By popular demand (because I define popular as requests from TexMom and Theric), here is the report of my Experience in Stupidity. This is actually a rather long post. If I were smarter, I would put together a little table of contents with cool little links so you can skip over the boring stuff, but I'm not smart enough to do that.
All good travel logs start with the journey, right? Okay. Not much to tell here. My flight left Salt Lake at 11:15. I had my bag packed by 7ish; I wasn't leaving for the airport until 9:30ish. That meant I had two and a half hours to fret over what I was forgetting to pack. Oh well. Such is life sometimes. Fortunately, I didn't forget anything.
The plane trip itself was rather uneventful. Surly Boy next to me was a bit obnoxious, but only in that I'm Disgruntled Because I Actually Have to Sit Next to Someone sort of way. And after he finished hogging the armrest, he flipped it up. I'm not sure why. I guess it was his and he didn't want me to use it. Or he wanted to cuddle and the armrest was in the way. I don't know. But he didn't cuddle, which is fine with me because who wants to cuddle with a surly boy anyway?
I arrived in NYC at 5:25 in the morning. Yeah, short flight. And because of Surly Boy, I actually didn't get much sleep on the flight. And that's a shame. Why else would you fly redeye? Redeye exists so you don't have to waste valuable vacation time with silly little particulars like travel.
My bag actually popped out in bag claim rather quickly. That was nice. So I caught the air train to Jamaica Station, and, at the recommendation of my Generous Friend Who Let Me Crash on His Couch, caught the train into Penn Station instead of taking the subway. Why I've never done this before, I don't know. But that was a nice, wonderful, happy, quick trip to Manhattan. So travel trip: Take the train (15 min. and $7) instead of the subway (45 min.) or a cab ($45).
Moving right along with far more details than you care about, I went to Generous Friend's apartment and caught a few winks. Then I went to the Marathon Expo to pick up my race number. At that point, the Impending Event of Stupidity was truly beginning to become real. I did some wandering there. I find it interesting that some of the merchandise only came in large and extra-large; most of the runners I saw there are smaller than me. I watched a scary video that traced the marathon route showing the mileage and the altitude.
After the expo, I met up with my NYU friends for dinner at Burger Heaven. Yummy. It was good to see old friends and get caught up on life and things. After dinner, we went back to one of my friend's place for a rousing game of Scene It. At least my partner and I weren't thoroughly trounced.
I think I slept in Saturday morning, which was probably not an ideal thing to do since I was supposed to go to bed early that night. There was nothing spectacular about Saturday. Well, except for the shopping. Sigh. I love H&M. H&M is my bestest friend ever. I did some reading in the afternoon.
I fell asleep in the late afternoon. Oops. There was another hour and a half there. Fortunately, I was woken by a phone call. Granted, it was an odd call. (Saturday was my cousin's birthday, and her boyfriend was calling me for help in figuring out what size to buy for my cousin's birthday present.)
Following the call, I got myself up and out to the Tavern on the Green for the pre-marathon dinner. I figured I shouldn't pass up free food, even if it was pasta, considering that I, as a general rule, do not eat enough to sustain normal daily activity let alone absurd non-daily activity. I got to stand in line behind some Germans and in front of some Brits. As I got closer to the tent, I was attacked by Crazy Face Painting Woman. Apparently I really really needed a pink heart painted on my face. Which I guess wouldn't be so bad if everyone didn't continue to ask me for the rest of the night why I had an L on my face. Of course, the greatest part of the attack was when she insisted on putting one on the faces of the Brits. Te he he. One of them apparently didn't want any face painting, but that didn't stop her from chasing him around the park.
Dinner was pasta. If you know me, you know that I didn't derive too much joy and pleasure from this. But everyone says pasta is good for you before endurance events . . . Believe it or not, I actually finished all the pasta and soggy salad on my place. And I made a new friend, Kathleen from Michigan. Or Minnesota. Hmm. I don't remember, but I'm going to go with the Michigan. She was One of Great Enthusiasm, and that was pretty cool. We bonded over her brother who lives in Provo--he's a recruiter for one of the schools there, though she couldn't remember which one, even when I asked her if it was BYU or UVSC, considering that those are the only two schools there. But she was crazy fun. And she was in love with me because I was a marathon virgin.
After eating, I wandered over to the bleachers to wait for the fireworks show. The five Brits in the row ahead of me kept trying to get a wave going. It didn't work, but that didn't change it from being rather amusing to watch. The fireworks were good, but not spectacular. I then returned to the apartment to pretend that I could go to bed at 8:30; I was finally in bed at 10.
