It was time for us to start going to the corrals, so I set off to the green section, corral B. I heard a canon go off and some music in the distance. My heart was pounding, but I knew I had some time since that was the 2nd wave. I checked my phone right quick and saw that I’d received a few more texts and a voicemail. I called and it was my father, in a raspy, yet affirmative voice: "Run Bianca Run." I swelled up with pride. I GOT THIS! We were escorted through a small opening in the chain link fence that separated the corrals and immediately I had to make a break for the bathroom. Last pee stop before we get this thing going. Unfortunately, I picked a line that was moving REALLY slowly and I feared I wouldn't be finished before the start. Fortunately, in a pinch, I can go really fast, and that I did. It was definitely record pace for me! I filed out, situated myself, and the crowd started walking forward. In the background, they were playing "God Bless America." I couldn't contain my excitement any longer. I wanted to shout to the rooftops, while my heart wanted to leap from my chest like that alien creature from Alien. Then there it went again. BOOM! I could hear Ol' Blue Eyes singing "New York, New York" and the crowd started moving a whole lot faster. I quickly snapped the official start sign, while everyone one around me was smiling. Sweatshirts and garbage bags were flying every where. I guess they didn't want that extra layer, but I still wore my fleece and gloves. I was still quite a bit chilly. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP was all I could hear since the Champion Chip timers were singing as we crossed the pads.
There it sat, staring at me, beckoning me for a dance: The Verrazano Bridge. Mile 1. At first it didn't seem intimidating, but I knew that it could totally break me if I let it. I heard Ashley's voice, and Chae's voice, and Clyde's voice, and Frank's voice, and Danny's voice, all in unision, don't start off too fast. Resist the urge to take off. It took everything in me to walk that first bit. I ran the green route, so that meant I was on the 2nd level of the bridge, not the top. It was just as fine, because I wasn't quite ready for the sun to beat down. I clutched my disposable camera in my neon green gloves, walking to the edge of the bridge as hundreds of people zoomed past. My heart beating fast, my legs twitching, begging me to take off. I felt like a snow dog wanting to mush. And just when I didn't think I could take it any longer, a woman jogged past me who lost her glasses. I hopped into the crowd so that they wouldn't be crushed and I handed them back to her. She thanked me and I just smiled. I walked to the edge and snapped the first picture of many to come. I tuck my disposable camera in. I'm feeling warm enough, so I tore off my name from the outer fleece. I ripped off the Double T part and pinned it next to the bottom right safety pin holding my bib number in place. I scrunched up the rest of the athletic tape and pulled off my fleece completely. I said a quick prayer for whomever would receive my fleece. It kept me warm for a few short hours, I hoped it would continue to provide warmth for someone this winter who isn't able to afford such luxuries like a jacket. I tossed it to the side with a pile of other sweaters and off I went. I put on my music and listened to Dolly Parton's "Better Get to Livin'" as I hit the apex of the bridge. No more uphill. I smiled, and faced the city with high hopes. C'mon Bink. I looked over my shoulder as if I could see my sister and I threw a wink in her direction, thinking, "let's race!" and my legs happily bounded on the descent. I glanced at my watch and my pace was spot on from where I wanted to be. Not too fast, not too slowly.
At the bottom of the bridge, the sun replaced the whipping wind and I felt more awake. My hands were beginning to get wet and I hate that feeling, so I tore off my gloves, sent them flying with another similar prayer. They softly landed on a small pile of sweats and headbands. I pulled my headband off and tucked it into my pack. I'm so grateful for having my pack. I glanced up to the distance and already people were gathering on the overpasses ahead. They were shouting and waving signs.
"Welcome to Brooklyn, Bianca!"