Sunday, November 16, 2008

Marci Actually Runs the Marathon (part two)

Aren't they the best cheering squad ever?

That's my parents, sister-in-law, and my three nieces.

This was QUEENS; specifically Long Island City. My parents wait for me right on the bend of Vernon Avenue, where the hay bales are. For the past two years, my brother, sister-in-law and their little girls have joined them. I couldn't wait to get there, and one short trip over the Pulaski Bridge and there they were! Brooklyn is an amazing part of the race -- flat, fast and energetic -- but Queens is where my folks are at! PS: I, too, was born in Queens, just like Kara Goucher, but did you hear the newscaster talk about MY story? Unfair, I tells ya!

Funny story --After I kissed everyone and went on my way, Chamie, the two-year-old (the one holding the "That's My Tante" sign) became upset because I didn't come back and get in the car with them to go home. This is from my sister-in-law's blog:

The girls were so excited to see her when she passed by and gave everyone a
kiss. Not suprisingly, she didn’t have time to stop and chat, though, and Chamie
was really upset over this. She cried and had a “mini-tantrum” after Marci ran
away, demanding that Marci should come with us in our car. Mommy explained to
her that Marci had to keep running because she was doing a big mitzvah because
her running was earning money so that she could buy medicine for sick kinderlach
so that they could feel better. Chamie especially understood when I explained
that Marci was going to buy them SODA so that they could feel better, just like
Chamie got when she had a sick tummy. I’m not sure if she thought that Marci was
on her way to the store, RIGHT THEN, to get the soda (and that that’s why she
couldn’t come with us), but anyway she calmed down after that.

I'm running for soda!! Hee hee!

Here comes the most interesting part of the race, going over the Queensborough Bridge. Everyone knows what awaits on the other side of that bridge -- First Avenue and the World's Largest Cheering Section. There are no spectators on the bridge, and because we're on the lower roadway, it's dark and very quiet. You can really only hear footfalls and breathing. There's very little talking, at least there was with the group I was running with. After 15 miles of cheering, bands and high-fives, it's almost a welcome respite that gives you a chance to collect your thoughts and get ready for the final ten miles.

MANHATTAN. You can hear First Avenue long before you can see it, and coming down off the bridge and turning the corner is like Dorothy stepping out of the house and seeing Technicolor Oz. The noise, the cheering, the banners and bands -- a friend has said it's the closest you'll ever be to being a rock star, and it's true.

I make my way over to the right side of the road for the best part of the marathon, getting to MSKCC, home of Fred's Team! They decorate the building with orange and blue balloons, there's a big banner on the building, and best of all, all the kids who are feeling well enough to come out and cheer are there -- IV poles and all. Cheering US. It's the most amazing sight ever, and being a part of it, well, words fail.
Aubrey Barr's father (Aubrey, namesake of the fund that we raise money for, is an accomplished marathoner and has run it, I think, a dozen times) and other volunteers wave the Fred's Team runners over to high-five the crowd.

And here I am!

It's hard after MSKCC not to sprint up the rest of First Ave, but you have to control yourself, you still have ten more miles to go!

Off I go up First, and I'm starting to feel some stomach distress. I still had to go to the bathroom. At this point I thought that if I stopped and sat down, I would not be getting back up, and they wouldn't find me until they started carting away the porta-potties. But it wasn't the bathroom woe that was getting to me. I was starting to feel nauseous. Why? Don't know. I was being careful with gels and Gatorade, but I had that "carbs sitting in the stomach" feeling. Grr. Took some extra salt (I had some restaurant packets with me) and hoped things would pass.

After passing Teammate Abby, sidelined with a stress fracture in her hip but still coming out to breakfast and then cheering at 89th Street, things got a little quiet. I couldn't figure out if I was cold or hot, and finally got rid of my arm socks just before we headed over the Willis Point Bridge. Farewell, lovely socks. I'll be doing that again next year. At this point I was also finally realizing just how windy it was, and how much it was affecting me. First Avenue was a real wind tunnel, and I saw my times getting slower, even though I could've sworn I was running faster. And it was starting to wear me out.

We pass the Powergel station, and I pass them up (I still have 4 on me, more than enough) and the Poland Spring Hydration Station. Following that came the Slip-and-Slide Zone, also known as the sponge station (one year it was Spongebob sponges, now it's Poland Spring, I think.) The last thing I needed was a cooling sponge. No, the second-to-last thing I needed was a cooling sponge. The LAST thing I needed was to STEP on 30,000 wet, slippery sponges.

