BY SCOTTY ANDERSON – What a fantastic time. What an unbelievable time. What a wonderful time.
Karin and I left Hawaii Wednesday night November 3, 2010, for New York City not knowing just how great this trip was going to be. We figured it would be fun, but a marathon is a marathon…right? Wrong. Not when 100 countries and all 50 states converge on NYC…the Big Apple just had to out do itself.
First of all have to hand it to Continental Airlines who has it all over United. Comfortable seats front and back and nice people.
Got to Newark and within a few minutes on the Air/Train to Penn Station. Quick Starbucks break and off to the subway and an easy one transfer trip to Brooklyn Heights and the magnificent, wonderful condo of Steve and Marty Ellman. They are my sister and brother-in-law from a previous marriage. But they will always retain their title with me. We will never be able to repay them for all they did and provided. But we will try. Anyway nice restful first day with some lunch carbs at Monty’s on Montague Street and a delicious homemade dinner at home.
Friday off to the Javits center to pick up number and all the stuff that goes with it. Lots of languages and lots of great looking people. Weather…well…it was cold and predicted cold for Sundays race…mid 40s type stuff. And it was accurate! Not like here. On he way back to Brooklyn found Conway’s….a mini Wal-Mart… (real mini) got a great sweat suit for $15. Perfect outfit to get me out to the Staten Island and the start. Karin played lawyer in Steve’s office board room (he being a lawyer too) while I roamed the streets. Guys…in the big city,…men’s rooms are located in ….Starbucks…which makes sense as they start the whole thing anyway. Then off to a great restaurant on 59th across from the GM building, which we had been to before, to meet Karin’s former secretary Linda and her new squeeze. Marty and Steve were in town too…so they joined us. The six of us had a great time. Lots of laughs and I did some carbo loading.
Saturday was exploration day. Steve did the greatest thing by taking me on a drive of the “route” He went to places on Staten Island that he had never been to, plus I saw a two story COSTCO. The ethnic neighborhoods are really something to see. It was even more appreciated on Sunday when I really got to see all of it, up close and personal. Karin went shopping with Marty. Surprise!
Off to Little Italy to carbo load Saturday night…well if 6pm can be considered night. The people on the streets were very entertaining. It was a kick. The restaurant, was terrific and Italy to the max. It was perfect for me…and the wine was great. On the street found a great pair of gloves for $5.00. And they say NY is so expensive. After some sleep time to get up and out on Sunday morning.
So I’m scheduled on the 8:15 Staten Island Ferry. Off I go early as usual. It’s cold and Steve gave me a parka on which the zipper doesn’t work that I can add to the charitable donation bag. Get to the right subway station (we had practiced) and only see one other person with running shoes. Finally the subway comes and I see a few more running types. We all give each other the “knowing” glances. Get off at the exit for the Ferry and now there are dozens of us, then hundreds, then the Ferry building full of runners. Most of us with the same “deer in the headlight” look. Stood next to a guy with a jacket showing he had done every NYC marathon since ’83 and also the one in Antarctica. Next to him a couple from Indianapolis with full on Colts gear. The first surge to the Ferry. Ops, missed it. No worries the next one is very soon still why ahead of my 8:15 must go time. Don’t want to be late.
Get on and end up sitting on the floor with a nice group including a young woman working for a lingerie designer in NYC and a tall female lawyer (what else) from Oklahoma. Really nice people to spend time with. Off the ferry and walk to the very organized bus pick up that takes us to the starting villages. I am in the green village, say good-bye to my new friends and go off to meet some newer ones. The villages are there for easy access to where on the Bridge you start. Took my bag of stuff I wanted for the finish (jacket and long sweats) and gave it to the UPS truck for my starting corral (very organized) and headed for the entertainment and more new friends. We watch as the wheelchair, and then elite women, then the elite men with the first wave of 15,000 runners take off. I’m in line with a guy who got his MBA from San Jose State, and an architect/construction manager from LA and NYC.
As they call us to move to our corral, I drop off the sweats, do one quick porta potty stop and get ready to go. While it is cold we are standing in the sunshine. Our wave is the last…and we go off very close to being on schedule…takes me about 2 and a half minutes to make it to the actual start line, can hear the chip cherp and its on to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, lower section and off we go. The bridge is two miles long, and cold and windy but not as crowed as I had expected. Views of the city are terrific. By the way those 2 miles is one up…one down.
