I am in New York City, staying Upper West Side this week prior to running the NYC Marathon. This 52-year-old has trained 52 weeks and has 52 hours left until the start of the race. I will try to add photos later, I am not on my own computer and it would be a little tricky for me to try to do so without my camera cable.
I tackled The Expo yesterday (yes, it deserves the caps). It is run like a well oiled machine, a HUGE well oiled machine at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center along the Hudson River. I volunteered there last year and, for some reason, it was a lot more attractive and seemingly well run this year. Granted I volunteered on a Friday, although yesterday was busy it didn’t have the massive crush I remembered from last year. So, like all the NYC Marathon tips say, GO TO THE EXPO EARLY. Choose the earliest day in the week you can and the earliest hour in that day.
Prior to being able to pick up my racing bib, I participated in a tour of the marathon course.For a fee, Marathon on a Motorcoach was offered. I almost blew it off so I could get more sleep (which I probably wouldn’t have slept in anyway). I sucked it up, timed walking to the exact subway station I will use on race morning and got there in time to get the seat I wanted in the front so I could see. Here is a big tip for those using the NYC subways to get to their preferred start line transportation, check on the MTA Planner to see if there are any service changes for the weekend. Better yet, go down at least the day before and read any posted signs in the station you are planning to leave from. I need to walk 10 extra blocks marathon morning (that’s a 1/2 mile) to get to an open station. I would have been really stressed to find that out the morning of. Now, I just budget in some extra time.
So, the Marathon on a Motorcoach was really worth it to me. It did take over 4 hours but had a nice little break in Brooklyn for us to get some coffee and stretch our legs. I learned so many neat tidbits about the neighborhoods and specific buildings that I am sure a few will come back to me as I run the course. Better yet, it demystified a few of the sections I had been worried about like Clinton Hill on Lafayette St. It’s a hill for sure but not as bad as the one I kept throwing in at the same point on my training runs. I was pretty happy to see that.
Here is tip three, if you are counting: pack some food to eat when you go to the expo. The food there is not the healthiest and you want to be eating well right before the marathon. Being vegan, I knew it was going to be slim pickings and packed a couple of hummus/apple/avocado wraps and was supremely happy that I didn’t have to stand in a long line at a Starbucks to purchase a billion dollar fruit cup and throw away the non-vegan things that come with it. Even on a Thursday, The Expo is buzzing with activity and I found myself distracted until I realized I needed food right away. It was great to reach into my back pack and be able to pull out some almonds to help fill the void.
At The Expo, if you are uncertain of anything, ask someone. They have volunteers who can help. If you do not speak English, look near their name tag for the flag of a country that represents the main language spoken there. Even if they only speak English, they can get you to whomever speaks your language. Not sure of where your bib number is to be picked up? Ask, it might be just around the corner if you can’t seem to find your number amongst the many booths. You have your bib and don’t know what’s next? Ask, they will point you to t-shirts. Not sure how the brand and cut t-shirt is going to fit this year? Ask, they have loads of volunteers with samples for you to slip on before you get your very own. Just keep asking and they will keep feeding you through the process in the right direction. The final step before shopping these past few years was to have your bib scanned to make certain the race course sensors are recording your information. They scanned mine under the sensor and my name, age, country and club affiliation came up properly.
Remember your registration print out and bring a photo ID. I was all set with my transportation to the start, no questions about baggage other than if it mattered which wrist I wore the “no baggage” wrist strap on (it doesn’t). I exited the process and it funneled into the shopping area. I returned to this much later because I had made it through in time to attend the 2014 inductions into the NYRR Hall of Fame. This year included legendary Kathrine Switzer and I was thrilled to cheer for her as she received her award.
THIS PARAGRAPH IS FOR YOU DAD! To attend the award ceremony, I needed a media day pass. It was pretty cool to be sitting with all of the press, photographers and amongst VIPs whom I knew were groundbreaking in making what the NYC Marathon is today. I was right beside a young photographer who was snapping like crazy with his highly priced digital camera. He was very vocal about making sure the semi-posed presenting of the award would turn to look our way. This was to my advantage as I would wait to take my photo, yes just one, when they responded to him. The ceremony ran long and the last inductee only very briefly looked our way. The fellow beside me turned to a colleague and quietly grumbled, “Only got two out of three.” I quietly said to the young man, “Imagine the challenge of getting that one shot before it was digital.” It reminded me of a story my Dad told me of how he would nail a “grip & grin” with one shot, being the envy of all the other photographers at press conferences and pleasantly surprising those who were getting tired of being photographed. Well Dad, of all the photographers and all the shots they snapped, guess whose they used on NYRR social media yesterday. Mine.
A related tip on photography for NYC Marathon runners, here is the map of where Marathon Photo is going to have their photographers along the course. They aren’t always at the first locations for the later waves as I have seen only Central Park shots of some of my back of pack friends.
I did return to The Expo and enjoyed walking around. I bought very little and got back in time to get my final four mile run done in Central Park. On my run last night, there was what looked like a huge group of kids some police and maybe arrests going on. Looking at the handcuffing of the one fellow, the lady cuffing him looked a little relaxed, she almost playfully batted his hands with one of hers as they were behind his back. When I got closer, he didn’t seem to be cuffed at all and a male officer was giving animated instructions on how to or not to approach during an arrest. I guess it was a mock arrest or training on the 102 St traverse. I was a tiny bit wigged out since there were no street lights on the traverse after that until I got East Side and it was around there the “central park jogger” was attacked years ago. All was fine though and I was able to run the final approach to the finish line.
The finish line was blocked off and that was fine with me. I think it is like wearing the race shirt until after you complete the race; bad mojo to actually cross the line until the race itself. I had ran with a pack and used my metro card to get back uptown, buy my traditional Pad Thai and get a late shower. NYC is certainly the city that never sleeps and that leads me to my final tip. Be careful in how much walking around you will need to do in New York and get some sleep! My nights go way long when I am here and I always end up needing to walk more than I planned on. I am backing off of what I am doing these last few days and am going to be fresh and ready to enjoy that race on Sunday!
I know that 52 hour mark has come and gone but it was true when I started writing. Time, it’s another thing that just seems to pass so quickly here in NYC. I am going to do my best to enjoy every hour, every minute of this process.