Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Homecoming: The 2010 NYC Marathon
Part III - Queens & First Ave

Finding Family in Queens

It had gotten sunnier and significantly warmer now as I made my way through mile 14. I had thrown away my gloves back at mile 5 but was still wearing my arm sleeves that I started the race with. Because I was expecting my brother in the next half-mile, I took off my sleeves here anticipating a drop-off once I saw him. As I did, I ran by DM friends Susan and Robin who I did not expect to be watching the race from out in Queens. It was nice to see them although I was too preoccupied at the time to give them a hi-five. I continued on hoping to find them later on in the course.

Less than a minutes later, right off a turn, I spotted two Flyer friends LG and DL and gave them each a quick high-five. They were good friends of mine and residents of Queens so it energized me to see them there. I wanted to stop for a chat but thought better of it since I knew many friends in Manhattan would be expecting me to keep time.

At the end of this busy block, almost right at the entrance to the Queensboro Bridge, I found my little brother, my cousin and her financee for the first time that day. This was the first time my brother has ever watched me run a marathon, so it was tremendously exciting for me to see him on the sidelines cheering. Not only so, but since he had recently picked up running earlier this year, I hoped that by experiencing the fervor of the marathon firsthand, he'd get excited about distance running and maybe attempt NYCM someday soon too.

Upon reaching my family members, I gave them each a well deserved hi-five, but didn't say too much since I knew I'd be seeing them twice more later. I dropped off my arm sleeves with my brother, said hi and continued on.

Hi Five Tally for Queens - 6; Total - 11.2

Double Dipping with Flyers and Friends on Manhattan (1st Ave)

Reaching the Queenboro Bridge felt somewhat of a bittersweet victory for me. More than half the race was already over, my knee pain which came on insidiously at mile 8 had somehow disappeared in Queens, and even as I was climbing the bridge, I was passing waves of runners and feeling as strong as I've ever felt at this stage of the marathon. Still, I couldn't help but feel as if my pace could've and should've been better had I allowed myself to race. My time became so irrelevant to me that I forgot to press lap on my Garmin and check my pace at mile 14! So all I had as I pass by 15 was a 2-mile split of 14:24 for the section of Queens. But as I began to wonder if all this fun was worth sacrificing another chance to run a great race, I saw an Achilles runner with a mangled leg slowing walking with a cane up the Queensboro Bridge. All of us runners clapped and cheered him on as he crested the hill. This inspirational effort reminded me that my race today wasn't really about me. It's about the spirit of the marathon and sharing this homecoming experience with family and friends who have supported and encouraged my passion to run. As I began my decent into Manhattan, I briefly reviewed my preconceived game plan of where I was going to run and who I was going to see and almost instantaneously became happy and emotional that I will soon be arriving at the mecca of running, 1st Avenue in the NYCM, once again.

The crowds coming off the bridge and up the first portion of First Avenue was as heavy, loud, and dense as I had remembered it in years past. Although I enjoyed the loud cheering and fed off their energy as I made my trek toward the Upper East Side, it was difficult to find friends spectating along the heavily populated route. I missed my bloggy pal Dori and another who had a sign for me. I did however find my good friend MT who was my lucky charm in Chicago and a long running friend AG who was right where he said he'd be. I registered both of their hi-fives before continuing on.

A little further north, once I'd pass by mile 16 in 7:08 and mile 17 in 7:07, I found myself at the Flyer PowerGel Station without much clue as to how i'd make it individual and fun. I originally intended just to run by the PowerGel gauntlet and hi-five everybody in line (like I did last year) and leave. However, once I reached the end of the line and realized that I had not yet seen my good Flyer friend BS, I quickly decided to run back the half block to the start of the PowerGel gauntlet line and run through again. Although I did not see BS and I gave hi fives to essentially the same people, the second time down the gauntlet was every bit as fun as the first. The look of deja' vu on people's faces were absolutely hilarious and way worth the price of admission. Despite the 15-20 Flyers who received hand slaps from me, I am tallying this escapade down the gauntlet as merely 8 since I recognized and remembered at least that many faces and names.

Needless to say, I was revitalized and reengaged with the race for a little while after that brief Powergel station interlude. Unlike me, many runners were already sagging and fighting cramps at this point. I felt a little guilty for feeling good as I passed them by, remembering back to the days when I too felt like crap fighting my body and the road the whole way up north. Mile 18 (with extra mileage added on) was passed in 7:56 while mile 19 was completed in 7:11. I received another jolt of energy when I saw my brother and cousin again just before the entrance to the Willis Avenue Bridge. They were a little further down the road than I expected them to be, but seeing them just before mile 20 was totally awesome for me. We made arrangements to meet one final time on 5th Ave before I left to face my own personal demons in the Bronx.

Hi Five Tally for First Ave - 10; Total - 21.2


Anonymous said...

i love the high five tally! i'm going to have to do this during my next marathon

Marlene said...

How awesome that you backtracked to look for your friend and score some additional high-fives. You seem to e truly having the time of your life out there!

runner26 said...

umm, the reason you did not see BS either time was b/c i was chatting w/ him behind "the gauntlet" so it is probably my fault (both that you missed him and then had to run back a second time). sorry!

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