Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reasons I love Greenpoint- Part 12: The NYC Marathon

One great thing about Greenpoint can be experienced only once annually - it's the NYC Marathon.

The first Sunday in November, thousands of runners from all over the globe make their way to the Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island where they begin their 26.2 mile run through the 5 boroughs of this great city. And at approximately mile 11.5, they enter the neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn - which I am so happy to call home.

Just days before Marathon Sunday, the city puts up No Parking signs along many of the streets, and paints a blue line down the streets - the length of the marathon route. Here's a sign on Manhattan Ave (which I later took home as a souvenir):

No Parking on Marathon Sunday

And the day before the marathon, I photographed a series of signs on beautiful tree lined Bedford Ave, outside of McCarren Park:

No Parking on Bedford Ave for the NYC Marathon!

Finally, Marathon Day arrived on November 1st, 2009.

I started a tradition last year, which I continued this year: On Marathon Sunday, I wake up early and start watching the marathon on TV as I get dressed. The elite women leave the starting line first and I keep an eye on their progress as I get ready. Around the time they are in Park Slope, I leave my apartment so I can see them come through Greenpoint.

This year I brought my bike so I could check out the runners from several vantage points. I first went to the corner of Bedford Ave & Lorimer St and just waited with the crowds of people that were already gathered. Before long, from the roars of the crowd in neighboring Williamsburg, we knew the leading women were coming! Then we see the lights of the police motorcycles heading towards us. Here they come!

I took a brief video of the women as they approached, with Paula Radcliffe (last year's winner) leading the way:

After the lead women passed, I got on my bike headed towards the Pulaski Bridge (which is the halfway point - 13.1 miles) because I knew that other than those elite athletes, no one else would be running through that area for a while. I hoped to photograph the women on the bridge but they had beaten me there and were already in Queens! They outran me on my bike!

I crossed the bridge to Queens anyway, with the intention of going over the 59th St Bridge into Central Park to meet the women at the finish line.

Here's the 13 mile mark on the Pulaski Bridge-

Mile 13, 1 hour 20 minutes into the marathon

I have no idea how I accidentally got this shot of me cycling, but it's pretty great-

I have no idea how I scored this sweet accidental shot

I made it to Queens, and to the 59th St Bridge only to find out the bike lane was closed because of the Marathon, so I headed back to Greenpoint over the Pulaski again. Here are some runners crossing the bridge with the beautiful skyline of midtown Manhattan behind them. You may recognize this spot from a previous "Reasons I love Greenpoint" blog- my ode to the magnificent view from the Pulaski Bridge.

Here the runners are leaving Greenpoint, bound for Long Island City, Queens:

The runners at the Brooklyn/Queens border on the Pulaksi Bridge

I rode back down McGuinness Blvd where water cup stations were set up. I love this shot - especially the falling cup and how everyone's legs on the right are so parallel to each other.

This is a great shot!

It seems like a never ending stream of people when you stand there watching them pass you by.

I made it back up to Manhattan Ave, and the crowd still seemed endless.

This is the corner of Manhattan Ave & Calyer St. They're still coming by the hundreds.

I was lucky enough to catch a phenomenal jazz band on the corner. In fact, they were so good I stood at this point for a very long time so I could watch the crowds while listening to their beautiful music. In this video clip, they played the theme to "Chariots of Fire". The runners who were lucky enough to pass by at that moment obviously loved and appreciated their efforts. As they ran past, some thanked the band, others applauded for them, and still others gave them waves or thumbs up to show their gratefulness as they passed by. It was really touching to witness.

The band packed up and that meant I was on the move again too. Here is 20K point, right in front of beautiful St Anthony's church on Manhattan Ave:

The 20K Mark on Manhattan Ave

At the corner of Manhattan Ave & Greenpoint Ave, New York's Bravest watch:

FDNY watches from the corner of Manhattan Ave & Greenpoint Ave

I stayed in this area for over an hour. Here are a few characters I photographed while on the corner of Greenpoint Ave & Manhattan Ave-

I am guessing this was a soldier that was fortunate enough to make it home from Iraq:

Purple Tutu lady:

Purple tutu - nice!

No Shoes Runner!

"No Shoes Runner"!!

A guy running with an Eiffel Tower costume!

The Eiffel Tower turns down Greenpoint Ave

These two were merely spectators, but they are some of the "local characters" I see on a very regular basis:

Greenpoint Characters

A Puerto Rican General?

Puerto Rican Pride

A very fit looking woman named Megan:

Go Megan!

