November 2, 2009

Race Report: New York City Marathon (Part 1)

I woke up and checked myself out. Hangover? No. Dehydration? Yes. I commenced getting ready, chugging water as I did so. The only snag in my morning marathon routine came when I still needed to make my race shirt. I was using a pink ribbed tanktop, and trying to use a Sharpie on it, but the ribs made it very difficult to write on it. Finally, my mom held it taut, while I used short brushstrokes with the pen to form the letters. Took me 15 minutes, but SO worth it! The front:


NYC Marathon History:
Nov ’07: Inspired to train
for my first half-marathon
Nov ’09: Running my
33rd marathon today!

And on the back:
21st marathon
in 2009
and finally one in
my hometown!!!

I knew it was a lot of text, but I didn’t care – those were the sentiments I wanted to convey, and even if no one read it, I was still proud of my shirt ๐Ÿ™‚

Instead of taking the subway down to the Staten Island ferry, my mom gave me a lift in her car – sweet! It didn’t take long at all, but because of the extra delay with my shirt that I hadn’t counted on, I was about 20 minutes late for my ferry time of 6:30 AM. I had heard that it didn’t really matter, but I was still a little nervous – if organizers tell you to be at a shuttle at a certain time, if you miss it, you really don’t have a right to complain.

There were a few drops of rain as we drove, but it wasn’t much, and the forecast had predicted that the rain was over for the day, so I didn’t worry too much. While the sky was still gray, it didn’t look like it was going to start pouring – or at least, start pouring as crazily as it had in Rhode Island. As long as it didn’t do that, I’d be fine.

Arriving at the ferry, I missed the cutoff for one by just two people – yuck! Fortunately, the next one was in just another 15 minutes, so I headed over to “Door Number One” and ended up near the head of the line for that one. Maybe that meant I’d get a seat on the ferry and not have to stand? I hoped so. As I stood in line, I unzipped my throwaway jacket (it was plenty warm in the ferry station), now revealing my shirt to the other runners. A group of women nearby read it, and then started chatting with me about my accomplishments. We ended up becoming friends and sitting together on the ferry and chatting the whole way – no need for the Running Times magazines I had brought!

Coming off the ferry, I followed the masses to the buses that would shuttle us to the actual start. During that short walk, I was approached by a guy who recognized me as the pacer from the Vermont City Marathon in May – yay! I love being recognized as a pacer – it makes me feel like I’ve given back to the world of marathoning ๐Ÿ™‚

We boarded the buses, and though I ended up standing instead of getting a seat, I was pretty pleased with the race organization thus far. Until, that is, the buses started unloading. The set up kind of sucked – but then again, I’m not sure what better way there would be to do it. Basically, the line of buses would all pull up one behind the other, and all unload simultaneously. When all the buses were unloaded, a new line of buses would come up, and the cycle would begin again. Unfortunately, this meant that people in the last buses were getting cut off by people unloading from the front buses. I was somewhere in the middle, and it was annoying enough how long it took me to actually get past the line of buses – I couldn’t imagine how long it would take to be in the last bus!

The line of people took forever to move forward, but finally I passed through the runners-only gate and arrived at the staging area. There were signs everywhere directing us to the various colored waiting areas, and I found that the green waiting area was huge – several tents, and the size of the waiting area of an entire race, were I doing a smaller one! After mistakenly ending up in the wheelchair athlete tent for a while, I was able to get my old manager, Rob, on his cell phone and find my way to the tent where he had saved me some ground space to sit. It was so cool to be there with him! He is one of my biggest inspirations for running a full marathon in the first place. Back in 2007, my friend Kelly and I went to go cheer him on when he ran NYCM through the Upper East Side, and it looked like so much fun. I figured that if he could do it, I could train and do it… and then a few months later, I ran my first half marathon (the Manhattan Half Marathon, in Central Park – the same place I’d be finishing today!) with Rob. Ah, memories… ๐Ÿ™‚

Today, I was starting in the second wave while Rob was in the third, so before long, I said goobye and headed off to find the corrals.I ended up giving my magazines to Rob, since he was checking a bag and I wasn’t going to. Honestly, I have a stack of unread running magazines on my dresser anyway – might as well give a few to someone who can put them to use!

