Monday, November 15, 2010

NYC Marathon Pre-Race Report

So my training hadn't been optimal, and my "taper" had been more of a "drop", but after all the hustle it took to get bibs for the race -- including raising over $3000 with a lot of help from my friends! -- I wasn't going to skip the race.

We got into town on Friday at 5 -- and realized that if we hustled we could get to the expo before it shut at 8 and get our numbers, shirts, etc. Expo was very different than any others I had ever visited -- huge, sprawling place, with lots of large exhibitors and very few "little guys". Or maybe we just didn't see the little guys? Big pretty Brooks shop -- nice! Also interesting to compare and contrast what Asics (the official sponsor) and Nike did. Asics had all the official gear, of course, but I wasn't that impressed. Nike had all the "bandit" gear that said "NYC 26.2" -- sneaky! We checked in at the Nike+ counter, and were given special NYC 26.2 sportbands (minus the sensor). Very cool. Oh, also at expo we got the very good news that we didn't have to be at the ferry terminal until 7:30 and 7:45 -- much more sensible than 5:30 and 5:45!

We spent way too long on our feet on Saturday, but still managed to get to bed early. And with the time change (and the ferry change) we didn't have to get up until 6am, so it wasn't too hard to get moving. We got up, got dressed, put breakfast in a bag and headed to the subway. Funny to get on board a train and see a lot of people dressed like you. :) We were, of course, layered up with our disposable warm clothes -- and astounded by the people who were in shorts and singlets. Really? I mean, really?

We chatted with a very friendly guy named Eddie, who was astounded by the marathon and wished us good luck. We had to leave the subway and take a shuttle bus for the last few stations -- a bus crammed with runners. Awesome.

Then into the Staten Island Ferry terminal, where we crowded in to a busy departure hall. No one checked our "assignments" -- it was clear that they just wanted to get people onto boats as quickly as possible. After about 15 minutes, a ferry arrived -- and we all filed onto it. Wil and I headed up to the upper deck -- glorious in the bright sunshine -- and settled in to enjoy our cruise. I was amazed at how long it took to get to Staten Island... and humbled at the realization that we would be running all the way back and then some!

Upon landing at Staten Island, we took our time getting off the boat (no sense in queuing up!), and were welcomed by a throng of volunteers. We stopped to take a couple of pictures of the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

Gulp. That's sure a long way away...

Then onto buses that took us the last few miles to Fort Wadsworth. We seemed to arrive at just the right time -- in a gap between buses -- which meant that we got off the bus to discover a line of clean, empty porta potties. There was a strange pause -- what were those strange, line-free things? -- and then we all headed over to them. Within minutes other buses arrived and long lines formed. Clearly, the marathon gods were on our side.

We then moved to the "Race Village" entrance... and faced lines of security guards and then armed soldiers all shouting "SHOW ME YOUR NUMBER!". That gauntlet cleared, things were easier. We walked and walked until we found our Green village... and realized that a lot of people had still been told to be on the ferry at 5:30. Yikes.

Wil got some coffee and we found a quiet spot to have a rest. We had over an hour before our corrals opened, so we just ate our breakfasts and relaxed. It was cold but the sun was shining and the day was bright. Perfect!

We decided to move to a more central location in the village 15 minutes before our corrals opened -- just in time to see the male elites and wave 1 start. It was amazing to hear a roar and suddenly see people appearing on the bridge. We whooped and waved ... and then laughed at the men stopping to pee on the bridge.

Soon after, our corrals opened... and the second wave moved into the starting pen. They left, we moved into the pens, and tried to avoid twisting an ankle on the piles of discarded clothing. I had the same surreal feeling I often do before races -- was this really happening? Was I about to start running a MARATHON? To be honest, part of me still worries that I've just dreamt all of this, and that I'm going to wake up and face race morning again! But we were waved forward into the starting chute, and with a cannon shot, we were on our way.

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