Friday, November 10, 2006

NYC Marathon, Part II: The Race Report

Sunday, November 4
42.2 km / 26.2 miles

5:00 a.m. wake-up call. Ugh. I got three hours sleep. I wanted to roll over and go back to sleep and actually almost did, but I didn't want to post "Um, I overslept and missed the marathon."

Funny thing how relaxed I felt going into this marathon since for the first time, I was doing it strictly to have fun. Didn't even wear a watch.

Cool morning, perhaps only about 7 or 8C but I dressed in layers and even wore my down jacket that I planned to give in at the baggage check. Some people foolishly wore only shorts and a sweatshirt. BRRRR. I boarded the bus with thousands of other runners around 6:45 a.m. after queuing up for 45 min. I wondered who'd want to board at 4:30 a.m. when the bus service started ...

The ride from mid-Manhattan took about 45 min. or so. I'm not sure as I fell asleep soon after chatting with the chap from England sitting beside me. I remember waking briefly and going into some tunnel then ... zzzz.

When I awoke next, it was our stop, Staten Island, the marathon start. Great, I had just enough time to go to the port-o-let, get undressed and check in my bag. I passed one of those runners dressed only in shorts and a sweatshirt and thought, "Baby, you're not doing too well if you're already shivering like that ... We still have more than an hour before start time."

I waited in line for the port-o-let and then waited some more. Then I waited in line again. The wait seemed to be getting longer. Cause of the extended wait? A jammed door that no one could open, except desperate woman runner me. I obstinately unjammed the door and figured, "Hey, I've earned the right to bud in line!"

Time to strip off the down jacket and put on my cape, a 5' x 3' Canadian flag. I figured it would go well with the deep red lipstick. Then off to check in my bag "way over back there". I slipped on my sweatshirt from the 80's to keep warm. Tears for Fears, Sowing the Seeds of Love.

I was impressed by how well organized the race was with its colour-coded start areas. We get into our corrals to march over to The Bridge together. Then we did the infamous "strip". What's great is that New York City picks up all the tossed clothing to give away afterwards. I saw many generous people wearing brand new items that they wanted someone else to enjoy after the race.

The bridge's official name is the Verazano-Narrows Bridge and it is 2 miles long. There are two levels and I was happy to find myself on the top level as I have heard many stories of people on the bottom level being whizzed on from above.

We all waited patiently for the start of this magnificent marathon that would take us through five boroughs, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan, and over five bridges. And unbeknownst to me and probably many others, this course is NOT FLAT and has many false flats and long ascents, the most difficult at the end starting at Mile 22.

Click here for course map. Click here for elevation chart.

BANG! went the gun and off we went excitedly, a slow-moving block party. The song "New York, New York" blared loudly out of the loudspeakers and the crowd went wild, singing out loud, swaying in unison to the rhythm, and some even doing the Rockettes kick. Yup, we were a lot of people on this bridge. Almost 37,000 in fact.

True to my usual marathon ritual, 2 km called for a "break" except that, still being on the bridge with nary a port-o-let in sight, the only privacy I could find was behind a parked city services truck. I arrived to find a line of runners, about seven or so very happy and relieved people. It's so much easier for men. I hid behind my flag which turned out to be very practical marathon fashion!

New York's finest took care of us all along the course.

Brooklyn. When the sun came out, the temperature rose quickly, perhaps reaching a high of 12 or 13C or so. I removed my long-sleeved shirt. I don't have a clue how some runners ran wearing only shorts and a tank top. My cape kept my shoulders warm over my t-shirt. I felt like Michael Jackson with my gloves still on.

Nine timing mats were placed to track the runners every 5 km as well as at the halfway point. This is great for friends to track us online if we're fast, but not so great if we're crawling like snails and our friends expect more and are wondering what the heck is wrong with us ... Hey, you know who you are :-)

Friendly firemen also lined the course to protect the runners and represent NYC. The fella on the left gave me a kiss on my cheek upon my parting ... how sweet!

Lots and lots of music to be had, bands, deejays, and great songs blasting out from huge speakers. Funny, I found there to be much more music on this course than at San Diego's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, which is supposed to be reknown for its bands. The music sure helped to pep me up though as my longest run since Ironman Canada late August was only 11 km. Talk about being undertrained. It's all mind over matter ... dismal agony vs. amused denial.

