My New York City Marathon finally came to be. After applying for three years and making the automatic entry, I finally had the opportunity to “Get My New York On.” But not before my daughter could celebrate her thirteenth birthday.
We took the earliest flight and the only flight available on Saturday morning via Jet Blue. With hubby’s travel points, the flight cost us pennies. The downside to an 11:00 a.m. Saturday flight meant I would have to hope and pray the flight wasn’t delayed and I could make it to the expo on time to pick up my race packet. Thankfully, the travel gods spared me and we arrived on time at JFK. Following our safe on-time arrival, I only hoped the train gods would be as helpful.
I made it to the expo with an hour to spare and enough time to shop, especially since I wanted the beautiful Freedom Adrenaline shoes by Brooks. Sadly, most of the commemorative items were picked over, however, to my surprised the remaining items were marked down 50% off. It would seem arriving so late to the party has its advantages.
For my pre-race meal, we grabbed dinner at a chic pub near our hotel, called the Brasserie and I enjoyed a pub burger and truffle oil fries. That might seem like a horrible choice for a pre-race meal, but honestly, the protein and potato carbs worked well for me.
The morning of the marathon thousands of runners made their way to the Staten Ferry. To minimize the stress or finding a complimentary bus to take us to the ferry platform, Mica and I had arranged to share a cab to transport us to the Staten Island Ferry and I am so glad we did. Not only did it minimize our stress, it also shortened the amount of waiting and standing around we would have to endure.
We arrived at the ferry platform around 8:00 a.m. to be corralled like cattle onto the first available ferry. Once that ferry filled, we have to move like a school of fish to the next available platform. Once on the ferry, we watched white caps caused by the high winds dancing in front of the NYC skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
After about a 20 minute ferry ride, we arrived in Staten Island only to be herded once more onto buses. It was 9:00 a.m. before we found the first available full bus with standing room only. Mica and I stood for about another 20 minutes as we were transported to our start villages. By 9:30, we arrived and cluelessly we meandered to our corrals. I still needed to check my bag.
UPS trucks would collect our bags and bring them to finish. By the time I arrived to my village, I nearly missed the UPS truck. I checked my bagged and took a deep breath to calm my nerves and collect my thoughts. The organization of this race felt a bit like a marathon with so much moving, transporting and standing around waiting for my wave to start. I was exhausted before I even began running! After a quick potty, I enjoyed a bagel and a few sips of coffee provided by Dunkin Donuts as I admired the Verrazano Bridge in the distance.
Even though our ferry time departure was 8:30 and our wave didn’t start until 10:55, I so glad Mica and I left early. I only had to wait about 20 minutes or so before my wave began. The downside was the start of my wave time. For an early morning runner, 11:00 is practically lunchtime and I was so worried about being hungry during the race. As part of my marathon plan, I had decided to stop for a soft pretzel if I saw a street vendor along the course.
Also as part of our marathon game-day plan, mica and I had agreed to meet at the mile four water stop since that would be the first opportunity that our paths would cross. With being in different corrals, we had slightly different courses to fit several thousands of runners through the streets of Brooklyn.
Wave 4 Blue Bibs began on the top of the Verranzo Bridge, but Green Bibs started on the second level. I was completely prepared to freeze my bib off on top of the bridge and wore multiple layers to combat the 30 mph wind. With a high in the low 40s, the wind added the feels like temperature in the 30s.
Cannons fired and Frank Sinatra sang “New York, New York” for each wave. Hearing Ol’ Blues Eyes blasting across the loudspeakers while staring at the city from the top of the Verranzo Bridge was surreal. Runners kicked like The Rockettes and sang along with Sinatra. The energy in the crowd warmed me better than my ten layers of clothing.
The fierce winds kept catching my scarf, so I tossed my scarf pretty early on, but I held onto my sweatshirt for a couple miles more. Although other runners complained about the bridge, I honestly didn’t mind the incline. All those bridge runs really paid off.
I ran and chatted with several runners. Everyone was certainly excited to be part of this historic moment. This is one of those marathons that people dream of participating in and enjoyed watching it unfold in living color for me. I maintained at easy 11:00 mm until I reached the four mile mark and then I stopped dead in my tracks to wait for Mica, like we had planned.
I received some strange looks from other runners and volunteers as I waited and I became nervous. What I missed her? What if I passed her or she passed me? What if she started earlier in Wave 4 than I did? I texted her to let her know where I was and seconds later she called me. I backtracked a bit to meet her and we were finally together after parting ways in the start village.
As we began the next 22 miles together, Mica shared her frustrations about the bridge which already started to take a toll on her overall performance and spirit. I told her I needed multiple potty breaks which was a marathon first for me and requested a pit stop at the next one. Since the lines at the water station port-o-potties were ridiculously long, we opted to stop at a Burger King which was a bad move. We waited in line with a half dozen runners for one working restroom which I’m sure added ten minutes to our overall finish time. Oh well. I reminded myself that this marathon was more about the experience than time.
We continued on our way following Mica’s 3:1 (run three minutes, walk one minute) Galloway method until we met her dad at the 10K mark. Mica’s dad followed along the course on bike and promised to meet up with her at random points to keep her spirits up.
Shortly after a rendezvous with her dad, we found some spectators close to the seven mile mark tailgating with hot chocolate, coffee and muffins and we were happy to take part in the warm festivities.
For the next 6 miles, we ran through the streets of Brooklyn with sporadic spectators. It was definitely not the 26.2 block party I experienced in Chicago only a few weeks before. Like other marathons, there were a few funny signs but overall felt a little let down by the lack of spectators.
