Thursday, November 5, 2009

New York City Marathon!

I arrived in New York on Friday around noon. I spent Friday at the marathon expo and enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner on Friday night. Saturday I spent the day out on Long Island with the Diefendorf family (a family I've grown to love since I met them in Africa in 2007). We had a delicious pasta dish on Saturday night as well. Everyone had plans to watch the Yankee game so I went back to my cousin's apartment early so I could crash and get a good night's sleep. I was carb loaded and ready to go.
After tossing and turning all night I finally got out of bed at 5 am. I am pretty sure I only got three hours of sleep but with all the excitement that didn't seem to matter. I hailed a cab and headed to the bus meeting spot. It was rainy and still a bit chilly. At 6:30 sharp the buses were loaded and we were on our way to Staten Island where they would drop all the runners at the starting line. Below is the picture of the buses that were lining the street.
When we arrived on Staten Island it was cloudy and chilly. All the runners were wearing old sweats that they could throw at the start of the race. I threw a pair of old fleece pants and a sweatshirt from my first teaching observation school. An hour before each wave start items had to be dropped at the UPS trucks that would take them back to Central Park. (The mere organization aspect of the race was amazing to me) Below is a picture of the UPS trucks lined up!
The picture below isn't even the start of the race it's just the entrance to the starting area. Over 43,000 people waited in the starting area. It became almost a carnival for the morning. It was complete with who knows how many port a potties, food tents, VIP tents, the charity area, and sponsors. I can't even lie... I got lost more than once.
Below is the charity tent I sat in for an hour and a half before I raced. It was super crowded and muddy. We sat on trash bags (if you were smart enough to bring one) and were served bagels, water and coffee. I people watched as many runners did all kinds of weird things, including coating their feet and socks in vaseline.
After a great deal of waiting and many misguided directions the race started. It took me twenty minutes to finally get to the starting line. However, the wait went fast. First, the cannon ball sounded the start, then a ship in the water shot blue, red, and white streaks of water into the air while helicopters circled overhead and "New York, New York" played on the speakers. Everyone was cheering and clapping. The energy level was high, the temperature was perfect (mid fifties and overcast), and I knew I had done a great deal of training. I was eager to finally get going.
Running up the Verazanno Narrows bridge... this is in the first mile and one of the hillier parts of the course. The course has five bridges, each of which is an uphill climb. At this point it was still pretty cloudy.
More race shots. Notice the number of runners around never lessens. I was surrounded by runners (and fans) the whole time. Above is a shot of the final miles in Central Park.
Below is a picture of my running shoes and Team for Kids race singlet that I wore. I was so worried about what I was going to wear with this stupid tank top, but the weather ended up being perfect. I was glad I put my name on the singlet so people yelled it the whole time I ran. One of my favorite parts was listening to all the different accents yelling my name for 26.2 miles. I'm happy to retire these shoes now since I wore them for all of training!
The race wasn't completely easy, but it was an overall amazing experience. I finished way better than I expected and only suffered from a couple cramps during the run. It was amazing to run with my phone as I received texts from start to finish. I was used to running with it for music so it didn't bother me at all. I probably got the most encouragement of anyone just from all my friends and family texting me that morning. Below is the picture of me right after I crossed the finish line. It's not the best, but what do you expect :)
Below is me with my medal about ten minutes after finish. I'm still in Central Park and will walk another three miles after the race!!! I promise it helped to ease the tightness in my legs.
My finish time: (9:04 per mile)
There are banners around Central Park that list each of the five burroughs the race runs through.

Overall, this was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I couldn't have done it without my family and friends, but I also feel like it was a personally stretching experience. It's hard to believe I did all the training alone. It was a huge feat when I trained with my roommates in 2005, but a much, much bigger feat to do it by myself now. I don't regret a single step. I am not quite sure what is next. Some say I should try and qualify for Boston, but that would require me shaving off 17 minutes and committing SO much of my life to running and eating well. For now, I am going to look back on the run and the experience. There are too many stories to share on the blog, but I know it is an experience I won't soon forget.

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