The countdown is on! Just four days until the 2014 NYC Half Marathon, where weekend warriors will line up alongside a number of world elites with a shared mission: to finish the race to the best of our ability, whatever that may be. Together, all 20,000 of us, we will set out at the sound of the horn to cover 13.1 miles of Manhattan pavement along a very special course.
Up and down the hills of Central Park, through the traffic-free streets of Times Square, down the West Side Highway, into the Battery Park Underpass and onward to the finish on Wall Street, we’ll have the opportunity to experience this world-class borough from an unrivaled vantage. With traffic stopped, crowds cheering, cow bells clanging, bands playing, friends and family tracking our progress, the expression, “I run this city,” will be truly brought to life.
Last year’s NYC Half was only my second half marathon and my first “big” race experience. Having only started running the previous October, I was brimming with a contradictory mix of emotions: excitement, nervousness, confidence and doubt. But from the moment I arrived for the start, I just couldn’t stop smiling. NYRR does such an incredible job organizing marquee events, the size of the field didn’t cause me any concern. Instead, I found it energizing. The time between the horn sounding and finally crossing the start line didn’t seem like the eternity I had feared. Like a good movie soundtrack, the anticipation rose to a thrilling crescendo. It was an unbelievably well orchestrated event, and I expect the same will be true on Sunday.
While I’ve never thought of myself as unphotogenic, I’ve learned that when it comes to candid race shots, well, I’m not going to make the cover of Runners World anytime soon. The race paparazzi never catch me smiling. Except during last year’s NYC Half Marathon. In picture after picture I was actually smiling! If that doesn’t convince you of how unique this race really is, I’m not sure what would. I dare anyone taking part to prove otherwise. Like sneezing with your eyes open, it’s just not humanly possible not to grin, or at least smirk, while stopping traffic in Times Square!
While thousands of spectators will have the privilege of seeing some of the world’s best distance runners up close and personal, I will head home following my finish to watch the elites compete up close and on tape delay. My DVR will be set, and my race day will continue post-finish from the comfortable confines of my couch. With feet up, still smiling, I’ll take great satisfaction in knowing that I crossed that same finish line, albeit long after they had probably showered. I have no idea who will end up crossing the finish fastest; but I do know that as long as we run our best and finish proud, we’ll all be winners.