Coming off the bridge two things happened…lots more clothes came off runners and about 50 guys headed to the side walls to pee. Nice touch! Didn’t see any of the women runners do that. Anyway, in about a ½ mile we merged with those who came off the upper part of the bridge and headed down 4th Ave, and the throngs of people on both sides of the street. Think of the most amount of people you have ever seen, all now on one street sidewalk, having fun, calling out, singing, laughing, clapping, high 5ing etc, well that is how it is all the way now to the finish except for the bridges where they don’t allow spectators. The energy is overwhelming. This is FUN! Somehow Steve, Marty, and Karin find me in the crowd. Had to come across the whole field to get to them but it was great to see them. The paper the next day claimed that 2.5 million people were on the sidewalks. I must of high fived two to three thousand of them.
Besides the normal stuff at aid stations, people on the sides have bananas, candy, Kleenex for our running noses, just all the comforts of home. Running in the sun makes it not seem to cold, but after sucking a lot of cold air, taking water or Gatorade is actually hard to get down. Anyway mostly Catholic and either Spanish or Italian for the first few miles, then off to mile 10 and Williamsburg and the Hassidic Jewish neighborhood, (they aren’t big race fans). At Macaren Park up pops Steve, Mary and Karin. Amazing. The New York subway is great.
Then the incredible halfway point. Over the Pulaski Bridge with a view of Manhattan that is incomparable on this day. The bright and clear days provides a spectacular look at the skyline. Nice jaunt through Queens, you could hear the change in accents. Again, very fun but nothing like what was about to happen. Back to Manhattan and the most raucous crowd you have ever heard or seen. It just rocked! I could see runners as far as I could see…even with my glaucoma it was something. The bars were packed and I didn’t notice anyone not having a great time. A beer would have been good, but someone did hand me a banana.
Around this time Jared the Subway guy passed me as did Amani Toomer the pro-bowl football player. That got him $1 for charity. He started dead last as got $1 for everyone he passed. After First Ave went into the Bronx for one mile and then back to Manhattan and Harlem. That was fun. Lots of singers, both professional and just fun loving types. Lot of church ladies welcoming us to the neighborhood. Loved it. Making the turn for the last 5 miles you notice one thing…and that is Fifth Ave goes UP to Central Park. Damn! You see the trees of Central Park and the Empire State Building and off you go. I told you UP, right?
As usual for me in a marathon I walk/run from around mile 18 to 23. That is just how it is. Then you focus and stand on it for the last 3.2. (Never forget the .2 part) Anyway got to the mile 23 mark and did the stand on it thing and as I turned into Central Park, my pit crew that had missed me on First Ave was right there at the turn into the park. Now I’ve got about 1.5 to go and am feeling great. Glad they saw me pumping it out.
It is downhill into the park…which always means an uphill is coming…and it did; we came up and finally out at 59th Street right across from the Plaza where the horse carriages normally park and down to Columbus Circle. At the circle you turn back into the park and after a small downhill it’s up to finish with the yards marked, 300,200,100 etc. I see the clock and realized to make my goal I really have to sprint. Prior to the race I had project 5:15 if I really went at it or 5:30 would be OK. There were lots of people around me, but I saw an opening and really did a sprint. Made it! Time of 5:29:55. My slowest Marathon ever. The best marathon ever. The people of New York are awesome! Never to be forgotten.
Took an hour but met up with Steve, Marty and Karin at a predetimed watering hole. After a subway ride back to Brooklyn Heights, and a much needed shower, off to a great local place and had a buffalo steak, beer and wine. Damn life is good!
Because it was so special I actually went and not only got my finisher shirt and jacket, but got my medal engraved. A lawyer (naturally) next to me in line in the sleet waiting to have our medals engraved agreed that we were doing this as it was so special and we didn’t want to miss out on anything. Both of us had just completed out 8th marathon. New York is special.
To all the new people I met including Bob Crowley, Keri Prince (who we will get out here for the Waikiki Rough Water Swim), she did the Escape from Alcatraz in 35 minutes and all the others who’s names I don’t recall hope to see all of you again.
Steve and Marty can’t thank you enough for all your help and hospitality. I am also very, very fortunate to have Karin as my pit boss. Wouldn’t want to do any of this without her.
Marty don’t scream too loud please. I have already applied for the lottery for next year. Wanted to run with Steve now that he has the bug.
Scotty Anderson is a resident of Honolulu