"Everyone thinks I'm crazy," Mester said. "But it really is the most peaceful, beautiful time. It's just me, the garbage men, and policemen."
On Sunday, Nov. 6, Mester won't be running alone. He will join the 36,000 other participants, including nearly 170 Hoboken residents, in the New York City Marathon, a 26.2-mile course covering the five bridges and five boroughs of New York City.
"The New York City Marathon is one of the most exhilarating, exciting, adrenaline-pumping experiences," said Mester, who will be running the marathon for the third time.
Mester, 42, first participated in the NYC Marathon nine years ago, when a co-worker suggested that the two run it together. Though his co-worker dropped out, Mester stuck with it.
"I'm not a quitter," he said. "It'd probably be easier to quit, but I just don't do that."
Mester's motivations for running the marathon include staying healthy and being a good role model for his four children. He also had a desire to fully recuperate from his knee injury.
"When you have kids, you need to have a strong cardiovascular system to keep up with them," he said. For many Hoboken runners, including Ellen Dowling, 33, this year will be their first attempt at running the NYC Marathon.
"For me, running this marathon is about pushing boundaries and seeing how I respond to them," Dowling said. "In preparing for this, I've definitely been challenged physically and mentally. This marathon is representative of goal orientation - or of stupidity."
Many of Dowling's friends and family will be cheering her on at specific mile markers during the race. Others will be waiting for her in Central Park where the race ends.
"As much as I'm going to need support at the end, I'm going to need it more at mile 17," Dowling said. "There's going to be a sea of faces along the course. To look out and find that one person cheering for you will be really cool."
Dowling said she has taken to heart the "pearls of wisdom" she received from veteran marathoners.
"All the advice has been useful - from the advice to keep my sweatshirt with me because it gets cold on the bridges, to keeping a steady pace and not starting out too fast," she said. "It really helps to demystify the race." "They also say you need to be mentally prepared," Dowling said. "How? I'm still working on that."
Dowling began training for the marathon by gradually increasing her mileage during the week. She also prepared by running in half-marathons, 13.1-mile races, which she said helped with pacing.
"The NYC Marathon has been a goal of mine for a while," Dowling said. "Ten years ago, a 5K run seemed like a big goal. Then I completed a 10K run. Eventually, it just became more attainable."
Mester said, "I think about all the people I've told that I'm doing the marathon. That keeps me going. The people in the crowd push you. I just repeat 'don't stop' in my head for the last hour."
After the race, Mester said he plans on taking a break from running for a while. "I'm going to eat pizza on my couch, stay up late and watch Letterman," he said.
Dowling, on the other hand, is already looking into future marathons.
"I am already considering another marathon in March," she said. "But for now, I guess I should just try to get through this one."