September 11th 50K

This week marked the 11th anniversary of September 11th, which amazes me as it really doesn’t feel like 11 years ago this tragic event occurred.
Since moving to New York I have written several blog posts that have covered how I’ve experienced – first-hand – how New York remembers the victims who they lost due to the attacks on their City. Although I’m British and not a native New Yorker, it’s hard not to be motivated & admire how New York never forgets. After some research I learned that the UK had the most losses outside of the US with 67 victims. This years anniversary was a little more personal for me as I took part in an unofficial run around Manhattan to honour the day which was organised by a group of Ultra Runners based in New York City.
To give you some context & history let me retrace my steps and tell you how I got to learn of the run; I signed up to Meetup which, in their own words is “the world’s largest network of local groups” about 5 months ago and I’ve been receiving emails about hikes up in Van Cortlandt Park and other trail runs in and around New York State. 6 weeks ago I received an email that detailed the second annual September 11th 50K which would take place on the 9th September:
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There were a number of things that attracted me to the event; it was honouring a day that affected a lot of peoples lives, the notion of running a full loop around Manhattan, it was organised by a bunch of people who just cared about running (no big pre-race fanfare or after parties etc) and also it would be my first Marathon and Ultra-Marathon distance. With these motivations I signed up and began training (which I’m not going to bore you with the detail here J).

The Meetup was scheduled for an 8am start so on the morning of the 9th I got up at 6am and had a hearty breakfast to get the blood & electrolytes moving in my body. I took the below picture on my walk to the nearby PATH station, the Freedom Tower which is being built in the void left by the World Trade towers is moving swiftly to completion. I managed to find a couple of pictures on the Internet which show what the same view would have looked like with the World Trade towers still standing:

 

I arrived at the downtown Battery City Park starting point and signed in (that was about as formal as it got). There was a really good vibe, everybody was either relaxing, stretching or adjusting their hydration packs. As it was going to be totally self-supported it was advised to bring all the regular food, gels & fluid you needed for a run of similar distance – we were told there was an ‘aid station’ at mile 16 which was a Twin Donut J Just before 8am we got a picture of the group and then got ready to set off:

 

The organiser had kindly printed off directions, I’d put them on my phone as this one of my biggest concerns – with the race being self-supported it meant there was no course markers. I actually ended up using this printed version instead of my phone as they were easier to see in the sunny conditions:

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At 8:08am we set off and began the anti-clockwise loop of Manhattan. The weather was perfect at that time of day as the sun wasn’t quite at full strength and we were experiencing some cooler air compared to the humidity that has been a constant in NYC for the past 4 months.

The group was a mix of different runners and one group of seasoned Ultra-runners took off and that was the last I saw of them. I managed to get in with a pack who were doing a similar pace to me and we kept together for the first 10 miles before people started dropping back or picking up the pace. I stayed steady and ended up running with a guy who was aiming for similar splits to me…the company was good and it also helped having someone to verify the directions we were following when we hit the milestones:

 

The first half of the run was far more productive in terms of capturing pictures, purely because I had more energy levels and my hands weren’t covered in a combination of Gu Gel and sweat J. I also had some great conversations with some of the other runners, ranging from other races people have done (Iron Mans, 50-mile trail runs) to an in-depth analysis of the level of player quality the Premier League has in comparison to the MLS:

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I made it to the Twin Donut halfway point (and only ‘official’ aid station) in good time after checking my Motoactv (shameless gadget plug). Although tempted, I didn’t sample the donuts even though they looked delicious, so I’m unable to comment if they give Dunkin’ a run for their money.

After a quick bio pit stop and purchasing some water to refill my hydration pack I set off and started the descent down the West Side Greenway…the home stretch as I kept telling myself:  

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At mile 20, the guy I was running with left the run as we were passing his apartment and the Jets game was starting in a couple of hours. As the group had spread out I knew I would be on my own for the next few miles…weirdly, I didn’t decide to listen to any music (I’d even prepared a backup MP3 player in case my Motoactv ran out of juice) I was taking in the sights and actually enjoying the run far more than I expected at this distance, especially as I’d covered more mileage than my previous runs & races.

By mile 22 the sun was in full mid-day flight and although it wasn’t humid it started to take its toll on my energy levels, thankfully at mile 24 I was given a huge boost as my other half met me for the last ~7miles and she did a great job of pacing me to the finish line/original starting point. We also came across some paper signs taped to the floor that indicated a pop-up aid station was a short distance away, some guy was manning a coolbox full of iced water: 

The organiser was doing the run also so one of his friends was logging times when I arrived at the finish, my watch displayed 5:57:21. I handed in my time and then sat in some shade to cool down and reflect on the last ~6hrs. Astonishingly, I didn’t feel like a celebratory beer…I think on fear of it going straight to my head! Here’s the actual route from the run that my Motoactv recorded, the starting point was the southernmost tip of Manhattan.

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Reflecting on the run, not only was this a great way of honouring September 11th but it was also a great way to meet some fantastic people and see the whole City by foot & in a different light.

Never Forget.

Yankee Turf

Disclosure: I didn’t take this pic; my other half did as she had the privilege of walking out on Yankee Field a few weeks ago – I was in the nosebleed seats watching on with envy. Very cool!:

 

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More Storms!

One of my previous post‘s described the hot weather and the storms that are a by-product of the high humidity levels. Well, we had another “End of the World” looking storm the other week and I managed to snap these pictures as it rolled in: 

I took this one with the fish bowl effect enabled on my camera and it turned out looking like a vortex or a portal to another dimension (my imagination may be running wild here J): 

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Guess The Picture!

A non-intended focus issue (no, I’m not a photographer by trade) led to the below picture, which actually looks quite cool in my opinion. Here’s a hint as to what it is: Fireworks…

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It was a view of the Cityscape along with all of the boats that roll onto the Hudson River to see the July 4th fireworks. Here’s what it should have looked like:

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Subways, Surf & Sand

With all of the good weather we’ve been having of late, we decided to head down to Rockaway Beach to get away from the hustle & bustle of Manhattan and enjoy some sun, sea and sand. Located south of Brooklyn in Queens, the beach is a long strip of land that is accessible via the A & S trains – it still amazes me how far you can get on a single $2.25 Metrocard swipe:

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When we stepped off the Subway it felt like we were in a totally different country/state…certainly not one of the boroughs of the City that Never Sleeps. The beach itself sprawls 170-acres so even with all the New Yorkers that head there when it’s decent weather the beach wasn’t crowded at all:

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With the evening approaching, we decided to explore a little of the neighbourhood and came across this small park/viewing point which had a great vista of Manhattan in the distance:

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An amusing sight on the subway ride home was the number of people with surfboards…not what you normally see on the subway J

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Neon Doorways

There’s some fantastic shops in and around the SoHo / NoHo neighbourhood, and this one always catches my eye when I walk through this part of the city at night. I also feel it would fit right in on the set of Blade Runner:

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NYC Ghostbusters Tour

A friend of mine tweeted this great video which shows two New Yorkers travelling to each Ghostbusters location in chronlogical order! Check it out:

 

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