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The day before the marathon was packed with lots of fun activities! First up was the expo which was held at the Jacob Javits center. I had wanted to get there right when it opened at 9AM, but had a late start that morning due to me wanting to get more sleep in. The expo was about a mile away from my hotel, so technically I could have walked there but I felt like I did enough walking the night before and wanted to try to rest as much as possible.
Luckily, the marathon arranged a shuttle service between the midtown hotels and the expo. The closest pickup location was at the hotel one block over. Once I got there, there weren't too many people waiting, but thirty minutes later, there were tons. I was worried that all of us would not fit on the bus once it finally arrived since one had already passed us fully packed. Thankfully, the bus stopped right where was I standing so I was able to be one of the first ones to get on.
Right as I was about to step on, I quickly realized that I had forgotten my printed registration form back at the hotel! *headdesk* The form that they very clearly stated MUST be printed ahead of time and brought to the expo as they would not accept any versions on your phones or have places for you to print there. Ugh!
Had to jump out of line and speed walk back to my hotel to get my form. At this point, it was almost 11AM and I already had a tight schedule that day (Broadway matinee at 2PM!) so I took a cab directly to the expo.
Finally at the expo! One of the main things I love about the NYC marathon, oops I mean the ING NYC Marathon, is how international it is! You really do feel like you're part of the Olympics.
Considering how large the race is - reportedly over 47,000 participants, of which over 20,000 were from outside the US (yes, I'm full of stats today!) - bib pick up was pretty quick and straightforward. Although, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that it's a well oiled machine by now.
You first go through a checkpoint where they check your ID and registration form. From there, you head to your booth to get your bib, goody bag, and race shirt. I noticed my bib listed my name and underneath, "UNITED STATES" which I thought was fun since it's normally your city. I was also excited to see that the race shirt was super cute - a long sleeve teal tech T with a graphic of the five boroughs. (In fact, I had almost purchased the short sleeve version of the shirt the night before at the parade - glad I waited!)
Now normally you're stuck with the size that you listed when you registered but here you can request what size you want. Gah - decisions!!! Luckily, they had volunteers by the booths holding the shirts in all the different sizes. You couldn't try them on, just hold them up to your body. I couldn't decide between sizes and was getting all frazzled about it until the volunteer pointed out that I really shouldn't be stressing out about this. But it's a big decision!!! I finally went with what two of the volunteers suggested and I was on my way.
The expo itself was pretty large but about the same as other big races like Disney, Chicago, etc. The first half you enter is what I like to call Asics-ville. I was hoping to find all the cute race gear highlighted in the many, many emails sent prior to the race but they were nowhere to be found! I was worried that maybe some of the good stuff had been sold out since I was there the last day of the expo but then I remembered they still had this "Marathon Monday" store so I was hoping they would be found there.
ASICs did have a ton of race merchandise but nothing was really that cute. Actually, there were some cute stuff but they were all in the men's section. Hmph. But I couldn't walk away empty handed so I did get a fleece hat and arm warmers that I thought might come in handy the next morning on Staten Island.
While wandering around, I stumbled across the brightroom booth that were not only taking pics but also videos, too!
I chuckled and thought why not! I probably won't be here again and if there's a time to cheese out, this is it! I got my picture taken:
And maybe I did a video, too. A really embarrassing, cringe-y video that if I could figure out the embed code I would post here, too. Thankfully, I could not. (But it's not hard to find if you really want to see it and laugh.)
Did you know that there is a Mount Kilimanjaro marathon? I didn't until I saw them at the expo. Of course, I'm not surprised (and I bet there are some crazies that read this, and thought, "Ooh, I'd like to run that!" You know who you are.) I was also amused to see booths like the one below - pretty sure I didn't see them at the Akron expo.
Oh, another fun surprise - this year I've been busting out my magic bullet to make my smoothies and I'm a big fan. Well check it out - they have one especially designed for the marathon!!!
Besides having a different design, they also added larger cups. I'll be honest, I was tempted! But there's nothing wrong with my current "bullet" and I didn't want to have to worry about how to get it back home. Looks like you could still buy it online but with shipping, it would be almost $60 and I think it was $32 at the show. *sigh*
On to my ~celeb spotting... It was super fun to see some familiar runner faces at the expo like Lolo Jones:
... and Dean Karnazes...
... as well as Ryan Hall.
Finally, there was one person while I was there that attracted a whole lot of hub bub. Not Apolo Ohno, but Mr. AC Slater himself... Mario Lopez!
I was totally cracking up when I kept overhearing, "Who's Mario Lopez?" I didn't have time to wait in his line but that's OK because it seemed to be all business. No posed pictures, just autographs. And if you wanted him to sign it to you, you had to have your name on a post-it prior to handing it over. Reminded me of the time I waited in line to get 98 Degrees' autographs. Wait, what...
