Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New York Marathon 2011 Part 1

New York Marathon 2011 ( Friday before The Race )

by Yum Kin Kok on Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 5:32pm
I read somewhere that the NYC marathon is the marathon where the world comes together to run. That was the very reason that prompted me to signed up for that marathon. I watched on TV for the 2010 race and put my name in the ballot immediately after that. The ballot usually opens few days after the race which is usually the first Sunday of November.
They charged a balloting fee of USD11 whether the ballot is successful or not.
NYRR ( The New York Road Rrunners) will make the announcement by April 2011. They charged the USD 285 entry fee immediately but we can defer the entry to the next year provided we pay again in 2012. I heard this fee will go up in 2012. By then, I would have done Hong Kong and Tokyo marathon on a back to back weekend, thus qualifying me to the Marathon Maniacs. In fact , I also has a streak of marathons that was planned from the end of May up to the 1st week of July which is the Sundown Singapore, Christchurch, Phuket, KL and GoldCoast. These marathons elevated me to a Marathon Maniac Gold status.
In the 2nd half of 2011, I would not do any marathons but to prepare for the NYC marathon in Nov. I maintained my weekly mileage of 40-50km. I do 3 weekly short runs of 10km and at least a LSD of 20km on a weekend plus a short race.
My longest run about 3 weeks before NYC was 25km. My toughest race before the NYC marathon was the Perhentian Island Eco Challenge which is a 25km trail run traversing the island and took me 4 hours to complete.
I arrived in Manhattan on Friday 4th of Nov. I drove my rental car from New Jersey using the George Washington bridge and right into Harlem in Manhattan. I was in a hurry for my bib collection , so I drove from 135th St to the Jacob Javitts Convention Center on 35th St which is in midtown. I lost my my voice at the end of the almost hour long drive.
I double parked my car in front of the Convention Center with 3 occupants in it. God bless my friends for their patience. I walked in very very happy. This is the start of my NYC marathon adventure. Firstly, you get your ID CHECKED before entering the expo. As for us foreigners, passport is the easiest form of identification. The official will stamp on your confirmation slip once they have verified your name. Then you have to look for the book which contains your bib no. It's arranged by the thousand. Therefore, I would queue at the 16000-16999. This goes the same for the baggage truck as well.
After we got the all important bib which contains the B tag timing chip, we will go to collect our event T. It's a long sleeve technical tee shirt and you get to choose your size on the spot. There are volunteers who hold samples of T shirt sizes. This is why we should go early to collect our bib. A quick dash through the Asics counter, I got myself 3 more event T shirt. In actual fact,the merchandise are sold in the Asics shop or Foot Locker near Times Square so it is not necessary to rush with everyone at the expo. In addition , Nike and Saucony would also do their own NYC commerative T shirts, so the choices are abundant. In fact, Tiffany's of New York produces NYC marathon commerative items if one decided to splurge.
After a mad 2 hour dash to unload 10 pieces of luggages, wait for check in, settle down into our room, change into my baju Melayu, wear something over, looking for the misplaced car key, looked for the nearest petrol station to refill the car back to full and returning the car back to Hertz on 95th St companions and I took the subway to Columbus Circle near Central Park. In the midst of those madness, I almost gave up the idea of going to The Parade of Nations organized by the NYRR. This is a 1 mile walk to the finishing line for all foreign participants.
But I am glad I didn't . I was late but still in time for the parade. By then, my Singaporean friends are all there. I looked for the Malaysian flag and found it. Met a New Yorker Malaysian Wei Jun and a lady called Lai Kuan. We marched together and later a family of Malaysian came to join us. In total there was 6 of us, nothing compared to the 20+ Singaporeans, 50+ Filipinos and 200+ Indonesian who sent their cultural troop. I was proud to be representing my country in the national costume and not felt out of place for a single moment where I see Indians and Nepali donning their kurtas and Japanese wearing the happy coats and with faces painted white. So this is a event to go ALL OUT dressing wise.
The organizers provide a big flag on pole and some smaller flags. But Lai Kuan and I brought our own flags which we draped on ourselves. As the the Olympics, the Greeks get to march first and followed by the countries in alphabetical order such as Australia, Canada and so on. The smaller groups like Malaysia and Singapore are placed together with the nations of the world at the back. USA as the host nation comes out last. Finally, the elite runners like the Mutais will run out on their own. There are also other performances going but we were too busy taking photographs.
I left before the end of all the events because I havent had a proper meal since breakfast. Had a taste of my first roadside NY pretzel and eventually had a large Singaporean mee Hoon from a takeaway before calling it a long day from upstate New York to New Jersey to Manhattan.
I shall continue with my Saturday before marathon and the actual marathon itself in another installment...
NYC Marathon Opening Ceremony 4.11.11. Parade of the Nations.