Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Marathon Diaries: Part 4, Bedford Avenue

When I bike home home from the Williamsburg Bridge, I avoid Bedford Ave, often choosing the less populated Berry. But when I run home from that same bridge, I always choose Bedford Ave. Why?
Well, a few reasons:
  • Downhill! For one thing, a great portion of it is downhill, and that's always good for a little speed.
  • Aromas! With so many restaurants on that stretch, there's one delightfully sweet or savory food smell after another.
  • Strategizing! The sidewalks are crowded with people and other obstacles that I find it fun to navigate around.
  • Music! Bands play randomly on the sidewalks and drivers play music way too loud.
  • Urban Art! There's often good graffiti or interesting ads I like to photograph.
  • Animals! I get to see many dogs out for a walk (yay, dogs!)
  • Friends & Acquaintances! I often run past people I know.
It's sensory overload on Bedford Ave, but in a great way. It makes that portion of the run a lot of fun and also makes it go by quickly.

But the last time I ran down that stretch, I thought of a new reason to love it - it occurred to me that I was running a marathon mile.

Part of the NYC Marathon route is this exact spot on Bedford Ave, from even further south of the Williamsburg Bridge all the way up to the north end of Bedford Ave where it terminates at Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint. That stretch is Mile 11. And that's exactly where I was running on this night.

After having that thought, I ran up that stretch with a little extra spring in my step as I let my mind wander. I thought about how different that mile will be on marathon day compared to the same mile on this night..

I tried to imagine how I'll feel on marathon day - running up a very familiar Bedford Ave, but ready for an entirely different experience. Instead of maneuvering through crowds of pedestrians, I'll be running down the center of the street with thousands of other runners from all over the globe. I imagine smells of fresh coffee and baked goods along the way but will only stop to grab a cup of water from the fluid station that's always set up around South 3rd Street. I envisioned myself scanning the crowds of onlookers, hoping to recognize at least a few people. For entertainment, there will be live music along the way as well as funny and supportive signs to read. I imagined looking up to see the marathon route flags lining Bedford Ave overhead and looking down to see all the dogs who were there to watch, along with their owners. I thought about the marathons I came out to watch in recent years and places I stood along Bedford Ave as I cheered for the runners and took photos. I remembered being so moved, inspired and proud of every one of them, watching them make their way north. And I thought about how this November 4th, strangers would be cheering for us and sharing a brief and magical moment with me on this incredibly special day in my life.

I smiled all the way up to Manhattan Ave towards Greenpoint thinking about all of that.

The thing is, as great as it felt to think about it that night, I know it can't compare to how great it will be to actually live it on November 4th. That stretch of Bedford Ave is sure to be one of my favorite miles along the route, and Bedford Ave will forever be an anchor as a result.

(some photos I've taken along Bedford Ave, during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 NYC Marathons)






Under the Williamsburg Bridge


Love the wedding dress!!!

Mile 11
Mile 11, just slightly north of the Williamsburg Bridge


Add caption

dogs like to watch, too!

Marathon Route

leftover from the NYC Marathon
NBR! My running gang! And a funny sign.

people watch from the Williamsburg Bridge bike path

There's Rob! (red shirt)



Elite women in 2009

Mile 12. No one had made it this far yet.
Mile 12 - just feet from Manhattan Ave and on my way into my own neighborhood of Greenpoint...


  1. I love this. You are going to rock this marathon! It's funny, I woke up feeling a little on edge because of the time restraint with my race, and the fact that my endurance isn't back yet, and all the other worries I have which are dumb, and then you posted this. The love you have for your city is so motivational. The love you have of running is inspiring. You're a rock star.

  2. Not sure if you remember my TWEET from awhile back--but I mentioned that you taught me how to love all of me and that you have helped me immensely when it has come to changing my life in a positive manner!! Regardless--just wanted to preface who I was before I write more because I think that it pertains to this particular entry.

    First things first- your entry above rings so true to home for me. I live in Valparaiso, IN but am in Chicago just as much due my parents and boyfriend living there. I have completed five Chicago Marathons. As I read through your entry—I was smiling because you perfectly wrote the way that I often think while I walk, run, and drive down the streets of Chicago!! I always associate where I am to what mile marker I would be by during the marathon itself. Having both been a spectator and a runner is amazing—but being a runner and having strangers from all around the world cheer you on is something that is priceless. There is such an energy in the air that you can’t be anything but touched…I often find myself tearing up and coming short of breath at different points within the run. During my second marathon I started to really cramp up around mile 24. Thus, I was trying the best that I could to walk and then jog in short increments. My hamstrings owned me. I was so close to the end…but my mind started telling me that I wouldn’t be able to make it. It was at that point where I saw a little, matured gentleman sitting upon a bucket. He had so much joy in his eyes as he cheered people on. He noticed my staggering struggle as I walked trying to stretch out my legs.
    He pointed to me….and said…”You are going to finish this”. As I type this, I am tearing up and smiling. "Yes, yes"…I told myself I am going to finish this..even if I have to crawl.
    You know who else was there with me? You. Sheryl-although I had never heard your voice (at that time you hadn’t done your Video Blogs)…I heard you in my head…
    “What I am holding onto, is holding me back”. Sound familiar? Prior to seeing the gentleman I was holding on to the pain in my muscles, I started to think about all of the other things in life that I had “failed” to accomplish and how I may not even be able to finish the marathon, how I was angry of a relationship that had ended in a bad, bad way…the list goes on and on….but I let go. You helped me let go. YOU helped me finish. Empowerment!!

    So, in closing I hope that you will know that I will be thinking about you in November when you will be conquering the amazing journey of OWING the streets!! I will be sending my energies to the corner where the Deli Mart is  and I will be saying to you:
    “YOU are going to finish this”.

    Keep up the phenomenal work! You’ve got this.

    Best, Tiffany Noelle.

  3. This is awesome! I often run from my apartment in South Williamsburg up through Greenpoint; I will have to alter my route so I go up Bedford sometimes. I'm trying to get in to the 2013 marathon, so I'll have plenty of time to "practice" this mile.

  4. I'm sorry but this is an unrelated question ..but what era would you say your style is from? I tried to look through your blog to see if you mention it. Thanks:)

    1. that's a funny question - I never set out to emulate any particular period/style/person but I'd say it's a combo of 40s 50s and 80s. The 40s are my favorite as far as any style is concerned.

  5. then you posted this. The love you have for your city is so motivational. The love you have of running is inspiring. You're a rock star.


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