Right before I left, I spotted these two bloggers, Emily from Sweat Once a Day and Lauren from Health on the Run, and introduced myself. I had fun chatting with them for a bit and discussing the race. They were spectating but planned to run NYC next year.
I didn't plan my day very well because I didn't get a chance to grab lunch before quickly heading back to the theater district to meet my parents for the matinee showing of Billy Elliot.
From there, we took the scenic route to our next stop...
... which was St. Patrick's Cathedral for what I have now heard is called the Runner's Mass.
Now I've been to mass here many times and I've never seen it as packed as it was that evening. Looking around, you can tell it's definitely the marathon crowd but I wasn't expecting any kind of special mass or anything. Probably because of the time I attempted the Chicago marathon, we attended a similar kind of "marathon mass" at the church super close to all the marathon hotels. It was also packed with runners (you can tell by all the running shoes and race shirts) and I remember my sister observing that they didn't do any kind of special blessing / shout out for the runners.
So I figured it would be the same thing for this big city as well. Boy, was I wrong!
First, I noticed in the program that the presiding priest (Father Joe) was also running the marathon the next day! And this is a guy about my dad's age so how awesome is that?
Father Joe also made a point to relate the entire homily (or sermon, if you will) to the marathon. At one point, he asked the marathoners who expected to finish in over five hours to stand up. I was sitting to the far left and immediately stood up just as he continued with, "I bet you guys don't want to admit that." Doh! Well I was already standing at that point so after he acknowledged me, I sat down all embarrassed. My mom leaned over and whispered to me, "You're so humble." I busted out laughing.
Now I probably won't get this right but I think what he wanted to point out was that as runners, we provide people with hope. People can see runners finish marathons in three or four hours and think, "Oh, I could never do that." But when you hear of runners that take five or more hours, it gives them hope and they think, "Hey maybe I can do that, too." Well, I'm happy to provide anybody with hope when it comes to running! (There was definitely more to the homily and I am doing a horrible job capturing it here but I encourage you to read Molly's take as she described it much more eloquently.)
It was also a nice moment when he had everyone running the marathon to stand and there was applause. But even better when he then asked everyone that was there to support a marathoner to stand. Of course, the cheers were even louder! Love my mom and dad! :)
It was a really nice homily and I know I don't go that often, but that may have been the first time I actually paid attention to the whole thing, haha.
But it didn't end there. At the very end of mass, he asked all the marathoners to join him at the altar for a special blessing.
|My Parents' View|
Now comes for the funny moment. Mass was now over and all of us runners are slowly working our way off the altar. As soon as I turn around, I see my mom and dad had left their seats and were now standing right up front waving at me with their camera saying "Wait! Wait, we'll take your picture!" Suddenly, I was having flashbacks to my first grade Christmas pageant days.
I knew this would not go well but I humored them for a bit. So I'm standing there at the altar with all these people trying to get by around me, feeling super awkward as my mom is standing there pressing the camera button for what seems like forever. I'm not surprised. I was at least 20ft away, there was dim lighting, and my mom doesn't know how to do the "press half way to focus" thing on her camera yet. So of course when the flash would finally go off would be the exact moment that someone decides to walk in front of me. Which is how we ended up with these beauties (can you spot me?)...
Take 1 - FAIL:
Take 2 - FAIL:
By now, I'm laughing hysterically as I gave up and rejoined my parents. They still insisted on taking this one:
Good grief, that was taxing! I had mentioned on Twitter that there were two consecutive embarrassing incidents with my parents while in NYC and that was one of them. I'll spare you the details on the second one, but in short, my parents tried to marry me off to the son of a fellow Filipino couple they had met - THAT DAY.
On to dinner... I'm glad I had made my reservations earlier that week. I tried to get a spot at Patsy's which was recommended by Roadbunner's BF but they were completely booked. So I went to Yelp and decided on Fresco which had good reviews and was located close to the church.
I was starving by this point and definitely had my fill of yummy carby deliciousness.
After a long and busy busy day, it was finally time to rest up at the hotel. I was excited to go through my goody bag and get all my race gear ready to go!
The cute race shirt:
And some of my fave freebies...
First up, we got another one of those bandanna tube-y things... now I have one to go with my Akron Marathon one. It's still in its packaging but I did see lots of people wear this around their neck and face to stay warm the next morning.
I *love* this!!! It's a big magnet with little stickers you peel off to reveal your final finish time. You can see my finished product here.
I thought this was cute! Almost used it too but then I was worried I would lose it.
Gotta have the race tattoo! Which I did use - stay tuned for that...
And I am always needing more lens cloths! (No really, I am!)
Time to finally lay out all my gear! Isn't it crazy how much we have to pack? It's like we're going camping!
Nighty-night... thank goodness we had a time change that night and *gained* an hour. (Although to be honest, even if the time change was in our favor, it still made me stress out about my alarms going off at the right time.)
Next post will be Race Day! :)