Thursday, November 11, 2010

To The Finish, Part One

About a minute after the gun went off I crossed the start line. I was expecting banners, flags, the Statue of Liberty to come to life … fanfare. But just a timing mat. As soon as I stepped onto the bridge proper a hurricane hit. Within the first 25 seconds of the race my hat blew off my head, over the railing and into the harbor. I realized I couldn’t feel my feet, I was still shivering, my person was getting blown around, I was running uphill into a headwind that was taking my breath away and I still had 26.17 miles to go.


While my hat blew off of my head these people were already at the 8.5 mile mark:

Lead women's pack, including a tucked-away Shalane Flanagan
zooming toward a second-place finish in her marathon debut.

A gnocchi maker makes an excellent hammer.

Here come the boys.

I decided I wanted to get the hell off of that bridge and took off. Or at least I thought I did – I hit the one-mile mark and peeked at my watch which indicated a first mile at a blistering 10:02. Uh, WTF? I was out of breath and working hard for a 10:02? I didn’t really have a goal time for this race aside from running faster than I had at Boston, just to keep me moving. My Boston time wasn't exactly the speed of light so I know my arbitrary goal was within reach, but a 10:02 wasn’t going to cut it. Demoralizing, but after I crested the peak of the bridge I picked it up on the downhill and felt some feeling coming back to my feet.

And then the crowds started. From the bridge we headed into Brooklyn. Holy mother, was it loud. People were yelling from overpasses, swinging from trees, playing tubas, beating on pots with hammers and screaming their heads off.

I made a deal with myself that even if I felt terrible I would suck it up and run the entire race. No walking through water stops, no bathroom breaks, no whining, no crying, no stopping for an oil change. New Yorkers apparently take their marathon watching very seriously and I didn’t wanna disrespect by walking.

With that decided, the first 7 or so miles flew by. My pace was where I wanted it to be (a bit too fast, actually, and I knew I would pay for it later). The crowds were at least three people deep and the course was relatively flat. I felt good but also felt I wouldn’t be holding that pace for too long or PRing. I could tell I didn’t have enough in the tank and I also wanted to enjoy the ride as much as possible.

The police along this part of course were particularly awesome and looked happy to be there– high-fiving, taking pictures with runners, cowbelling it up, getting all dancypants to the random musicians sprinkled along the course. Good times.

My peeps were waiting for me at mile 8.5, rocking the “Go Edison & Laurie (and everybody else)” signs Kate (who also took all the pictures here) made. Right where I thought they would be, there they were. Bill, Kate, her husband Steve and some of their friends were under a tree where they’d nailed the signs using a gnocchi maker as a hammer (apparently hammers aren't allowed in Brooklyn). I yelled something, apparently made some weird faces (see below) and was on my way.

What am I yelling? What is the dude
in the orange shirt doing with his hands?
Mysteries of life.

Looks like  I am missing some teeth here.
Don't worry Mom, I still have all my chompers.
 A mile or so later complete quiet replaced the screams of the crowd. We were in the ‘hood of Williamsburg, formerly known to me as the land of hipsters but now and forever known to me as the land of Hasidic Jewish people. 45,000 people were running by and the locals stared straight ahead. Occasionally a little kid would observe one of the few non-Hasidic people and mimic the cheers, high-fives and general absurdity or would run alongside a racer until a mom or dad convinced them not to. I tripped and rolled my ankles twice during these miles, too preoccupied with the change in crowd to pay attention to potholes and rutted roads.

Laurie's running tip of the week: Don’t trip or twist your ankles while running a marathon.

The 13.1 mark was on the Pulaski Bridge, a steep but short climb before a steep downhill and a  jumbotron broadcasting the runners under it. Fun, except a few mofos decided that coming to a complete stop and taking pictures of themselves waving on screen was a brilliant plan. HONK HONK! Dudes, I know I am not moving at the speed of sound but get out of my way.

Halftime. Intermission. Midway.

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