Saturday, July 26, 2008

NYC Half Marathon presented by United Nations

Today was an historic occasion because I invented yet another major distance race in New York City. Yes, that's right. Following on the heels of the acclaimed Statues on Parade Marathon, today I invented the NYC Half Marathon presented by United Nations. "What is this?" you ask. "It sounds really international and big!" Truth be known, I was aced out of the field for tomorrow's NYC Half Marathon presented by Nike, the one I ran a year ago that goes from Central Park to Times Square down to Battery Park along the West Side, because I was busy working our Major League Baseball Draft in Orlando at the start of June and everyone was slamming the site to enter the Nike so I was too late to register and three begging attempts failed.

SO TAKE THAT! I made my own NYC Half today. Here's how it happened.

I left my Upper West Side apartment at 8:30 and ran Central Park. I was going to make it two loops (each 6.1 miles), making this long training run "my" Half for the weekend. At the end of one mile, as I ran counter-clockwise alongside The Boathouse, a familiar face with a humongous smile came running toward me on the outside, and it was Hoda from NBC's Today show. Almost exactly where I saw my friend nyflyergirl pass me a week earlier. (It's always someone!) Then while I was on the East side of the park at 90th Street, I decided to jog over to the NYRR offices in case they were open so I could beg a FOURTH time to get into the Nike field. It was closed. I decided that they might be dealing with registrations over at the Runner Experience at Niketown in the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, so I proceeded to run 30 blocks from 89th Street to 59th Street, and then went to Niketown. They were closed, not open for another half hour. I decided to run all the way to the East River, another mile-plus, and then maybe I would circle back to Niketown when they opened.

I got to the riverfront -- Sutton Place -- and at that point I was

So I decided to just run South along the East River and make this my "east" equivalent of the next day's Nike Half. I stopped for an occasional water along the way, twice for Gatorade. I had only one GU with me. I bobbed and weaved through traffic to get back to First Avenue, and that's what I took South. Then suddenly I remembered that I never have seen the United Nations building since I moved to NYC in 2005 from St. Louis, and I began looking for it. First I saw the Trump World Tower, and looking up from the base it seemed like it went right into heaven, its glass structure blending in with the blue sky on a gleaming sunny Saturday. Then I looked ahead of me and there was the skinny, domino-shaped structure where the entire world -- at least that which plays along with the rules -- is diplomatically centered. I loved seeing the U.N. building. All of the brass flagpoles that line the front were without flags on this day, but it still was breathtaking. The sign at the driveway gate said "Delegates Only." I began to think of how people see a negative connotation to having things "delegated" to them at work, but really what an honor it would be to have that responsibility delegated to you, representing your nation. Think about that the next time someone delegates something to you.

Back to my run...I continued on and grabbed a fast Poland Spring water bottle at a streetside deli, and then ratcheted up my time. I was doing 10-minute miles at that point. I cut over at 34th Street to the river again, and on my way South I came upon the track and field before the Manhattan Bridge. The perfect grass called me like a siren, and I stopped running and went to it and lay on it and I did 50 crunches, a couple of planks, was sweating buckets and loving it. It was great to be around so many runners and soccer players there. I went back out to the running path and made a beeline for South Street Seaport.

And that is where my NYC Half Marathon presented by United Nations reached its finish line.

I would like to thank everyone who made it possible. Kenya. England. France. Germany. South Africa. Japan. Turkey. United States. Canada. Mexico. Australia. Israel. Norway. Iceland. Italy. All of them. In 10 days I will be flying from NYC to Beijing non-stop to spend nearly three weeks on the other side of the world for the first time, and that international flavor is just what I needed right now. I am about to be totally immersed in the Summer Olympics. I will be with our U.S. Baseball Team most of the time, at all of their games at Wukesong Stadium, and I am especially looking forward to seeing the Men's Marathon on the morning of Closing Ceremonies. I am trying to learn some Mandarin. Whatever other events I see will depend on what the baseball players do -- I'll be going wherever they go, basically. It will be work for me every day, and I also will take advantage of it and I will run 30 miles a week there despite the smog.

After this NYC Half Marathon presented by United Nations was complete, I got two slices of Uno Pizza and two Budweisers at the South Street Seaport. Then I ventured through all of the knockoff-purse sellers, and then I went into Abercrombie & Fitch and bought a kickass muscle shirt that I will wear in Beijing. I also sprayed a little Fitch on myself because I knew I would smell bad on the 2 train from there back to the Upper West Side. Overall, I was really happy with my awesome day. I left home at 8:30 and I returned home at 1:30. Most of that time was running, a little corework, a little sightseeing, a little traffic-dodging, a very satisfying run.

I love inventing new races!


Gerri said...

What a great race you had. I bet you set a PR too! I love your reference to delegation. I'm definitely going to remember that one!

Mark said...

Roll Tide, Gerri!!! Thank you for your awesome comment! I just completed a beautiful day by watching "Spring Awakening" on Broadway...the mould-breaking show everyone here is talking about.

nyflygirl said...

way to stick it to NYRR. they don't need your $70!! :)