November 01, 2007

Feelin' groovy on the 59th Street Bridge?

I'm off to New York tomorrow for Sunday's marathon and won't be blogging while I'm gone. I'm leaving the laptop at home and won't even be checking my spam, er, email.

Other than a walk to the race expo at the Javits Center to pick up my number and a brief Saturday morning visit to Central Park to watch America's best male distance runners compete in the Men's Olympic Marathon Trials for a berth to Beijing, I'll be hunkered down in my (free) Marriott room, resting my legs and downing water, chickpeas, canned tuna and whole wheat penne: I avoid race-sponsored pasta dinners. Not only do they keep me up too late on marathon eve, I find them crowded and stressful, and the pasta is invariably the bright yellow, un-whole grain variety. While I might risk a 10K on that stuff, I'm unwilling to stake a 26-miler on it. I bring my own high quality, pleasingly brown, slow-release pasta, cooked and stored in a cooler, and if I can't find a microwave at the hotel, I warm it with hot water run through the in-room coffee maker (filter basket removed, or you get pastaccino...). Anal, yes, but it works for me.

This will certainly be my slowest marathon. I'll be popping Extra-strength Tylenol along the route to help keep my sciatica, bulging back disk and tad-too-tight left hamstring from screaming too loudly and pulling me up short. Lucklily, I have a PR (personal record) that I'm happy to let stand for the rest of my life, so I don't have to worry about the clock. I just want to show up at the start, show up at the finish, and have a decent time in between. My outing won't be fast and it won't be pretty, but it'll be thrilling. Boston may be the marathoner's holy grail, but to my mind, New York delivers, mile for mile, much more excitement, emotion and humanity.

I've got some Simon and Garfunkel in my iPod, and I've rigged my race playlist so their 59th Street Bridge Song will play, hopefully, somewhere between Miles 15 and 16, the two ends, give or take, of the Queensboro Bridge . I doubt I'll be feelin' groovy at that point -- I will likely have left my last gasps of grooviness on the pavement about a mile or so back -- but I do know I'll be happy to see the Queensboro.

Crossing the Queensboro is a rush. As you ogle the full-in-your-face skyline views, a cheering, ten-deep crowd welcomes you to 59th Street. You've conquered Staten Island, Brooklyn and a dreary, industrial section of Queens, and you've made it to Manhattan. You still have two short hops over the Harlem River to nail a brief half-rectangular jog through the Bronx before re-entering Manhattan, but once your feet leave the Queensboro and hit Manhattan pavement for the first time, visions of the Central Park finish start dancing through your head.

As I won't be posting until I get home, here are links to a few archived stories that I hope you'll enjoy:

Bodie's ghosts

Boo from Bolivia: Witches' Street

Belize: A little capsaicin with our vacation

The Siq: The most wondrous walk in the world

"In Argentina, we descend from ships..."