Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NYC Marathon

It has been a while, so I hope I remember everything...

Marathon morning came and I was supposed to be at the bus to shuttle you to the start line at 5am, so I set the alarm for 3:30 so I could get up, wake up and head to the subway to Bryant Park. Well I set the alarm for 3:30am, but the clock was 12 hrs off. So at 5pm, it was set to 5am. Luckily I woke up at 4am and saw the clock. I rushed to get ready and headed out the door. I got to Bryant Park and just followed the crowds to the never ending line of buses. I got right on and off we went. The next 4 hours were really long. My wave didn't start until 10:20 so I tried to sleep, but it was too cold. I just surfed the internet on my blackberry for the most part, ate a little and drank a little.

Pretty soon it was 9:30. I waited in line for the restroom one more time, dropped my bag off and headed to the start corral. It was amazing the amount of people crammed in there. I am glad I'm not claustrophobic.

I'm in the corral on the left side.

You could hear in the distance the announcer starting the race and we finally started walking towards the start line. New York, New York was playing and we were really doing this.

The first mile was on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. It seemed like it would never end. It did have a great view of Manhattan, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I wish I had a better camera to take pictures, but I did take this with my phone.

I looked at my Garmin and saw I was running about 8:30 miles. It was a little faster that I planned, but my heart rate was down and I felt good so I stuck with it. At mile 2 we started seeing the crowds forming now that we were near the first neighborhoods. I was at mile 3 before I knew it in just under 28 minutes. Not too bad. I made it to the 10k point (6.1miles) in 55 minutes. Actually a bit faster pace on miles 3-6. The next few miles were a bunch of the same. Tons and tons of people cheering you on and the never ending mass of runners. I even caught a couple vikings at mile 8.

About mile 12 and we are all still a huge pack in a Jewish part of town.

At 1:55:50 into the race I was halfway done. It was at this point where I started to think that I had a shot of finishing in under 4 hours, something I was hoping to do at the Tulsa Marathon a couple weeks later. I was going to try and save my legs for that, but feeling this good I couldn't.

Mile 13, feeling good.

I got on the phone and called Kim around here to let everyone know where I was. They were waiting at mile 15 for me. Unfortunately, I missed them there. As soon as I passed that point, we were under the Queensboro Bridge and I didn't have cell service. As soon as I made it into Manhattan, I called them to let them know I made it past them. They then hustled on over to mile 24-25 to see me there.

Mile 16is, from the Queens Bridge

As soon as you get in the city, you start seeing people again as you take a left curve off the bridge. You keep curving around and all of a sudden you are on First Ave. To me it was like a wall of sound. People 5-6 deep on both sides of the road. It was amazing running up this 6 lane street with all the people cheering.

It seemed like we were going up a hill forever and I started feeling the miles. Someone was holding out bananas so I grabbed one. The last thing I felt like doing was eating, but I stuffed it down. I knew I needed the real food. I started feeling better almost at once. That random person helped me keep going.

Right before mile 20 I started feeling tired again when another spectator was holding out orange slices. Those were the 2 best quarters of an orange I ever had. I think the sugar hit me all at once. I looked down at my watch and I was still running about 9 min miles. At this point all I had to do was hold on.

Just before mile 20, we head into the Bronx

I was still feeling OK, but I just wanted to make the turns and head back into Manhattan and get to Central Park. Mile 21 came and I was on my way.

Mile 22 came and we were in Harlem. That was quite an amazing part of the city. People playing drums on the sidewalk, gospel choirs singing from the steps of their churches, and kids running up and down with the runners. It seemed like that lifted people spirits a little.

At mile 23 we finally got into the park and the first of the hills. Stupid, stupid hills. The last thing you want to do 23 miles into a race is run hills, but here they were. The crowds once again helped as they got louder and louder as you entered the park.

At miles 24 I saw my mom and Kim on the side lines and gave them a quick thumbs up. I was so close to my 4 hour time I didn't have time to spare going over there so I was gone too fast. I think mom got a good picture of me running though.

Then one of the best signs ever.

One more mile...

People started falling apart here. Lots of people walking, trying to stretch and just trying to make it through. I tried not looking at them though, I wanted to finish running.

We turned a corner and I thought we were on the home stretch.

But we weren't. This mile was extra long I think. Finally the 1/2 mile to go sign. Almost done. Then the mile 26 sign.

I was just barely hanging on. I was trying to run as fast as I could but felt like I was standing still. Then a slight turn to the left and we saw it, the finish line.

I made my way around the last of the straggling people and crossed the finishline with my hands in the air.

I looked at my watch and I did it. I finished the 2008 NYC Marathon in a new personal best time of 3hrs, 58mins, 22secs.

They handed me my medal and foil blanket and we were ushered down a long corral to food and our bags that we dropped off at the start.

