Sunday, December 13, 2015

Running with 'Empire State of Mind' stuck in my head

Not quite the view the hotel postcard portrays
New York City is big, right?  That's why it's called the Big Apple.  Well, the Big Apple seems a whole lot bigger when you're running 26.2 miles through it.  On November 1st, I ran the New York City Marathon, one of the biggest marathons in the world with about 50,000 runners.  Runners come from all of the world to run through NYC's 5 boroughs (a fancy word for neighborhood), which include Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan.  In the words of Alicia Keys and Jay-Z, these streets will make you feel brand new, lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York, New York, New York!  (I really could not get that song out my head the whole time I was there)

My first night in the city, I had the chance to catch up and have some pre-race oysters (don't worry, I had them post race too) with New York native and fellow Race Within US blogger, Miri.  We went to a place called White Oak on Friday night for their happy hour oyster deal.  Great oysters, great wine and great company!  

Unfortunately I didn't get to enjoy as much of the Big Apple as I would have liked since I had some work to do while I was there, but did have the chance to see some sights on  my way to and from the race expo.

I made my way through Times Square, and wandered over to Bryant Park and for the first time caught a glimpse of the Empire State Building.
Bryant Park ice skating...on Oct. 31st. Too soon NYC, too soon.

Naked Cowboy, where are you?

Maybe next time I'll make it to the top
So the night before a big race, most people carb load with a big pasta dinner.  I am not one of those people.  I wanted to grab something near my hotel so I could call it an early night, so went to a little tapas bar called Kilo.  If you are in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, I recommend this small, but quaint place for a bite and glass of wine.  I probably had one of the oddest pre-race dinners, even for me: mushroom tacos and duck hearts.  Yep, I said duck hearts.  After growing up eating chicken hearts from the chickens you helped butcher, I felt like I sort of had to try them.  They were actually pretty awesome, if you're into that sort of thing.  The mushroom tacos were equally as awesome.  The staff and bartender were also a friendly bunch.  

Now it's race day.  The marathon's website describes it as a 26.2 mile block party, and that is a pretty apt description.  Other than when you cross the Staten Island Bridge, there are cheering crowds the entire way.   It was really quite an experience and really an all day event. I left my hotel near Central Park around 6:45 a.m. and returned around 4:30 p.m. and was only running for 4 hours and 45 minutes of that span of time.  I took the subway to catch my 7:45 a.m. ferry to Staten Island where the course begins.  Everyone is assigned a wave and a corral color.  I was wave 3 orange.  Which meant that I didn't start until 10:40 a.m.  But even taking the 7:45 ferry, I felt like I made it just in time.  Once you get off the ferry, you are put on a bus to take you to the start villages.  I have no idea how long the bus ride was, but let's say it was long enough for me to doze of and take a nice little power nap.  Finally, I woke up, got off the bus, went through security and then made my way to the orange start village.  I was able to grab a cup of coffee just in time to hear announcements that they were lining up for wave 3.  It was probably around 9:45 or so at that point.  It was chilly so we all had lots of layers on that would soon be discarded when it was start time.  It's always a lot of fun to see the sweat shirts and pants (or bathrobes) that people wear pre-race. It's all the crap they otherwise would probably be tossing out.  It's really a highlight of wonderful, outdated fashion trends.  
An old hoodie to remember me by, NYC!

So 10:40 a.m. (4 hours after I left my hotel, and we were off!  Over the Staten Island bridge and on our way into Brooklyn.  Most of the time, to be honest, I had no idea what borough I was in unless someone was holding a sign that said "Welcome to XXX."  Somewhere along the way, I saw a face I recognized!  Miri was awesome enough to come out to the course on and cheer me on!  It's always so great to see a friendly familiar face in a sea of strangers.  THANK YOU MIRI!!!  And around mile 20 or so, I saw another face I recognized.  I'm running along and suddenly the cheering crowds start cheering a lot more zealously.  I soon figured out why as I ran past Alicia Keys, who was one of the celebrity runners that day.   Ok, so at that point in the race I was red-faced, sweaty and salty.  She looked like she was completely fresh and dry.  My only guess is that her small entourage running with her must have been sponging her off along the way.  Well sorry, Alicia, but I left you and your sponging entourage in my dust.  A small cloud of dust.  Well really more like a mist of sweat that was probably flinging off of my soaked ponytail.

So about 4 1/2 hours after I started this thing, I think I might have finally made it to Central Park.  It was actually really beautiful running through the park, and of course, tons of people cheering and keeping the block party going.   I was thinking, awesome, I'm close to the finish line and my hotel!  The finish line, yes. My hotel, no.  I finished, got my bling and then tried to make my way out of the park.  I wanted to go south, towards my hotel on the south end of the park.  Unfortunately, the finish corrals, took me north, very far north (or what seemed very far considering I just ran 26.2 miles).  Finally, I got out of the park, only to be forced to walk in the masses of people back south to the family meeting area.  And any attempt to divert down a less busy side street, was thwarted by barricaded streets and New York City's Finest.   Basically, it took me another full hour after crossing the finish line, to get out of the finish area and to my hotel.  Ugh!

Now considering I was meeting my friend for post race oysters at 6:00 and it was now 4:30, I was hardly left with any time to shower and nap!  Lucky for my friend, I opted to fore go the nap rather than the shower.  (you're welcome Kay Kay!)  But the oysters and company made it worth skipping the nap.

The New York City Marathon finished off my marathons for 2015.  It was also marathon/state #25!  Halfway there folks!   I'm thinking the Wicked Marathon in Kansas at the end of March 2016 if anyone wants to join me!  I need at least three more people so we can dress up as the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy! My dog Dean will be playing the role of Toto!

Happy holidays and thanks for all the words of encouragement and support over the past year!  

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