My one year wait to run through the streets of the city was over – I arranged for the flight with Sal and Suzanne to arrive early on Friday to have the day in the city to our liking. We stashed our luggage at my place, the Atlas, a brilliant score (from my brother-in-law) for my weekend stay. How’s this for a view out my bedroom window? It had a small kitchen that I didn’t use, but very good location and a place to call home for a few nights.
We went to the VERY crowded Expo at the Javits center. Despite a long line for security check in and bag search, we never stopped walking, we made our way into the show quite effortlessly. Everyone got their numbers and goodie bags, then we went through the Asics booth. Great race merchandise this year, it is the final ING sponsored race before it becomes the TCA NYC Marathon next fall. I got a shirt and some things for John, and some Oakley things from the “Official Eyewear Sponsor” of the race for myself. The other suppliers were as you’d see at most marathons, shoe and clothing companies, food and nutrition. We saw we missed any opportunity to meet any of the elite athletes for pictures in supplier booths, that is usually a neat experience. We had a few hours on our feet already, so we left the show and found a local eatery in Hell’s Kitchen for a beer or two and some snacks. Then back to my apartment so Sal and Suzanne could check into the Park Central hotel. We ate at Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain, a nice place that we had no troubles being seated in, I guess we beat the after work crowd. Good food! Then we went and saw Spiderman on Broadway, an action musical (if that’s possible) with U2’s Bono and Edge having done the musical score for the show. I enjoy live entertainment, and I haven’t seen a Broadway show in a few years. Very good way to be off our feet pre-race.
Saturday morning I went to the Hard Rock Cafe for the JDRF breakfast (Sal’s run charity group). l contacted Charlotte about meeting her at the expo, knowing how crowded it was we really weren’t looking forward to all of the people and crowds again, BUT we had forgotten to get the special 2012 marathon medal and wristband they were giving out to folks that were registered for last year. We enjoyed a good breakfast, I oogled over the rock ‘n roll memorabilia as expected, then we took a cab to the expo. It was easy to meet Charlotte, she had already gotten her things but also forgot the 2012 medal. A quick visit, a few vendor booth stops and purchases and we were back out on the streets. Charlotte went to spend the day with her parents and sisters, we dropped our things at my apartment and took a subway down to Battery Park. Our plan was to see the 9/11 Memorial fountains, the Orb in the park and whatever else we wanted. We had good laughs through the day, the people, the trains, the city delivers all of that! After a good look at the fountains and new Freedom Tower, we went back to the Park Central to get sorted for dinner and meet with Francee Jefferson. She had a high school cross country meet Saturday, a late afternoon flight up from Ft Lauderdale and a hurry-up visit to the Expo for packet pickup. She came to our hotel, and we also touched base with Nicole Rattay who was staying at Park Central, too.
Bizarre occurrences happen frequently and by now I should accept this fact. While rolling out of the hotel to find a restaurant, Sal points to a woman walking in front of us with a unique Boston marathon jacket, one that includes several finisher dates on the back of the coat. Hmm, too coincidental, I know someone that has this same type of custom embroidery on a Boston coat. I tap on the elbow and discover what I thought to be true, it is Cammie and Jeff Breen walking down 7th Avenue! There are millions of people in the city, a few thousand more just for the weekend and I find someone I know strolling out to dinner? I introduced everyone and we went to our pre-race dinner at Maison. all of the runners ordered a big piece of Atlantic Salmon, what a good race prep meal we had. Telling stories and allowing everyone to meet new friends, this was a really fun night! Maison was a good find for beer, too, Kronenbourg 1664 served at a French place, of course!
I walked home to my place for a good night’s sleep. Pre-race setup, what to wear, listening to the FSU-Miami football game, I was doing well. I went to bed early, but didn’t fall asleep. I wasn’t nervous about the race, didn’t think I’d oversleep nor had I drank any caffeine that day. I did sleep soundly and woke up before the alarm. Stories and reports of temps in the 30s kind of evaporated as my iPhone displayed a current temp of 52 at 4am. Going down to 46 by 8am, when we’d likely hit Staten Island for the Athlete Village waiting process. I dressed well, long North Face legs, compression socks, I moved my arch inserts to the Meb Speed shoes, that went well. I have good throw-away gear, gloves, a hat, I was ready for a cold wait outside the start. Sal’s charity team had a special bus to the start that we were able to ride, and best yet, a shielded tent in Athlete Village with food and drinks! Our bus ride went all over Manhattan finally crossing under the river at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. BQE to Verrazano Bridge, where we waited for 30 minutes to get across. It was great to be in a heated bus seat with a bathroom on board vs the Staten Island ferry ordeal. While waiting on the bridge, the Royal Carribean Explorer of the Seas passed under the bridge – that made for a nice good morning sight and picture!
