The day started early, like 5 A.M. Packet pickup started at 6:30 A.M. and I was there at that time. Parking that early in the day was plentiful, mostly under the Van Wyck Expressway. The shirt-pickup tent just got started, I wanted a Men XL shirt but they didn't have my size so I went back to the car and took a nap, thinking they would sort things out eventually. They didn't, which is fine by me, I have too many shirts already, I just needed a layer to ward off the cold so I settled for a Women L. I should have learned the Hollywood Sequel Way, i.e. if something works well just repeat the process. Having disposable clothes at the NYRR NYC Half exactly a week earlier kept me warm during the long wait in the corral. I made the mistake thinking Sunday would be just as warm as Saturday and came in shorts and a few thin layers of tech fabrics. It was cold! I lucked out and didn't have to deal with rain but IT WAS COLD!
The line for the porta-potty was long as usual. Luckily, the race took place in a public park, the Flushing Meadows Park, and the public restroom by the subway station was already open, thanks go to some guy who informed the people waiting at the end of the long queue. I ran there with some other guy and more showed up after us. Inside the restroom it was so warm I thought about just staying there.
The great thing about races organized/produced by NYCRuns is runners don't have to wait a long time in the corral. Yes, just one corral. I simply waited in the back and it wasn't long before the whole thing started. Here comes four loops of Flushing Meadows Park with many turns!
The race started near the pool, to the east of the Unisphere. A few turns here and there and runners found themselves heading for the big lake. A full loop of the lake, with a few spots with rainwater from the previous night blocking the road. Back to the main part of the park and we made a left to enter the area near Terrace on the Park and Queens Zoo. One more time back to park center, this time we made more turns here and there and sorta went around the Unisphere then passed by the ramp to the 7 train station. More turns again and runners pass the back and side of the Aquatic Center, sorta parallel to the Van Wyck Expressway, then turn toward the Pool of Industry, make 300 (?) degrees around the Pool then back to the start. Loop 1 done! Of course you can see the course better on the NYCRuns, supposedly the Flushing Meadows Half-Marathon course is the same as this marathon.
With insufficient preparations I had anxiety about the race. Sure I ran marathons before but I had more preparations then. I am lucky enough to not have any permanent injuries, so far, and I prefer not to have any after this ill-prepared marathon. At least for the first loop, what kept me going was the image below. I came up with a new joke involving the age-old, "Is the glass half-empty or is it half-full?" For the first time, I ran half-marathon and full-marathon one weekend after the other. So I came up with the idea of putting both medals in a drinking glass and pose the question, "Is the glass half-marathon or is it full-marathon?" My jokes are great. The best. Period. (No, just kidding, I'm not that vain.) Sure I could just use some marathon medal from a few years ago and the joke would still be good, but it's not Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday right? It's Sunday! So on I went for the first loop to earn a new, shiny marathon medal.
For the second loop, I decided to use the public restroom near the turn to Pool of Industry. I think it's Mile 25 but now I don't know for sure now that the event is not listed on the web any more. There were other restrooms along the way but I think this one was the closest to the course. For the NYC Half I held out until the very end but it's unavoidable with a marathon. Some runners aim to P.R. all the markers along a marathon route, me I just run to finish. No need to hold it until after the second loop, as the restroom may not be that conveniently located along the race course. As expected, I didn't P.R. with my half-marathon time, it was 2:35+ when I finally finished Loop #2.
Loops #3 and #4 somehow just passed by. I am sure many runners do this - identify someone running at a pace near you and try to beat them. For us back-of-the-pack runners, of course we won't win any top prizes but it's a way to keep going. I found a few and managed to pass them and also stayed ahead, only to lose my "lead" after the restroom breaks. Or the walk after each loop to wolf down a pack of Gu. A friend mentioned some weeks back I may get seriously injured if I'm not careful, so I was careful and took one more walk break after Mile 23. My "lead" totally evaporated then, as all my competitions sailed past me. In the end, I managed to surpass a few of those people, after Mile 24. My finish time of 5:42 or so was a personal worst, not counting the 6+ I spent for the NYC Marathons back in 1994 and 1995, without time chip I think the wait on the Verrazano Bridge was not excluded. I wish I had my Garmin GPS to confirm the time and distance, as Strava app on my phone said I ran 28 miles. Sure there were a few big puddles that required going to the side and there were so many turns they may add up, but I am not sure if all that extra distance would really make that big of a difference.
I love inaugural races, new things, but I'm also a non-repeating customer. I actually registered for last year's Queens Marathon but had couldn't run it because high school spring break overlapped it. I went on a sea cruise instead. I'm glad I finally made the run, even with the dismal finish time. Still, I rarely repeat the same marathon, and the many turns just ensure that I won't repeat the Queens Marathon. Next year, I plan to run the Suffolk County Marathon, which should be its 4th year, I think, or the Rockapulco Marathon, x loops on the Rockaway Boardwalk. I cannot afford to fly all over to run marathons so I plan to cover all the local ones instead. Of course, hopefully I'll run those marathon with more preparation.