Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Marathon

Congratulations! We raised over $3600 dollars for cancer research with Fred's Team and to support low income seniors with Housing Opportunities and Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E.). Thank you for your amazing support. If you'd like to donate you still can! 

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Training for a marathon always seems like a long time. And then suddenly it is upon you and over. And you wonder where the summer went and how the days are cold and grey. This year was no exception.

I trained more this year. My miles went up. I ran tempo runs and track repeats, long and short runs - really all the runs. I cut out the strong alcohols and tried to eat more consciously. I went to bed early. In short, I went all in.

A photo posted by newyorkroadrunners (@nyrr) on

I ran in the rain in Portland, and past deer in Atlanta. I ran in a tiny town in Maryland. I ran on the sand on the Isle of Palms looking into Charleston and on old train tracks in Travelers Rest. I ran up the mountain in Santa Cruz and over cliff like streets in San Francisco. I ran in New Jersey and in Connecticut. But mostly I ran in Central Park.
Thank you!
I ran the loop and the reservoir. I took the 72nd transverse and the 102nd. I did Harlem Hill every time. I loved the fast mile down to the lake. I tucked into Cat hill and made it. I ran past the horse carriages and the carousel. I ran through the tourists and the terrifying bicyclists. In all I logged right at 400 miles in Central Park. And I loved it.

I was hoping to hit my goal this year, hoping that the work I put in would be enough. I ran the numbers and things looked good. But as every pollster will tell you, predicting the future is not a simple science.
Found on the I'm super famous and super in need of a haircut.

It rained in Portland and then I, and a few thousand new friends, missed a turn. Who knows what time I would have had if I had not needed to run 26.7 miles to reach the finish line. I pushed too hard when I thought I was going slow at the beginning. Perhaps I would have found the energy to push harder at the end if the clock had been below four hours. Maybe I would have made it. Maybe. But the officially "corrected" time is 3:57. And five minutes is five minutes.

Still, Portland, even in the rain, even with an extra half mile (uncorrected time of 4:01) was faster (by 12 seconds) than my Chicago time from last year. And that boded well for NYC.

What did not bode well was that I spent three of the next four weeks sick. I managed to catch a stomach virus and then the flu in rapid succession. I eased up on the running regimen by not running at all.

And Suddenly it was the morning of the NYC race. And I was waking up way before dawn. (It takes a stupidly long time to get to the start line. I love everything about the NYC marathon except getting to the start line.) I ate breakfast and double check that I had my watch and energy gels. I stepped out on the street and headed for the subway.

It never came. I arrived five minutes before the subway was scheduled to arrive. It didn't. I waited 25 minutes for the next train. I would miss the Fred's Team breakfast. While I wanted to celebrate with friends and apply silly tattoos, I could handle this setback. But then the train stopped. We were held for unknown reasons. And then the tracks on my insides started rumbling. There was another train arriving fast and there was nothing good about this train.

Danielle, David and I Even made it to NYRR's snapchat.

Sweating drops of pain and agony I begged the train to move. I promised God the world if I could just make it to a bathroom. The train started, stopped another time, and finally made it down the line.

The buses were to be outside of a hotel in Times Square. I didn't bring my phone as I didn't want to run with it, and I realized I had no clue of the name or location of the Hotel. I searched for the orange of our shirts. A few desperate blocks and I finally saw everyone gathering for the picture. But I would need to miss that too. I found a Fred's Teamer at the corner and asked her where the hotel was located. She asked "why?" Confused by her query I repeated my question "Where is the Hotel?" "Why?" she replied again. I barked with great urgency, "I need a bathroom!"

It was a photo finish.

And at 5:45am I just made it on to the bus. I had missed breakfast and the team picture but at least I wouldn't miss the race. The day could have started better. The day could have started much worse.

Pabst Blue Ribbon at mile 17

I was assigned in a very fast starting group. I was wave 1C. There was only B and A in front of me. I noticed that I was standing with the 3:00 pacers and behind me was the 3:30 pacers. I do not know why I was in this group. We waited there for almost an hour.

The cannon went off. The race started. I ran. Not knowing how sick I still was (leftover coughing and such) I aimed to start as if I was healthy. If the day went well I would have a shot at making my goal. If I turned out to be sicker than I thought then I would slow down. It was a plan.

Santa Cruz running partners.
The first miles went well. I held myself to pace letting the speedy runners shoot past. I kept my desired 8:45 minute/mile pace for at least the first 15k-20k. But I new I was in trouble long before that mark. At mile four I felt like I was giving the same effort I had given at mile 20 in Portland. And well before I reached the halfway point I was trying to decide when I would start walking. Things were going down hill.

I slowed but maintain a "running" style of movement until after I was to see some friends on 1st Avenue. I waved to A. and J. I took a shot of Beer with L. And then a few blocks up the road, and safely out of sight I started to walk.

One of the hotter runs of the year. Made an emergency stop to drink out of a lawn sprinkler.
I've never walked in a race before this marathon. I didn't know how to handle it mentally. I've never given up. And I am still wondering about the choice I made and how I made it and why. But in short I was tired and hurting and my skin was tingling all over and I felt sick.

I walked and jogged and walked again. I made it to the Bronx and jogged a bit. And then back in Manhattan I started walking. At this point I finally realized I had to give up totally. And so I did. And I was marginally happier for it. I let go of all goals and started eating everything anyone was passing out. I enjoyed a huge handful of peanut m&ms, some very tasty Pringles, and a banana. I tried to take in the cheers, the sun and the happy crowd.

Scenic Betterton Maryland
But I also thought of everything and how I was walking and how disappointed I was. I thought of My Uncle Mac and how he encouraged people to find their passion. I wondered if it was time for me to find a new passion. I felt beat and tired. I was sorry I hadn't met my fundraising goal. I was sad because work was hard and life was hard and this stupid race was hard. And nothing was going to plan. I thought of Filipa. And I cried each time I saw her smile and knew it was gone.

I planned to walk the long hill of 5th Avenue up and to Central Park. There I would jog the last two miles of the race. But my plan didn't hold. I was spotted by Lynn. With a ferocity incomparable, a love unrelenting, and a Scottish accent full of fire she jumped past a police officer and onto the road. She grabbed me by the arm. She screamed at me. She screamed for me to run. She pulled me forward. "I would give anything to switch places with you right now, to be right where you are! Run! Run! You are amazing! Run!"

So I ran.

I ran up the hill and entered the park. With each step I moved faster. And then there was the finish line and I was across it and K. found me and walked me back to the Fred's team tent.

Lynn started screaming at me in the middle of mile 24.
I've never bombed in a marathon until now. Everyone that runs marathons has bad marathons. And now I do too.

The next race will be better.

Thank you all again for so graciously donating. You monies now given do make a difference. I have met people whose lives are changed for the better because HOME was able to provide them with a safe and clean home to live in. I have met people whose lives have been saved because of cancer research. I know they thank you too.

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