New York City Marathon Race Report – Part I

I keep thinking I should call this blog entry the most expensive $6 sale ever. Because the main reason I purchased a lottery ticket to the 2014 New York City marathon is that they were on sale for $5 instead of $11 on December 31st, 2013. I had completed the Hartford marathon in October 2013 and I knew I wanted to run another one. Many of my friends were buying the lottery tickets and I thought, what the heck? Imagine my surprise when I was one of the only ones in my little gang to get in!

When I bought that lottery ticket, I had only run Hartford, but last spring I trained for and ran the Providence marathon. The Hartford-Providence combo really got me hooked on marathons, but also on running a faster marathon. In the lead-up to Providence, Coach Cowboy and I decided to cement our training relationship for the next training cycle, which would be for NYC. Right from the beginning, he said that he wasn’t sure NYC was a great marathon for running fast, that there would be crowds, that lots of people run NYC for fun. We talked about it for a bit and I said, well, NYC is the race I’m running and how about if I run it fast? Coach Cowboy responded in typical fashion: “Hell yes!” so that was the plan.

On the Saturday before the marathon, the Incredible Mervus and I took the train into NYC with Triple M (Mistress of Martinis and Mischief).

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The weather was not good. Cold, rainy and windy. At least the rain was supposed to let up by the next day. We got checked into the hotel and headed for the expo. I was so excited and nervous! I just wanted to get my hands on that bib! I nearly teared up when they gave it to me!

Happiest Mugshot Ever:

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The expo was huge and a little overwhelming. I love running expos in theory. So many runners! So much gear! But, in reality, I tend to feel a little lost. So many people! So much stuff! I generally wander around aimlessly feeling like I should be buying stuff but unsure what to purchase. Often my cheap side comes out and I leave with nothing. This time around I definitely wanted something and found a nice shirt. And a book signed by this guy!

IMG_3369That’s Bart Yasso himself!

And I also got to say hello to Elizabeth Comeau from Runner’s World. I met her two weeks ago in Bethlehem and she’s awesome!

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Very excited for New York City!!!!

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Is New York City ready for me?

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After the expo, we went back to the hotel. I put my feet up and did some additional carbo-loading:

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Yes, I had pancakes at 5pm. I’m not even sure what meal that was, but the Moonstruck Diner was right across the street from the hotel and they had some mighty good pancakes!

Then we headed out to meet Knight Runner from my online Facebook running group, the Sub-30 Club. Sub-30 is an amazing group. The most supportive place on the internet for runners as long as you don’t mind a little bit of Suck It Up Princess and a lot of talk about bacon. Knight Runner was at Carmine’s having dinner with her family. She was in NYC for the first time and had seven people travel to the city to watch her run!

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After a drink at Carmine’s, we found Triple M for some dinner. Then headed back to the hotel for final race prep and early bedtime.

I’m not sure where this tradition came from, but folks in Sub-30 lay out their race clothes the night before and take a picture. So, here is “Flat Sarah” ready to go!

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And here is the massive collection of other stuff that three dimensional Sarah will take with her to the starting line to survive the crazy logistics and insane wind:

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And here I am the next morning ready to head out: IMG_3382

I woke up Sunday morning to an email from the NYRR that because of windy conditions they were not putting up all the planned tents and signs. Instead extra volunteers would be sure no one got off course. Gulp. I sent a quick text to Coach Cowboy for encouragement. He said I was ready and just to go run. I decided not to let the wind get to me and texted something back along the lines of: “Fuck the wind. Some people are going to run well today. I plan to be one of them.” It’s a big deal for me to have that much confidence, especially before a huge complicated race like this one. A big difference from 12 months ago when I panicked at the starting line for Hartford.

The logistics of the NYC marathon are pretty insane. Somehow over 50,000 runners have to get over to Staten Island early in the morning. They run through the city and end up in Central Park over the course of the entire day. I was assigned the ferry option rather than the bus so Incredible Mervus and I took a cab down to the ferry terminal. From here on out, runners are on their own.20141102_073934

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Inside the terminal, it was sardine city. Right away the international nature of this race became clear. Runners were talking in all different languages as we shuffled toward the ferry. Eventually they herded us all aboard and I found a seat. I chatted with two women about my age during the trip over. Bonnie and Alex were both experienced marathoners but running NYC for the first time, like me. We mostly talked about our various strategies for keeping warm in the 20 mph wind. I ducked outside quickly to get a couple of pictures, but the wind out there felt like it would rip the phone out of my hands so I quickly came back in. The views from the ferry were stunning.

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Once we arrived at Staten Island, it was lemming time again. We were all herded off the ferry into the incredibly long line for the buses to Fort Wadsworth. This was definitely the most uncomfortable part of the journey.

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We waited quite awhile to get on the bus and the wind was insane. In addition to throwaway sweatpants and a sweatshirt, I had “rented” a long wool coat from Goodwill for about $15. I’m SO glad I did. With the coat, plus my hat and gloves, I was really ok. I saw people wearing bathrobes, pajamas, parkas, everything you can imagine to keep warm. Alex and Bonnie said I was the most elegant in my rose-colored wool coat! Finally we got on the bus and out of the wind. I ate half of a peanut butter sandwich and tried not to think too much about how badly I needed to pee. The bus ride seemed to go on forever, but eventually we arrived at the starting village and I found a port-a-potty. Whew.

I had hoped to find Knight Runner at the start, but couldn’t locate her. I sent a couple of last minute texts, but then my phone died. I settled down to wait with my People magazine and another half of a sandwich. I could see the Verrazano-Narrows bridge overhead looming over us. Then I heard the cannon and the next wave of runners started over the bridge. Everyone cheered! SO exciting! We knew that would be us very, very soon! I had barely checked out the best-dressed celebrities from the week before when they announced that wave 3 was off and it was time for wave 4 to head to the starting corrals. I got organized, packed what I needed to take with me and trashed the People magazine. In line to get into the starting corral I talked with runners from Scotland, England and Austria. Apparently the race is 2/5 non-American citizens with France sending the most runners after the US. The entire staging area for the start was incredibly well organized. It wasn’t too crowded and there were lots of volunteers to answer any questions. The piles of discarded clothing were huge, even with most runners still wearing quite a bit as we lined up. I said good-bye to my sweat pants and my lovely coat as we entered the corral, but kept my pink sweatshirt for awhile.

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To be continued…..

 

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1 Response to New York City Marathon Race Report – Part I

  1. Oh wow! Reading about you getting to the race made my head spin. What a morning! I love every picture and cannot wait to read more!

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