It was the largest marathon field in history. It was an historic weekend of running in the city that never sleeps. I enjoyed it all.
The Night Before. I saved my brother (or anyone else) the trouble of having to drive me to a bus at O-Dark-Hundred race morning. His wife drove me into Manhattan Saturday night to stay with my childhood pal Lolly, her hubby David, and daughter E. who live half a block west of Central Park. Their sweet daughter offered up her extra perfect bed (an excellent mattress) for me while she took to an air mattress camp out in the living room. I slept great and quietly. I expect Mrs. T did too back in Jersey.
Race morning. I woke at 400 but laid in bed until 530, dozing and meditating on all that I had done the weeks before in training and the night before to prepare. My clothes were on the chair. My other belongings were repacked in my backpack. I listened to the early Sunday morning sounds of the West side. I was relaxed.
I got up and took my time dressing. Body Glide is my friend. David was up reading the Times in the kitchen. I fixed a bagel with peanut butter, had some orange juice and ZipFizz. At 600 I was ready to go. The phone rang.
"Where are you??" asked Runner Susan with a nervous laugh. She was already at the Start area.
"I'm in Manhattan. I am leaving now. I'll be there soon," I said.
"Okay. It's quiet here. Very few people," was the report. Susan then gave me a rough idea of where she and Marta were hanging out.
David had offered to see me to the subway for which I was extremely grateful. He went way beyond that by escorting me all the way to the Staten Island ferry terminal. On the way from the terminal subway stop we walked right down Wall Street past the stock exchange. Such a cavernous and ominous street. Susan called for the second time wondering where I was.
The Ferry Ride. At the terminal it was a runners' world. Half the field must have been trying to catch the 7:30 ferry. We queued up at one door only to have it close in front of us with a full boat. The big sign said to go to door 2 across the lobby for the next boat. That was a comical quick step migration by the remaining mass.
The doors opened and we were herded onto the next ferry. I made myself comfortable on the lower deck, put my feet up and chatted with a couple from Vancouver who had come east to run. Oh; and Runner Susan called again. I told her I was waiting for the ferry to pull out. She had a seven course runner's breakfast waiting for me if I would JUST GET THERE!
We pulled away at 745, passed the Statue of Liberty and made our way to the island. She called again as we landed. I was just a bus shuttle away. Well actually it was about eight buses away. There was another queue and wait.
The packing house. Once at Fort Wadsworth, it took another two phone calls to find each other. It was now 900 and we had another two hours to kill before we actually crossed the starting mats. Susan's pal Marta had gone off to her fast girl orange corral to hang out with Katie Smith a/k/a Holmes (little did she know).
I partook of several items on Susan's menu: PBJ, banana and raisins. Even though she'd been there three hours Susan had not yet located the UPS trucks for checking bags. With that in mind, we headed north. The sun was shining. It was a little breezy depending on which side of the buildings you were on. In the area of the UPS trucks, it felt like a day for the beach. Susan checked her bag then we went to my #66 truck.
I decided I had overdressed. I checked the sweatshirt, gloves and hat I anticipated wearing and kept my tearaway pants. We sat down on a grassy embankment right next to our corral area and, for the first time, relaxed. We had an hour or more to sit, visit and review our race strategy. A calm came over me and I felt very comfortable and confident that running with someone I had met just yesterday was going to be a very pleasant experience.
We called Mrs. T, Sister Amy, Susie and Jeanne. To the first two we coordinated our locations and meet-ups. To the latter, we left messages.
At 1008 back-lit bodies streamed across the Verrazano Bridge above us. The race was on. The cattle drive of runners started to move. Being in the very last corral was an intriguing situation. On the one hand I felt slighted by the notion that we were seeded there. I knew we would be faster than thousands of other runners. On the other, it was quite a novelty because it was not crowded when we got off. Nobody was chasing us down and blowing by us in the first mile. It was quiet; almost like a training run.
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