After all the fundraising and training, it was finally time to get to New York City! Charlie, Amy, Oliver, and I headed out Friday morning without too much trouble and flew into LaGuardia. Our Courtyard on the Upper East Side we found out was right along the Marathon route, and within walking distance of the subway. It was a small room, was unnaturally dark, and the sofa bed was quirky, but with some good attitude and flexibility, we made it work. I made my way down to the ACS headquarters to pick up my jacket and meet Ramon and Allie.
Friday night in Manhattan meant dinner and a show. We sorted out the MTA and grabbed the Q down to Times Square where we had time to walk around and see the sights before dinner at The Palm Restaurant. The food was great, as was the service, but the thing that caught most of our attention were all the famous people who had their caricatures on the walls. For some of our crew, the highlight was our next stop. A few blocks away there was a big line for Six, the rock opera about the wives of Henry VIII. It was Oliver’s first Broadway show, and he and Charlie had been listening to the music extensively leading up to our trip, so much so that it probably could have been a sing along. Some more walking around Times Square and then it was back up the Q for the end of the night.
Saturday was a busy day. I got up and got down to Central Park for the DetermiNATION shake out run. I got to meet all the other people raising money and running to fight cancer, as well as see El Jeffe again. Over the course of my training, Ramon provided weekly updates, guidance, motivation, and everything else I needed to get to and through race day. He does this for scores of people, and not just for the NYC Marathon, but Chicago, Berlin, and many others, I don’t know how he finds time to do it all! We took a short run, took some pictures, and wished each other luck for Sunday. Danny had some flight changes, so I had time to meet up with the rest of the crew at Rockefeller Center. Charlie found out that the Rink had opened for the season, so it was a must visit, and of course she brought her skates. It was super cool watching her throw out elements amongst everything going on. I then met up with Danny at the Expo center and finally got my Bib and saw the thousands of people that were going to join the fun. I had ordered a drop bag, and of course there were at different locations, so I had to traverse across Central Park to pick that up. After that, I didn’t have time to meet back up with anyone, so I walked up 1st Ave towards the hotel, found a burger and a beer, and then made it back to the room. Oliver wanted to see the Statue of Liberty. Great suggestion, because it took us to The Battery for a great sunset and views of the river. We walked through Lower Manhattan, walked by the 9/11 Memorial, and had dinner in Tribeca at Max before heading back.
Race Day! Snuck out of the room and out of the hotel. Another runner in the lobby was trying to figure out how to get to the Ferry, so we shared an Uber. After all the people making me worried about missing my time, there wasn’t much congestion – from the Uber, to the Ferry, to the Bus, and to the starting area – all pretty easy. I’m glad I brought a book because I had well over an hour to kill. We hung out as an ACS group with El Jeffe, and Danny eventually caught up with me as well. Banana. Stretch. Stretch. Bathroom. You just want to get it over, but you are also so nervous as to what is going to happen and if you’re going to be able to finish. Trust the training. Danny and I finally got our call, walked through the gates, then another set of gates, and finally to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. There are a ton of people that run the NYC Marathon, so much so that they send each wave out in three parts, one on each direction of the bridge and one on the lower bridge. From the bridge in Staten Island and into Brooklyn, the streets were lined with people cheering us on, not to mention the bands and water stops every mile. The first 5 miles, Danny and I were cruising through it, but somehow, I was high-fiving kids and I missed Danny reaching down to tie his shoes, and like that I couldn’t find him. I looked back 4 times and couldn’t see him. He had told me earlier just to run my race, so now was the time. I cranked up my headphones and ran through the streets of Brooklyn straight to Queens. The best cheering of the day I saw was a Mario power-up block hung on a fishing pole. When anyone punched the block, as in Super Mario, someone with a boombox played the power up sound!
Queens was another great neighborhood, with many people walking around after church and many more fans. When I arrived at the 59th Street Bridge. I was still in my element, but this was a long, uphill bridge that drained my groovy feeling. Downhill into Manhattan and up 1st Avenue. About Mile 18, my legs weren’t feeling great, but I saw the ACS crew, and they loaded me up with salt and bananas, and soon after I saw Amy, Charlie, and Oliver. Amy was super excited and told me I was on a 4-hour pace, faster than I was expecting. All I needed to do was make it through the Bronx.
But the Bronx was where I found my wall. Mile 21. Quads and calves locking up on both sides, so much so that my stride was affected. I started walking, tried running again, and they locked up again. Made it to a hydration station and loaded up, but a quarter mile later I was right back locked up. I knew I could walk the rest of the way in, but throughout my training I had thought about the struggles that Pam, Pam, Rick, and Ernie had gone through. This time was no different, and all the people that had helped me raise $4200 for Cancer Research deserved better as well. I sucked it up, and ran in .1-mile intervals the rest of the way in.
As I mentioned, there are a ton of people who show up to cheer, and they cheer for everyone. Especially people that are walking or have just stopped running. They yell things like ‘Dont Stop!’ and ‘You can do it!’. I did my best to hide from these people, even though to stay out of the active running path meant I was on the side right next to them. Somehow, I finally found myself turning the corner back into Central Park, and even though I was in pain at this point, I decided to run the last .3 miles up a small hill to the finish line. It felt so nice to be done, and the thought of not having to do another marathon was stronger than the feeling of accomplishment for just running a marathon, but I had done it. $4200.00 raised. A new Personal Record by 11 minutes. And of course, the medal.
I ran with my phone to reach a Peloton challenge milestone, but when I crossed the finish line, it was locked. I swear I put my code in correctly, but it said it was invalid and I couldn’t try again for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I rebooted it, and then it said it was locked for 2 hours and 45 minutes! Slightly limping, and with only a credit card, I managed to gather my run bag and start walking to what I remember was the direction of the subway. I did find it, and I started south on the 1 train to Times Square.
After waiting 30 minutes for a Q train to come, a lady told me that I could take the N and transfer to the 4 at 59th St. Wanting just to be resting in my hotel room, that’s what I did. I got off at 59th St, walked upstairs, only to find myself at the Southwest corner of Central Park, not .25 miles from the finish line. There were two 59th St stations, and I had the wrong one. Frustrated and thinking about just walking at this point, I saw pedicabs that were willing to take me the 40 blocks north through marathon traffic, but at $7 a minute, that seemed dumb. I finally just stood there hoping to find a cab, and one did appear eventually. Having to endure explaining to the cab driver AND his son over the phone how I trained and registered and ran a marathon was still worth it, because he got me within a block of the hotel – success!
The rest of the crew had a fun day at the Slime Museum and having lunch with friends, and then after seeing me, actually fit in another Broadway show, this time ‘And Juliet‘. After the show, they made it back to a clean and happier version of myself, and we all got dressed to go have dinner with Danny, his wife Laura, my Centre friend John, and his wife Jessie, at Sandro’s. Recounting our day, Danny had his own struggle, but like me dug deep and finished for all the reasons I did. After some cocktails, lots of wine, and a great time sharing some time, the adventure was over. We walked back to the hotel, and the next day Delta took us back to Michigan. We had done New York City right!