I finally made it out of the chute and found the family. I tried to clean up a little, changed socks, put on some warm clothes, took a few pictures and we headed back to the hotel. Everything happened in a blur that day. At first it seemed like it would never start, then it was over.

We went out that night to Hard Rock Cafe and I had a celebratory beer and hamburger. All in all, it was great race I would recommend everyone try.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New York, Day 5

Well, day 5 came way too soon. Our vacation was almost over and it seemed like we didn't get much of anything done in the city. One of the things I absolutely wanted to see was Yankee Stadium before they tore it down to move to the new one next door. I'm not a Yankees fan by any means, but it is one of those places that any baseball fan should go.

Unfortunately we got there just as the tour was leaving and the next one didn't start for 2 hours, so we didn't get to go inside. It was still pretty neat to just be there and see it next to the updated model just across the parking lot.

After walking around, taking pictures it was time to head back to Manhattan.

Next up we went to Central Park to see what we could see. It is amazing how big the area is. We walked around for a while (mainly looking for a Gyro stand) but will have to go back to see the rest. One of Kim's favorite parts were the horse drawn carriages. As we made our way across we saw a really pretty pond, right there in the middle of the biggest city in America.

We finally found a gyro stand and ate lunch under the Columbus Statue with quite a few other people. Pretty nice to eat outside and the food was great. We started making our way back to the Subway to go back to the hotel and found the ice skating rink. Maybe next year we can go. I don't think my legs would have been up to it this year. We had to get back to the hotel in order to get changed for our night out on Broadway. Kim and I had dinner with her mom, aunt and uncle at a place called Patsy's. Frank Sinatra made this restaurant famous and it really was great food and company.

Kim's aunt and uncle were going to another show, so Kim and I along with her mom made our way to the Gershwin Theater to see Wicked. Kim and I had seen it before in OKC but it was cool to see it again in NYC.

Before we knew it, it was over and we had to head home. This sign was too true.

It seemed like a really busy day of running all over NYC and everything was going by so fast. It was hard to believe we only had about half a day left.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New York, Day 4

I am skipping over day 3 right now, but will come back and do a race report.

On Monday I actually felt pretty good after the marathon. It was a little hard to go up and down stairs, but other than that no real issues. Kim, mom and I headed into the city to meet Kims mom at the Empire State building where we were going to take a little tour and take in the view from the 86th floor. But first we stopped at the "Marathon Monday" store to pick up finishers gear and souvenirs. I made out pretty well with a couple shirts and a new track jacket.

We were really lucky and all met up right when the tower was opening so we didn't have to wait in line at all.

The views from up there are amazing. You can see the whole city and the taxis look like ants.

After the Empire State Building, we all got on a tour bus to take a tour of the city. It was nice because we could get off at any stop, look around, and then get on another bus and keep going. A lot easier to see the city like this than doing all the walking (especially after running a marathon).

We went through all the little neighborhoods, saw hundreds of Starbucks. We got off at the City Hall stop. Here is Kim in City Hall Park. Pretty cool area. I couldn't believe how many parks the city had.

Next, we walked over towards Ground Zero of 9/11. It is crazy the amount of open space there where 2 huge towers once were. Very somber there. But it is being built up again.

After walking by that, we headed to Battery Park. I was starving so I got a pretzel. Tasted great. From here we saw the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

We didn't take a tour this time because the lines were so long, but that will give us an excuse to go back. We hopped back on the bus at Wall Street.

The next stop was Chinatown.

If we go back, this will be once place we skip. It was interesting to say the least. It just seemed so dirty there. Lots of smokers, fish for sale, dirty sidewalks...Just not real nice. But we made our way through and finally got into Little Italy. It was amazing the change from one street to the next. All of a sudden the smell of garlic was in the air. Our main purpose here was to go to Lombardi's Pizza, the oldest pizza joint in America. There were 4 or us so naturally we decided to get a small "White" pizza (different kinds of cheese, no sauce) and a large prosciutto. All in all, 14 big slices of pizza. Of course I made a pig of myself and polished off about 7 of them. It was so good and I couldn't let them go to waste. We were walking a lot, so I didn't feel too bad about it ;). Mom had to catch a subway back to the hotel so she could get to the airport so we parted ways. it was nice to have her wile we did though.

Now, Kim, her mom and I headed back over to the bus. We went by all of the "rich" apartments like the Trump tower were a bunch of Yankees live.

We also passed by the UN building. That is another place I would like to tour too. After passing by a bunch of other landmarks, we got back off near Macy's and headed back up towards Rockefeller Plaza. It was election night so it was pretty busy with all of the NBC people out there. I went into the NBC store and got a 30 Rock shirt (one of the best shows on TV).

