Sunday, November 28, 2010

NYC Marathon - Race Report Part 1

After months of training and planning, it seemed like marathon day came all of sudden and I found myself madly stomping around my apartment on November 7th, 2010 at 4:30am, rummaging and making a huge mess trying to find my pacer bracelets. Since I didn't have any pacing device I'd picked up the free bracelets at the expo as insurance against the capital sin of marathoning and the most common rookie mistake: going out too fast.

At some point I gave up and left, preferring to go out without bracelets rather than risk missing the PPTC bus to Staten Island. I was still fuming clomping down the stairs when I got to the landing in front of my neighbors' apartment and my anxiety defused with a smile at the sign they'd left for me.

When I got to Jack Rabbit to board the PPTC bus, I bumped into Paul whom I had casually bullied/encouraged to sign up for NYRR the previous January 31st. A year and change later we'd both completed 9+1 and were ready to board. When we got to the starting village we settled in to wait in the cold. Over my running clothes I was wearing fleece pants, a cashmere sweater, a hoodie, and a down coat. This was topped with a wool blanket draped over my shoulders. The homeless bag lady look helped me fit in, but I was also freezing.

Paul and I sat down for a bit thinking it would be good to rest, but we were both too antsy and too cold to stay still, so we walked around trying to find a warm beverage. The starting village was a scene of high energy organized chaos. There were forty five thousand runners milling about waiting to run the biggest race in the world, trying to stay calm and warm as instructions in multiple languages piped through speakers and a rock band played live to an indifferent audience. This crowd was much more interested in the Dunkin Donuts truck which is where we headed.

By the time we were done with the coffee and had found a spot to camp out in the sun, it was time for Paul to head to his corral: he was starting with the sub-elites in the first wave and was going to try to qualify for Boston on his first marathon. I wished him luck and touched base with fellow Ragnar teammate Andrea. We were planning on starting together in her corral even though we wouldn't be running together because of our different paces.

We were in the last wave and the atmosphere had turned frantic: after hours of waiting, whoever did not make it into a corral would not be running. We got stuck in a crowd and couldn't see the signs ahead of us and we barely made it into the corral right before it closed.

After that it was a slow moving herd until suddently space opened up before us and we were right there! The start line was within sight, double decker buses with people cheering lined the side, the toll road that would lead us to the Verrazano and into Brooklyn was ahead. Someone gave a brief speech, there was some cheering, and then Frank Sinatra went "Start spreading the news..."

I gripped Andrea's arm and started shaking it "We're running the marathon! We're running the marathon!" and started crying and hugging her. I think I started making a weird high pitch wheezing sound and Andrea shot me a concerned look. I told her I'd be fine in a minute. I was just taking in the grandeur of the Verrazano spread before us and thinking of the all the steps that had had led me to be standing there. Already thousands had stood there before that day and I was about to run in the steps of Olympians, behind thousands of amazing people that had struggled through sweat and blood to follow their dreams. I was about to pursue one of my own and run my first marathon.

My arms and legs were still covered in sesame seed sized goosebumps and I was trying to calm down and stop crying when the gun went off and we started running.


  1. Enjoyed reading this;

    I did forget the paper pacing bracelets I had picked up at the expo - and as you'd predict, started too fast and paid the price later. Waiting for Part 2.

  2. Good guess, Arun! :)
    The pacing bracelets turned up two weeks later. They floated out from under an area rug. Stay tuned! Part 2 is coming soon to a browser near you!

  3. Great post! I can only imagine how amazing it must've been to be at that starting line in person. I watched it on TV and got all teary-eyed! Looking forward to reading the rest of your recap -- I entered the NY lottery and am hoping to run the race in 2011!

  4. I love the multiple language announcements. I wish I had a recording of "Pleas do not urinate of the side of the Verrazano Bridge" in 3 different languages.

  5. And with threats of expulsion, it's amazing hoe many people were still peeing on the side of the bridge.

    Good luck with the lottery, Michaela. Running this marathon is an amazing experience.

  6. I love this, Majo!! ALso, did not know that majo = simpatico :) Although I will agree that it is a true descriptor :) Great post!!!