Wednesday, November 5, 2014

2014 TCS NYC Marathon Week

NYC Marathon week is CRAZY.  Things started for me last Sunday, October 26, exactly a week before the marathon.  As a volunteer leader for the family reunions area of this year's marathon, I was required to participate as a volunteer leader-in-training at two events (I did the Boomer's Run to Breathe and the Marathon Long Training Run, both in July) and attend some training webinars and elective in-person training seminars at the NYRR headquarters.  The general on-site orientation was held on the 26th, where we were also given a walkthrough of the general area that we were going to supervise - in my case, the family reunions area.  We were told we would have as many as 200 volunteers manning the area on race day.  I got my nifty TCS NYC Marathon hooded windbreaker, and excitedly anticipated the week to come.

With Leo Manzano, 2012 London Olympics Silver Medalist in the 1500m
With Desiree Linden, #1 American female finisher at 2014 NYC Marathon
With Runner's World CRO Bart Yasso
Marathon Finish Line at Night
Expo shenanigans.  Looking forward to
the March 2015 NYC Half. 
Which is a lottery.  God I hope I get it... :)
The expo would run from Thursday through Saturday at the Javits Center.  I opted to come on Friday night after work and on Saturday after I ran the Dash to the Finish 5K.  Thursday night, I went to the Time Warner Center to participate in the celebration of the completion of the Timex ONE Relay, a month-long running relay that spanned over 800 miles between Chicago and New York City, and during the time between the Chicago Marathon in October and the New York City Marathon in November.  The relay benefited over thirty charities, and concluded with a celebration at the New York Running Company's store in Columbus Circle, where interested participants could run the final three mile segment in a fun run in the southern part of Central Park, alongside some luminaries in the running world, as well as a Q&A panel.  The really cool part was running alongside Leo Manzano, the 2012 London Olympics Silver Medalist in the 1500 meters for the first mile and a half.  We ran through the heavily barricaded finish line area of the marathon in Central Park, but I still managed to snag a photo of all of the digital screens lit up, prepped for the opening ceremony that would happen on Friday.

The panel at the Timex One Relay Celebration
(l-r) Bart Yasso, Desiree Linden,
Josh Cox, Molly Huddle, Leo Manzano
The panel afterward was quite nice.  With Runner's World CRO Bart Yasso moderating, the panel featured Manzano; 5K American record holder Molly Huddle; 50K American record holder Josh Cox; and 2011 Boston Marathon runner-up Desiree Linden, who would be running the NYC marathon that weekend.  It was a nice crowd and a great way to kick off the festivities for the weekend.

Being ridiculous with Donna
at the Saucony booth
On Friday, I made my way to the expo to pick up my bib for the Dash to the Finish 5K.  The expo was much smaller than in previous years.  Seemingly, though, the ASICS area right after the bib pick up had doubled in size (I mean, not surprising since ASICS is a lead sponsor for the expo).  I had about an hour to play around before I had to make my way to Mark Fisher Fitness for a training session.  I met up with my friend Donna, who was running her fourth NYC Marathon (and eighth marathon overall!) at the expo and quickly went around the place, promising that I'd come back the next day to take a little more time to check out the booths.  I also made my way to the Marathon Lounge at the Time Warner Center to play around with their green screen complimentary photo booth, and made myself look like I was running the marathon...

Not really running the marathon.  From the Green Screen at
the Marathon Lounge in the Time Warner Center.

Just before heading out on the
Dash to the Finish 5K course!
The next morning, I ran in the very rainy Dash to the Finish, a fun 5K race that kicks off marathon weekend out with style.  The race starts near the UN Headquarters on the east side of Manhattan, down a closed 42nd Street, up 6th Avenue into Central Park, and finishes the 3.1 mile course at the finish line for the marathon.  I finished in a not-bad 26:19 (8:30 per mile pace).  I headed back to the expo to take a little more time checking out the booths, and it was a madhouse.  SO many people.  And it was hot because of the gross weather outside.  I did manage to score a free pair of awesome Champion CSX compression socks in black and red that I'll wear to my Savannah race this coming weekend, in exchange for a testimonial on fit and comfort that should appear on their facebook page in the coming weeks!

Once again, my Garmin hates when I run in
urban locales with large skyscrapers.
So official... with a radio!
Captain Family Reunion, here to save
the day!
And then came Marathon Sunday.  I got up pretty early to get myself bundled up and ready for the day.  We assembled at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School at 9:30am to get check in ready for our expected 92 volunteers for the Family Reunions area.  It was super hectic - for one, our check in was on the 6th floor of a building with one working elevator (that I never actually saw work), and "staff" check in was in the 2nd basement.  Additionally, other zones for post-finish, particularly Poncho Distribution, did not have enough jackets to hand out to their volunteers, and we didn't even have all the sizes either - only Mediums XLs, and 2XLs!  As the volunteers began to trickle in, we started to quickly notice that many were missing; by the time we were ready to go out to our assigned areas, only 59 of the 92 volunteers had checked in.  The four or five of us volunteer leaders quickly assessed that we needed to cut our groups to much smaller numbers, and proceeded to hold our orientation as best as we could.  By 11:30, we were outside, and manning all of our areas, fielding questions from spectators and family members alike as to where the most ideal locations would be for watching the race and meeting with family members.  I had six awesome volunteers who really stuck it out through the roughly six hours of standing around in the cold and windy temps.

My six awesome volunteers! Claudia, Fanglin, Liz, Kumiko, David, and Ruby!
Look who I ran into in Family Reunions!
Aside from a couple bits of miscommunication with the NYPD officers handling security along the streets (shift change, oh well), the day went along seamlessly.  It was COLD.  Windy and cold. Thankfully not wet... but from the stories of runners on the course, the wind was a huge factor.  Being just outside of the finish line area and the actual family reunions area on Central Park West (which we were endearingly calling "The Jungle"), we didn't have to deal with too much drama.  I had a radio and got to hear all the updates from the race command center when there were runners who needed medical attention due to potential hypothermia issues, and how many more runners were still on the course.  I let my volunteers go by 5pm and proceeded myself into "The Jungle" to help out, and went straight to the main Family Reunions information tent adjacent to 65th Street, where they were in dire need of additional support to help out the frantic families and friends who were waiting for their runners.  All in all, it was a successful day, helping families reunite with their runners, and the NYC Marathon was able to see a record 50,564 finishers cross the finish line - and Desiree Linden, who I met on Thursday, finished 5th at the marathon among the women, as well as the top American female finisher!

Now... looking forward to this coming weekend, when I head out to Savannah to take Georgia off my list of states and complete half marathon #8 at the Rock 'n' Roll Savannah Half Marathon!  AND... I'll come home with FIVE medals from this weekend alone!

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