The New York City Marathon!
I have been running for 9 years completing 21 marathons, but not once had I even slightly wanted to run in New York City. The logistics of the whole thing scared me; having to take a shuttle or ferry to the start 5 hours before the run, being surrounded by over 50,000 others all trying to get that perfect spot in the pack, going over 5 bridges, then of course the getting around the huge city before and after the race, yeah, not for me.
Last year a couple friends ran the marathon. They returned with so many stories, I found myself intrigued. Then I realized that I had known several others that had run this race and not one of them complained about any of the things I was worried and anxious about. So with the prompting of my friends, I decided I’d give it a shot.
I LOVED this race! Everything about it! Five of us drove down together in a car full of silliness. The trip seemed quite short actually. We went down Friday, went to see Jersey Boys (which was a highlight for sure!), had the best pizza, and walked around Times Square. The next day we went to the expo, a true test of my nerves being around thousands of other runners, but I was fine! I got my race number, bought shirts for the family, sampled lots of electrolytes and chews, and got a bag full of mint/multi vitamin samples (who doesn’t love free stuff!). I saw the Runner’s World booth and there was Dr Jeff Brown signing his book, The Runner’s Brain! I was excited to meet him and I’m looking forward to reading his book that of course I had to buy. Then there was Bart Yasso! I am a huge fan of his, and met him in Buffalo last spring. So since we were already practically best friends, I played it cool this time (In May I was a bit star struck).
The pasta dinner that night was delicious, and we got to eat in Tavern on the Green. The next morning, thanks to the time change, I actually felt rested as the 5am alarm went off. Tom, Ted, Cathie and I joined some others on the bus to Staten Island, with the FDNY team. We spent the next couple hours in our staging area, using the porto potty several times, eating bagels, and talking about what wave and corral we would try to get in.
When it was time to get up to the bridge for the start, I was overcome with emotion. I couldn’t believe I was there doing this! The music got me, as One Republic’s “I Lived” blasted over thousands of people doing just that….living. Then the loud sound signaling the start of wave three and we were off.
Cathie, Tom and I decided to do this together. They were watching over me as I am anxious in crowds, but I have to say, that never bothered me. I saw superman! Well, Clark Kent actually, running in his suit and hat. As I said hello to him, he pulled his shirt at the sides to show the big S smile emoticon I was inspired when I saw runners with blades instead of legs and feet conquer the distance, athletes using wheelchairs, and other runners using guides as they navigated the course. While on the Queensboro Bridge I saw a man running with a “Stroke Challenge” shirt. I asked him about it and he said its an organization in England and he raised money in honor of his father who is recovering from a stroke. That hit home for me. I also saw shirts that said “for my dad”, and “I miss my dad- this is for you”. I teared up. I know.
The race was getting difficult for one of my friends, but with us sticking together, we made it through with high fives and even danced to Uptown Funk in the Bronx. After mile 22 I couldn’t believe I saw Derek, my brother’s ring bearer from 21 years ago, cheering for me! He came out of the crowd and joined us for a minute and then called out again towards the end of the race. So cool! Although the pace slowed for the second half of the race, we all made it to that loud, super awesome finish line where we were wrapped in silver blankets and handed bags of recovery food. We showered and ate, and then went back out to walk another few miles around town with our medals around our necks.
My emotions were pretty all over the place the next day. We walked around for as bit and stopped to have breakfast. I looked at my eggs over easy and potatoes and sausage and took a deep breath. I started eating and it was absolutely perfect. I started to cry. Cathie looked at me as my eyes were watering and all I could say was “I love my breakfast, it’s perfect.” Lol, I’m so weird!
So, I had thought running the NYC Marathon would be a once in a life time event, but I don’t think that anymore. I’m looking forward to running the race again. And I LOVED running with my friends, catching up with Gretchen and Debbie who also ran, and I loved the race! I highly recommend that you get in that lottery and give it a shot! You won’t regret it smile emoticon