Thursday, October 28, 2010

Half the Fun Is Getting There

Marathons seem straightforward. Register. Train. Go to start line. Run for 26.2 miles. Cross finish line. Eat cheeseburgers and drink beer. Repeat as necessary.

Except some races confuse me.

In 10 days I, along with 44,999 strangers, am running the New York City Marathon. Next Sunday I will get up at 2:30 in the morning. My friend Kate, a car, a train, another train, a bus, a ferry, a shuttle and a half-mile walk will, in theory, get me to the start line by 9:40. More than 7 hours after the alarm goes off I will head up and over the Verrazano Bridge and weave my way through NYC. At least that is the plan.

Unfortunately, I can't figure the damn race out, despite reading the 66-page book delivered last week via USPS titled The ING New York City Marathon 2010 Official Handbook I'm In ING New York City Marathon cover to cover. Twice. I still have no idea what I am supposed to do.

Hopefully New York will continue to make me smile like it
 did the time I visited the potato famine memorial. I thought
 I was on a regular boring hill until I realized I was actually
 on a memorial dedicated to famine and then I felt like a jerk.
An entire page of The ING New York City Marathon 2010 Official Handbook I'm In ING New York City Marathon is dedicated to decoding what the hell your race number means. If you have a green background, you run across the green start line. There are three waves starting at 30-minute increments. At the designated time, you go to your corresponding wave and color and then line up in corrals according to the first two numbers of your race number. For the first 8 miles of the race, you run along one of three different routes designated by your bib color. At mile 8 everyone piles on top of each other as the three different colored routes merge.

At some point before you get to the start line there are bagels, juice and church or synagogue in addition to drum circles and AA meetings.

 There is to be no peeing on the Verrazano Bridge. This rule takes up almost an entire page of the book. The New York Road Runners et al. (2010) state that:

"There will be more than 1,700 portable toilets in Fort Wadsworth. Portable toilets will also be available before moving onto the bridge. Please refrain from urinating on the bridge – it is extremely unpleasant and dangerous (electrical equipment is housed on the bridge) to you and fellow runners. NYRR reserves the right to disqualify anyone who does not use a portable toilet (p. 37)."

NYRR, if I get zapped to death because some bobo urinates on a wire I want my $191 back. I am, unfortunately, at increased risk for zappage because I think my bib color (green) starts on the lower level of the bridge and for the past several years the upper level runners have passed the time waiting for the gun to go off by whizzing off the side of the bridge onto the runners below. Scary times.

I will be the one running with an umbrella.

Dodging runner urine will be worth it though, as something magical awaits at the finish because "each finisher will receive a food/fluid bag containing Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, G Series™ Gatorade Recover 03, a Gatorade G Series™ Pro Endurance Formula powder stick, Emerald Nuts, PowerBar Recovery bars®, a NY apple®™€£©∞ and pretzels.” (p.45).

I guess the pretzels are generic.

Ok. I am done making fun of the ING New York City Marathon 2010 now. I am actually looking forward to it, a lot. My goal is to finish and enjoy every mile. Simple. People I’ve spoken with who have run both New York and Boston said the crowds at New York put Boston’s to shame, something that will blow my mind a bit if it’s actually true and something that is making me even more excited to run.

I’ve put in the time and the effort training and feel ready to go, aside from the fact that I don’t really know how to get to the start line, what to do when I get there, what way to run, what the weather will be, where the course goes, where to put my stuff, how to get my stuff back when I finish or where my post-race cheeseburger will be.

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