New York City – The Marathon – Part 4

I’ve had some major upheaval in my routine for a long time and have put my writing on the back burner—so much so, that it’s in someone else’s house, on someone else’s stove (I actually started writing this in July of 2020). I know I’m not the only one, in this unbelievable reality we’re all trying to exist in right now… But I’m hoping that things are settling down, at least in my personal life. And I also hope that I haven’t forgotten too much about our trip to NYC over 3 years ago. Let’s see, shall we?

Part of being married to a runner, is getting up early on Saturdays and Sundays, freezing your ass off in the Spring and Fall mornings, while waiting for him to start his race. Killing time until he finishes. And a lot of bag carrying.

The morning of the NYC Marathon, the three of us got up around 4. Allen is a creature of habit. His routines before a race are not unlike Rain Man’s affinity for underwear from K-Mart. The boy knows what works for him and he doesn’t deviate. The routine is: bathroom, getting dressed in his painstakingly chosen singlet, tiny, tiny shorts and flashy, weird-shaped shoes, drinking his special “race beverage,” bathroom again, pinning on his number, and throwing a shirt and pants on over his race outfit before we head out the door.

He went into the race with a goal time of 3 hours, 15 minutes. 26.2 miles.  I “ran” a 5K before. No one could twist my arm to get me to spend the 3 days “running” it would take me to finish a marathon. But he’s good at it. And he’s gotten so much better even since that morning.

Like all race mornings, the anticipation was electric. As we walked through Times Square around 5AM, the streets relatively clear, save the runners and racegoers making their way toward busses that would take race participants to the starting line in Staten Island. It was like a scene from some apocalyptic movie where Times Square is empty except for all the people in sweat pants moving with purpose in the same direction. The flashing lights of the Square seemed out of place without the roar of traffic and tourists, like watching a fireworks display in a silent film. We’d been through Times Square when it was packed just the night before and the calmness was surreal. Then again, what kind of nutjobs want to be up at 5AM on a Sunday? Oh, wait…

At one point there was a couple of guys quarreling right behind us.

We parted ways near the New York Public Library near 5th and 42nd, where he got on a bus that would take him to Staten Island for the start of the race. He would hang out in the “runners’ village,” drink some coffee and have a bagel before getting into Corral A, not too far from some of the world’s most elite runners.

Ariana and I started back toward the hotel, a walk I’d been dreading. We headed back the way we’d come and crossed through Times Square again. Some guys were hanging out in an alcove amongst the store fronts. One stepped forward as we passed and asked, “What are you doin’ later?”  Never mind that it was 5:30AM. We picked up the pace and my ears were tuned behind me, hoping he wouldn’t follow. Thankfully, he didn’t. We hustled all the way back to the hotel, grateful to be back inside, albeit a little shaken, but a lot relieved. We flopped on our beds, me to nap and Ariana to say she probably wouldn’t nap—and then napping anyway.

We dozed and showered and watched the start of the race on TV, hoping to pick Allen out of the crowd of thousands. No luck. I fired up the TCS New York City Marathon app so we could track his progress and used Facebook to encourage everyone back home to do the same.

We went over a block or so and had brunch at Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery. For all the hype and the atmosphere, the food wasn’t worth blogging about. It was a cool building though.

Not my picture.

At some point, I realized we needed to get moving toward Central Park and the finish line, and that we needed to hurry or we might miss him running by. He’d bought tickets for us to sit in the bleachers placed on either side of the road as the racers made the final turn, heading into the home stretch. I was starting to worry we wouldn’t make it due to a lack of signs directing spectators and multiple security check points. Then we were there, climbing the metal steps, brushing past other race watchers to squeeze into an empty space.

The lady next to us let us borrow a couple of her noisemaker bells and when Allen ran by, not 15 minutes after we sat down, we screamed, whooped, rang our bells and hollered his name. He never saw us, though he was looking! In a perfect example of why the running community is the absolute best of all sports, the lady who’d lent her bells asked, “What’s his name?” and when we told her, she joined in screaming his name.

He disappeared down the home stretch and I might have seen him cross the line, arms in the air, on the huge video screen across from the bleachers. It wasn’t until the app refreshed and I saw his finishing time that I knew for sure.

Then we were off to backtrack through the park and find the meeting area and wait for Allen. There were letters on posts, alphabetically down the blocked off street, to help racers reunite with family and friends.

When he came into view, he was elated. He’d had a dream race experience and the enormity of running in the New York City Marathon in the iconic city was coursing through him, through me. I’d seen him have a bad race, involving a ride on a stretcher strapped to an ATV and IV fluids. This was the complete opposite of that. And we were so grateful –For the good run, for the experience, for the chance to run for more than just the personal accomplishment and for our family and friends following along at home, cheering him on.

By the time we got back to the hotel and he got cleaned up, we went to a really late lunch at The Grey Dog in Chelsea. This place was one of our favorites from the trip. The location, art, vibe and food were perfect. Very chill and welcoming.

When we left, we spotted what looked like a garage full of junk. It was a thrift/antique store called No Particular Hours, and it literally was a garage full of junk (tray-sures!). I found a box of gears from the old clocks my home town had been named for and purchased one.

We stumbled upon Artists and Fleas, a venue with tons of vendors selling their crafts and arts. I bought two NY shirts from Jason Laurits of Paste and a literal candy necklace from Debbie Tuch’s Glitterlimes.

Then we strolled the Highline, a swath of green in an otherwise concrete neighborhood. It’s a public park (and nonprofit) constructed upon the remains of a historic, elevated railway. It was dark by this time and the view was impressive.

After our walk, we went to The WoodStock, where I’d made a reservation earlier in the day, not thinking we’d have such a late lunch after the race. While the pizzas this place served were ok, (and an effort to eat, since we were still full from lunch) the atmosphere was where the place wowed. Though we didn’t book one, they had rooms decked out like living rooms from the 60’s. (As of December 2021, it seems this place has closed)

Crammed full of pizza and fairly exhausted, we made our way back to the hotel.