Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2009 New York Marathon - The Morning of the Race

I have a few moments this afternoon to blog about the morning of the race...the actual race report will have to wait (sorry folks!). However, more time elapsed from the time I woke up marathon morning to the time I lined up in the gate than during my running of the marathon itself...so there is plenty to talk about!

As I mentioned before, I woke up before my alarm. I had set my watch alarm for 5:35am - which was actually 4:35am due to the switch from Daylight Savings Time. When I woke up, I looked at the time on my friend's cable box and it said 4:25 - I wasn't sure if that was with "falling back" or not...I took a look at my watch which showed 5:25 so I realized that the cable box automatically turned the clock back.

I had laid everything out the night before - running clothes (shirt, shorts, socks, sleeves and hat), RedG and the HRM strap, my water belt, bodyglide, nipple tape, tissues (for both the porta potties and the sinuses), GUs and a Larabar, pre-race food (a bagel, a banana and a single serving container of peanut butter), my throw away sweatshirt (vintage 1990 UofM Greek Week sweatshirt which I probably have not worn in over 15 years - why it was still in my closet I did not know...). I decided not to wear the throw away sweatpants that I had - my friend's apartment was really warm and it had seemed warm enough the night before so I did not think I needed them. I had put my subway card and a few bucks in my RoadID pouch on my shoe also so I would not forget these essentials. As a result, getting ready in the morning was very quick...I had enough time to strip the linen from my friend's sofa bed and fold it back up before leaving.

I walked out to the subway where I was going to meet teammate LG at 5:15am. As I was crossing the street to the station, a car pulled up beside me, "Are you going to the marathon start?" (umm - it's pretty obvious, don'tcha think?) "Do you want a lift?" he asked me. The driver did not look like he was about to run the marathon, and I was wondering what the guy was up to. A bit sketchy if you ask me...even on the Upper West Side. I politely told him that I was meeting other people - thanks, but no thanks.

I met up with LG and we did the subway thing. It was nice to be underground as it was drizzling a bit outside. There were two types of people on the subway and walking around New York at that time. Those in running gear who were getting to their assigned spots to travel to the starting line of the marathon, and those in Halloween costumes who were traveling back home after a night full of partying. Even though the marathoners outnumbered the party revelers at that time, it was still quite a scene.

We made it to Union Square and boarded the team bus. I had met about half of the Team Run To Remember members over the past four months during the various training runs and meetings I came up to New York for, but there wasn't anyone in particular I was planning to sit with on the bus ride. As I boarded the bus, someone from the back yells, "Go BLUE!" upon seeing the big maize and blue M on my sweatshirt - so I went to speak to this fellow UofM runner, BE. He is another out-of-town team member - from Cincinnati - and graduated UofM last year. Also in the back of the bus at that point was teammate JR who I had not met before but immediately started discussing the various iPods we had used - and needed to replace - due to our running madness! A few minutes later another teammate that I had only briefly met before on a training run, CW, sat down next to me and we congratulated each other on our fundraising achievements (she raised over $20K!!) and started to discuss the nerves and adrenaline that were pumping through us at that moment.

The bus took the long way around to Fort Wadsworth - out the Holland Tunnel into New Jersey and then to the Bayonne Bridge into Staten Island. I guess the Verrazano Bridge closed at 7am and the bus driver didn't want to chance not getting over the bridge in time.

Once we arrived at Fort Wadsworth, there was a small sea of people being dropped off of busses and waiting in line to enter the "runner's village". It must have taken us about 20 minutes to get through this line and enter. Most of the team stayed together and gathered in the common area before dispersing to our different color start areas. We posed for a group picture - there were 3 or 4 people taking photos with everyone's cameras...one of the "photographers" was a foreigner who would say "PERRRRRFECT" each time he took a photo. It got a laugh from the entire team every time!

A few of us went to get some food and coffee - unfortunately, we trekked through a muddy patch of field instead of following the non-muddy streets...we knew which way NOT to take back to the team site! While looking for bagels, teammate TA met Tara from last season's The Biggest Loser and took a picture with her to show to the rest of the team...very cool!

We all got back to the group and ate, schmoozed and tried to keep warm. About half an hour later, the group started to break up to head toward their different color areas - and some of the runners in the earlier waves needed to hit their starting corrals. It was definitely a bittersweet moment - we were all about to embark on this awesome event that we all had spent the last four to five months preparing for. However, this also marked the end of the team being together.

As someone who was a bit of an "outsider" at the beginning - I'm not from New York and I am not active in the NY Alzheimer's Association chapter - I found that this team gelled very well. I think it was a perfect size - large enough to raise a sum of money that justifies the hard work needed to organize the team and also large enough to sustain all of the training runs/meetings of the team, but small enough that all the members get an opportunity to meet everyone in the group and that the team could take on its own identity without having sub-teams or cliques. I really enjoyed every moment that I had with this team - from my Central Park training runs in August and September, to the meeting I attended when Liz Robbins spoke about her book, to the training run over the last 10 miles of the marathon course, to all of the time spent in the hours leading up to the race. I will really miss the members of this team, and I hope to keep in touch with many of them (and perhaps run with them again!).

I went to the orange runners area and met up with my college friend ZF. She immediately recognized the UofM Greek Week sweatshirt (and was pretty amazed that I still had it!). She had been hanging out in one of the tents with another friend of hers for hours - they had arrived at Fort Wadsworth at 6:30am and it was now about 9:30. About 10 minutes later we heard the cannon go off and we were able to see the runners on the bridge. WOW!

We took a quick Brightroom photo with the Verrazano Bridge in the background. I'm not sure why I did this - I definitely will want the memories, but Brightroom charges so much for the photos it's ridiculous! If they charged something reasonable I would consider purchasing the prints or buying the downloads...but until then it's going to be screen captures with the "Copyright" message going across...

Then it was one last trip to the porta-potty (and thank goodness I brought my own tissues...too much information???) before heading to the corrals and lining up for the start of the New York Marathon!

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