Part 1: NYC Marathon – Getting to the Starting Line

Tuesday, 16 November 2010  |  Race Reports

Let me start my NYC Marathon story with this: how we got to the starting line.

For first-time New York visitors like us, getting to the race start was as big an adventure as the race itself.  Our race (third wave) would start at 10:40 a.m. at Verrazano bridge, but we had to be at the South Ferry Terminal by 7:30 a.m. Our lovely boutique hotel, Park 79, was conveniently located 500 meters from the finish line (Thanks Harry Tan for the great recommendation!), but we expected 45 minutes travel time by subway and added 15 minutes for possible mishaps along the way (i.e., taking the wrong train).

Hubby and I left our hotel at 6:30 a.m. with the kids sleeping soundly and under the care of his cousin.  As soon as we stepped out of the lobby, we walked as quickly as we could toward 72nd and Broadway.  I believe the speed of our steps had more to do with battling the morning chill rather than worrying about our tardiness. Boy was it cold!  I was freezing even with the following layers for my top: (1) tank top, (2) dri-fit shirt, (3) long sleeved shirt, (4) long sleeved throwaway fleece shirt, and (5) jacket.  Thanks to Jane-Jane who gave me a pair of throwaway sweatpants at the very last minute when I decided to wear shorts instead.  If it hadn’t been for those pants, my legs would’ve been as hard as plywood before the race started.


It would’ve been a simple ride to the South Ferry terminal, but with construction on the subway announced the night before, even hubby’s NY-based cousin wasn’t sure about the trains we should take.  He provided us with a new set of directions (aka kodigo) and hubby and I carried one set each, just to be sure!

As it turned out, even one of the trains we were to take was closed.  While hubby and I hopped off one train to get on another, a fellow runner stuck his head out from the train and yelled “The express train is closed. Come back in here.” Phew.

Later on, there were more than a handful of us, along with the friendly runner, who would hop in and out of trains in confusion with which train to take.  Luckily, we all made it to Chamber St. where we all boarded a free shuttle to the South Ferry.  With the long line of runners at the station, we knew we were on the right track.




We arrived at the South Ferry Terminal even before 8 a.m. The entire place was filled with runners and we all made our way to board the free ferry ride to Staten Island.





The ride was smooth and enjoyable, relaxing even.  While others stood on the deck to enjoy the view, hubby and I sat on the floor inside to keep warm and rest. We completely forgot to check out the Statue of Liberty though!



We arrived at the terminal to find open shops and delis selling bagels, bananas, coffee, and other meals for runners.  I even got to buy batteries and candies and took a bathroom break.



We then headed out to take another bus ride to the start villages. During the brief bus ride, hubby and I ate our baon bagel and bananas.  No way was I going to risk getting hungry during the race!


The bus stopped at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island where all start villages—blue, orange, and green—were located. Without the shelter of a ferry or bus, hubby and I silently made our way to the blue start village in the chilling cold, much like devout followers on a procession, along with all the other runners around us.


We arrived at the blue start village to find a party-like atmosphere with runners gathered in circles laughing or seemingly enjoying a picnic, others hamming it up for the cam, while others were busy getting there last minute preparations done.  It felt like we were in Woodstock sans the music!



Hubby and I busied ourselves trying to wear our garbage bags, which truly worked wonders in keeping us warm.  We visited the port-a-potties more than 4x each—aack, that was probably due to the cold, too!  And, I deposited my camera and post-race clothing at the UPS truck, which housed 1,000 bags per truck (so efficient!).  Before we knew it, we were being called to the corral.




It was in the corral area that runners began to discard their throwaway clothing since clothes discarded on the bridge would not be recycled.  I decided to do the same.  As soon as I removed my jacket and pants, I froze.  I couldn’t keep my teeth from chattering and my nose running.  It was good that we were walking already since any kind of movement helped to keep me warm.

It was nice to bump into Pinoy runners, Leah Caringal, Noel and company, as we made our way to the starting line.  Imagine, what were the chances of bumping into friends among 45,000 other runners?!  After a quick chat, we had to part ways as even the way to the starting line was very well organized.  This was split up into specific numbers of runners so that there would be no pushing and shoving.

Soon, we found ourselves walking past the toll booths and standing at the Verrazano bridge.  That’s when it finally hit me: I was actually going to run the NYC Marathon!  Before all this, everything seemed like a blur.  In a few more minutes, it was going to be a reality…