12 September 2012


In 2011, when the NYRR Bronx Half Marathon course was changed to start and end near Joyce Kilmer Park, I looked forward to visiting the park.  I hoped that there would be a memorial or plaque about the poet Joyce Kilmer.  Years ago, from a reference in a crossword puzzle, probably about the poem "Trees", I learned that Kilmer studied at Columbia University and lived in the New York metro area.  During World War One, he enlisted like the typical male person of the time and rose to the rank of sergeant.  He refused promotions and continued to work in the field.  He often volunteered for dangerous intelligence missions.  During the Battle of Marne, while out gathering intelligence, he was killed by a sniper.  Dying for one's country, always admirable, but in this case made more romantic because the dead was a poet.

The 2011 NYRR Bronx Half did not occur.  Hurricane Irene visited New York and the City revoked the permit.  For 2012, the race was shortened by 3.1 miles to become a 10-Miler.  Some people boycotted these shorter races but I still signed up.  Most Roadrunner races happen in Central Park, it gets boring quickly after a while, so I love the outer-borough races.  Besides, I want to visit Joyce Kilmer Park.

I left home by car around 5:30 AM.  There was little traffic on the road and I got to the NYRR-recommended garage shortly after 6.  Found a spot near the exit, took a nap since it was way early for the 8 AM race.  Eventually, I walked the short distance to Joyce Kilmer Park and wandered in it, as well as up the Grand Concourse and back to the park.  To my surprise, there was nothing in the park about the poet, other than a plaque saying the park's name.  Very odd.  I hope I am wrong.  I did discover the Bronx Museum of Art on Grand Concourse.  It seems the area near the park is the civic center for the Bronx, too, as there were a few court buildings nearby.  When I first came to the U.S., I lived in the Kingsbridge area of the Bronx for a few months and did not explore the area much.  With races like the Bronx Half that I hope to find out more about places outside my work or family routines.

For the race, I had my PPTC singlet on instead of the race shirt.  While out walking about, I saw a few other PPTC shirts and saluted them from afar.  I really have to go to some PPTC functions, e.g. group run or picnic, to get to know more people.  In my corral, for bib number 9000 and above, there was another PPTC member and I mentioned to her that it was unusual to meet a fellow club member in the slow corral.  When the race started, we walked slowly toward the start mat.  By the time I got to the mat, my Garmin still did not pick up satellite signal so I pulled aside to let others pass.  A short while later, satellite signal finally secured and off I went.

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