Buffalo Finish to Start: A race review in reverse

Emerging from the medical tent, freshly bandaged and finishers medal around my neck, I was all smiles.

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I finished in just over three hours, this would have been better if I had not lost about ten minutes shortly before the finish reading the memorial markers and checking out the USS LITTLE ROCK in the Buffalo Navel Park. The split for the full had come immediately before the finish, and although the conditions were perfect for running a longer distance, I heard the sighs from a few runners around me who made the right turn with the finish line directly in their line of sight!

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Miles eight to ten, leading back into downtown had run along the Erie Basin and Marina, (complete with a water salute from the Buffalo Fire department) was a stretch that had been simply breathtaking.

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Before we entered the basin, the route had taken us out of the downtown area and through beautiful residential neighborhoods of Buffalo with wide streets, grassy boulevards, and majestic homes. These wide streets were a welcome relief to runners who had been crowded in narrow streets during the first two miles of the race. This was a new route for the Buffalo Marathon, which had struggled in the past with a train crossing the route mid race, slowing many runners down. Like any route, there is give and take, positive and negative. The narrow path of the first portion of this race had many runners hopping on and off the sidewalks to move through the crowd.

One of these runners had hopped off the sidewalk in-front of a parked car just before mile one and knocked me over. Instinctively breaking the fall with my dominant hand, I lost most of the skin on the bottom of my palm. Although I would blot it with paper towels at several water stops, it would continue to bleed until I had it cleaned and wrapped at the medical station after the race. Despite the injury – I had a wonderful race. Possibly this was due to the flag, hanging over the road held up by two cranes just before my fall at the .5 mile mark, which reminded me what this weekend was about. Memorial Day – a day of remembrance for all who have fallen so I can be free. In the shadow of that great sacrifice made by so many, my drops of blood left on the pavement seemed a small sacrifice for the life I am allowed to live.

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I had arrived downtown early that morning to find parking and was fortunate to find it free along a side street close to the start line. The downtown hotels had been pricy, but staying at the Town Place Suites by the Airport gave me a full kitchen at a great price, and was only a 15 min drive away. The expo had been small but easy to find and navigate.

The night before runners had gathered for dinner – included with the race fee and $5 for guests. It was fun to sit and share stories with runners from all over the country. The pasta was not gourmet, but the experience was delightful, and the beer was included.

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This was my first visit to Buffalo – but it will not be my last. So much history lies in and around this city. From the birthplace of Buffalo wings at The Anchor Bar downtown, to Niagara Falls  State Park just a short drive away, it is a great American city that needs to be visited, explored, and appreciated by all.

 

 

 

The Staten Island Half Marathon

Stumbling off the bus from Hartford my body was tired and my muscles were sore….. I made my way to the subway and caught the 1 train at Penn Station to South Ferry. It was rush hour and I had minutes to get to the Staten Island Ferry.  While this leg of the trip is provided to residents and guests of NYC free of charge (which is honestly, quite remarkable) I had not made this journey in a long time.
 
After what felt like an eternity of hurrying and hoping I would make it – I turned around on the deck of the swiftly moving vessel and saw The statue of Liberty, bathed in the setting sun, directly behind me. All of my worries seemed to melt away. It matters not how many times I see her, Lady Liberty always brings me a sense of calm and comfort. 
 
I carried this calm into my hotel with me on the island, too late to get my packet tonight, I would have to do it in the morning.
 

It was cloudy and windy, which seemed appropriate for this race, the Staten Island Half Marathon, which was being run in benefit of the continuing recovery from Hurricane Sandy which had hit this Island so hard a year before. I received my bib and shirt, which I wore until the race start and then tied around my waist before we began, and looked across at Manhattan. Even in the haze of the morning The Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center stood proudly, 1,776 feet tall –  marking the renewal of the Iconic Manhattan skyline devastated by September 11th. 

Immediatly after the race was Staten Island Day – I wandered and watched the vendors setting up. The NY/NY Superbowl Committee venue displayed the time until Kickoff 2014 – down to the seconds. They had an interactive staging area with field goals and a sample locker room.

Just before the singing of the National Anthem, the runners, huddled in the corrals were watching the FDNY vessel…. which then majestically sprayed from all of its hoses. While I may not have wanted to get wet on a cold morning like this – pictures alone cannot capture how moving and fantasia this was to witness. 

The race ran up and down the coastline, and I was heavy with thought. I love New York, and I love running here. I joined NYRR when I signed up for this race and I intend to make this journey more often. 

The medal was, breathtaking. In the palm of my hand its weight and meaning felt heavy. I was honored to have been a part of this day, in this place, in New York City – my hearts home.