We got up at 4:00 this morning to catch a cab to the buses (which were parked, appropriately, outside the NY Public Library). The buses took us to Staten Island, where we shivered until the sun came up, and waited in our corral area until 10:00. The gun went off at 10:10, but there were 40,000 runners (unbelievable) corralled and waiting to start, so it took us 15 minutes to be processed to the starting line. But then we were off! It was an amazing experience because the people of New York made it so. They lined the streets the whole 26 miles, cheering, encouraging, some offering candy or water. The run goes through the five NYC boroughs, starting in Staten Island (a short leg of the journey), then moving into Brooklyn (a really long leg, with interesting changes in culture through the neighborhoods -- we loved Brooklyn). The route then took us through Queens, and then the Bronx (where we were greeted by a big rapper shouting "Welcome to da Bronx!" -- it was classic!). The final borough was Manhatten, and by then I was doing the shuffle-of-pain. I started slowing down around mile 18, and was greatly relieved to see the Mile 20 marker because after that I could handle just checking off the remaining miles -- the toughest 6 miles, but still manageable in my mind if I'm checking them down one at a time.
Mark made the whole thing look easy, jetting off to take pictures (lots of awful ones of me, but running a marathon ain't a fashion show), and some outstanding ones of the contrasting neighborhoods and crowds.
The NYC marathon is known for people running for causes, and it was interesting to see the varying shirts. Besides our Exercise the Right to Read campaign, people were running "for" everything from curing childhood leukemia to blasting bowel disease (seriously!).
Seeing friends along the way meant a lot to me. We stopped to hug and thank, and I will never forget the ones who cheered us on. It really does help to have people to look for; people who believe in you.
Mark's doing great, but I am sore! I'm glad we took our time running and didn't worry about our marathon time -- it was an amazing experience and I'm proud to be part of a movement to help kids and libraries.
Tomorrow is a travel day, but I'll be putting together a little slide show of our trip on the ETRTR website -- subjects I think will interest people. From the impressive Random House lobby to shots from the marathon. So tune in again soon!