New York City – Part 3 – Packet Pick-Up, Central Park, and the TS Alliance Gathering

November 3 we were all in better humor…to begin with. We slept well after being put through tourist Boot Camp the day before and were eager to hit the streets and see stuff. After breakfast at the hotel, the first order of business was to pick up Allen’s race packet and our passes for the bleacher seating along the home stretch of the race.

Look at that moxie!

Allen agreed to try the Subway again. So, of course, we found out that the Subway line that runs from the station one block from our hotel was down for maintenance for the weekend. But not before standing on the platform for several minutes, wondering why the station was so empty. We eventually walked down to the station at 50th and Broadway, also very close to our hotel, and rode the subway downtown.

Subway Station. Courtesy of Ariana

We were only able to get so far and then hoofed it the rest of the way. The air was cool, but not uncomfortable and there was lots to see so I don’t think anyone minded.

Look at that face! She’s already planning her move to the city.
Almost to the Expo. The sign behind him said something about the marathon but changed as I took the picture. Lame.

Big races have huge expos in the days preceding the event. The TCS New York City Marathon held theirs at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The building was sprawling and a separate event was taking place in the suite we passed on our way to the race expo. When we came in, we saw a long line of people standing behind a sign I didn’t take the time to read. On the way out, I was curious, and read it. “America’s Got Talent.”

 

Woah
On our way upstairs to the Expo

At the expos there are vendors for every type of running gear, gadget, device, training, and food. There are designated areas to pick up the necessary “packet” containing the race number that carries the timing chip, other important race day info, and often goodies like Biofreeze samples and lip balm.

One of many magical moments on this journey
Allen signing the Marathon year sculpture.

We also had to make a stop at a separate booth for the passes Allen got for Ariana and me to sit in the bleachers to see him make his final charge toward the finish. We walked around for a bit and then went back to the hotel to drop off his packet.

If you think we didn’t wave these around (like Wayne and Garth at the Alice Cooper concert) at every check point on the way to the grand stands, you’d be wrong.

 

 

The TS Alliance was catering a luncheon for all the runners on their team with a time frame of 1 – 4, near Madison Ave and 89th street. This was the farthest Uptown we went during the trip. I planned to use this large window to squeeze in seeing The Dakota, Strawberry Fields and anything else we could fit in, all while making our way uptown and across Central Park. We rode the Subway, without incident, from 50th to 72nd and then headed Eastish, toward Central Park.

When we exited the Subway at 72nd, this was the view.

As a teenager, I developed a love of The Beatles and more specifically, John Lennon. His lyrics and sometimes haunting voice, touched my teenage soul in a way I’d come to seek out in other music. I even did an extensive, huge part of my grade, paper on him my Junior year. I wanted to see the looming Gothic apartment building where he and Yoko had lived, and where, on December 8, 1980, he was shot to death by Mark David Chapman.

The Dakota
The Dakota

As we approached it, the desire grew to cross the street and touch the sidewalks where he walked, and ultimately fell. I can’t really explain the reverence I felt for this man I never met, and never had the opportunity to even share the same air on this planet. I suppose it was that way for the millions who cherished him.

The Dakota sits across the street from Central Park, and can be seen from the Lennon memorial part of the park, Strawberry Fields. It took some hiking around and frustration before we found the mosaic memorial. Allen was starting to get stick-up-the-buttish even though we still had plenty of time to get to the luncheon. As we climbed the path to the mosaic, I could feel both positive energy and solemnness. I was awestruck by the respect everyone gave to the art on the ground and how everyone made their way to the front of the line, slowly, took their pictures, had their moment, and then moved aside for others to move forward.

Imagine Mosaic in Strawberry Fields
Imagine Mosaic in Strawberry Fields

I would’ve liked to soak those feelings in but no sooner had we gotten to the Imagine mosaic and snapped a few pictures, Allen was heading back down the hill.

I take most of the blame for not getting all the time I wanted since I scheduled our visit before his event. But he is not without responsibility. He told me the window of time and I planned accordingly. If I’d known he wanted to get there at the top of that time frame, I would have obliged. Communication, people. It’s key.

Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park
Bethesda Terrace in Central Park
Bow Bridge in Central Park
Central Park. Courtesy of Ariana
Central Park. Courtesy of Ariana
Central Park. Courtesy of Ariana
Central Park. Courtesy of Ariana

As we made our way through the park, growing more and more certain that it would never end, I started wanting to pull the stick out of Allen’s butt and beat him with it. He was power-walking ahead of us the entire time and didn’t stop, even when we did to take pictures, unless we yelled for him.

Allen speeding away from us in Central Park. Courtesy of Ariana

When we go back, I will give Central Park the time it deserves. This wasn’t the trip, however.

We got to the luncheon, being held on the top floor of a beautiful apartment building, and there was still plenty of food, though they had started to put it away. The view was spectacular.

 

TS Alliance rooftop luncheon view.
TS Alliance rooftop luncheon view.
TS Alliance rooftop luncheon view.
TS Alliance rooftop luncheon view. Courtesy of Ariana
TS Alliance rooftop luncheon view.
TS Alliance rooftop luncheon view.
TS Alliance rooftop luncheon view.
TS Alliance rooftop luncheon view.
TS Alliance rooftop luncheon view. Courtesy of Ariana

We ate and met the Regional Program Manager, Shelly . She told us that she had two children with TS and how the Alliance was close to her heart, her passion. She talked about her own family’s struggle with the disease as well as the advancements in treatment and working toward a cure.

Allen with Shelly, the Regional Program Manager for the TS Alliance.

As she talked, I thought about *d* and all she and her family had gone through with Aiden. My heart swelled, excited and feeling so grateful that there was an organization so set on helping her and Aiden and other families just like them. There was gratitude for being able to be there, in that amazing city, supporting Allen as he ran a race not just for himself, but for Aiden, for the cure. I wished so much that *d* could have made the trip to meet Shelly and the others running for the cause. She deserved to feel that same rush of excitement, and hope, but circumstances wouldn’t allow it. I know Allen wanted her there as well, and because she couldn’t be, it made the race that much more meaningful. It was never JUST about the race, but by the time we stood in that meeting room at the top of that skyscraper, we were definitely feeling the significance of the journey.

Shelly thanked Allen for running for the Alliance and us for supporting him. She gave him a gift to be opened after the race as well as some TS Alliance visors and we began the trip Downtown.

One amazing thing about Manhattan is that you really can’t walk anywhere without seeing something iconic and we paused for some pictures of Radio City Music Hall before we arrived “home.”

Radio City Music Hall. (Not sure why I look photoshopped here. I’d like to think I’d do a better job if I was going to do that…)
Radio City Music Hall. Not a great shot of the Hall, but Ariana’s face made the pic worth it.

Once back at the hotel, Allen planned to do nothing but relax as he prepared himself mentally for the race the next morning. Ariana and I strolled over a block to 9th Ave and hit a couple thrift stores. I’d planned many more, but as it does, the day got away from us and we were working with limited daylight and time before supper. We went to Housing Works Thrift Store at 730-732 9th Ave. Things were fairly priced and all the proceeds help the homeless and those with AIDS so I made sure I bought something. Spoiler alert! It was a BOOK. We wandered down 9th Ave a bit farther and stopped at 602 9th Ave, Thrift and New. This place was more pricey and carried mostly antiques so we left empty handed. By that time, it was getting dark so we moseyed back to the hotel. Thrift shopping is something else I want to go back and give the proper attention.

On our adventure down 9th Ave, we saw an Italian place that happened to be on my list of possible pre-race supper restaurants. So, we returned to 9th Ave with Allen and had some fabulous carbs at Bocca Di Bacco.

Bocca Di Bacco (not my picture)

The wait was long, despite making a reservation with Open Table, and it was very loud. The food was good, but I’m not sure it was worth the wait. At least not what I got.

Bocca Di Bacco homemade pasta with meat sauce

But it was a Saturday night, in NYC, really close to Times Square, so…

We went back to the hotel and Allen completed his pre-race ritual of laying out his race outfit and number and going over the plan for the morning for the 100th time.

This picture was taken at home, which should give you some insight into the method AND the madness.

Then, it was off to bed where visions of tennis shoes, sweaty brows, and finisher medals likely danced in his head.

~L~

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