After a basically restless night, I got up at 4 and showered and shaved. Normally I don't shave before I run, but normally I don't have to look pretty for pictures when I run. I was out the door a little before 5 and off to the bus to ride over to Staten Island. That put me there in plenty of time to eat the provided breakfast of bagels and lemon lime Gatorade. Twice. I brought a small container of peanut butter with me. I caught another few winks lying on the ground there. I made good use of the portapotties. Numerous times. But my bladder does that prior to stress-inducing events.
We finally started lining up in our corrals about 9:30ish. Well, I assume it was about then. I figured it would be a bad idea to wear a watch because then I would stress about how slow I was running. Anyway, we started moving around 10ish. The starting cannon went off at 10:10. I crossed the start line at about 10:15. The race was on.
The race goes through all five boroughs of New York City, starting in Staten Island. Granted, you're not in Staten Island very long once you start running. The race starts by crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Just for your gee whiz file, from 1964 until 1981, the bridge, at 13,700 feet (2.7 miles) including approaches, held the world's title for longest bridge. It is still the longest span in North America and ranks seventh worldwide. The lower deck of the bridge is 237 feet above the Narrows at mid-channel, and the upper deck is 274 feet, marking the marathon's highest point above sea level. Besides the marathon, the only other event that allows people to cross the bridge without a motor vehicle is Bike New York.
Those first couple of miles are rather nice. It's quiet and peaceful. And you have the satisfaction of knowing that you're hitting the highest altitude for the race. But then you get to the end of the bridge and are greeted by the roaring crowds in Brooklyn. That was a pretty amazing experience. Everyone is excited to see all these crazy people who are going to run 26 miles. Little kids stand on the curb with their hands extended. Thinking back on it, that's kinda gross--little kids standing on the curb to collect sweat from heap loads o' random people? Eww.
Brooklyn was a good race until about mile 10 when the race enters Williamsburg. I know this will sound racist, but Hasidic Jews make very poor marathon spectators; black and Hispanic women make awesome spectators. That mile through Williamsburg was deathly silent. This isn't to say that running in quiet is bad--the bridges are quiet because spectators aren't allowed to watch the race on the bridges. But the bridges are a peaceful quiet. Williamsburg was a creepy quiet. And the runners' energy level just dropped.
Really, the race is surprisingly uneventful. It was a good race for me. I really didn't have any of my standard pains. And the beauty of training in the mountains and running at sea level was that I never got winded. The only thing that really affected my pace was muscle fatigue. That was a pleasant change. There were bands along the route. That was pretty cool.
The greatest part of the race was coming into Central Park at mile 24. Through most of upper Manhattan and the Bronx, the crowds were sparse. That all changed in Central Park. So cool. Lots of energy. Of course, at 24 miles, you're wondering when this thing is going to ever end. Finally you come across the half-mile mark. Then the 400-yard mark. 300 yards. 200 yards. That's where I started sprinting. I still had the lungs, considering I had never gotten winded. And adrenaline can override any muscle fatigue, especially when you can actually see the end. I crossed the line at 5 hours. I think I even remembered to try and smile at the camera. I guess we'll find out when pictures get posted.
The worst part of the race is after you cross the finish line. Suddenly everyone stops. Instant wall of people is not good. Especially after sprinting 200 yards. It took an hour to get from the finish line to the medal to the post-race photo to the chip clipping (everyone is tagged with a computerized chip like an animal so they can keep track of you at various points throughout the race) to the food bags to the luggage pick up and through the family reunion area. Oh well.
I went back to the apartment and took a nice, long, hot shower. I was actually rather surprised at how much I didn't hurt. Muscles were tight. I think every ounce of fat I may have once had was gone. But I wasn't tired. I lounged around anyway.
My unofficial results:
Finish time: 5:00:58 (time from the cannon start)
Net finish time: 4:55:17 (time from when I crossed the start line)
10K split: 1:06:55
Half-marathon split: 2:18:01
20-mile split: 3:45:46
Overall place: 24689
In the tradition of lazy New York vacation, I slept in a bit on Monday. I packed my bag. Personally, it was somewhat of a miracle that I managed to fit everything into my bag (too much shopping on Saturday). But because I'm an amazing packer, I did it. I popped off to the spa to see if I could get a little leg massage, and I did. Was it worth getting? Yes. Was it worth how much I paid? Not really. But I think my legs didn't completely cramp up on the plane because of it.
So that was my adventure. A marathon isn't so bad. I could do it again. I don't think I will though. I'd much rather get back into ballroom. Multiple rounds of five-dance competitions are so much easier.