NYC Marathon Baggage Policy Change

For anyone who hasn't heard, NYRR announced the other day that they are no longer going to have a bag check available for the NYC Marathon this year. And, as has almost become the norm with NYRR's policy-changing announcements, it caused a shitstorm.

I find this to be an interesting move by NYRR, since the registration fees for the marathon have steadily increased. I believe this year's registration fee was something like $250.00, which feels like way too much money to be able to do the exact same thing you do every time you throw on clothes and go for a run from your house. They cited the bag check as one of the perks of this fee, and in light of their change of policy, are issuing NYRR ponchos to the angry mob those who registered. (Side note: a poncho? Not even like a sweatshirt, or some of the fairly high-quality NYCM technical gear available? Or a complimentary gym/duffel bag, which, wholesale, would cost the same, if not less than a poncho? That seems to have been a poor choice of appeasing gift, if for no other reason than I can't think of anyone that would actually wear a poncho.)

Last year I chose not to check a bag, and had a designated meetup location right outside the park established so I wouldn't need to carry a phone. I had heard nightmarish things about the baggage congestion, but when I finished the race, I had to go through the same route to get out of the park as I would have to retrieve a checked bag, and a friend I met up with was able to get hers in about 25 seconds, so for me, it would have made no difference - there was no extra wait. That may have been due to my fairly late finishing time, and I can imagine the wait to get bags for the 4:30 marathoners was much longer, but my personal experience was very easy. Of course, for people not familiar with the city or travelling alone I could see how not having access to a bag would be quite an issue. Still, NYRR could very easily have set up a baggage retrieval site elsewhere and do what the airlines do - charge those wishing to check a bag an extra $5 or $10 to cover the cost of the baggage transportation and pick-up site. Since their decisions tend to be fairly unpopular anyway, it seems like it is the most reasonable way to resolve it (at least moreso than a poncho).

It seems to boil down to NYRR seeking to maximize their profits while providing as few services as possible for their runners. And since they have more or less had a monopoly on NYC races for several decades (although less so recently due to their rising unpopularity) they have been able to do so, to their participants' detriment and dismay, because at the end of the day, we all want to run and race, and they provide the largest platform to do so. Will I personally continue to participate in NYRR races? Probably, but I'll think a lot harder before sending in my registration, and explore other local races, even if they are not quite as convenient. In this case, I admit that I'm part of the problem, because I'm still forking over money to NYRR despite the fact that I don't agree with everything they're doing. At this point, I still plan to run the 2013 NYCM, because it's a special race for me, and as long as I can justify and afford the cost of the race (which currently, at $255 I'm not sure I can) but I find it very disappointing that an organization such as NYRR continues to make these poorly-thought-out, almost amateur decisions.


Final steps of preparation and first steps toward the finish

[I meant to post this the morning of the bar exam - July 24th - and then in the whirlwind of getting out the door and getting to the exam on time, I forgot. It's probably a good thing that this was the thing I forgot, instead of, say, my laptop, or admissions ticket.]

I distinctly remember the anxiety I felt about a half mile into the NYC Marathon on November 6th of last year. As I moved along the gradual incline of the Verrazano Bridge I felt this sense of discomfort and dread that I had such a long way left to go. I had trained and come so far, but those 25+ miles left for me seemed like an eternity.

I remember at mile 17, running up First Avenue, when everyone had told me to enjoy it, because it was the best part of the course, how miserable I was, how tired my legs felt, and how much I wanted to be done. How I couldn't wait for this torture to be over with. How I couldn't remember why doing this damn marathon was a good idea. 

I remember crossing the finish line, and how numb I felt, how I couldn't really understand what had just transpired. How drained I felt, how it was all over, and I couldn't really comprehend it. 

I signed up for the marathon to pull myself out of my ordinary-ness, to shake the malaise that I had allowed to rule my life, to prove to myself that I could do something extraordinary. I felt so under-prepared on that bridge into Brooklyn, so unsure of my abilities, and unaware of what kind of obstacles, physical or mental, I might face to get to the end. My training was not perfect - far from it. In those months I learned to stretch the fabric of my mental stamina to its limits, and then past that. When I struggled, I had to regroup, switching gears to accomplish what I had set out to do. When I had to make an emergency porta-potty-pit-stop at mile 23, I had to make up time in order to make my goal, forcing my legs to keep moving, and faster, harder,  than they were, or wanted to, or I thought I could. 