The Willis Point Bridge. Last year I had a lot of problems here. I was caught behind hundreds of people walking, and I couldn't get around them. Asking them to move to the right didn't work because nobody spoke English, the perils of running with an international field! This year, smooth sailing. Again, thanks to all those hills, I rarely felt the hill of the bridge.

Over the bridge into

DA BRONX, and once again the Bronx was hopping! Though we're in the Bronx for less than a mile, they have two large DJ booths set up, dancing, and bands. This is the part where people traditionally hit the wall, but I was not feeling like that at all. Thanks to Jeff and Ann and all the good training they lead us through, I never felt I hit the wall, I was strong all the way through.

Over the Manhattan Bridge, where I passed Teammate Seth and ribbed him about needing to go into "time-out."

And back into MANHATTAN, for the final round.

Run down 5th Avenue to Mount Morris Park, and as I'm rounding Mount Morris Park I see my first real casualty -- man down, with two medics helping him. By down I mean DOWN -- laying on the ground, motionless. Eesh. I was reading the night before the article in Runner's World about why people die during marathons (as we know by now, there were three here in NY this year.) Not to get into too much detail, it had to do with cholesterol levels. This guy looked young and fit. But who knows?

I hear the choir for the first time (I missed them my other years) and see my friend Erin at 115th. Then I pass my friends Bruce and Jonathan's apartment, hoping that this will be the year that Bruce is out there watching, as he promises he will do every year, and then every time I pass he's gone back inside for some reason. Well, this year was just the same -- no Bruce. I really wanted to take an extra gel at this point, but I was still feeling queasy and didn't want to chance it, so I stuck with Gatorade.

Now, once you get to 110th and Central Park, 5th Avenue starts sloping uphill. It can be really rough at this point of the race. The way I dealt with it last year was to keep my head down. If I can't see the hill, it doesn't exist. This year was just the same. However, this was also the point last year where I really started to get frustrated by people walking, and this year was also just the same. Last year I started an hour late, and ended up running with people who are at a much slower pace. They were all walking by the time I reached the entrance to the Park, and I had to fight my way around them. This year I ran with people more at my pace, but I think it was a combo of two things. One, the windy weather, and two, I'm at the kind of pace where a lot of people tend to go out too fast or think they have a faster marathon in them than they do, and they crash and burn. Either way, once again I find myself weaving around packs of people walking. Fred's Team set up a bonus cheering section just outside the entrance to the Park, and it was great to see them there for the extra boost for those last couple of miles. Teammates Lucy and Martin were there -- they were also in Brooklyn.

Into the Park, and man was it crowded! At this point, I went into a strange place. I wasn't hurting or out of gas (just nauseous.) I both needed to hear the cheering and get the support, but I also couldn't bear the thought of having to acknowledge the crowd. So I kind of pulled into myself, moved towards the center of the pack, and charged ahead. I saw Teammate Jen just before the water station, it was great to see her smiling face. Apparently I also passed Coach Ann, who told me I was motoring, and looked like I should be saying, "Get out of my way!" What was going through my mind was probably more like "Get me to a toilet!!"

Down Cat Hill (how I love going down Cat Hill) and up the little speed bump at the transverse that I have learned to love. Out of the Park at 69th Street and up Central Park South. It sounds funny, but I could barely hear the crowd, I was so in the zone. I could see them cheering off to my side, but I was just focused straight ahead. I want to finish strong. Around Columbus Circle and back into the Park, where I didn't trip, for once, and actually saw myself on the giant screen, and up that last infernal hill, and I see India off to my left cheering her head off, and the sound is starting to come back and I see the bleachers are all cheering and ...



The wrap-up in the next few days, including my visit to MSKCC, my visit with Liam, and unrelated to the marathon, my race report for the Race to Deliver and my review of the New Balance 1062 sneaker.


Dani said...

Wow, what a great race report. It'll put mine to shame (if I ever get around to it!). It was great meeting you at the expo and then seeing you again at the Monday Marathon store! Hopefully I get picked in the lottery again next year!

Drusy said...

Allright Marci!!!

Carboman said...

super! As usual an enjoyable read!