Here are my details from the race ~ thoughts and experiences.
Upon finishing, Charlotte and I met her parents. We walked west to find a less crowded street and cab, our destination was a bar called Opal on the east side. The Central Park Track Club was meeting there after the race, Charlotte knew some of them and her uncle, a fast runner from years ago was also meeting us. That place had great atmosphere, we received a round of applause when we walked in with our bright orange ponchos and finsher medals, and that was just in the regular bar! Same thing happened when we hobbled through to the back room where CPTC was meeting. I enjoyed getting my shoes off finally, having a cold beer, talking to Charlotte’s uncle and friends and warming up. Brian, a runner that went to UCLA with Charlotte, was entertaining. He had run a 16:40 5k the day before the race. His friend that walked in a half hour after us got a 2:37 in the marathon. Brian was excited because one of his friends in the club, a man named Cassidy, beat Meb by 1 second once Meb fell off the lead and bonked. What a crew to spend time with after the run!
Once I heard Sal and Suzanne had finished, I decided to loosen up my legs and walk to their hotel. Cammie hadn’t checked in yet as finished, but they planned on having a great dinner with us at an Iron-Chef restaurant called Esca. I met Cammie and Jeff at the NYPD runner’s after party (Uh huh, another VIP drop-in!) and we waited for Sal and Suzanne to shower before I went to the room and did the same. I was thankful I thought to stash clothes in their apartment so I could change after the race. Our dinner was very good, I was glad Sal could translate the menu to me – Cammie said much of the same. If it wasn’t explained for us, we threatened to order the PB&J or meatballs on a plate! After dinner, everyone took a cab back to their hotel. I walked back to my apartment and got things organized for an early morning check-out. I connected with Hillary Hamer, referred to me by fellow pacer Andrea in Ft Lauderdale. I was supposed to meet with her some time on the weekend according to Andrea, but repeated texts found us in different places throughout the expo and race days. She had run her PR today in her first-ever visit to the city! I should have arranged to meet her after Sunday’s dinner. Her hotel was very close to our restaurant and without knowing it, we both walked home alone to our respective buildings. We planned to meet up in the morning for breakfast and a visit to the Finisher’s Merchandise tent in Central Park. I cleaned up the room, organized what I wanted to pack, wear and throw away and then tipped over on the bed. Lights out, Dave.
I met John my brother in law at 8:30 to return the room key and yap about the race. Culture, a popular coffee spot, was right next to my apartment, we sat and talked for a few minutes. I walked to the Park Central and left my luggage in Sal & Suzanne’s room, found Hillary in the lobby and went to a cafe with Sal and Hillary to have something for breakfast besides hot chocolate. We gathered Cammmie, Jeff and Suzanne and walked to Central Park.
The merch sale was a zoo, lines, a small store, this would be better accomplished online we all figured. We walked a few blocks north to see Strawberry Fields, it was Hillary’s first time there. We stopped and talked about John Lennon at the Dakota before going into the park. It wasn’t as crowded as usual, a man played Beatles songs on a guitar but no flowers or cards were on the “Imagine” tiles as I am used to seeing. Maybe we were there a bit early in the day? We walked diagonally through Central Park, took some photos and then went for lunch. That was only a short walk down to the Plaza Hotel and Todd English’s Food Court. An odd meal consisting of clam chowder, beer and cheesecake, but who’s watching the marathoner’s diets anyway? Once done, we split up and headed back to our hotels to catch planes. Cammie and Jeff drove from Boston, so they stayed a bit longer in the city. Hillary was not far behind us returning to Florida, she started flying back to Ft Lauderdale right about when we’d were landing in WPB. I felt great knowing I packed so much into my weekend away. Good food, good sights, the race and really above all, good friends. I’d run NYC again, I think it would be an interesting route to race. This time, the experiences surrounding the marathon made the trip special. -dm