Wednesday, March 24, 2010

An Hour and 58 Minutes

You've heard me go on and on about my "list." Well, Eric has a list of his own, and this past weekend he crossed something off.

The first item in Eric's "Just For Fun" list category was to run a sub-two-hour half marathon. This weekend, Eric ran the New York City Half Marathon in one hour and 58 minutes!

But, let's start from the beginning.

On Sunday morning, Eric and I woke up while it was still dark outside (awful) and left the house just after 6:00 a.m. We took the subway up to Central Park and 96th Street, then walked across the park to the starting line. We found Eric's corral and he got to stretching. The sun actually decided to come up, too, which was nice.

Get good and stretched, Eric!

Sunrise through the buildings

I hung out with Eric for a few minutes, then left him to get set while I went down to the starting line to find a spot to watch. Just like last time, I was able to see them introduce the super-fast people and I watched them all warming up. Then it was time for the National Anthem, then the firing of the gun...ready, set, GO!

Runners lined up at the staring line

VIDEO: The starting gun

And, he's off! Go Eric!

The course for this Half Marathon (which is 13.1 miles, if you recall) was very similar to the one Eric ran in August. The race started around 96th Street on the east side of Central Park, then ran the whole loop (and a half!) around Central Park for a total of eight miles in the park. The runners then exited the park and ran south on Seventh Avenue, through Times Square and down to 42nd Street, where they turned west and headed out to the West Side Highway for the last three miles of the race. The finish line was on the West Side Highway at Chambers Street. I think that route is just so cool - how fun to run through so many scenic parts of the city!

Also like last time, Eric and I had worked out a plan so that I could dash around the city and see him at various points of the race. Unfortunately, this time it did not go as smoothly as last time, although it wasn't bad.

After seeing Eric at the starting line, I made my way back across Central Park to the west side to see him at about the three- or four-mile mark. Last time I had plenty of time to do this, so this time I made the stroll fairly leisurely. I stopped for a couple pictures at the north end of the Reservoir, which was looking beautiful in the early morning light.

View of the city looking south over the Reservoir

Looking southeast along the running trail

A dog enjoying the morning scenery

Unfortunately, by the time I made it over to the west side of the park, the road I needed to cross was already jam-packed with runners! Last time I did not have that problem, so I'm not sure what happened this time - maybe I was too slow in my walking, or maybe it was because Eric's starting point was further back this time, or something. Either way, this is what I had to cross to get to the other side:

Yeah, I'm definitely going to get run over if I try to do this.

I waited for a while, hoping for an opening, but no luck. Finally one of the race workers suggested I walk south a bit to where there was a bridge that went underneath the road the runners were on. I didn't know how far south it was, but I started walking, keeping an eye on the time. I knew it was almost about the time Eric would be reaching that point and I didn't want to miss him. But, I knew I had to get over to the other side, because that was where Eric would be looking for me.

I did finally see the bridge in the distance. Knowing that Eric would be getting to that spot at any moment, I sprinted down under the bridge and back up to the road. Not thirty seconds later, I saw Eric coming towards me! Phew, that was close!

See him on the right, giving a fist pump? He's looking good!

Only Eric would stop to compliment my coat as he ran. That's what's happening here.

As soon as Eric passed I exited the park to catch the subway down to Times Square. They were doing track work on the "C" line, which is what I would usually take. But, it wasn't running, so I took another train, which ended up taking me to a different spot than I expected. It worked out fine though - I got off at Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street, and just walked down towards 42nd Street.

Just like last time, they had singalongs and music and even cheerleaders set up in Times Square, so it was an entertaining wait for Eric there. I stood right by the cheerleaders and before long, I saw Eric coming! Once again he stopped to kiss me as he ran by. What a show-off!

Cheerleaders in Times Square

Here he comes!

Hi, Eric! Still looking strong!

After Eric passed me in Times Square, it was time for me to head down to Chambers Street to the finish line. Unfortunately, that took longer than I expected, and the end of the race is always such a crowded mess of people. So, I didn't get there in time to see Eric cross the finish line. I suspect I literally just missed him, based on his official finish time. I wish I had seen it - he said he was so happy as he crossed and realized that he had reached his goal and ran that race in ONE HOUR AND 58 MINUTES! I am so proud of him.

The finish line. Eric is not in this picture because I missed him. Boo.

Since I missed him at the finish line, I eventually made my way to our designated "Where We Go To Meet If I Don't See You Finish" spot. It was so great to see Eric with his new medal on and know he reached his goal. Go Eric!

Stretching again

That's a lovely gold medal you've got there!

Eric's newest medal

After the race, we had planned to do a little exploring downtown. Eric always says how pretty that area is, but whenever we go down there, we always just hit Battery Park and Wall Street. So, we did a little more wandering around to check things out. We started with the Irish Hunger Memorial, which I just learned existed last week and wanted to check out. It was really lovely . It was landscaped to look like the rolling green fields of Ireland, and contains stones from each of Ireland's 32 counties.

View of the Irish Hunger Memorial from the east side

The hills are on this elevated platform, which looks pretty cool.

When you first enter the memorial, you walk through a hallway with lines of text, including quotes about the Irish Potato Famine in particular, as well as current world hunger generally. There is also an audio accompaniment speaking on the subject. It's very sobering.

Quotes in the entrance hallway

VIDEO: The entrance to the Irish Hunger Memorial

The entrance hallway emerges into the ruins of a cottage brought over from County Mayo in Ireland, which is where my Irish ancestors were from. Having recently read a history of our family's journey to the U.S. researched and written by my dad, it felt very cool to be standing in a cottage from the land of my ancestors.

A member of the McNamara family standing in the old County Mayo cottage

The cottage ruins

After walking through the cottage, you can follow a little path through the green hills up to the top, which offers lovely views of the Hudson River. It was very pretty - just a little bit of the Irish countryside in the heart of New York City.

Stone on the hill

At the top of the Memorial, with the Hudson behind us

After fully exploring the memorial, we continued on down along the water for a bit. We wandered through the post-race festival at the North Cove Marina, then continued south along the water a little more before wandering east in search of a subway station. As we did that we passed Trinity Church, which we have passed a million times, but this time we noticed the grave of Alexander Hamilton! You just never know what you'll randomly discover in this city.

View of the Statue of Liberty from North Cove Marina

The Half-Marathoner and his proud wife at the marina

Trinity Church

The grave of Alexander Hamilton

We took the subway to Grand Central Station, then stopped by Eric's office because he had to pick up some work to get done from home that afternoon (he's been really, really busy at work lately). Then we walked back across town to home, where we ordered a pizza and relaxed. Eric's knee was pretty sore so he spent most of the afternoon icing and elevating and working. Poor thing. But, he met his goal! Yay, Eric!

On another "random NYC" note, that afternoon I took Achilles outside on a "business trip" and as soon as I walked out of my front door, I looked to my immediate right and saw Tracy Morgan walking by! If I had walked out seconds later, I would have walked right into him. Tracy Morgan was just seconds shy of tripping over little Achilles. Ha! I said hello to him and he gave me a nod and continued on his way, all by himself, just wandering down my street. Only in New York.

It was a wonderful day and I'm so proud of my husband. Way to go, Eric! Love you!


Dad said...

Great Job Eric!

The memorial is very neat. Maybe we can go see the one outside of Louisburgh together sometime.

mzpinay said...

Great pics Megan! I should plan our NY trip around a race. It looks like fun running through the city. Great job to your H and how exciting to see Tracy Morgan! :-)

Becky said...

I am proud of my son-in-law. Way to go! (now who does that remind you of?)