November 6th 2016
Mile-0 wake up 4 am. Im dressed like a hobo. Gear loaded up. Eric picks me up and we head to Ridgewood Cycle to catch the Marathon Bus to Staten Island.
Eat our bagels on the bus. They shut down the highway 2 miles away from the Verrazano Bridge so we sit in traffic for about 45 min before arriving at Fort Wadsworth at the base of the bridge at around 7:45 am.
Security is very, very tight but the NYPD was AWESOME! Not just helpful but super kind, respectful and supportive. Thank you NYPD!
Wander around a bit, take care of business a couple of times and head to our respective villages. I was in Blue Village, Eric in Green. I gather my gear, strap up all of my gels, gummies, band aids and take my last sips of water before getting in the corral. Meet some cool people in there. Everyone is very excited and anxious to start. Wave one has just taken off!
As we start to move forward to get in position for Wave 2, I notice that the bathroom lines are scarce so I decided to jump over and get in there one last time. Serendipitously I bumped into a guy on my team AFSP who I had been communicating with on our facebook group. Chris Graham up from the DC area! Great Guy!
We pushed up to the start, I saw the 3::45 pacer. And moved out into a maze of charter busses right in front of the toll booths. So I officially crossed the bridge for free;-) I appeared to be surround by Germans and a woman with the words “Beer Girl” on her shirt? Everyone is pretty anxious at this point. We hear God Bless America faintly being sung and then a very loud cannon shot to start our wave. Kinda reminded me of the hunger games actually… So we slowly shuffled our way out to the bridge and with the cameras moving on to us and the DJ Pumping we took our first steps over the starting line. It was very exciting because you cant see anything being surrounded by the busses until you hit the bridge and the horizon opens up!
Mile 1&2- Verrazano Bridge (upper level)- Mile one is up the bridge, adrenaline was going so I did not mind the steep incline. The view to my right was the Atlantic Ocean, to my left was the most spectacular view of the morning sun illuminating lower Manhattan, Statue Liberty and all, as we ran over the FDNY Fire boats spiraling water jets below us! No cars, not much sound except the pounding of thousands of feet. There were a lot of people taking pics etc. Mile two is down the bridge. As we crested the bridge an NYPD Helicopter flew down right next to us on the same level we were running IT WAS AWESOME!!!! Cops were waving at us as they were hovering and everyone was going nuts, it was crazy!
Mile 3-Bay Ridge Brooklyn- Once off the bridge and around the corner people went wild! DJ’s going, bands playing and everyone shouting “Welcome to Brooklyn!”
Mile 4- As I finished mile 3 I looked ahead and saw a massive road full of runners intersecting our road as the Orange Village combined with ours on 3rd ave. I forgot that there were the other two Villages running on the lower level of the bridge, as we combined we engulfed the whole road.
Mile 5-8 Uphill- we were cooking at a decent pace in a straight line but then people started to fall back so it became very hard to push forward and keep my desired pace of 8:30. Imaging the mall at Christmas time but everyone is jogging at different speeds.
Mile 9- to begin mile 9 I saw another river of runners joining us on Lafayette Ave. I actually turned to the guy next to me and said “Great just what we need more runners!” It was packed!
Miles 10-13 Williamsburg, Greenpoint- Moved our way North up Brooklyn. The water areas got really tight and it was very difficult to run especially as the streets narrowed. After the water areas your feet would stick to the pavement from all of the spilled Gatorade. Brooklyn was hopping though. Lots of great music, mostly live and GOOD! Everyone was partying and lots of good signs and Hi-5’s even the cops were cheering and slapping hands! it was great.
Mile 13-14 As we crossed over into Queens on a Small but steep bridge, very few people. I saw a runner who looked dead on the median with cops all around him about 3/4 of the way up. His eyes were wide open but definitely unconscious. Kinda scary.
We enter the bridge on the lower level. It gets eerily quite. No spectators, just pounding of feet and a lot of really heavy breathing. Oh and it is a really steep incline 90% of the way! I saw a lot of runners walking at this point. It was tough. On my way up the bridge I saw the 4 hour pacer IN FRONT OF ME!!!! I got very angry. I was shooting for 3:45. SO I took off and just started burning past people. I resolved not to be over 4 hours.
Mile 16– Manhattan 1st ave- Definitely one of the most exhilarating moments of the race is exiting the Queensboro Bridge on to 1st ave. As you near the end of the bridge you hear a high pitched almost static. then you round the corner and see a short street packed with people going nuts! THEN you round a quick corner to First ave where you can see straight ahead for 4 miles of Avenue stacked 7 rows deep with people going INSANE cheering everyone on! oh and did I mention that it was uphill? Good news was that it opened up here so you could keep a decent pace without having to weave in and out too much.
