Five boroughs, 26.2 miles. I hadn’t run for a week.
The ferry ploughed across a dark Hudson River toward Staten Island, and Whitehall ferry terminal twinkled in the wake.
A dark haired portly man walked the aisles in jeans and a bright yellow down jacket, a stack of flyers draped over his arm. He asked if anyone would wear his flyer on their race top — it showed the face of a missing child.
I had romantic notions for this trip: being on deck, watching the dramatic skyline of Manhattan fade into an early morning fog as I embark on an emotional quest to reach the start line of a run I’ve dreamt about for years. They didn’t materialize.
I exited the Staten Island terminal and stepped onto a waiting bus for the fifteen minute journey to Fort Wadsworth, the holding area for 50,000 runners eager to cross the Verrazano bridge and start their marathon run back to Manhattan.
Dunkin’ Donuts handed out fleece beanies at the entrance. Soon the area was swarming with pink and orange, everyone trying to stay warm. Hot coffee, tea, bagels, and powerbars.
I enter the corral and begin removing my warm clothing. I reluctantly toss the old trousers my father-in-law gave me into the heap beneath a nearby tree, goodwill will collect them after we leave. Two old sweat tops, a pair of gloves (free at the expo), and an old cotton beanie, all join the heap. I keep the Dunkin’ Donuts hat.
God Bless America is sung from the top of a nearby double-decker bus. A cannon fires. New York, New York plays over the speaker system and we surge forward across the start line.
High-fives all the way through Brooklyn. I drop my Dunkin’ Donuts hat on the roadside, happy that my other clothes will go to better home. Gatorade and water.
Left knee hurts.
Central Park is huge. My knees and the soles of my feet hurt.
I hobble across the finish line. Someone puts a medal around my neck. I have my photo taken, am wrapped in a foil blanket, and someone else hands my a clear bag full of food and drink. I down the gatorade, demolish powerbar, and start on a bag of pretzels. It’s a long slow walk out of central park.
10 days later
After a few days the soreness was replaced with a horrible cold. My congested nose is beginning to clear and the first run is not far away.