Graham Ran the 2014 NYC Marathon

(This is a work in progress and not finished yet)

Today marks two weeks since I ran the NYC Marathon.  It was pretty awesome.

I didn’t particularly write about my training and preparation for this race mainly because I didn’t want to stress myself out.  I started training in mid-August a month after I wanted to because of work related travel and vacation time.  So, it was a bit accelerated.  It was mostly always hot, always humid, and I trained almost exclusively on my own, which wound up being both relaxing and great mental prep for the actual race.  I was generally nervous about how fast I had upped my mileage, but after my 20 miler two weeks out, I was confident.

We rented an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen, perfect location from everything race related — 10ish block from the finish, not far from the expo — and drove down in the rain on Saturday.  Much like Boston 2012 extreme weather was forecasted, so I had pleanty of time to mentally be ok with it – -this time though, forecast for 40MPH winds as opposed to 90+ degree temperatures.  The whole ride down I dj’d some sick tunes and just tried to keep my mind at ease .  After checking into our Air BNB’d apartment we hit up the expo at the Javits Center.  Massive race expo, efficiently run, but felt very frenetic – -this may have been because it was the final few hours on the last day, but the buzz felt more anxious than excited.

After leaving the expo, we went and hung out at the apartment for bit before having dinner at a restaurant called Bacco di Beppo — great place to carbo load and completely reasonable prices, especially for NYC.  After that, we did a bit of research and headed for cozy beer bar called the Pony Bar and had a few beers before heading back and settling in.

On the topic of settling in, it’s impossible in NYC.  Or at least it was the night before the race.  As my brother in0law put it, he couldn’t tell if NYC is the city that doesn’t sleep, won’t let you sleep, or won’t shut the f up.  Regardless, I had a very restless sleep interrupted often my cheers, screams, pointlessly loud conversations until around 4am, which was perfect because I got up at 4:45.

After having two cups of coffee and a doughnut from Ball Sq. Doughnuts I got geared up, sent for an Uber and was on my way to the Staten Island Ferry.  I only waited a short time from when I got there until when we boarded and the very ride was a great 15 or so minutes until when you arrived on Staten Island.  We quickly boarded buses and drove about another 15-20 minutes to Fort Wadsworth and the staging area.  Everything was effective and efficiently run up until the point.  On arriving in the athletes village there really wasn’t enough room for everybody, at least in the Blue Wave area.  They had taken down some shelter due to the whipping winds, which I understood.  But pretty much any place you tired to sit down someone would come and say you couldn’t sit there.  Once they called our corrals it seems they had given up on this policing.  Once the corrals opened, I headed for mine, which was the last corral for the first wave, and we were supplied without any portajohns, after about ten minutes of deliberation they volunteers moved the corral rope at any angle and allotted us two. We were housed in the corals for well over an our before the start and once we started moving forward there was a shower of clothing from people shedding their layers.

I took off my final layers about 5 minutes before crossing the start line and got my first real taste of the wind — cruel and biting, like when sand whips on the beach and sting.  I started trotting towards the start saw a camera, waved, and then crossed the start line and hit the Verrazano Bridge.  The wind was ridiculous, it was so strong it physically moved me so I kept clipping my heels.  People clothes and hats were flying off of them and alot of runners worked together to pin down clothing before it was whisked away over the bridge.  i had been really looking forward to running over the bridge and seeing the NYC skyline, but to lift my head and get a good look would have been right in the wind and risked blowing my cap off.  So I kept my head down and just kept moving, which became the theme of the rest of the race.

It’s amazing how few memories I have of the race itself.  I remember when the waves all came to together and it reminded me of when the armies clash in Braveheart.  I saw Katie, my sister, and Peter at mile 5 in Brooklyn.  I remember all of the water stops being absurdly hard to navigate.  The hasidic section of Brooklyn was strange. I understand this race is an interruption, but I didn’t get why so many felt the need to go grocery shopping at the very hour of the race and then casually stroll across using baby filled baby carriages to clear the path.  The Queensboro bridge was an endless incline.  First Ave coming off the bridge was pretty awesome, like I had been told.  But, I will say, I think Kenmore during the Boston Marathon would give the decibel level of First Ave a run for it’s money.  I had read that the Bronx would be relatively boring, but to be honest it was my favorite.  The people that were out were awesome – -from the old man who said ‘go on, get outta here – go back to Manhattan where ya belong’ and shooing us with his hand to the girl that seemed on a mission to say everyone’s name.  The dj’s plaing old school hip hop were epic, and when I turned a corner and heard Hip Hop Hooray and all the runners swaying their arms, yeah that was great.

Once back in the city after mile twenty, I just kept going — just kept looking forward. I saw my family at mile 23 and then headed into the park, which I won’t lie, was hard on the legs with all the rolling hills  I didn manage to throw a 7:13 mile in at mile 24 just for good measure.  Heading up to Columbus Circle felt like forever and the deceptively up hill finish was cruel.  But then, then it was over. And yeah, i was in some serious pain, but I had done it!

The exit area, even though I had the no bag options, was very long.  There legitimately minutes, like 5-10 each, between finishing, getting a space blanket, getting your medal, getting a bag with water – – I feel that could have been handled better.  Either way, once i left the park and got my extreme snuggie, cape blanket thing, I made my way over to Lincoln Center, met up with Lara, Katie, and Peter who had a street cart pretzel waiting for me and a coconut water, which were the two things I had been dreaming about since about mile 18.

Back at the apartment…the heat and hot water was out — so I had to use the showers at a nearby NY Sports Club.  On the way there I ran into Meg Reilly on the street, which was pretty awesome on it’s own.  After finally showering and getting home we grabbed a cab over to Alewife, the sister retaurant of Lord Hobo here in Cambridge, which was in Long Island City.  Unfortunately, due to some accident there kitchen had limited food, which was a bummer as I had been dreaming of that burger for quite a while.  We had a few fantastic beers, though, some more pretzels, and got a recommendation for a restaurant up the street called Woodbines, which had incredible burger and an awesome staff.  After that we headed home, and regardless of if there was a carnival or other mayhem going on on the street, fell right asleep.

The next day, we had a breakfast down the street and went to the Empire State building.  It was my first time being there despite having grown up 45 minutes away from the city and is now the tallest structure I’ve been up.  After taking in the views and getting reminded about how windy it was, we had some epic ramen at Ivan Ramen and made our way home.

All in all, NYC was a great marathon experience over a year in the making.  I ran really well considering a shortened training season.  I did not walk once during the whole race and now have a new benchmark of 3:26:09 to use to gauge my improvement for the next marathon…which happens to be Boston 2015!  That’s right, this guy is running for Team Brookline and the Brookline Community Mental Health Center for next year’s marathon.  Check out this link for details:

I really want to thank Katie for dealing with living with a runner, it’s not easy.  To Lara for taking care of some many details that made running NY streamlined.  And for Peter for being the even keel of this crazy family he decided to marry in to.  Looking forward to a better planned training season, albeit a cold one, this winter!

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About Graham Runs Boston

Bostonian running around Boston. Team RaceMenu distance runner. Oyster appreciator, beer lover, outside all the time when I can, loosely pursuing a BQ
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