Sunday, November 1, 2015

NYC Marathon Weekend Part 2: My Dash to the Finish Line starts with a dash to the start line!

This is Part 2 (or, as Charlie Sheen would say, Part Deux!) of my New York City Marathon weekend trilogy. Squawker Jon will accuse me of navel-gazing, but since he's out of town today, I'm going to Squawk how I want to! To read Part 1, about my 5K with Kevin Hart, click here.

Anyhow, my life is always interesting. Weird, but interesting. Here's the most recent example. Saturday morning, I took the express bus into Manhattan for the Dash to the Finish Line race, where you get to run in part of the area comprising the end of the NYC Marathon, as well as getting to run by the United Nations and by Forty-Second Street, as well as up Sixth Avenue. Over 10,000 people participated, so it was likely the biggest 5K put on in town this year.

Anyhow, the baggage check was in Central Park, by the finish line, but the race was by the UN, I wanted to check a bag because I planned on going to the New York Botanical Garden after the race, getting a free annual membership with my ID NYC card, and gazing at the fall foliage. So my plan was to check my bag at the New York Health and Racquet Club location at 56th Street, go do the race, and shower afterwards

Normally, on a Saturday morning, the express bus will only take about an hour to go from Great Kills to Central Park. I got on a bus two hours before the race, so I thought I would have enough time. However, traffic was abysmal due to construction, and my bus ran very slowly. Plus, at 34th Street, it wasn't able to go up Sixth (due to the race, as it turns out) and it took a detour. At this point, it was 8:10, the race was starting in 20 minutes, and I was still far away from the race (and far away from checking my bag!) I was about to miss the Dash to the Finish Line. Yikes! What a nightmare!

I had signed up for this race last year, but was sick the day of the event and ended up missing it. I really didn't want to miss it two years in a row.

So what now? How was I going to extricate myself from this mess? I thought, WWHSD? That stands for What Would Harry Swan Do?  My late father was an extrovert extraordinaire. He was a real people person who knew everybody. This is a man who talked the NYPD into letting us park on the street at the old Yankee Stadium in a no-parking zone each week, so we would be able to not only park for free, but get home from Sunday games in a half hour -- in time for an early dinner!

Yet most of the four Swan children take after our introverted mother. As for myself, I am the closest thing to an extrovert we have in the family, but even then, I can be shy and even timid at times, especially when dealing with new people.

Anyhow, if my father were in this situation, he would have used his natural friendliness to talk somebody into helping him. So I channeled whatever minimal charm I have, combined it with my usual natural aura of helplessness, put on a happy, friendly face, and kept my fingers crossed that it would work!

The scene at the start of the race
Modell's Sporting Goods on 34th and 7th was open early Saturday morning, due to the World Series. So I approached a staffer there and explained my plight. He directed me to his manager. I pointed to my race bib on my shirt and told him the situation. I asked if I could please leave my bag there. He agreed to put it (and my sweatshirt) behind the counter, but said they couldn't be held responsible if anything happened to it. I agreed, shook his hand and thanked him, and left for the race.

At this point, it was 8:15 a.m. I figured I wouldn't be able to run to 47th and 1st that quickly to make the race, so I hailed a cab. After telling the cab driver my story, he got me there to the start line with minutes to spare! Yay!

And the race had such fantastic views, I was so happy to do it! I love running on Manhattan city streets. It feels like you are getting away with something. Glad I didn't miss it.

I am on the right, wearing orange. Not exactly
Shalane Flanagan, but I finished!
The Dash to the Finish Line had an extremely relaxed vibe to it, with runners going much slower than usual. So there were many more people in the back of the pack with me than there usually is.

Also, I have never seen so many people taking pictures during races. Especially when we got towards the finish line. I had to dodge people taking selfies on the course, with the end of the marathon as a backdrop. It was wild!

After the race, I went up to the Bronx to see the New York
Botanical Garden. This is just some of the stunning
fall foliage I saw.
Oh, and I had a friendly face at the finish line. Squawker Jon showed up. He even took got footage of me at the end of the race! What a morning. So glad I was able to do this 5K.

After the race, I picked up my stuff at Modell's, and was amazed to see how much Mets World Series stuff they had. Heck, I am still amazed to realize that the Mets are in the World Series in the first place! It's still stunning to me.

I then got cleaned up at the gym and headed up to the Bronx to go to the New York Botanical Garden. If you are a New Yorker, you need to get an ID NYC card. You can get year-long memberships at over 30 NYC cultural institutions. I had originally planned on going
The Day of the Dead parade.
to the Frida Kahlo exhibit they had, but it wasn't included as part of the basic membership, and I wasn't going to shell out $25 for it. So I toured other sights in the gardens, like the rose garden and the forest. The autumn leaves were just amazing.

They also had, in keeping with the season, and with the Kahlo exhibit, a Day of the Dead parade. There were skeletons and shenanigans and cool music, too. It was so much fun to watch this!

After going to the garden, I briefly went to the Bronx Zoo to get my annual ID NYC Wildlife Conservation Society membership. Then I got a $3 burrito at Chipotle (since I was in a running t-shirt and pants, I said I was going as a runner!) After I got home, I was so exhausted, plus I had another early morning coming up, with my volunteer work at the NYC Marathon today. So I ended up going to bed at 8 p.m., thus missing most of Game 4 of the World Series. Unfortunately, I woke up and put on the game just before Daniel Murphy's error. What a terrible time to wake up! Sorry, Squawker Jon! I hope I didn't jinx your Mets!

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