I was just one little head and body in a mega-crowd of runners being watched by over 2 million enthusiatic spectators. Everyone *loved* my cape ... GO CANADA! I didn't have to try to be noticed. The race photographers couldn't miss me and neither could the journalist from the small Ontario newspaper who stopped me to take photos and ask a few questions. Dang if I can't remember the name of that newspaper ... Psst, anyone reading this that might be able to help?

The aid stations got messier and messier as the course progressed ... and definitely not as tidy as this shot below when orange peels were involved. I hate the stickiness of my shoes after running through Gatorade. The aid station volunteers were very cheerful and absolutely fantastic. I made a point of thanking each one that passed me a cup.

The spectators were phenomonal and many people held special signs or even had their own little aid stations with water, candies, orange slices, and bananas, which I definitely took advantage of. I even saw one lady with a full shopping cart happily passing out whole bananas. That's the spirit. NYC rocks!

I had to snap these pics of the balloons as well as one of my favourite stations which announced itself a block ahead ... the High-5 Station. Woohoo!

My absolute favourite moment of the race came while I was running down a beautiful tree-lined street through Queen's. "YMCA" blared loudly through the speakers. Then suddenly as the chorus came on, the entire block of runners as well as all the spectators that lined the streets and stairwells, including the native Indian with full feather head-dress, moved their arms and formed *Y*M*C*A ... I cannot thoroughly describe the hilarity of this moving block party dancing to this song while running. One of those "you had to be there" moments and priceless.

Mascots, costumes, and patriotic paraphernalia were everywhere so I did not feel out of place, though I didn't see any other Canadian flags :-)

I saw a man stretching and we looked at each other as I passed. He was wearing a sweatband with the M-dot Ironman logo on it. I was wearing my M-dot Ironman cap. We understood each other instantly and exchanged a few words in passing. "What, you did Ironman Canada too? Cool!"

COURAGE. This gentleman and many other amputees finished before I did.

How about a kiss?

Almost at the half point ... getting harder to jump up onto the medians ... OOF!

Leaving the Queensboro Bridge into the Bronx.

Leaving the Bronx into Manhattan. Like the view?

I have no clue what really happened after I hit 20 miles, the start of the "real marathon". But even before that, I remember crowds, many rows deep, cheering enthusiastically. I heard many Go Canada's and acknowledged every one of them with a shout and either threw my arms up in the air in victory or gave a thumbs-up.

The whole experience became surreal and I continued to have FUN, giving high-5's to as many people as possible, especially the children. I could feel the effect of four potty stops and countless photo breaks on my running rhythm or rather lack thereof. I started feeling the fatigue of a long run and my feet and legs were killing me. I had to concentrate hard to keep myself moving forward as my recently sloth-like body was no longer accustomed to this kind of distance.

Manhattan was a blur ... long wide streets, tall tall buildings, huge crowd of spectators. Very loud cheering. Incredible. And then I saw SpongeBobSquarePants and I felt better.

What a *long* trek to Central Park. Yes, I hated that nasty seemingly never-ending ascent that started at 22 miles. I thought that the course would take us into the park and keep us there, but no, we just got taunted by running through a bit of it, then had to leave it to go the long way around to then finish in it. (Did you get that?) But hey, I was in Central Park and I was close to the finish!

Nothing more frustrating than reading "25 Miles" followed soon afterwards by "One mile left", then "1/2 mile left" then "400 yards left" then ... I think I blanked out at that point. It was like Chinese water torture.

Oh my gosh ... there's the Finish Line!

Finish time: 5:28:05
Half marathon time: 2:46:16
Pace: 12:31/mile

Definitely not my fastest marathon and only a few minutes faster than my Ironman marathon leg, but I achieved what I set out to do and shot a whole roll of film to boot. Best of all, I had a TOTAL BLAST!!

Thank you to all my friends, especially Killerchops, who supported me, even though you all thought I was crazy to run this race without training. A special thank you to Marcus for accompanying me to NYC and showing me a fantastic city. I will be back! Thank you to the kind volunteers and enthusiastic residents of NYC - you made this experience truly memorable.

And lastly, thank you to Ussoccer for planting these silly marathon pranks into my head ... Would I run NYC again? Oh definitely yes, but I'd have to top this one ... hehehe ...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

merci chérie for sharing once look like you had a terrific time, great pictures, and another medal for your collection, bravo !

8:22 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

.... making it look too easy, nice pics.... where to next?


4:08 p.m.  

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