D Minus 1
With 1 day to the big day, we had to slow things down and tried to relax and kept our feet up at any opportunity. Since Seow Ping, Mohan and Hazel were still separated from us – Geraldine and I returned to the hostel to drop off our bags back at the hostel while the trio were still out for the IFR – we took the chance to rest a bit on our bunks. All of us will only rendevous for pre-race dinner. Our roomies were out, so we had the whole place to ourselves. That presented the perfect opportunity to get ourselves organized with the shopping goodies and prepping the race gear. This involved getting the racing shoes out – G’s choice was the ST Racers while mine was the Lunaracer. While we laced up the timing chip for races in MY and SG, the method in the US is to secure the chip to the shoe laces using the provided plastic ties (the thin version of what the security of hypermarts use here). After the race, a volunteer will snip it off for you, so you don’t have to bend your stiff body and struggle with the laces. I’d to adjust it a few times to ensure that the yellow chip didn’t flop around.
I’d more or less decided on my race apparels or what the US Army call the Army Combat Uniform (ACU). A race is, afterall, a form of battle in which we put ourselves through. Don’t we constantly fight our own doubts and physical limits during a race? My dressing for the commute to the Fort Wadsworth staging area, on top of my Nike ACG jacket, will be:
- Bin bag
- Light thermal jacket courtesy of Dan, our friend from Connecticut
- Light wool top
- Knitted head warmer
- Cotton gym pants
- Nike Pro base layer
- Nike FIT-Dri short top
- Nike thin running gloves
- Arm warmers fashioned from cutoff football tube socks
- Injinji toe socks
- Forerunner 205
- Paris Marathon 4-Hour silicone pace band
- Nike small running pouch (to carry 2 gels, $10 and the Metrocard)
- Brooks long tights, since Nike longs weren’t available in MY and I didn’t want to try new and untested apparels purchased at the expo
I also pinned 2 Powergels to my long tights on top of the 2 in my running pouch, stuck the name bib on my running tee and pinned the bib on. The name bib will ensure that my name will be shouted out at least a hundred times along the course. OK, that was an exaggeration. It turned out to be much less than that!
That done, we rested a bit and at about noon, headed out for lunch. Since we were meeting Mohan’s entourage between the 66th to 79th St area, we hopped off the subway at the Lincoln Center and walked eastwards, hoping to find an eatery. Unfortunately there weren’t much choices and I decided to just be a little adventurous and headed into Le Pain Quotidien, a French boulangerie. I ordered a split pea quiche to share, and tartines (open-faced sandwich, a supposedly trendy lunch staple in Parisian cafes) – G’s was made with organic wheat bread with roasted turkey, diced tomatoes, scallions and herb dressing that looked too beautiful to eat but too dry to chew and finish. It tasted a little odd, if I may say so, having not been exposed to such food. The pea quiche nevertheless provided plenty of protein and carbs and the serving was so big that we couldn’t finish. I washed everything down with iced water. Americans seem to have thing for iced water even in cold weather. It was warm in the bistro so it was OK for me but I found it a strange preference.
We landed at Central Park after another short walk to check out the last 400 meters of the race route and to soak in the atmosphere at the park. As with the IFR in the morning, the place was alive with activity. It was hard not to be caught up in the energy of the people there. Crews, suppliers, media and broadcast teams and volunteers were really busy putting up the final touches to the finish area. Barricades had been erected all the way, scaffolding and stages were in place and the expensive reserved spectator seating were up on the left and right of the road. Team leaders were briefing and walking through their crews on what to do and what-if scenarios. Nations’ flags lined up both sides of the road up to the finish line. Cartons of bottled water were being unloaded from the Poland Spring trucks. Despite all the congestion and action, there were many who were out running and biking or simply walking their dogs.
There was a fun run for the kids further south of the park and the macho NYFD men were there giving hi-fives and encouragement to the kids. Looking at the size of some of the kids, they really need to run more! So the McD sponsored (“run, so you can eat more of our burgers or you better run more since you eat our burgers?!”) fun run was definitely a good move.
Tavern On The Green was being prepped to receive thousands of runners for the night’s pasta party with the first batch of runners expected to arrive at 5pm. Fred Lebow’s bronze statue had been traditionally moved from its original spot to just before the finish line. Fred Lebow, the star of a newly released documentary Run For Your Life, was of course the late founder, promoter and race director of the modern NYCM taking it from a run around Central Park to a 5-borough spectacle. In a poignant way, it appeared that Fred was still watching over the marathon from his strategic spot.
The whole affair was impressive and I closed my eyes picturing how it would feel running up that stretch the very next day. We still had time to kill so we strolled over to the Sheep’s Meadow to take in the view. Weather was mild and just nice to laze around. While kids were playing ball, I ended up napping on the lawn! More leisurely strolling until we ended up in front of the Museum Of Natural History, made even more famous by the Ben Stiller movie “Night At The Museum”.
Dinner with Mohan, Hazel and Seow Ping was at Niko’s Mediterranean-Greek Grill and Bistro along Broadway at W76th Street. I was still full so food was on a shared basis, at least for me. I ordered Pasta Fagiole (soup with carrots, celery, parsley, beans, and pasta) and a plate of tomato and basil pasta. Again, both orders came extra large. I was amazed that Seow Ping could finish her monster plate of rice. The waiter even served us complimentary sweet Greek white wine (more like an aperitif) which had no kick. I was counting on it providing some warmth and knock-out power to get me to sleep. The party split an hour later while the fireworks were exploding in Central Park as part of the pre-marathon celebrations.
Before retiring I made one last check on my race packing, set the alarms, put on my eyeshades and tried hard to sleep in anticipation of the race of my life.