I never know how to begin these race recaps...There's so much I want to say, but only so much I know you'll be interested in. :)
Let me start with Friday. Erin and I headed to the Javits Center in the morning and by the time we got there, there was already a line. We waiting for about 45min or so before being let in. Once we got inside, it was madness! There were SO many people. Everything was pretty well marked so I knew just where to go. Also, there were so many helpful volunteers available for any questions runners may have. I easily got my bib and shirt then made my way to the Asics (main sponsor) area to pick up a jacket. Most marathons I have my shirt and my bib...but Boston and NYC are special so I spent a little more.
After the expo we headed back to Jersey City in time to catch Erin's oldest in her school's Halloween parade. She was the cutest Piggy Ballerina Fairy I have ever seen. :) That evening we went trick or treating with the kids then hung out on the stoop with neighbors handing out candy to the later crowd of kids. It was a fun night and totally different from my neighborhood where we get about 10 kids, maximum.
Sunday morning dawned cold, partly clear, and WINDY. I had planned for the cold and thankfully felt prepared for the wind as well. I showed up at the start village (along with 50,500 other runners) with plenty of time to find a bagel, coffee, water, and bathrooms. I thought that the expo was busy, the start village was even busier! People from all over the world come to run NYC, so it was cool to be sitting there listening to all the different languages around me. Once the earlier waves started heading out to the corrals, the crowds thinned out and it was easier to move around.
As each wave began, two cannons were fired. All those left in the start village knew to look up towards the bridge to see the runners getting their race started. Despite the cold (and numb toes), I was pretty relaxed, just ready to get running. And dreading just a bit taking off all my warm layers...
Promptly at 10:45, the cannons for my wave went off and we wound our way through the start corral at Fort Wadsworth. The starting line is right at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge and the first mile and a half are on the bridge. The wind was ridiculous but the view and the energy was spectacular. I tried to take it all in while focusing on maintaining a steady pace.
Next up was Brooklyn. I loved running through Brooklyn! So many different neighborhoods. And the crowds here were the BEST. I ran along the side of the course so people would see my name and cheer for me - and holy cow, they sure did! Spectating a marathon is a sport in itself, and these guys were the best. Brooklyn went on for about 11miles or so, they flew by so quickly that when we got to the halfway point (in Queens) I couldn't believe it. My favorite two signs I saw in Brooklyn were: "If Donna Martin can graduate from high school, you can do this." The best part about this sign was it was a young dude with a completely straight face holding it up. The other sign was: "It's just a 10K with a 20mi warm up." I got a little chuckle from that.
We were only in Queens for about a mile and a half before heading up (and I do mean up) and over the Queensboro bridge. Really cool views of Manhattan and the river. That took us to First Ave where we headed north to the Bronx. I don't remember a lot about this section...just that once it was finished, we'd be back in Manhattan, heading down Fifth Ave and Central Park and the finish line. So, up until this point I had tried to acknowledge most of the spectators who cheered my name - with eye contact, a smile, wave of the hand - but by the time I hit mile 22, I was just trying to focus on reaching the finish line. So when I heard my name being called over and over, I didn't look right away but when I did, I saw John and Karla standing in the crowd!! I was so excited to see them (as you can see by the photo below)! :)
The rest of the marathon was awesome. Central Park is beautiful (what I remember taking in...) and the finish line was exhilarating. We all shuffled along, picking up our medals, our heat sheets, and our recovery bags before being released to either leave the park or pick up our baggage. I was never happier to put on a pair of sweatpants than I was that day! I walked two more blocks before meeting Erin and Wayne who gave me the biggest hugs and made me finally cry (happens at some point during each marathon experience...). We hit the subway and headed to dinner at The Grey Dog in Chelsea (good beer, really good burgers).
Overall, this was an amazing experience. The volunteers were incredible. The crowds were one of a kind. Even the police officers and firefighters were cheering us on as they worked the race. The whole thing was so smooth and fun and such an experience. It's a tough but incredibly rewarding course. Thanks, NYC, for such a memorable day!