On Sunday, November 3rd I ran my first NYC Marathon.  The day began at 4:30am with my alarm and by 5am I was in a car service heading into midtown Manhattan.  I was dropped off at 51st Street and 6th Avenue at 5:30am and quickly realized that I was too early for my bus.  Luckily there was an open deli on the block which was filled with runners.  I grabbed so coffee, plugged my phone into an outlet, and met some other runners.  While I waiting for my bus to arrive, I ran into 2 people who work at my hospital.  Both are veteran runners and were very reassuring.  Just after 6am I found myself in the very back row of a charter bus (right next to the smelly bathroom!) heading towards Staten Island. Image

Getting ready to head out the door…

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Heading under the 59th Street Bridge in the bus to Staten Island.  The Bridge and I would meet again.

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My first view of the Verrazano Bridge.  Looks pretty steep….

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NYFD watching the starting area.

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One of many NYPD helicopters that I saw throughout the day.

While on the bus one of the Team for Kids coaches gave a rousing speech about running the NYC Marathon.  Unfortunately, since I was sitting all the way in the back of the bus, most of it was gibberish.  I did get the part about enjoying the course and keeping your eyes up and looking around.  It was certainly helpful to walk with the group to find the Team for Kids tent before the start.

We reached Staten Island around 7:45am and were ensconced in the tent by 8am.  Which gave me almost 3 hours to wait before I started.  I had eaten a Luna Protein bar on the bus and grabbed a plain bagel and some water in the tent.  The tent was huge and heated.  Out the back of the tent were some private portapotties.  Inside there were no chairs but hot tea, bottled water, gatorade, bagels, and other goodies.  I made some new friends and sat on a post-race mylar that I had brought for just this purpose.  It was a chilly and windy morning so it was great to have a warm tent to stay out of the elements.

The Team for Kids coaches called out for Wave 1 to drop off their bags at the UPS truck (we had a private truck for our charity) and go outside to stretch.  Some time later they called for Wave 2 and then Wave 3.  Luckily there were plenty of other slow-pokes so I made friends and chilled out.  I finally dropped off my bag at the UPS truck after making some hard decisions about throw-away clothes.  I used the portapotties a few times and drank some water.  I’m not a big fan of stretching so I avoiding the group stretch.  I headed over the corrals with someone I had met in training and we waited in quite a long line to get the start area.  It’s hard to explain the vast sea of people that were present.  We finally headed towards the toll booths for the Bridge and heard the cannon go off for the Wave 4 start.

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The pre-start sea of humanity.

 

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It actually thinned out pretty well once we got going.

The start is divided into 3 colors.  The green start is on the lower level of the bridge (this is undesirable because historically people who pee off the bridge and it would hit the people on the lower level).  The blue start is on the right side of the upper level (the way traffic would normally flow from Staten Island to Brooklyn).  The orange start – which was me – is on the left side of the upper level (or against traffic going from Brooklyn to Staten Island).

While I intellectually know that the 1st mile was up a significant hill of a bridge, I can’t say I really noticed the incline.  My pace band had this mile as the slower of the race anyway and my plan was to start conservatively.  Jeff Galloway wanted me to use a 30/30 for the first 6 miles of the race so I was running an easy pace and just enjoying the scenery.  The one hazard was discarded clothing on the bridge but that wasn’t even a big issue.  People were friendly and excited.  I even got a few questions about my run/walk technique although they were from people who seemed familiar with Jeff Galloway.

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Off to the right you can see that the blue start is taking a slightly different route through Brooklyn than the orange.  The various colors wouldn’t merge for several more miles.

As we came to the end of the bridge we found ourselves in Brooklyn!

 

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