From the sidelines of the 2019 NYC marathon

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My sentiments exactly

Here it is, delayed by my traditional post-marathon trip (look for a report on Brooklyn in Texas, coming soon) and general laziness: the view from the sidelines of this year’s NYC marathon. Seeing as how I presume to publish a spectator’s guide every year, it only seems right to share how my own spectating went down.

Pre-race – an odd encounter

I began the day, as is my custom, with a run along the Fourth Avenue segment of the course, from roughly Mile 7 in Park Slope to Mile 2.something in Bay Ridge. Thanks to the end of daylight savings time (daylight savings time is a fraud and a scourge, as far as I’m concerned, and I look forward to its end almost as much as I look forward to the marathon), I was able to set out in full light a little after 7 am. As I ran, I kept a rough count of the people I saw along the course. In descending order of frequency, they included:

  • Race volunteers (thank you, all of you)
  • Cyclists
  • Cops
  • NYC Department of Transportation trucks and personnel (so that runners would have fresh, sticky asphalt to step in, which I suppose is marginally better than potholes)
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Musicians
  • Other runners
  • Skateboarders
  • People telling me I was going the wrong way (only two this year, well under the norm)
  • A guy wearing a marathon race bib, seemingly doing strides on 92nd St

The last comes with a story. Continue reading

Race report: the 2019 Popular Brooklyn Half (May 18, 2019)

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The Brooklyn Half memorializes its entrants

Ah, the Brooklyn Half! This used to be my favorite race, an un-ironic celebration of all things Brooklyn. Then it became my favorite race as an ironic celebration of a very specific Brooklyn, the Brooklyn of curated food trucks, craft beer, and made-for-Instagram photo ops.

So what happened this year? My lack of excitement was matched only by my lack of preparation. I was running, because, well, that’s what I do – but honestly, I would really have rather spent the morning birding.

In the end, I did a bit of both. Continue reading

Race report: 2019 Gaza 5.5K and dabke party

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Taking selfies while facing the sun, and racing in a keffiyeh: two bad ideas. (Photo credit: Lisa Maya Knauer)

I haven’t raced in six months and a day, and the Gaza 5K was the perfect way to ease back in. The emphasis of this race is on fundraising (to support community mental health services for kids in Gaza) and community. It doesn’t start on time, the course isn’t accurately measured, there are no mile markers, and the chaotic starting area is crowded with kids and strollers – but so what? How many other races do you know that culminate in a dabke dance party? Continue reading

A non-running race report: the 2018 NYC marathon

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Runners (and their shadows) in mile 13

Here it is, at last: my report on this year’s NYC marathon from the spectators’ side of the police tape.

As you may recall, I’d mapped out a plan in advance that would take me from Park Slope to Bay Ridge (with a stop in Sunset Park) to Greenpoint to Long Island City to East Harlem to the Upper West Side. I executed my non-running race plan much better than I’ve ever executed any of my actual running race plans. You could even say I hit my “A” goal.

I also learned a lot, and am already making plans for 2019.

Here’s how it went down. Continue reading

Race report: 2018 Popular Brooklyn Half (May 19, 2018)

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Defending my home turf (photo credit: Luke Redmond)

Let’s begin by contemplating the marketing genius who connected this race, which routinely sells out in less than an hour, to its new title sponsor, Banco Popular. Was it the result of a caffeine, doughnut and Gatorade-fueled spitballing session in a New York Road Runners conference room? Did someone at Banco Popular, possibly a runner themselves, come up with the idea? Or was it – as my friend Michael, who has some tenuous family connection to the world of marketing consultants, tells me is most likely – the handiwork of a professional branding matchmaker?

However it happened, this popular race is now officially Popular.  Continue reading

Race report: Prospect Park Track Club Cherry Tree 10 Miler (February 18, 2018)

710BB4E2-3CA6-46E2-81A2-DA2A35CA7295This race, sponsored by the best running club ever, is a President’s Day weekend tradition. Its official name alludes to the legendary honesty of Brooklyn battler (and father of our country) George Washington. Its unofficial name – “the race for the hardcore” – alludes to the fact that mid-February can be a pretty miserable time of year for three full loops of Prospect Park.

Not yesterday, though. The snow that had fallen overnight was already melting in the bright sun and 40-something temperatures, and the park roads were mostly – but not entirely – clear of slick spots by the race’s 10 am start. Conditions, in other words, were perfect: comfortable, but just sloppy and slick enough to justify taking it easy.

More races should come with built-in excuses. Continue reading

What I saw (and ate) at the 2017 NYC marathon

 

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Almost halfway there . . . runners closing in on the 20K mark in Greenpoint

For three years now, I’ve compiled a spectator’s guide to the NYC marathon. Sometimes, I even take my own advice. Here’s a belated race report, of sorts, from someone who did not run – but nonetheless spent the entire day (from a little after 7 in the morning until nearly 7 at night) along, or in proximity to, the course.

Pre-race

I love marathon morning. I love it even more now that the first Sunday in November is also the first day of standard time, which lets me bounce out of bed, linger over my coffee while the sky lightens, and still head out at a ridiculously early hour. By 7 am, I had my running shoes on and was heading down to Fourth Avenue for my traditional run-the-course-backwards jog from Park Slope to Bay Ridge. Continue reading

Back in the game

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Classic Williamsburg

I started running again, tentatively and furtively (what my doctor and physical therapists don’t know won’t hurt them, right?) at the end of July. My arm felt fine; my legs felt like two tree stumps. Those first 3 and 4 mile runs left me as spent as a 16-miler at the end of an 80-mile training week.

The big concern, of course, was that I’d take another fall and re-damage my mostly, but maybe not totally, healed humerus. But after surviving two scary falls while walking – once on a metal cellar grate, once on the polished terrazzo sidewalk of some fancy Manhattan building, both slicked with rain – my latent fatalism came to the fore, and I decided: screw it. If I’m going to go down, let me go down running.  Continue reading

Race report: my 2017 Brooklyn Half experiment

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The post-finish scene on Coney Island

Here’s an idea: let’s see what happens when someone trains hard all winter for a spring marathon, runs said marathon, then takes the next month off (logging only easy, stop-and-start birdwatching miles, mostly in quarter mile increments, with a longest steady run of, oh, let’s say 4 miles, and no speedwork) before racing a half marathon.

World of pain, or demonstration of the lasting aerobic benefits of marathon training?

I didn’t set out to conduct an experiment last Saturday – the Brooklyn Half is one of my favorite races, and I just wanted to run the damn thing – but the circumstances more or less created one. Continue reading