I’m not sure if the cold kept them away, but a little 30 mph wind sure would not have bothered the spectators in the Windy City. At least I had a random fan in the crowd…
…and some sexy firefighters to set my soul on fire.
After the half marathon mark, we were in Queens with only lonely spectator to welcome us. Being a Queens girl, this broke my heart.
Once we crossed the Queensboro Bridge, I spotted the Manhattan Skyline glistening in the distance and I kissed my Queens sorrow so long by singing Simon and Garfunkel’s 59th Street Bridge (Feelin’ Groovy).
Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the marathon last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
Hello Skyline. Watcha knowing?
Upon exiting the bridge, I need another potty break making it my third stop along the course. I swear the cold weather was causing me to pee more.
After my potty break, we caught up with Mica’s dad again and we began our 3:1 Galloway run again which was disrupted by police cars chasing our tales around mile 17. For the next three miles, Mica, me and the thousands of runners behind us were haunted by the sight of flashing police lights and a bullhorn horn message that repeated over and over and over.
THE ROADWAYS ARE NOW OPEN.
PLEASE PROCEEED TO THE SIDEWALKS.
As the caution message played repeatedly, I wondered “How in the world where they going to make a few thousand runners move to the sidewalk? Obviously, they couldn’t pick up us, so would they start corralling us with a battering ram?
The cops manning the barricades looked confused as the patrol cars rode along side of us. Obviously, the patrol cars were early according to the road closures post but regardless, it was doing a number on Mica’s mental state as well as the runners around us. Runners were shutting down left and right. One even joked as he ran backwards, “You’ll never take me alive Copper!”
At mile 20, I encouraged Mica to run with less walking breaks because I was ready to be done.“It’s only 6 miles. You got this! It’s an hour! Let’s push it!” But Mica wasn’t feeling it and she wanted to stick with the 3:1 plan. At mile 22, we caught up with her dad again who promised to stay relatively close to Mica until she finished.
Around the same time, I received a phone call from Allan to inform that my chip stopped recording my times after mile 12 and that my daughter was sick and they wouldn’t make it to the reunion area to congratulate me. That news upset me more than the cops chasing us for three miles.
“Welcome to Harlem!” shouted out a woman around mile 21. After few and far between spectators for miles, I definitely felt the love in Harlem.
I think Mica sensed my anxiousness to finish and encouraged me to run ahead. Around mile 23 with nearly a 5K to go, I decided to take her up on the offer as we approached Central Park. At this particular point of the course, the police officers removed the blue caution tape and broke down the barricades; we were officially forced to run on the sidewalk.
As the uneven pavers bothered my knees, I couldn’t help but think of my dad who warned me the cobblestone. While other runners complained about running the incline into Central Park, it felt good to me as long as I stayed off the octagon pavers.
The sun started to set fast as I made my way through the last stretch of the course. In the cold and dark path through Central Park, I picked up the pace and I felt alive. People cheered for me as I ran past. “Way to finish strong, runner!”
With my chip not working, I’m glad I snapped a picture of the clock as I crossed the finish. Besides the medal, it’s my only proof that I really did finish the New York City Marathon.
For the first time in my marathon life, I didn’t cry crossing the finish line.
Since I had no one waiting for me in the reunion, I grabbed my belongs from baggage claim and began the long trek back to our hotel. I didn’t intend to walk as far as I did, but I couldn’t find a cab to save my life! Like some freak of NYC nature, the cabs were full of fares and not one was available to take me to my final destination. I must have walked another mile before I found a cab. Bundled in my clean after-race fleece and wrapped up tight in my NYC Marathon space blanket, a comical commentary played in my head about the entire experience and how I must have finished an ultra-marathon at this point with all the walking I’d done. At least, I didn’t ache and the added walking felt good.
The next day, my daughter felt much better, so I dragged my family to the NYC Finalist Pavilion in Central Park. I wanted to snap a photo of the finish line in daylight as well as perhaps purchase some finisher merchandise; however, the predicted wait time was at least an hour and a half. I passed shopping and we took a horse-drawn carriage around Central Park instead.
What did I learn from finally living my NYC Marathon moment? Would I ever do it again?
After waiting years to run one of the world’s most famous marathons, I wanted to soak every moment up and enjoyed my sight-seeing tour of NYC for 26.2 miles. In my true continuous tourist style, I didn’t care how long it took me and I was thrilled to share the experience with a friend, a first timer marathoner. Much like my very first marathon at WDW and so many other marathons since then, I took tons of photos, danced with spectators, peed in port-potties, snacked when I wanted to and just savored every last moment.
Hands-down, yes, I would totally do it again, especially since my chip failed to record my times. I feel like I deserve a redo after waiting so long, but for lottery reasons, it will be a while before I apply again. With any luck, maybe Asics will select me as a NYC Marathon blogger, like my blogger runner friend, Meghan.
If and when I run NYC again, I will run it for time to prove what I can do and finish during daylight hours. Starting in an earlier wave would also be essential because placing in the last wave totally blows. Starting a marathon so close to lunch time and finishing after dinner time in the dark really does mess with your mind. You simply can’t train for that, nor can you train for standing around for hours waiting to start. Add walking along a mile-long dark path through Central Park to the reunion area and anyone would feel like a victim in a Law & Order episode.
There are so many other marathons I have on my bucket list (Big Sur, London, another Chicago, etc). Honestly, I just love running marathons, but yes, someday I would love to get my New York on again.