And I keep reminding myself that this anxiety I am feeling is not foreign, but that doesn't make it any less uncomfortable. I have been there before, maybe not in this particular sense, but I have tackled obstacles and unknowns of this magnitude. If anything, I needed to tackle the marathon before I could even get to this point, to prove to myself my capabilities for strenuous effort towards a goal. 

I am feeling so many things right now - anxiety over the next two days, uncertainty, but also a feeling of accomplishment to have gotten this far. Looking back, it's kind of unbelievable to me that I have been able to do all of this in the past year - run a marathon, graduate law school, and now, sit for the bar exam. And while I am anxious, I can't help but feel proud of myself for my efforts. I may not feel totally prepared, but I think I have a pretty good chance of passing, and if nothing else, I feel like I am putting my best efforts forward. 

Five amazing miles.

The past few months have been very trying and very humbling. After finally getting the clear to begin running again from my podiatrist (and officially graduating law school) I made it about two weeks before the energy I  had to put toward running had to be diverted towards passing the bar. I haven't yet reached the point where running is an easy, natural, or habitual thing, especially after taking three months off, and coupled with 12-15 hours of studying a day, stress-induced insomnia, soaring temperatures and the development of what is likely a peptic ulcer, my running fell by the wayside. I don't necessarily regret it - I did what I needed to do to get through the bar exam, and then tried (and failed) to relax. Finally, two weeks later, I have been able to really start getting back into an exercise mindset the last couple of days. And it feels so good. 

This morning, I set out to run for a full hour, and I have so missed that feeling of euphoria when you're pushing yourself and your body is just cooperating, you're moving at a pace almost fast enough so that people don't wonder why you don't just walk, and it just feels good. I had forgotten how much I love Saturday morning runs - even if I'm doing a longer distance on the weekday, there's something about Saturday morning that feels different and special. I feel like I've stumbled on a secret that I'm sharing with everyone else who is out exercising at 7 am while the rest of the world is sleeping. 

It feels so good to be back. 


Racing Bucket List

The more I get into running, the more races I hear about that I'm dying to participate in, but haven't been able to due to my overriding academic commitments. But now that I'm only two and a half short weeks away from re-entering the real world (read: the bar exam will be over and I'll be full-time job searching until something good comes along) I can't wait to do more races outside of Central Park. 

Case in point - last weekend was the NYC Triathlon. A year ago, I was too consumed with surviving marathon training for it to even cross my radar, but this year I see the photos from the event and I'm dying to be out there and in the thick of it. So on that note, I'm putting together my racing bucket list.

The List (in no particular order):
- a 50K
-NYC Tri
-Tour de Cure NYC Century ride
-Nike Womens Marathon (for the Tiffany bling, natch)
-Wineglass Marathon (because it has wine in the name)
-Napa2Sonoma Marathon (notice a theme here?)
-Napa Valley Marathon (great swag)
-RockNRoll Phoenix Marathon or Half
-Chicago Marathon
-Marine Corps Marathon
-LA Marathon

Any great races I'm missing?


Baby Steps

Saturday morning was the 5 mile NYRR Pride Run - a run I've been wanting to do for a couple of years, and it definitely didn't disappoint. I had missed the Central Park loop, and it was so nice to be back in familiar territory. My biggest accomplishment, however? Running the whole five miles, no walk breaks. Boo ya. After the first 15 minutes or so, I kept telling myself "make it to 20 minutes" then "make it to two miles, then "make it to thirty minutes," at which point I realized that I could, and should, just push through to the finish. It wasn't fast, but I kept telling myself that it's going to take baby steps to get back in shape...baby steps up Harlem Hill... baby steps up Cat Hill... It was a great feeling, and made especially so since my foot cooperated quite nicely.

This morning I finished three miles in between thunderstorms. My hills kicked ass, and I wasn't even startled by the guy waving his wang all over the place by the giant booze warehouse. I live in a colorful neighborhood. The best part? (definitely not Captain Indecent Exposure) My last mile was under 11:00. And my slowest was just over. I just keep telling myself that as long as I keep putting in the work, the results will come, and that I just need to trust that it'll come together. This run definitely started my week off on the right foot (ha), and I'm already looking forward to my next run on Wednesday. It feels so good to be back.