Tuesday, April 3, 2012

NYC weekend and half marathon recap!

Sunday March 18th I ran the NYC half marathon.
This race was so unbelievably awesome!
And I almost passed it up... total craziness on my part.

Back in December the lottery opened up, so I put my name in.
I asked my friends Leah and Annette if they were interested.
Leah, who lives in NY, was going to be out of town for a wedding and Annette couldn't go.
I figured I really didn't stand the chance to get in since they only had 10,000 spots, and people from all over the world applied, so I kind of forgot about it.
The week after Christmas I found out I got in! They opened the race up to 5,000 additional people so I figured that is why I got in.

I still wasn't sure if I would go, but after talking with my friend Sue, she said she was going to try to either get a bib on Craigslist (doesn't work folks, don't try), or at the very least she would hang out in the city for the weekend.
This sounded like a fun, quick trip to NYC I couldn't pass up!

Friday night after work I took the quick flight to JFK. Easy as can be.
I then took a cab into the city to our hotel, Le Parker Meridien.
I got the hotel on Hotwire for just under $200 per night... really a good deal for NYC. I knew I wanted to stay within walking distance to the start line in Central Park and this hotel was perfect for that. Right on 57th between 6th and 7th.
The hotel was a nice with a good reputation. I like when decent hotels don't take themselves too seriously... as seen with their "do not disturb" door cards:

So cute!
I have been to NYC several times before, but I had never been to one of the amazing museums this city is home to. On Saturday morning I visited the Modern Museum of Art.

It was a great museum and I got to see some amazing paintings!
Andy Warhol's Marilyn

Picasso's the Three Musicians

Monet's Water Lilies

Cezanne's The Bather

And the highlight for me...

Van Gogh's Starry Night!
I remember being so disappointed when I visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and this painting wasn't there. I was so glad to see this in person! Awesome!
I love Van Gogh's heavy handed painting style. Basically he glops (sure, that is a word) on the paint.
Sorry for the blurry pics... no flashes were allowed.

After museum time, I met up with Sue and her husband Mark. We took the subway down to Madison Square Park. This was my first NY subway ride. I loved it. I think all the numbers and letters confuse me, so my family,friends and I have always stuck to cabs.
That was my only subway ride, as the rest of the time we/I used cabs :).
Those little yellow magic cars are just so easy,and reasonably priced, to use.

Once down in the Madison Square Park are we saw the Flatiron building (designed by a Chicago architect in the Beaux Arts style - thank you Ted Mosby), had a delicious burger at the wildly popular Shake Shack (the line was soo long, but the weather was perfect and the company was great, so it went fast enough). One other stop we made was Mario Batalli's Eataly. It is an amazing indoor food market. You can shop for meats, cheese, fish, spices, etc. Or you could also get lunch, snacks, drinks, whatever.
It totally reminded me of Madrid's Mercado de San Miguel. I loved this place!

We then walked over to the expo for race.

No lines, no waiting. Super organized.

They really enforced the "you MUST pick up your own packet" rule, so unfortunately Sue was not able to run on Sunday :(
I got my stuff...

The expo itself wasn't too big, so we were through quickly. I loved my green shirt! They had a cool t shirt with the course map on the back that I really liked, but they only had xs by that time. They are selling them online, so I may get one.

Speaking of green, it was St. Patrick's day after all, so we were making our way down to the West Village to meet up with one of Sue's friends for some beer!

On our way, we walked through the Chelsea Market. It is a beautiful old factory, now filled with stores and restaurants. It was very industrial and very awesome. I also learned from the interwebs that this was the building where the Oreo was created. How cool right?!
After that we walked a ways on the High Line. It is an old, elevated freight train line that has been turned into a pedestrian walkway and a park. Great outdoor area in a congested city... an amazing use of space!
Thanks Sue and Mark for taking me to two awesome places I never knew existed! I loved it!

After that, the West Village was our destination. We went to the Kettle of Fish bar and met up with Sue's friends Meghan and Annie. Typical bar, good beer and we stayed until it go too crowded.
We then went to the Five Guys bar. I am not sure what the actual bar was called, but we needed to walk through a Five Guys Burgers to get up to the bar. Weird, but cool.
At about 8 we started thinking about dinner. Tertulia was our destination on 6th Ave. This restaurant was started by Seamus Mullen from the Food Network's Next Iron Chef.
Amazing meal. I still dream about the Brussels Sprouts. Sooooo good.
Great rec Sue and Mark!
P.S. Sue and Mark use to live in the city, Mark still works there and they both love good food, so they were amazing travel companions for the weekend!

