ING NYC Marathon - Brooklyn & Queens

To read the recap from the beginning click here.

Coast Guard, TV network and NYPD helicopters had filled the skies an hour before we reached the starting line. Anticipation was in the air. The choppers left with the elites while those of us with dedication and purpose set out in their wake to tackle our own goals and expectations.

Runner Susan and I beeped across the starting mats. It took me five seconds after crossing to realize that we had started. There was hardly anybody there besides our fellow last-corral mates, a few Army medics and race officials. Sadly the news photographers were not waiting for the last of us.

We ramped up the Staten Island side of the Verrazano Bridge at a measured warm-up pace, looking to break out slowly and deal with the hill. It was a 150 foot ascent followed by a 200 foot descent into Brooklyn. Susan and I started our routine of checking on each other regularly and cussing the hills.

'Welcome to Brwoook-lin," were the first words I heard from a crowd of spectators on a bridge overpass in Dyker Heights. I waved a salute.

Our run was going well. We caught up to a 4:45 pace group that actually became a rolling road block to us several times. We wanted to stick to our own pace and they were such a blob running together. Over the first six miles we had banked about a minute and a half better than our pace required. We were out to do 10:53 miles or better. Our first 5K was at 10:27 and the second was 10:35.

Brooklyn was awesome. The run up Fourth Avenue was loud, with fans cheering and bands playing. Being the caboose of runners, the street was only half full of us and the sidewalks probably not as full as before, yet the neighbors and fans were still out there cheering us on.

We made a few cell calls while cruising along this stretch to see where our support teams were. First sighting was Amy and Linda at Mile 7/Webber Street. There they were. We waved. (Photo courtesy of Runner Susan and Amy) We did not stop but Susan did hand off her long-sleeved top. We were just past a quarter of the way to the finish line.

Runner Susan had her name on a decal stuck to her short sleeve top and immediately began to receive incredible recognition from the crowd. For a period of time, I counted the number of hardy cheers for "Runner Susan" compared to those for "Go West Point" (my shirt's advert) and I have to say she beat me by a 3-1 margin. Being an attractive blond has its natural attraction to men fans, I learned. Similarly, it was the ladies who gave me more measured encouragement.

We soldiered on, through a hill in Mile 8, checking our pace, slowing for water and Gatorade; and to ingest our fuels. Susan had her gels. I relied on my Margarita Clif Shot Bloks. We ate every five miles. I could feel a need the mile before and a surge the mile after eating.

We were passing people with regularity. I found we had to bob and weave quite a bit but we always managed to move together around and through the crowds so to not lose each other. I didn't mind fending a few folks off with my elbows to clear the road for Susan. At 15K we were at 1:39 and had covered the last 5K at a 10:37 pace.

The character runners were a sight to see. First, I saw the woman written up in the Times who ran dragging a tire tied to her waist, to draw attention to how much we humans consume and waste. There was Raggedy Andy, Lighthouse Man, the Waiter in leather shoes carrying a platter with a bottle of wine attached, two girls with wings and glitter, a Chilean General, Superman with fake breasts, and a guy in a gas mask and bio-chemical suit. Beyond that there were so many foreigners running, I was amazed. So many French, Germans, English, Irish, Welsh, Japanese and more. Plus there were so many cause-teams with race singlets I could never remember if I had traded leads with people.

The Jewish communities of Brooklyn were eerily quiet which did not surprise me. A few groups of young girls stood on the sidewalk and waved. Others parted curtains and peered out windows at the spectacle. Before we hit Queens, we saw some more of the rowdiness and cultural richness that made Brooklyn my favorite part of the race.

Queens. Queens was short and mostly uneventful. A few narrow neighborhood streets held crowds out to see the race remnants. Bands still playing. They were all good folks but had that reserved demeanor that one might expect of witnesses to a lashing at the stake. You see, they were the last people we saw before "the bridge."

From inches above sea level we were about to cross the Queensboro Bridge to Manhattan. And that did not involve running across water. It required a god-awful climb for what felt like an eternity. It had to have been a three-quarters of a mile climb of 125 feet ... in the 16th mile. We had just eaten, thank goodness. It gave us the strength to get over but, man it was tough. There was nothing nice about it other than when we got over, we only had a ten-mile run to go.

Susan was cussing.

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1 comment:

jeanne said...

"only 10 miles to go" ha ha ha

i loved this line: "They were all good folks but had that reserved demeanor that one might expect of witnesses to a lashing at the stake."
Did i ever mention to you that my ex m-i-l lives in queens? and you've just described her to a T!

way to power thru those miles! you two are awesome!