Sunday, November 5th, 2006. 3:30 am.
Normally, I would complain about being awake at this ungodly hour on a Sunday, but this wasn’t just “any given Sunday.” This was Marathon Sunday. Between the sounds of Shakira coming from my clock radio and my excitement about what lied ahead for me that day, I was wide awake, and happily so. Yeah, that was kind of early considering I wouldn’t have to leave my apartment til 5:15, but I had things to do…have a cup of coffee, have a pre-race bagel (salt bagel with White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter-best thing before a long run/race!) and make another one to have a coupla hours later, pack my UPS bag, get dressed, apply BodyGlide, listen to some music, etc…and not feel rushed. Finally, 5:15 came-MF picked me up in a cab and we headed over to the east side to catch the Flyers‘ bus to Staten Island. And MF told me that she apparently hailed the last possible cab before the cab drivers’ shift change. We both took this as a good sign for the day!!
Took us no time to get over to 86th and Lex where the buses were loading. MF and I got onto the first bus, as did Runner26. We all chatted on the way to Staten Island, and the ride was thankfully smooth and traffic-free (apparently the past few years, buses have been caught in traffic and did make it to SI-but with not enough time to spare.) We arrived at Fort Wadsworth mad early-I think like 6:30-6:45? But honestly, I’d rather have time to kill instead of being on the bus and stressing. So it was all good. First order of business-use a porto-potty while the lines were short!! Then me, MF and Runner26 found a spot in the orange “village” to hang out. We chatted, ate, hydrated, MF pondered putting her name on her singlet, just observed the goings on…was a nice bonding experience. After another bathroom break, another friend/teammate, TB, found us and hung out. But it was chilly-the rest of me was OK, but my feet had gone numb. I was saying “I have cold feet-literally!” (They did warm up once we were off the grass and lined up in the corrals.)
Honestly, the time seemed to pass by so fast…before we knew it, was getting close to 9 am, and time to check our UPS bags, put the final touches on our running outfits and line up. I made one last minute decision-I had terrain-specific pace bands for 3:55 and 4, courtesy of the Nike booth at the expo…at first I was thisclose to putting the 3:55 one on…but decided I really want to go with my own pacing and not be a slave to what a bracelet says-so I threw those back in my bag before checking it. We left MF, who had a spot in the local competitive women’s start and headed towards our corrals-where we wished each other luck and went our separate ways-Runner26 to her corral, TB and I to ours in the F3000s. And lucky for us we got there early-Sister Smile already mentioned this, but there were way too many people who should have not have been there-meaning men-and no one was really policing it. There was actually a group of people sitting down in a circle right smack dab in the middle of the corral-like they were friggin protesters or something. Whatever. I decided to finally shed my throwaway shirt and pants and take my pre-race gel (I try to take one 30-45 minutes before a long race) and soon enough, we were moving towards the bridge. Since while lined up in the corral, we were standing near the 3:50 pace group, TB and I tried to stay as close to that as possible so we didn’t “lose our position.” We made it to the bridge still in a great starting position-TB predicted we’d be across in 30 seconds.
Was still a little chilly at the start but not too bad-by then, I was just in my singlet, shorts, makeshift arm warmers and just ditched my throwaway gloves. I saw Derek trying to line up in our section and called out to him but he did not hear me. As always, wants to get with the ladies :-p 10:10 was getting closer and closer…we heard the elite male introductions, the national anthem…then Mary Wittenberg’s voice announcing…
“New York City awaits you!! The world awaits you!!”
This was it. Before we knew it, the cannon sounded, and “New York, New York” started playing. The start I have seen many times on TV, now finally living it. After a minute and 11 seconds, I had crossed the starting line, and was on my way to take on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, to take on 26.2 miles, to take on the 5 boroughs.
The actual race portion to follow in the next installment of “this town is my town”…