21 Hours and Counting

Last night I picked up my number and chip from the North Face store on 73rd street and Broadway.  Angelica and I stood in a short line, then I handed my ID to a perky young woman behind a table covered in race bibs and technical t-shirts.


“Last name?”

“Van Dyke.”

“What distance are you running?”


I sort of felt that answer deserved some dramatic response — a gasp, a look of awe, or fireworks or something.  Of course I knew it didn’t really, since 499 other people are also running the 50K and 500 are doing 50 miles, but still I couldn’t help but feel the exchange was a bit anticlimactic.  Months of anticipation, an hour traveling on the subway, then some lady hands me a race number, a t-shirt, and arm warmers.  The t-shirt looks great — nice material and a simple logo on the sleave, nothing gaudy — and the arm warmers were the North Face Flight Series, which retail for $30, so its not bad.  

Compared to the gala-extravaganza that involves picking up one’s number for the NYC Marathon, however, anything else is pretty pedestrian.  I’ve got conflicting feelings about that.  On one hand, the Marathon Expo is a bloated, over-produced waste of resources that invovles bags of promotional crap and a glut of advertizing by products and shoe companies that epitomize everything wrong about what should be a simple, minimalist sport.  On the other hand, its pretty cool.  It hypes up the event, makes it big, significant.  

All in all, however, I like that this wasn’t a big deal.  So I’m running 50K, so what?  Eh, people do stuff like this all the time, right?  More to the point, its in the woods, in its nature, it should be simple.  The running is the point, not the t-shirts and bags of Emerald Nuts and Powerbar Recovery Shakes.  Getting my bib wasn’t the event — tomorrow is the event.  I’ve decided not to take a camera, do the race simple and in the moment, just me and the trail (and a few hundred other runners

24 hours from now, I will have been running for three and a half hours.  Tonight I’m taking the train out to A’s mom’s in Connecticut.  We’re getting up at about 4 to leave by 4:30 to be in the park by 6:30 for a 7:00 start.  It’s been pouring for the last week, so the trails will probably be muddy and crazy.  But since its supposed to clear up and be nice tomorrow, I guess the mud just adds to the fun right?


My bag is all packed.  I’m under-rested and under-trained.  Hopefully being over-caffinated and over-confident will make up the difference.  Wish me luck!


About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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4 Responses to 21 Hours and Counting

  1. Jeff Gallup says:

    Good luck! Look forward to hearing about the race!

  2. m. says:

    the bags of emerald nuts are pretty exciting, i think.

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