Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NYC Marathon: Part 1

I packed my sleeping kit carefully: Fleece blanket, doughnut pillow, silk eye mask, ear plugs. I booked a red eye to New York on Friday, knowing well that the night before the night before the marathon would be my most important night to rest. Pre-race jitters would keep Saturday's sleep unsettled, so I needed a good rest two days out. The only problem? I don't sleep on planes.

With the best preparation in place (including soft pants and borrowing one of Kona's L-Theanine capsules), I touched down at JFK at 5:30 AM with four tossing and turning eye-shut hours behind me.

I surfaced from the subway in Manhattan with my head spinning with fatigue. The morning didn't offer much rest. I met fellow Fatties at Niketown and sped walked to the convention center to pick up my race materials. Through heavy eyes I tried to process all the sights. Skyscrapers sat next to old world cathedrals. Men and women in scarves and black coats line the sidewalks as a mass of florescent-clad runners took over the streets for an organized 5k.
By the afternoon, I battled to focus on my subway map. I met two friends on the north side of Central Park. They waved energetically to catch my attention, helping to jolt me awake. We spent the afternoon site seeing until my eyes couldn't handle more. After dinner with the Fatties, I crashed.

4AM came quickly. My hostel was already abuzz with other runners as we downed our cereal and bagels. I caught my 5:30 bus to Staten Island to begin the 5 hour wait before my 10:40 start time. I realized there was a perk to arriving so early--tent space. The waiting area had two giant tents that sheltered runners from the morning wind. I took my space by the door. As more runners arrived, the tent quickly filled up, heating the indoor space up several degrees and warding off the shivers.

I found myself sitting shoulder to shoulder to a man from Strasbourg, France. I lived in Strasbourg during college. The next couple hours paced along in a mix of French and English, covering mostly important running topics--port-o-potties, shoes, toilette paper.

Before I knew it, we were lined up at the start. Frank Sinatra blared from overhead speakers.

Start spreading the news
I'm leaving today
I wanna be a part of it

New York, New York

The mass of runners inched forward.

These vagabond shoes
They're longing to stray

Right through the very heart of it

New York, New York

I adjusted the energy gels I strapped to my wrist and pulled my cap down on my head. I could see the bridge ahead of us, rising up and away from Staten Island.

I want to wake up in the city
That doesn't sleep

And find I'm king of the hill

Top of the heap

For the first time since I arrived, nervous energy rushed from my head to my toes. All the training, all the fundraising, the e-mails, the ice packs, the planning. This was it.

My little town blues
They're melting away

I'm gonna make a brand new start of it

New York, New York

I double checked my shoelaces. The gun fired and the crowd of runners moved more quickly. I wiggled my numb toes and stretched my stride. We were running now. The paces flew by too fast and as I looked up, I crossed the starting line.

If I can make it there
I'll make it anywhere

It's up to you

New York, New York!


Sara said...

Wow, what an amazing experience. I have no words. Can't wait to read part 2!

Priscilla said...

Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience with us. It's so interesting!

Barb said...

Congratulations, AC! What an awesome accomplishment. Hope your tooth is better.

Kathy said...

WOW what an adventure! that had to be so awesome!

Sam said...

It's REALLY interesting hearing about New York, my home, from such a different perspective. Too cool. And I can totally imagine you in the midst of such a huge sea of runners!

Can't wait for part 2!

The Thundering Herd said...

A guy I work with ran in NYC this weekend too. He was just telling us that it was an amazing experience.

Dawn said...

5 hours to wait to start!? You are amazing!

I'm getting all teary - eyed and I wasn't even there!

Can't wait to read the next installment!

Two Pitties in the City said...

Oh, I am in suspense! I didn't know this about the start it all staggered so some people start as late as 10:00? Is this why they have it so late in the season so people don't have to run in the afternoon heat? The early wait and cold would make me nervous; I didn't have to go to the 7:30 start until 7:00.

Stella said...

What a great Part 1 story! I am excited to read the rest of the adventure!

It seems very nice to me that you got to sit next to the French guy and lived in his town for a time.

Cheers and hugs all around,

Stella, Jo and Zkhat

LauraK said...

How exciting!! I can't wait to hear about the rest- you're leaving us in such suspense!

Diana said...

I couldnt sleep on a plane either. My husband, he can sleep anywhere. Diana

KB said...

I can't wait to hear more. What an experience - meeting the Fatties (you might need to explain that name to the rest of your readers), hanging out in NY, sitting in the tent for 5 hours and chatting with the Frenchman.

Waiting for the next installment!

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

I cannot imagine sitting around for FIVE hours waiting for the start. Holy cow!