I ran the New York City marathon in 2010–my first one! While I haven’t run it since, I always celebrate race weekend anyway by going to the expo and cheering for several hours during the race.
This year I had big plans to run from my apartment to the expo, which would have been a respectable 10.5 miles followed by mingling while wearing running clothes. (You seem to fit in better while wearing running clothes.) Unfortunately, I didn’t check the weather and it ended up being cold, windy, and rainy all day Saturday. I will run in cold and I will run in rain, but I will not run in cold rain. I scrapped the run and took the subway into the city.
The expo was dominated by Asics. It was by far the biggest Asics showing I’ve ever seen. In fact, I got worried that there wouldn’t be very many other companies there, since Asics was taking up so much room. It turned out there were quite a few other companies, all the usual suspects and a couple of newbies, but the other booths were smaller than usual. Some were downright tiny–imagine the 6-foot-wide bag shops on Canal Street. That’s how they were. And while the Asics area wasn’t bad, the rest of the expo was shoulder-to-shoulder crowded and it was frankly impossible to really look at anything. <shrug> Probably this is what we’ll get from now on.
After walking up and down and making sure I had at least looked at each booth, I decided to leave without buying anything. But when I walked out there were volunteers handing out little “passports” and pointing toward a set of escalators. They said there was more expo upstairs so upstairs I went. There was a largely empty room with giant medals for each of the five borough races (used to be half marathons in all the boroughs, but no more). You got your “passport” stamped at each medal and you could trade it for a poster at the end. But guess what??? KATHRINE SWITZER also had a booth up there! She was signing her book Marathon Woman and posing for pictures. Of course I got in line! She was so personable and she hugged everyone. She even hugged me twice! I bought a book, got her to sign it, and then had my picture made with her. Totally a highlight of my running career!
This morning the weather was terrible. I really felt for all the runners spending hour upon hour sitting/standing around Staten Island waiting for their wave starts. The wind was gusty and temperatures were frigid. I live just a block from the course, so it’s very convenient to run down and cheer. I normally go down early to see the wheelchair athletes, the elite women, and the elite men at the beginning of the first wave. I stick around for a couple of hours, then I go home and watch the rest on TV.
This year I had a friend running for the first time and she was in the last wave. Instead of going down early, I watched the elite starts and the first couple of hours on TV before going down to cheer. After she passed by, I decided to stay until the end. It took about an hour before the very last runners reached my block–most walking, of course–and most looking almost panicked. I’m sure the yuck weather and the announcements from the sweeper vehicles to move off the course didn’t help. It kind of broke my heart a little to see all of them at the back, even though I’ve been at the back of races before and I certainly didn’t feel bad about it. Anyway, I gave a lot of high fives and tried to encourage them. Mile four is a terrible time to be discouraged. I hope they all finished!
And with that, my marathon weekend was over for another year. I threw my name into the hat for a guaranteed entry next year and we’ll see what happens.
For more information about Kathrine Switzer: http://kathrineswitzer.com/