Mile 17-19 Somewhere in here I saw a woman fall. It was pretty scary. She did get up though so I think she was ok. Another thing I did not expect was how people go crazy when they would see people they know. Your running and then all of a sudden someone near you screams really loud and scares the heck out of you! Pretty cool though to watch people support each other. I had an awful random thought somewhere in here ” Wait, its Sunday…I have to go to work tomorrow ;-(” But almost immediately after that thought I found my self running next to a man who was pushing his son of about age 12-13 in a racing wheelchair, both of them were smiling, talking and having a good time. It put me in my place real quick and made me think of my kids and smile. 1st ave was a zoo and was awesome!
Mile 20– Cramp…. This freaked me out as we were crossing into the Bronx. I have never cramped before while running. I had felt myself getting fatigued around 18 so I did start to worry. My right front quad right above my knee was cramping bad and I felt it twitching a lot. This was quickly joined by the same spot on my left quad. I did not know what to do so I just kept going and hoped it would work itself out. It never got to the point of unbearable pain but definitely slowed me down. The Bronx was cool though. Chill people, a lot of spanish music, cowbells and dancing, great energy! Someone had a sign that said “Beyonce is at the end!” I liked running through there and I would recommend watching from there!
Mile 21 we crossed back into Manhattan. I heard a lets go Rangers chant and someone had a “This is the last Bridge” sign. We did 5 bridges in the race…
Mile 21-22 All I heard was how bad 5th ave was before the race. So as I ran out of the Bronx and through Harlem I thought “this is fine” flat and open. My cramping was getting pretty bad though so I decided to stretch it out at the next H2O station…Bad Idea… just before mile 22 I pulled off to the beginning of the table to grab a gatorade and stretch my right quad. As I attempted to do this my hamstring recoiled in shooting pain. I screamed really loudly. A man working the table, who I guess was bored, sprang into action and forcefully tried to hustle me into a medical tent. I calmly tried to explain to him that I just had a cramp but I guess he did not listen and kept saying “Medical Attention!” Now, its mile 22, I not only had found “The Wall” but slammed into it full speed so needless to say I was not stopping! So I screamed at him “It’s a CRAMP!” and then just ran away…
Mile 23-24 – 5th ave. You cant see it until you come around a corner and there it was. A really NASTY incline that you can see for two miles. I really thought I was going to pass out. So I just put my head down and schlepped up the hill. Everyone must have looked pretty bad at this point because even the crowd looked scared. As I neared the top of the hill I noticed that the area on my right looked like central park. That was a good sign. Oh and BTW, this is prob about where I blew past TIKI Barber who started 45 minutes ahead of me… That’s what you get for dissing the team Tiki,… I got your back Eli.
Mile 25– Central Park, Downhill at first. Better than up hill but my feet had been numb for about an hour and my cramping was just holding off but ready to pop. NO STOPPING, Just keep going is all I could think. Up to this point I had no idea if I would see My Wife or not. There were only 2 miles to go and I knew that she could not get to the last mile without a ticket so I was doubting that I would see her. So right about the end of mile 25 I must have heard My sister in law Beth scream my name on my left and I looked to see Eileen on the side of the road. I think I yelled “Hun!” but I’m not sure. So she jumped up to chase me because I yelled “I cant STOP!!!” meaning if I do I will collapse, which got a chuckle from the crowd. She ran with me and gave me a great big kiss which was awesome! It was exactly what I needed at that point. Then I cried a bit because you are just so overwhelmed with emotion and exhaustion and I just wanted to finish.
Mile 26- was packed! Now I appreciate well wishing but, if your ever at the end of a race, don’t ever shout “Dig Deep” or “Finish Strong”! I heard this in mile 26 and so I cursed a lot. Just cause your digging deep into your appletini and working off brunch does not give you the right to tell me to do the same. Just stick with “You got this!” and Way to go!” etc. Any way, just trying to stay on my feet at this point as I cursed out the band playing “Born to Run” on the corner 😉 Sorry Bruce… nothing personal, your still the boss:-)
Mile 26.2- Would you believe me if I told you it was up hill… it was. So as I moved up to the finish line some guy right in front of me busts out his flag and hits me in the face. So I moved to the right, smiled arms up and tried not to trip over the finish line. 3::57!
Sorry this was so long. Part 2 will wrap it up and be shorter. Thanks all!!!!!