Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Race Report: The ING NYC Marathon - Part 1

I didn't want to break this up into two posts but I realized it was already super long before I had even started talking about the race itself! So here we are discussing the race in the first of two installments. And what a race it was. This was my third New York City Marathon, and I can say with complete certainty that I love it more and more every year.

In the days preceding the race, I tried tweeting every article I could find about it because its history is long and storied. I won't opine on details too much because I'm relatively new to the scene. I can't speak to things like the marathon's first running, the first five-borough route, its significance after 9/11. As much as I enjoy reading about these events, I don't feel qualified to delve too deeply into them, so I won't. Maybe someday I'll do a history post after conducting some extensive research.

Let's start with the Expo and how I arrived there fifteen minutes before it closed. I know, I would have preferred to make it there earlier too, but it just worked out that way. The fact that bib pickup closed at 7 on both Thursday and Friday made it difficult for me to get to the Expo from work in time and I spent Saturday getting ready. My mom ended up meeting me there straight from the airport because we were concerned that it would close before we made it if we met up at my apartment first.

Things were wrapping up when I arrived, so I didn't have time to walk around and check out all the cool vendors and promotions. I really only had time to grab a pace team bib (4:30) before heading home and grabbing a nice pasta dinner from Cafe Metro, which was the same pre-marathon dinner I had last year. I went to bed around 11, which is later than I intended but still really not bad since Daylight Savings Time gave us an extra hour of sleep.

I woke up a few times throughout the night. It's not unusual for me on race eve, but this time I felt like the night would not end! I kept waking up and expecting that it would be time for me to jump out of bed and hop a train to South Ferry. 6am could not come fast enough. When it finally did, I heard shuffling about from outside my room and guessed correctly that it was Giri (my roommate's boyfriend) getting ready to leave himself. Giri is a speed demon and had a 9:40 start time, so left about ten minutes before I did.

Once I was up and about, I finished attaching bibs to my shirt. I mentioned in an earlier post that I intended to wear my name bib from Baltimore in lieu of writing my name on the shirt itself. Unfortunately, after I attached all three of my bibs, I felt that I was experiencing a potentially detrimental excess of bib. I removed the name bib and left my regular and pace team ones.

I chose my Team reGen jacket and newly discovered Cornell sweatpants as outerwear, said bye to my mom, and headed out into the early morning to get a bagel and banana from Cafe Metro. I walked over to the 50th Street 1 station and waited patiently for the train to South Ferry with a bunch of other runners. Not surprisingly, it took the train 10 or 15 minutes to arrive but once it did, the trip was uneventful. The ferry ride was similarly predictable, but I always find riding it to a race (the Staten Island Half or marathon) to be exciting. From there, runners were bused to Fort Wadsworth. I used my bus ride to take a nice nap. 

Once I arrived and got through security, I surveyed the scene. Dunkin Donuts gives out bagels (another thing I should have remembered since I bought my own), coffee, and awesome hats. I got myself some coffee and a hat and temporarily switched it with my reGen visor to keep my head warm. At the same time, I wanted to ease into the cold, so I took off my sweatpants while leaving my jacket on with the intent of acclimating to the cold a little bit before removing my jacket.

Speaking of outer clothes, I have yet to ditch a piece of clothing pre-race. Not that it shouldn't be done, but I haven't needed to. This year it was actually easier than last because it was warmer, so parting with my pants and jacket close to an hour before the start wasn't a big deal.

After drinking my coffee, removing my pants, and applying a lubricant sample I'd gotten from the Expo, I started looking for my friend, Geri (running on behalf of the Women's Sports Foundation) and we had some good marathon chat. I was also supposed to meet up with a fellow Team Lipstick member, but wasn't able to find her before I had to make a mad dash to go to the bathroom and check my bag. You'd think after a couple of years of doing this already I would know the drill.

While waiting for the bathroom, I also spotted Wilson! We were able to exchange quick hellos and wish each other luck before parting ways again. I went to the bathroom and checked my bag just in time. A little late, in fact. The truck for my corral had actually already closed and they had to put it into a later corral's truck. Once that was done, I started heading for the corrals, hoping to find the 4:30 pace team somewhere along the way.

Alas, I didn't find my pace team before lining up in the corral! Normally, the group leaders are very easy to spot because they carry signs with balloons attached stating which pace group they are leading. It wasn't until I had nearly reached the start line with a fellow lost pace team member that we realized the pace group was WAY behind us. I was concerned because I knew if I started first but waited for and ran with the pace team the entire way, I wouldn't finish under 4:30! Just as America the Beautiful rang out to the masses of runners, I was faced with a race strategy dilemma.


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