Monday, November 14, 2011

Race Report: ING NYC Marathon - Part 1 (Friday) *

* In celebration of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 opening on Friday, I tried to make this blog title extra long.

OK, are you guys ready??? I'm so excited to finally tell you all about my awesome ING NYC Marathon weekend! (Is it weird that I have to always include ING in the marathon name? NYC Marathon just doesn't sound as grand and special to me.)

This one's going to be a bit different. I'll be doing a series of posts and they will read more like a trip report vs a race report so I hope you enjoy hearing about all my little random adventures during my too-short weekend in the Big Apple.


I started off the trip in style by splurging on miles for a first class ticket to NYC. Sooooooo worth it. This definitely had some awesome perks that I usually only see on international flights: fully reclining seats with footrests, personal entertainment center loaded with tons of movies and TV shows, Bose headphones (never used them before - they are AMAZING!), hot meals, and more! I was planning to sleep during this flight but ended up staying awake so I could take full advantage of all the benefits!

Breakfast while watching Midnight in Paris - pic taken before the bread basket arrived, hence the empty plate on top :P

Why yes, I would like a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk while watching Horrible Bosses
The flight flew by (pun intended) and the next thing I know, I'm looking at the Manhattan skyline.

I should mention my trip to NYC was fairly short - arrived Friday afternoon, left Monday afternoon. I wanted to squeeze in as much as possible so I had planned a pretty tight itinerary.

The main thing I wanted to do on Friday night was to check out the marathon's Parade of Nations and fireworks display at Central Park. My plane landed at JFK at 4PM and the parade started on the upper west side around 6PM. I was worried about missing some of it so my goal was to get into Manhattan as quickly as possible. I have to give a big shout out to my NYC resident blogger/twitter buddies The Running Laminator and Absolut(ly) Fit/50by25/Laura for all their helpful advice while I was in town. Turns out the quickest way to get from JFK to Times Square (one of my FAVORITE places in the world and my home for the weekend) was the train. Specifically, you'd take AirTrain to the Jamaica Station and from there, hop on the E to Manhattan. The whole thing will cost you $7.25 compared to $40 fare + tip, so it's a heck of a lot cheaper, too. (Note: I'm providing this level of detail in case any future NYCM runners find this post and need some travel tips, heehee)

I made sure to not check anything on my flight so I could get out of the airport quickly. I'd say I probably walked off my plane at 4PM and walked into my hotel room in Times Square by 5:15PM. Not bad!

Love this place!!!
We stayed right in the heart of Times Square at the W Hotel. Now as you know, hotels in NYC are not cheap and it just gets worst when you are staying at a prime location during a huge event weekend. But I will say we saved a lot of money by booking our room through the official travel agency, Anthony Travel. Their rates are locked well in advance and are posted on the race website. I can confirm they were over $100/night cheaper than if I had tried to book directly from the hotel website, expedia, or other travel sites.

Let me take you on a tour!

Sadly the view was so so
Love the bliss products

I really appreciated the special touches that the W hotel added for us marathoners. When I checked in, they gave me a little gift bag and a special handout with marathon info (pretty much the same info on the website, but I still appreciated it).

Here is what was inside! :)

After getting settled in, I hopped back onto the E to head to the marathon festivities which were being held at the marathon Finish Line. (That should be capitalized, right???)

Here we go... finally starting to feel real!!!

GAH!!! There it is!!! Usually, I'd rather not spoil the finish line surprise but I couldn't really avoid it in this case. It was just so exciting to see it in person since I normally see it on TV. :P

Once I wandered around a bit, I went to check out the parade. I did get there a little bit late so I was worried I wouldn't be able to find a seat. (Event was free, by the way.) No reason to worry as there were tons of seats at the tops of the bleachers.

I got there just in time to see the Philippines (my peeps! lol). Each country was announced as they walked by... I felt like I was at the Olympics!!! (I would continue to feel like this for the rest of the weekend, by the way.)

At the end, everyone came out at once and it was wonderful to see all the different flags on the marathon course.

I am so clueless sometimes - I originally thought all these bleachers were set up *just* for the parade and the fireworks. It wasn't until later that I realized, oh, these are actually the main finish line viewing seats for Sunday. Oops! hahaha. Same seats that my parents had tickets for.

After the parade, there were some speeches as Fred Lebow and Grete Waitz were inducted into the NYRR Hall of Fame.

Then all the lights dimmed and the race course was lit up as they had a "ceremonial first finish" with some surprise guests who turned out to be Meb Keflezighi and Edison Pena (aka the Chilean miner runner). My bad photo is below but there's a better one here.

Once they crossed the finish line, there was a burst of fireworks!

And that was just the beginning because now it was time for the fireworks show! The first song they played was "New York, New York" and it was just perfect!

The fireworks went on for a quite a bit. They had a DJ there that was playing some really fun "Audrey music" - you know, stuff that would make you hit the dance floor. Next thing you know, it was turning into a PAR-TAY!

People had emptied out onto the race course and some were just standing around or trying to exit, but there was definitely a big pack of people down there getting their groove on. And I would almost guarantee it was mostly people from other countries because you know how they can be way more fun than we are. ;)

There would be no dancing with my pre-marathon feet so I later departed to Queens to hang out with an old buddy from my Hoboken days.

Once I finally returned to Times Square late that evening, I remembered another item on my "to do" list - Shake Shack! I had seen the movie "Something Borrowed" and I swear the main thing I got out of that movie (besides cute John Krasinski) was what is this Shake Shack and how do I get some?

Thankfully, there was one near the theater district and I couldn't wait to try it out! For some reason I wasn't in a burger mood, so I got a hot dog and a peanut butter shake. The shake was delicious! The hot dog was so-so, so I definitely should have gone the burger route. (This will be remedied, don't you worry.)

I just love Times Square at night. It makes me happy.

And so ends day 1... time to rest up to tackle the expo and other race-eve activities!


RoadBunner said...

They never had any of that cool stuff for the marathon when I lived there! And I'd be like you -- staying awake on the flight to take advantage of all the cool stuff.

Cate said...

I LOVE the W! And I think I'd go to NYC just to experience marathon weekend even if I never get in (now that they don't have the guaranteed entry thing anymore) It looks so fun!

Auds said...

Hi! First time commenter. I saw one of your comments on runners rambles and just HAD to visit your blog since (1) we have the same name :) and (2) our blog addresses are scarily similar. Anyway, NYC is on my bucket list so I'm excited to read the rest of your posts. And yes, next time you should definitely go for the Shake Shack burger. Delish!

naomi said...

So you know I would have written pretty much the exact details about a First Class flying experience AND taken photos of my hotel. So smart of you to save the miles for this trip! And I didn't know you stayed at the "W! - fancy schmancy! The parade of nations looked cool - glad you got to see the motherland!

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