I have many memories of the Verrazano Bridge growing up on Long Island. Some have to do with being stuck in traffic trying to get off of Long Island for the family vacation while fighting with my brother in the back seat of the car, but most have to do with the excitement I felt as a kid when we were driving across the bridge. I have fond memories of crossing the bridge while being intensely focused on spotting the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. I used to squint to try to see the Lady in the Harbor.
I remember stories from my Grandparents of how they watched the bridge being built when they lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Back in the 1960’s it was an architectural feat. Many doubted it would be built. The two mile bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time. In fact, it wasn’t trumped until 1981. Still today it is the longest suspension bridge in the U.S. and ranks ninth in the world. It also has no pedestrian path, which means the only way to cross on foot is to run the NYC Marathon. For me, the Verrazano is symbolic of the NYC Marathon. The bridge represents achieving something some thought was impossible, persevering when the going gets tough, and commitment. Pretty much everything you need to run a marathon.
When I ran NYC 2007, I must admit about 60 seconds into the race I wasn’t feeling the Verrazano. It was cold, windy and so quiet you could hear a pin drop. NYC is never quiet!!! What is going on?! Where is the cheering??!! There are no spectators on the bridge so it is a bit of a strange feeling to get off the start line of a race with no one cheering you on. Two miles of running solitude is very un-marathon like. But 61 seconds into my first NYC I began to embrace it. I decided these first two miles were for me to take in the Verrazano experience. I looked up at the towers and suspension cables and just admired the massiveness of the bridge. I looked out to my right to take in the opening of the NY Harbor. Then I looked out to my left, and squinted, to try to get a glimpse of Lady Liberty. I realized I was one of the lucky few who would get to experience the Verrazano in this respect. This bridge, which is vital to traffic moving on and off of Long Island and Staten Island, is entirely closed to cars on marathon day. I felt a bit selfish snarling traffic for my own personal experience but I deserved it, after all I trained 16 weeks for it.
So if you are running the NYC Marathon, enjoy the Verrazano! It is a unique experience. I would post a picture but is it already the banner on my website!
I had a light training week as I allowed my body to recover from the SF half and I enjoyed my vacation!! But now I am back in Boston and ready to buckle down!
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