18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up Race Recap

Last year during a long training run in preparation for the Divas Half Marathon, my friend Melissa Z and I ran alongside the NYRR 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up. We were both almost finished with our 9+1 requirement to get into the 2011 ING NYC Marathon (run in nine NYRR races and volunteer at one event for guaranteed entry) and we both mused about the fact that next year, this would be us.

We could not fathom what running three loops of hilly Central Park would be like. We wouldn’t even do two! It seemed like torture, but at the same time we knew we would be there in 2011. We knew we would be a few weeks away from our own marathon. And so, on our run which was probably about 10 or 11 miles, we cheered on the 18-mile runners. We showed them support because we would be in their uncomfortable position a year later.

And we were.

Despite all the obstacles that got in our way over the last 12 months — my hip injury and stomach flare-up and Z’s engagement, wedding planning and new job with insane hours — we met to run our very own 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up.


So Z and I met up and the race began. Since we hadn’t seen each other in awhile, we had lots to catch up on. The first loop — six miles — flew by. Not pace-wise, we were pretty slow, but it felt fast and it felt easy. We hit Harlem Hill, one of the two really difficult hills (in addition to the many rolling hills) in the first mile so it wasn’t bad at all. I couldn’t believe how effortless it seemed.

And even a year after we saw the other Tune-Up, and even though we are both six weeks away from our marathon, we still had not even completed two loops of the park. Let alone three. So our second six-mile loop was in a way new to both of us. I never ran Harlem Hill or Cat Hill (the other brutal hill) twice in one run. Much less three times. So after the first loop, we were in unchartered territory.

The second loop was markedly harder than the first. I wanted to be done. It was hard, my body was hurting, I was ready to be finished. When we reached nine miles, the halfway point, I could not believe I had to do the same distance all over again. We pushed on.

[Me and Z pushing on]

Running became harder. At 10 miles, I told Z — who was doing 14 — that she only had four miles left, and four miles isn’t long at all! Of course she could push through. By mile 12, we needed a boost and each put our headphones on. That music gave us a much needed push and our pace increased.

After Z broke away, my body seemed to have a mind of its own and I started flying. Now I was the one with just four miles left. I repeated what I told Z, that we could always push through four miles. What’s four miles in the big picture of 18? I wanted to be done and really, I didn’t seem to have much control. My body wanted to go fast, so I ran fast.

When there was only two miles left, I told myself what I always tell myself when there are two miles left: Two miles is a short, easy run — it is only 20 minutes of running!  You can run for 20 minutes.

When the last mile hit, I was so happy. Happy for my shiny new PDR, happy to be almost done.

Almost done almost done almost done. But where is that finish line? Why does this feel like the longest mile of my life? When can I STOP RUNNING??

And then I did it. I smiled as I approached the finish line of the 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up. I just ran a distance that seemed so completely unattainable a few months — even a few weeks! — ago, that I wasn’t completely sure I could run it with no pain.

[Uhhh . . . does this mean my time is up?]

Despite the masked man on my heels at the finish line, I made it through alive — and happy!

My splits:

Yep, wasn’t exaggerating on speeding up once I was alone. I just wanted to be DONE. And then I was, 18 miles down with just six weeks to the ING NYC Marathon.

. . . Dori runs 20 miles for the first time. See you then!


21 comments on 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up Race Recap

  1. Caroline
    October 4, 2011 at 8:43 am (6 years ago)

    So I’m in NYC visiting my sister and she lives a few blocks away from the park. I have loved running there the past few weeks, and I’m challenging myself to complete 1 full loop of the park before I leave. This post is perfect inspiration! Great job on finishing up so fast!

    Oh, and I’m trying core fusion for the first time tonight.. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  2. Ali
    October 4, 2011 at 9:34 am (6 years ago)

    Way to pick up the pace during that run, Dori! That’s the way to do it! So so so glad training is going well for you.

    Also that masked man is terrifying. TERRIFYING.
    Ali´s last blog post ..Ali Turns 1

  3. Christine
    October 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm (6 years ago)

    wow – what an incredible tune up! congrats! you seriously rocked a negative split!

    can’t wait to see you dominate 20!
    Christine´s last blog post ..It’s Race Week!

  4. Jen Correa
    October 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm (6 years ago)

    So true. That halfway point seemed to take forever to get to… and then you have to do it again! Kudos on your great run and noticing my shirt :)

  5. Sam @ Mom At The Barre
    October 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm (6 years ago)

    Good for you! I cannot imagine running 18 miles. Although maybe this will be me next year? (Almost done with 9+1) I love how happy you always look in your race pics! You always look like you are having so much fun.

  6. Amber
    October 5, 2011 at 8:27 am (6 years ago)

    Loved this post! You look so happy and strong. I love how you picked up at the end – just incredible. You are so going to rock this marathon!

  7. Melissa Burton
    October 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm (6 years ago)

    So glad to read your recap! Nice work!! Hope I can heal and be as positive as you when I run my next race.

  8. Dorry
    October 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm (6 years ago)

    Sooo very proud of you! Incredible to think what you’ve overcome with physical setbacks, and how you’ve persevered to being able to run 18 miles! Inspires me…maybe I’ll run 18 miles one day? :)
    Dorry´s last blog post ..LOVE at the Gluten-Free Expo

  9. Jamie @ couchtoironwoman
    October 7, 2011 at 1:38 pm (6 years ago)

    Wow that masked man is CREEPY!! I love that you went from 12:00 minute pace to 9:00 minute pace, I love negative splitting. Great job!
    Jamie @ couchtoironwoman´s last blog post ..Lessons Learned Tonight

  10. Katy
    October 10, 2011 at 1:38 pm (6 years ago)

    You are so cute! I’m glad the 18 went well for you. Why does it look like you are heel striking in all of these pics, despite your last post though? ha ha. Stay healthy and strong!

    • Dori
      October 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm (6 years ago)

      Thanks! The camera sometimes catches me on the upswing!

  11. Lindsey @ Eat, Read, Run
    October 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm (6 years ago)

    YAY for a great 18 mile run!! Congrats. That masked man behind you at the end was really scary. Why was he wearing that?!! I can’t wait to hear about 20 miles!!

  12. Eashwara
    September 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm (5 years ago)

    Hey Dori, I just read your 18 Mile tune up blog and i really feel so good about. Infact i am doing the 18 Mile tune up on Sept 23rd 12 and so was googling to read about stories and i found your article..

    Thanks i feel so motivated and now i am so confident of doing it


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2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up Race Recap

  1. […] the park on a day I was not expecting to. I ran those hills three times the week before during the 18-Mile Marathon Tune Up. And I was happy that Grete’s Great Gallop is two clockwise loops — the hills are much […]

  2. […] for NBC New York’s GO Healthy NY blog because I had less time with my new job.I ran the 18 Mile Marathon Tune-Up – a race I ran past the year before and knew it would one day be me — where it would […]

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