November 8, 2011

NYC Marathon 2011: Part 2

It may seem strange to write a race recap for a race I didn't run, but NYCM has been a significant part of my life for the last year. From the entire weekend of last year's race to now, it's been on my mind at least once a day. So it only seems fitting to me that I recap my experience and memories from this weekend.

For those of you new to my blog, I was registered to run NYCM on Sunday and began training only to injure myself in July and realize that it just wasn't going to happen this year. After a few weeks of rest, PT, and even training on an elliptical for long "runs" (16 miles on an elliptical is NOT fun!) until I could run again, my body just wouldn't cooperate and with some advice from an important friend, I acknowledge that my health was more important and stopped training. I watched my friends train all summer and early fall, envious each time I heard about a great long run or some awesome speedwork they accomplished. It was difficult for a while but I did my best to support them and be there for them. After all, NYCM 2011 was no longer my race but it was still theirs and they deserved my support and encouragement. I stopped focusing on what I couldn't do and focused on what I could. I could cheer for them and there for them, I could check in after long runs or even the short ones to see how they did, I could meet them in the park for a quick hello during their training. After a while, it got much easier and all I could think about was cheering for them on race day. I think that's what kept me in good spirits throughout the training period- knowing that although I couldn't run with them, I would get to see my friends out there on race day and scream like a wild woman for them.

Race week came and I was psyched! I visited the park every day, took pictures and posted them here to get others excited. I tried to serve as eyes for the out of town folks who would love a glimpse of the park as it transformed into a race course. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be for the most part. But the day they put that finish line up, I bawled like a baby. I walked into the park at 72nd street, headed towards Tavern on the Green and the flood gates opened and I cried. Lucky for me, Jess also happened to be in the park in the exact same area at the moment and met up so we could console each other. Just another reminder of how important friends are.

As race day drew nearer, I began preparations. Posters needed to be made, emails about where I was cheering needed to be sent, runners needed to be tracked, I was hosting Vee for the weekend so my apartment needed to be cleaned (ok, that didn't happen but I did try!), I needed to set up for friends who would use my bathtub for ice baths after the race, and I needed to put the finishing touches on the dailymile meetup brunch. On Friday, I met a friend in town for the race and visited the expo with her, took her out for lunch, and then gave her a tour of the finish area in Central Park.  The path to the finish was lined with flags and and full of people from all over the world. The energy was beautiful!
 On Saturday, I attended the dailymile brunch which was a great success (whew!). We had about 36 runners in town for the race and we were a lively and chatty bunch. I almost felt the need to apologize to the rest of the patrons at Josie's East (sorry other diners!). Josie's was awesome, working with me to create a custom menu for the dailymilers, and the food was great. If you're in town and need a delicious and healthy place to eat, you should definitely check them out. And they are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free friendly!
 Saturday evening I headed downtown to wish my favorite marathoner good luck. We grabbed a bite to eat, chatted a bit about the day ahead, and I just tried to be there for him to keep him calm and focused. It was interesting to be on the outside, looking in at the emotions of all my friends running the next day. NYCM is so important to me and was a huge part of my life this year but at the same time, since I wasn't running it after all, my emotions were a bit out of wack. I wasn't anxious or nervous about Sunday, but was in a way. I could totally feel the emotions of those I cared about who were running but was still looking in from the outside. I went home Saturday night wondering how I would feel when I woke up Sunday morning.

And then it was Sunday morning, I woke at 6am and I could feel the nervous energy in the air! The upper west side was already up and alive. I put the finishing touches on my poster, ran to get some treats at Trader Joe's, and Vee and I met up with Melissa, Jeff and Vicky to head to CP. We found some of Vicky's friends at the entrance and then walked around the great lawn to find out cheering spot in front of Cleopatra's Needle where Jen & Kimberly were already waiting with a giant bowl of candy & Gu for the runners. Our group got bigger as Jess, Jeff, Shannon, Stacy, and Seth joined us. We were in time to see the elites go by and I was out of control excited!!! We saw Mary when she was still in the lead, with Firehiwot and Buzu on her tail minutes before they passed her to win first & second place!
 We saw Geoffrey Mutai leading the way for the men towards a first place finish, followed by Emmanuel Mutai and Tsegaye who came in second and third.
The race was insane! The crowd was thick, everyone was cheering and smiling and having an amazing time. There were kids watching the runners in awe. And then our friends started to go by and the day got even better. We saw Lam looking strong, Baker passed with his arms up in the air waving at us, we almost missed Susan but screamed her name like crazy when we saw her. My favorite marathoner G passed by, gave me a sweet signal and looked strong as he made his way south in the park. Next I saw this guy with the bloodiest nipples ever and started cracking up until I saw his face and realized it was my good friend Ronnie in town from Miami. I was so happy to see him and cheered and jumped up and down. Woohoo Ronnie! The runners kept coming and friends kept passing: Kevin, Maura H, Sharon, Matt, Steph, Linna, Sam G! The only thing almost as awesome as running a marathon is getting to cheer your friends on as they run theirs!

Of course, I took a gazillion pictures (a gazillion = 1,000+ in this case) and have edited & posted most in a slideshow for you to enjoy. I posted part 1 in yesterday's post and here's the rest. Like I said yesterday,  if you spot yourself, please feel free to grab the picture and use for your own purposes but please credit me if you do (thanks in advance).


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