in the last week, mostly for grocery shopping, to get pizza or for my run. Usually because I am overwhelming him!! Last Saturday I attempted my first long run in a while and I had a GREAT run!!! wohoooo. It was SO fast, for my standards that I’ve gone back to look at it a few times. Blaise and Patricia, literally made my feet bleed into the ground!!! Last mile was 7:32, whaaaaaat?

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