And finally, Wonder Woman with her invisible jet (What's that? Of course you don't see it, it's invisible!):

Wonder Woman

At some point as I sat there, I realized the running crowd had thinned out significantly. I looked around and realized that so had the spectators. It was pretty much over. After about 3 hours of watching this event, I headed home. As I passed the entrance to the G Train, I found a discarded sign that sums up what thousands of us were thinking:

I *do* love New York!

I have to admit - I never cared about the marathon or running at all before moving to Brooklyn. But now that I've been on my own healthy journey for a few years and have had the opportunity to witness the NYC Marathon first hand, I have to say: There is something so magical about that day. First, just being there to watch it - to see runners of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels just DOING it, and then to see so many people that take time out of their lives to come out and cheer for thousands of total strangers! It's just wonderful. It fills me with pride to be a New Yorker to see such an outpouring of love and support. But it's also special because watching the participants is so profound for me. It stirs up feelings of inspiration, determination and awe.

Congratulations to every person that has ever run, walked, wheeled, hopped or limped over that finish line in Central Park. I am proud of every single one of you. Watching you this year, I decided that the year I turn 40 (just 2 years from now), I am going to join you if I can get in on that lottery. I want to run the NYC Marathon!

Note: The entire Flickr set of pics from this year's marathon can be seen here.


dryxi said...

Man, I know you can do this eventually! I am SO with you on running a marathon. In fact,I'm training for the OKC Memorial half this April (that will be my longest run yet, so far I've only run a 5k).

You just keep on running - a little bit at a time, and I'm sure you'll surprise yourself and run this!

Love Of The Hunt said...

We have something you would LOVE in San Francisco every year...The Bay To Breakers race. Although not as serious as the NYC Marathon (people wear crazy costumes and lots of people run it with nothing more than body paint on!) it is fabulous. Although I watched the past 2 years this May I plan on joining in. Its not long..only a 12K but its going to be a blast.

Google it-I think you would fit right in running in heels :)

pinkymcpie said...

I love reading this so much. My colleague, Vanessa, was there and I have also seen pictures of her running throughout the marathon. It gives me goosebumps!! I would love to have experienced it, even as a spectator. Not only do you live in an amazing place, the marathon is just one more thing to appreciate and enjoy about where you live. These things are really priceless, aren't they?

Vintage Christine said...

When I lived in San Francisco, The Bay to Breakers race was a must-see even for those of us who have taken an "F" in gym class rather than do something that rediculous. Even though it's a shorter race, it's still not that easy due to all the hills--and when you're part of a group dressed as a Chinese New Year dragon or a centipede, it gets even harder! You would be perfect! Go!!

Sparkleneely said...

Awesome post! The first time I ever went to NYC was the weekend of the first Marathon after 9/11. We watched in Greenpoint, too, and it was so touching to see all the flags and just getting this feeling of unity and strength from everyone there. I'll never forget it.

Thanks for inspiring such happy memories today -- and I know that someday we'll be reading about YOU running in the marathon!

Sarah said...

Man get it girl!! I can't wait to hear about you training for and running the marathon. I really really hope you get in.

Sadaf Trimarchi said...

Ages ago, we used to live in Bay ridge, Bklyn, which was the first stop over the Verrazano, on the marathon. I used to get up and walk over with my dog to get a glimpse of the runners making their way down the avenue. I can still remember what it felt like that year after 9/11 with the runners, and firefighter teams running together. I cried my eyes out. These days, I watch the marathon on tv - out here in Jerzee, but I know exactly how exciting it must be for those runners. The few races I've done as a newbie runner have been so exhilerating.

I hope I can work my way up to a marathon like the NYC. It's so awesome!

Suburban Guy said...

You can do it!

It's a great race.

I ran it many many many years ago during the primordial era of the earth. :)

The best part, for me at least, was around mile 18, I was pooped out. I didn't know if I could make it, but then the other runners around me, kept encouraging me. They helped me finish.

Such a feeling of comradery.

The power within. You will be surprised at yourself and what you are capable of doing.

Like Ben Stiller said in Starsky & Hutch, "do it".

betharoon said...

If you want to be really inspired, watch "Spirit of the Marathon" - it's really fantastic.

Marvin Corea said...

very awesome post! ran across it as I was looking for halloween costume ideas for runners.

So did you run the marathon yet? :)

*Bitch Cakes* said...

Im training right now! Running my first this November 4th! Im so effing excited!!!