In the NYC Marathon, I did not need my name on my shirt to have people shout out to me. As anyone who’s seen our singlets knows, “Warren Street” is pretty big. So as I ran this morning’s NYC Marathon, I heard “Warren Street” again and again. Especially near Warren Street, which is right before the Bank.

Oh, the race. Well, that didn’t go so well as shortly after I passed the aforementioned Warren Street and turned onto Bedford Avenue, I suddenly was hit by a strange tightness on the front of both legs, right near the top. I pulled over and tried to start up again. Each time, though, it felt really bad to be running. So after four or five times doing it, I gave up the ghost and walked. And walked. And walked. I was afraid I might do permanent damage.

I actually chatted with Greg Diamond, who was manning the HM clock with other members of Taconic, and saw TK at mile 14 in Queens. (I didn’t see the other two I hoped to; MJ couldn’t make it and AG was in Manhattan, at mile 18 or so.) Over her bridge, where I spied, and took, Ritz’s fluid bottle for the 25K — I don’t know what’s in it, but it’s dense — and then across town, and off the marathon course for the first time, at 60th, to collect my bag.

Before all that, things were going fine. I took the Westchester Road Runner bus from a nearby Burger King, boarding at 6:40. On Staten Island, I walked with Eric T, who was also in green, to the green area. I knew that a singlet would be fine for the race, as it was nice and warm in the sun. Check bag and head over to the Local Competitive area. When I got there, I was pissed because RJR, a fellow WSSACer, had not applied because of NYRR’s time requirements — he was under a minute off on both marathon and HM — but I saw tons of people who I knew had no business being there according to those standards. I then saw his girlfriend, who was in the area, and felt particularly bad. (In the event, I saw them both after the race, he ran a 2:58 or so as a relaxed run and she a 3:08 or so, which she said satisfied her goal to have a faster age-graded percentage in the marathon than he did.)

We were then brought to the bridge. A tad chilly, but not bad. We waited and waited. With 5 to go, I tossed my long-sleeve shirt, from the Grete Gallop in 2006. Off went the cannon and off went us. It was a little touch and go for about 50 meters, but then it was clear on the bridge. For the most part. On the lower level, we have three lanes. But virtually everyone was crowded in the right-hand one because there was quite the wind. It was really really cold on the bridge.

I took a glance to Manhattan, beautiful and clear. A peek at the Statue of Liberty. Saw John Nelson, and Fabio, who I had seen at the start, went by. The mile in about 7:02, a bit quick for the big hill. Then down, feeling fine.

No need to go mile-by-mile. I was a bit faster than I wanted to be and I found the crowd exhilarating. I also found, though, that being only about 45 seconds slower meant a much larger crowd of runners. I kept mostly to the right — I can’t easily take water with my left arm — and so was ready at each water station. A jerk, however, decided he would stick his arm in front of me for a cup of water, the contents of which proceeded to douse my singlet. I shouted, “Just grab the cup” to him. He said “sorry.” I was still doused. (I wonder whether that water in the cold may have affected my legs.) (In fact moments before I asked a guy to my left if he wanted a Gatorade cup, which I would have passed to him (being in the same race makes that kosher), but he said no thanks).

I admit that as I saw all the bodies ahead I thought that I had been ahead of like tons and tons of people last time.

Then the turn on Bedford and, as noted above, that was that. One pleasant moment, though, was getting a tap. It was Helen, RJR’s girlfriend, offering support. I immediately started running and sped up to catch her. I felt fine for a bit after I had, but then I realized that it was a bad idea. I wished her well (and as noted she did well) and stopped again. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I will say this. I was impressed with the efforts I saw by so so many folks. Like all of the thousands who passed me. I’ve no idea what work they did to get here, but they were here and they were working hard and they impressed this guy. I’ve taken slack for talking the “respect” factor. But I’ve tons of respect for each of these folks.

[Edited to add: I took a look at the age-group awards. 2:48:48 was third in 50-54, and 55-59 were 2:51, 2:57, and 2:58. I mentioned one reason to aim for 2011 is that I move up to 55-59, so I may have a shot at getting something. And that I was third in 2006 and would have been third this year with that time does remind me that I can be pretty good at this game. It gets a bit depressing when you see all of these other people ahead of you, seemingly for miles and miles, even if you’re not racing. But a reminder that, yeah, I can actually do it is (and Jaymee, e.g., has pointed this out) reassuring that I can do it again.]