We walked past another Trump building, the Trump Tower and decided to go inside. It was a really neat building. We went to the second floor and sat down at Starbucks to rest our feet a little.

A cool water wall in Trump Tower

After recovering, we went a little farther north and found FAO Schwartz. Very cool toy store. This is where a famous scene in the movie "Big" was filmed where Tom Hanks played on a big piano.

Lego sculptures and huge toys were everywhere. We were getting hungry, so we headed over to a little place called Serendipity 3 for dinner.

This place is famous for their desserts so Kim and her mom were ready to get to that part. This is their famous Iced Hot Chocolate.

We were pretty worn out from a long day of touring and walking so we headed back to the hotel with a quick stop in Grand Central Station so Kim's mom could see. Once we got back to the hotel, I was out pretty quick but ready for another day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New York, Day 2

The goal on day 2 was to stay off my feet as much as possible to save my legs for the marathon on Sunday. It didn't really work out that well. We left the hotel in the morning and Kim and mom decided to go shopping at Macys and one of the hundreds of H&Ms in NYC. I went my separate way and went more North up to Niketown.

I took the subway up and then walked around for a while before I finally found it. There was a street fair going on that I looked around at and smelled all the food being cooked. If it had been closer to lunch time, I am sure I would have pigged out.

Once I found Niketown, I saw that it was quite amazing. All the stores in New York seem to be huge and this was no exception. It was 5 stories of Nike with each floor having a theme/category. I browsed through all of the running gear, jackets shoes, and just about everything that Nike had to offer. I was able to restrain myself and not buy anything, but it certainly was neat to see. On my way back to the subway, I had a great hotdog from a vendor. Greatness...

Next I hopped on the subway and headed towards a place called Paragon sports. That is a huge sports shop that has pretty much anything you could want/need for any sport. I also had a couple game cards that you take there to see if you win anything, but I didn't. I wish I had my dad's luck. I was able to find some socks that I was looking for (2XU compression socks) that help your legs fight fatigue. I can't say enough about how great these were. As soon as I put them on, my feet and calves felt better.

After that, I hopped on another shuttle that was headed to the race expo. I went back to look at the gear again and try to pick up a couple posters and a Pint Glass. I wasn't able to find the glass, but I did get to meet Olympic marathoner Brian Sell, which was pretty cool. I also picked up another poster that I am going to get framed to commemorate this race. After wandering around for a while, I got on yet another shuttle bus and headed back to where the women were shopping. We met up, I had a couple slices of pizza while they had some hot dogs and they went back at it in Macys. I went to the Starbucks in there to get off my feet and just watched the people milling around. Not too long after that, we headed on back to the hotel to grab some dinner.

The restaurant looked Italian from the outside, but it turns out it was Romanian. Mom and I had chicken parmesan with spaghetti and Kim had cheese tortellini. So much for going native Romanian, but it was really good. Back a couple more blocks to the hotel and I got everything situated so I wouldn't have to think much when I woke up at 4am to get to the race.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New York, Day 1

Finally getting around to doing a blog about the NYC trip from last weekend. Kim and I woke up real early (like 3:30 am) in order to get to the airport for our 6am flight. It was easy to get up since we knew we were going to someplace fun instead of work. No issues at all on the flights and we got to NYC at about 1:15. As soon as we got our first bag off the baggage claim, mom showed up. We got our other bag and headed out to the hotel in Queens. The area was a strange mix of people from all over the world. You could hear people speaking Chinese, Spanish and various others from Europe. Pretty cool. The hotel/room was nice, nothing fancy but got the job done and was nice and clean.

Right after we checked in we headed out to the city for some lunch, packet pick up and sightseeing. We had lunch at a little deli, not too bad and lots of people watching (nothing too special). Then we headed out to the expo.

I got my packet, looked at all the goodies in side and started to look at all the booths and shop. I wanted to buy a lot of stuff, but decided it was going to be a long trip and ended up with just one shirt.

Next we headed back to Manhattan. We went by the NYC Library and took pictures by the famous Lions.

There were also some pretty cool street dancers that had a pretty good crowd.

Next up was Times Square. It was Halloween night, so we knew there would be some interesting people out and we weren't disappointed.

Here is a Teletubbie playing Rock Band as an example.

A group of bikers were out riding (known as Critical Mass) to raise bike awareness and they were all dressed up.

We headed over to a little pizza joint and had some great pizza. The New Yorkers know how to make a good pie. I think the highlight for the ladies was the dessert, a canoili of some sort with strawberries and cinnamon.

We were all pretty tired at this point, so we headed back to the Grand Central to get the subway back to the hotel.

Lots of people dressed up at this point, a favorite of ours was a group of guys dressed up as skunks. We got back to the hotel, planned out the next day and slept great (well I did anyway).