At that point it was time for bed for Heather. Early start the next day!
Got up around 5am, had some coffee, a little breakfast and then headed over to the race by 6:15am. Since it was still dark outside, as I made my way down to the lobby, I wondered if there would be others walking over to the race at this time. I am silly sometimes.
There were lots of runners heading to Central Park at that time!
As it turned out, I made perfect timing. I made it to the bag check UPS truck by 6:40am. I then headed to my corral.

Made it to corral 18 in about 10 minutes.
All I can say was this race was sooooo organized. NYRR, who puts on this race, really know how it put on a race. I am thinking it has something to do with the fact they put on the biggest marathon in the world, but that is just my thought :). Race Directors everywhere should come here, observe, and take notes.

On top of organizing a race with over 15,000 finishers, they also had some of the world's best runners on hand.
I ran in the same race as Kara Goucher, Desi Davilla and Meb Klef$&@ski :)

The race started at 7:30am, but I didn't even start until 8:04am!
There were 22 corrals in all, so it took awhile to get everyone across the start line. In fact, before I crossed the line, I saw the elites run past us at mile 6. We were all cheering for them, it was very exciting. They are so fast!
The first six miles of the race make one complete loop of Central Park.
How awesome.
The Park is hilly but not unbearable. Be prepared and you will be fine.
On my way out of Central Park, I saw Sue cheering me on! Fans are awesome - thanks Sue!
We then headed down 7th Ave and right through Times Square.
Hands down the coolest mile anywhere.
Before the race started, the announcer said that the city only shuts down Time Square twice a year... for New Year's Eve and for the Half Marathon, that's it! Awesome!
The rest of the race is flat.
We turned right on 42nd street and then left on the West Side Highway.
From there we just headed downtown towards the new World Trade Center. The unfinished building is a great point of reference.
Along the way there were cheer groups, DJs, bands and singers.
Really everything is awesome, but the city herself takes center stage the entire time.
Right at Mile 10 I started getting calf cramps like it was my job. Annoying.
Running by the WTC site there was a small group of NYPD officers cheering us on. I can't imagine a better place for them to be along the route.
At mile 11.5 or so, we entered the Battery Park tunnel and that was awesome! Kinda scary at first since when we entered we couldn't see the other end of the tunnel, but it ended up being a cool twist to the course.
Once out of the tunnel we had 800 meters to go.
It was at this point that I saw finishers walking the opposite direction with their space blankets!
I was so excited to get one! Florida races never have them and when I did get one at the Disney Marathon, I just held it since it was too warm.
The finish line was at South Street Seaport, so we made our way through a couple streets near the Wall Street area. The tall buildings really made the crowds cheers seem loud and echoey... loved it!

This was the fastest I have run 13.1 since October so I loved that! However, I was a back of the packer since most people finished in under 2 hours. Fast crowd here, walkers need not apply.
No worries though, we were all out there running, keeping up with the flow and never once did I feel like the course was crowded. It was awesome.

Have I mentioned the weather yet? No :)
OMG, amazing weather.... Cloudy and in the 50s.
Desi said it best, "If you don't run fast today, you should probably go bowling."

When Sue and I saw the medal at the expo the day before we joked that it was probably a prototype since it was so light compared to Disney medals. Nope, we saw the actual medal, it was pretty light. But honestly I don't care about the medal because the course and experience was just so awesome!

I thought the finish line area was so organized.
We got our foil, medal, picture and a little bag o' treats:

I didn't stay at the post race party since I needed to meet my friends back at the hotel for brunch. I walked from South Street Seaport to Broadway and then caught a cab uptown to my hotel.
Overall, I would say that if you like big city, big race experiences get in the lottery for this race! I really can't say enough good things.
To organize a fantastic race in one of the most popular cities in the world is really amazing, well done NYRR.
I think I might say this is my favorite half marathon... Possibly tied with Wine & Dine. It's hard because they are both awesome for totally different reasons.

Anyways, back at the hotel I took a shower, packed up and then met Sue, Mark and Meghan for brunch at Norma's. It was great! It was right in our hotel and is known for one of the best brunches in the city. Yum!
Then it was back to the airport and Miami for me!

I love quick weekend trips!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

1 comment:

  1. Congrats!! I was bummed I didn't get into the lotto but hoping next year I do. Sounds like you had a great weekend!