Heading over to the corrals, I found that there was yet another staging area before I could actually line up. Having already given up my magazines, I didn’t really have anything to do, and I wasn’t in a particularly social mood, so I just wandered around and tried to take it all in. Suddenly, I spotted someone who looked familiar… it was Dean Karnazes! I first met Dean back at the San Francisco Marathon in July 2008, and I doubted he would remember me from our brief encounter, but I decided to say hello and reintroduce myself anyway. I reminded him how he told me at the time that running four marathons in three months made me crazy, and I happily informed him that I was now up to 34 marathons in 18 months… even crazier than before! As we talked and I told him about my goal to become the youngest female 50 stater, he asked the question I’ve been getting more and more lately: what next? I told him I didn’t know, and countered by asking what was next for him. And here’s where it gets interesting…

In 2011, Dean is going to spend the year attempting to run a marathon in every COUNTRY. That is a CRAZY lot of marathons! But the next words out of his mouth were what truly took me aback: “Laura, you should come do it with me!” He seemed quite serious about the offer, and I was flabbergasted. Really? A year off? Would that even be possible? I didn’t know, but it was definitely something to think about. How cool would that be?! We exchanged e-mails and said goodbye, and I headed over to the fence where people were starting to line up for the corrals.

The signs had not yet been updated from the previous wave’s numbers, so it was extremely confusing where we were supposed to go, but I asked enough people around me until I was pretty convinced I was in the right place. When it came time to line up, they let us into the corrals one at a time, checking each bib carefully to ensure that bandits wouldn’t make it in. It was an impressively organized system, and I was especially happy with the fact that I was one of the first ones in and therefore was one of the first to get dibs on one of the porta potties lining the road! I did have to wait a few minutes, but it was made extremely pleasant by the strains of the National Anthem coming from the Verrazano Bridge across the way. The race was about to start! I was so excited I was literally bouncing up and down and clasping my hands together with glee. I could just barely see the bridge where the runners were starting, but it didn’t matter – I could now hear Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York,” and if I looked off into the distance, I could thousands of runners just OWNING that bridge. It was one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen in my life, and I started actually crying, I was so sentimental. My shirt said it all: 21st marathon in 2009, and FINALLY one in my hometown! I couldn’t wait to begin.

(Apparently I didn’t ever finish writing part 2… what is wrong with me?! Instead, you can read my 2010 NYC Race Report – all three parts.)


10 thoughts on “Race Report: New York City Marathon (Part 1)”

  1. Wow, of course I’m a bit teary eyed reading this because a flood of NYCM memories are hitting me all at once. Man, what an AMAZING race! I shuttled in from NJ and saw that ridiculous line but our bus jumped the queue and dropped us off at the Fort’s entry gates. Whew and sorry ๐Ÿ™‚ And holy awesome encounter with Dean. It’s crazy how he just threw that offer out to you! [What oh what will you do? hint hint: DO IT!] Can’t wait to read part 2!

  2. Wow! That’s awesome, having that interaction with Dean! Good for you for having the initiative to strike up the conversation!
    Anxiously awaiting the second part…

  3. Wow, I canโ€™t wait to hear how this ends. I canโ€™t believe that you got to meet Dean AGAIN! So, there are like 8,000 countries or something right? Dean is a beast. (I think I got an F- in geography)

  4. I was there, and I cried too! Wasn’t the start a great moment?! Watching everyone ahead of us running up the bridge, with Frankie singing “New York, New York” made me lose it and start crying. It was my 4th and final marathon, and I loved every step of it.

  5. 1. So happy to finally read this.

    2. My jaw dropped while reading your encounter with Dean. That would be frigging unbelievable!!!

    3. Can’t wait to read the rest…going to now!

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I apparently never finished writing my 2009 report (will look on my old computer later to see if I can dig up whatever I have), but I just linked it to 2010 instead so there’s something. Sorry for the error, and for the laziness on my part in not finishing 2009!

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