500 W. 120th Street, Rm 450
New York, NY 10027
Thanks to those of you who contributed to my 26.2 marathon-length skate for Multiple Sclerosis Research. Last year I wrote about my adventures going through the Lincoln Tunnel and then some addition 20 miles, so I'm doing it again this year.
Last year, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, New York Chapter expected about 2,000 skaters and all told, about 2,500 showed up. This caused a big problem as rentals for helmets and other things were messed up because there just wasn't enough supply. This year they anticipated 4,000 skaters to show up but it actually came out to be about 3,000 something. So, everything went pretty smoothly, in terms of rental or buying needed equipment.
I had just bought a small Bell bicycle helmet two days before, because I missed my train into work and had an hour to mope around in Penn Station. So I didn't have to worry about buying or renting one there. It turned out to be cheaper to buy it there and awfully convenient. Oh well, luck of the draw.
Oh yeah, I've posted this letter to the web, and I have pictures. I bought a disposable (okay, "one-use") camera the same day I bought the helmet and tried it out. I think the pictures came out pretty good for such a small investment. Please check them out if you are interested, the URL for a copy of this letter and associated pictures is at:
This letter: http://www.knmnyn.com/msnyc98/
The pictures: http://www.knmnyn.com/msnyc98/pictureGuide.html
This year, they divided the starting line up, grouped by distance. Marathon-length skaters started in the front, followed by 13-milers and the back was taken up by the 8 milers. It should be said that about 1 mile of the 13 and 8 mile lengths is done on a cruise boat back from NJ coast to around Battery Park so it's actually quite do-able for in-line skaters of any experienced levels, as far as length.
This year the MS Society also managed to get the jersey colors even more confusing. You had lime green or florescent yellow for the 8- or 13-milers (I never got it straight which one) and black for 26.2-milers. However, then they added Gold (read "dark yucky ochre") and Silver ("grey") jerseys for people who raised $500 or $250 more, respectively. Anyways, we already to go, and this time we did start on time, after being blessed and sent off by a victim of multiple sclerosis. She said her symptoms were minor and she would be able to skate the 8 mile loop with some assistance. That sounded really like a personal victory for her.
The course took the exact same route as last year so I didn't take a map. I also didn't bother training for the event, and that was a mistake (not a terrible one, but I messed up my sleeping schedule because of it). The volunteers staggered each of the 3 groups to start at different times, with the first marathon group starting at 8:30. After a quick start, in which I was busy taking pictures, we headed out North to the Lincoln Tunnel entrance. Traffic was light, and the cars in the other 2 tunnels of the Tunnel (there are 3 two lane tunnels, I think, maybe 4) looked quizzically at us, their brake lights flashing. We had one 2 lane tunnel to ourselves, with the right lane free of skating traffic for volunteers and emergency vehicles.
It's a quick 2 minute slope to the bottom level part of the tunnel with a small bit of braking. Passing the NJ/NY state line, we were soon heading back up again, (huff puff, huff puff) and soon emerged unscathed from the tunnel. A quick pause for some pictures and off we went, towards the first rest area.
Well, I was wrong. Last year there was a rest stop right after the Jersey shore, near a shoreline office park/crab house. This year, the 26.2 milers I guessed convinced MSNYC to let them go without a mandatory rest. By now I was already tired, but I just wheezed along, picking up dust grime from all the skaters, both young and old who tore right by. From the NJ shore you can see the shoreline of Manhattan pretty darn clearly and if you wanted you can stop at several plazas and see a movie or get a bite to eat, if you wanted (read "if you were chicken" :P ).
From about the equivalent of 50th street to about 150th street on Manhattan, the skating on the shore is fairly level (less hilly than say Central Park). We had a rest stop at the end of straight line, in a place a little closer than last year. Powerbars, ripe and green bananas, Doritos (why?!?) and bottled water awaited us. I pulled in for a short 3 minute break to scarf a banana. I snickered at the long potty line for those who had tanked up on water (heh heh), and started up the big hill to the GW Bridge.
Last year I knew this was the tough climb. First time 26.2 skaters were asking at the rest stop whether they had already climbed the "big hill". Nope. To say that you took it at walking speed meant that you were pretty darn speedy. People slid backwards sometimes from exhaustion, and the cars using the street with us must have thought we were on some religious pilgrimage, sweating profusely and staggering up the hill. After what I think is less than a mile (the official guide says 3 miles) of big hill, we climb to the GW bridge for a second rest stop. I grab a water, exchange a camera to shoot pictures and then cross the bridge. Not as sunny as last time and my neck doesn't feel burnt from the effort so far.
By this time I'm barely on my legs as I trudge the 140+ streets back to Chelsea Piers via Riverside Drive and West End Avenue. It's always the last 10 miles that's in a blur. I end up making it in to Chelsea at 11:45, a total of 3:15 minutes, faster than before by about 10 minutes, but last time we had the mandatory 30 minute rest stop, right after the tunnel.
Free lunch! Unfortunately no Subway subs this year, just gourmet pizza that ran out too fast. I decided to *sit down* instead of standing on line for pizza and had a Mistic/Snapple-like drink. The equivalent of the inline skating Fly Girls (from In Living Color) were exhibiting their trick skating talent on the far end (The picture doesn't do any justice, sorry).
Well that's my story for this time. Again, thanks for your support. Remember, if you did contribute, they were tax deductible; your check was your receipt. If you gave me cash or I haven't gotten your payment yet, I can't get you a receipt. If you're itching to donate more money or have friends who'd like to they can still mail any charitable donations to:
New York City Chapter, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 30 West 26th Street, New York, NY 10010-2094.
or wait until next year, when I participate in it again.