Every marathon experience is different. But the New York marathon was extra special because I waited for four years to finally get in. Since it is the world’s largest and most popular marathon, a slot to run this race is much coveted with a lottery oversubscribed by eight to ten times. I persisted because I knew that if I kept trying I will eventually get a guaranteed entry after three consecutive tries.
We arrive in New York a week before the race and I couldn’t keep my excitement. I did a couple of easy runs in Central Park and couldn’t help but feel jealous of the beautiful running grounds that New Yorkers are so lucky to have. I do most of my trainings on a treadmill so you can just imagine the envy I felt. As we went around the city, I was imagining running through these neighborhoods lined with people cheering us on. I was giddy with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to run.
I also could not wait to go to the marathon expo, a runner’s ultimate wonderland. Every year I look forward to this expo like a kid waiting to go to a toy store. It feels like Christmas every single time. We went early on the first day of the expo at Javits Center and I was not surprised to see the place packed with other eager runners. A Filipina runner handed me my race packet and she said she would be running too. As soon as I got my race kit, I happily sauntered to the sports expo where you can find everything a runner would need from gear to apparel to nutrition. I went home with my loot of swags, shirts and of course my yearly pair of Newtons. I was a happy camper:)
The New York Marathon is also extra special because we had friends who were there to support us. Usually, my lone support crew is my husband Gabby and it would just be a simple arrangement- we take out food the night before the race, he takes me to the nearest transportation on race day and he waits for me at the finish line. This time we were with my best friend and our other friend JC, appointed himself as my Marathon Concierge. We planned our pre race dinner, plotted where they would cheer along the way and arranged for after race meet ups. JC even prepared my corned beef, rice and egg breakfast 🙂 They even brought me all the way to the Staten Island Ferry Building. I felt spoiled.
On race day, I boarded the 6:15 am ferry to Staten Island, the race’s starting point. I was so amazed with the superb logistics management of shuttling over 50, 000 runners via ferry, bus and subway. It is such a complex start and quite challenging to organize but everything just worked with the help of over 10,000 volunteers and the NYPD in full force.
We were brought by bus to the starting villages, color coordinated based on our bib color. I was happy to meet a fellow Filipina amidst the exodus of runners and we got to chat a bit before heading to our respective villages. I was assigned to the Orange Village. We were handed bonnets as we entered and told that there was food for everyone. Food gets me excited and I think I ate every single type of available food and drink while waiting for the race start. I sat beside an Aussie girl named Katy and she told me about her other sport, adventure racing. It’s always interesting to know what other things marathoners are up to. We also happily observed how the runners creatively put together pre race outfits to keep them warm during the long wait before the start. Some were even in bath robes and fur mascot costumes.
After two hours of waiting, wave 1 runners were called to go to the starting line. As I walked I could not feel my toes from the extreme cold. After the marathon, I read somewhere that this was the coldest NY Marathon in history. Brrrr.
Watch out for Part 2 of my New York Marathon story in a couple of days 🙂