This weekend was a whirlwind and I’m sure I’ll regret taking a day off when I’m buried in work, but IT. WAS. WORTH. IT.
It’s been the summer of marathons here in our sleepy little village, and I wasn’t going to let my friend, Stacy, go to the Big Apple solo for her big day. NO ONE should be alone for an event like that…no matter how strong, fierce and independent. (Because that’s Stacy, to a T.) During a marathon, anything can happen, and isn’t it nice to have someone to hold your stuff, wave from the sidelines and make sure you get back to you hotel OK?! (Clearly I’m projecting all my fears onto someone who had none of them, but let’s just focus on how nice it is to have a friend waiting at the finish??)
Speaking of how nice it is to have friends around… Look who I ran into at the Buffalo airport?! Our other NYC marathoner, Ed, was on my flight! (Stacy left the day before.)
After a couple back-to-back trips out of the airport this summer, I’ve figured out the best place to put together a healthy meal is the last little shop on the left (I can’t remember the name, but I’m pretty sure it has ‘Go!’ in it. They even offer a military discount!)
I saved the fruit and nut mix for later, which came in handy the next day sometime after the race.
After Ed and I navigated from JFK to Midtown and to our respective hotels, the three of us met up again to hit the expo. Going to the Javits Convention Center and taking in the excitement made me realize how much I missed out on that by doing Erie this year. I remember running the Chicago Marathon and loving the expo. My next marathon will be a big city race!
Stacy’s one goal was to find a massage (she’s dealing with some IT issues), and–sadly–there wasn’t one to be had. However, she DID find the next best thing, the Theragun. She fell instantly in love, but the $500+ price tag was just *a bit* too much. Plus, she could totally retrofit a drill to do the same thing–of this I have no doubt.
On our way back, we got glimpses of some inherently ‘New York’ things, like yellow taxis, the Empire State Building, and we even took a spin around Macy’s. Andrew and I spent a long weekend in NYC about five years ago and had a blast eating our way through the city, walking our butts off and taking in all the museums.
Our hotel was super close to Times Square, and the whole city was ready for race day.
That night, we grabbed some Thai food (I know what you’re thinking…who eats Thai food before a marathon?! Well, Stacy and I shared a mild Pad Thai and a salad and skipped the wine. Ed opted for spicy chicken without a second thought.)
Ed’s wife, Gayle, flew in that afternoon and joined us for dinner. Our total bill was $43…split four ways I think that might have been the cheapest dinner to be had in the city that night! Cheers to a great race!
The next morning, Stacy and Ed walked to the library to board busses that would take them out to Staten Island, where the race begins. Gayle invited me to breakfast at her hotel, and that was a blast. What a fun gal she is! (Sadly, she and I managed to spend the ENTIRE day together without taking a single selfie. Blogger fail, big time.)
After breakfast and before marathon-watching, I met up with a sweet friend from the dietetics program at Buff State: Stevie! She’s working at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center as a dietitian and living in Astoria, just across the river from Manhattan. It was so fun to catch up!
Stevie, Gayle and I hung around near mile 25 (5th and 59th, at the Plaza Hotel) and saw some of the wheelchair racers finish, then decided we should hoof it over to 1st to see if we could catch the elite men and women. We missed the elite women, but caught the men! Meb is in the orange shorts! This was his retirement race.
After the men passed, we had to decide what to do next: jump on a subway to Brooklyn and try to catch our runners (who started after the elites) around miles 8 and 9, or try to catch the elite women back where we were at 5th and 59th, just before the finish. To me, it was a no-brainer; I wanted to see the elite women!
Gayle and I hoofed it BACK to 5th, just in time to see SHALANE FLANAGAN coming around the corner!!! I felt like such a fan-girl! I love her cookbook, Run Fast Eat Slow (written along with her college running friend, Elyse) and follow her on Instagram, so I knew she was trying to win this one.
I was shrieking and trying to both watch her and take pictures. I knew right away she had it in the bag–she was so strong, powering toward the finish and no one even in sight behind her. Go Shalane! By winning, she ended a 40-year span in which no American women had placed first in the NYC marathon.
After that, both of us bouyed by seeing Shalane, we decided it was time to try to see our runners. We tracked them using the app (SO handy!) and headed BACK to 1st, enjoying the crowds and energy and noise.
We literally *JUST* missed Stacy, but were able to see Ed, who did not hear our deafening screams. (The girls in front of us surely did.)
Incredibly, I even ran into the family of an acquaintance of mine, the girl with whom I roomed at the NYSAND Leadership Meeting, because they were carrying around a giant photograph of her! Super small world, and I’m pretty sure they thought I was crazy.
Gayle and I grabbed sandwiches for lunch, then headed BACK to 5th and up into Central Park to try to catch our runners again. This time, success!
Here’s Stacy, excited to be less than two miles from the finish! She blew us kissed and ran right on by. She was right on track to break 4 hours.
Gayle and I meandered a bit through Central Park as we headed toward the finish area. It’s a beautiful place and I hope to run there next time we visit.
Gayle and I parted ways–she headed back to the hotel to charge her phone and wait for Ed–while I fought the crowds to get to the ‘family meet-up area’ to meet Stacy. Below, that’s the Plaza Hotel!
Stacy finished just under four hours and within minutes of her goal. Sadly, we didn’t get a selfie, either! Boo. She and I shuffled with a bazillion other runners back to our hotel, where we spent time visiting with her mom, aunt and uncle, who also came to see her run.
We capped off the night with drinks in the hotel bar and I grabbed to-go pizza slices (Stacy was fading) we ate in our jammies, in our beds, while watching HGTV. I’m not sure anything could characterize a girls’ getaway more than that. (We even did our nails the day before.)
Stacy and I said goodbye to NYC early Monday morning, when we rode in a cab in the wee hours while it was still dark. I got a glimpse of Rockefeller Center and decided Andrew and I need to get back to the big city sometime soon.
Congrats to Stacy, Ed, and the other 50,000 runners!