One year ago today I was one month away from a marathon that I will never, ever (did I mention ever) forget. I don’t think words can really express what it was like running that marathon. It was an emotional experience. If you are a football fan, and watch the Superbowl, I now understand what football players feel like when they enter the stadium. The ironic thing is that even now I still get chills when I think about that marathon. I still remember the emotions leading up to, the emotions I had the day of the race, the dramatic feeling when I was injured, and the fear that this would be my last race ever. But it isn’t my last race ever.
My only wish is that I could have run it this year instead of last year. I am nearly 15 pounds lighter, I am running much stronger, and my finish time would have been awesome, but that said it was the race to end all races. I have yet to find anything comparable. Disney is NOT comparable. Yes running through the castle is really neat, especially given that I grew up going to Disney, and it holds a really special place in my heart, but it is not New York. Here are the memories I have:
I remember waiting forever for the race to start. Sitting next to an absolute stranger and talking excitedly about how wonderful this day was going to be…
I remember running across the first bridge. It was 40 degree with 45 mile per hour winds. It was so windy that peoples’ discarded clothing was flying through the air.
I remember hearing the people once I got into the Bronx and Little Havana. That was the one thing that blew me away. First three miles on the bridge, and then you could hear it a little bit at first, but once you hit the first borough, it was a dull roar of people. There were people 5 deep. I remember high fiving little kids, and having them say, “Gracias Mamacita,” only for them to spring a few blocks down the street to get high fived again. I remember the fire department in Brooklyn, with the fireman holding his infant son with his arm stuck out for a high five. I remember NYPD smiling, and laughing and cheering. It was cold, but everyone WANTED to be there.
I remember crossing the Queensboro bridge at mile 16, and again hearing the dull roar about .5 miles out of people. Then seeing people 16-20 thick waiting on the other side of the bridge for us. The cheering was so loud it was like you were entering a stadium. I remember running through Queens and hearing the Queens Baptist church singing hymns. It was one of the only marathons I didn’t listen to music, because it the city was so alive and vibrant. You didn’t need music to get through it, and if you had head phones on, you were going to miss it.
I remember hitting mile 20, and thinking that I would never be able to finish. My hip hurt so badly, and it was so uncomfortable. I was cold. My husband gave me a sweatshirt he had brought with. I hung my head in shame that I was not going to get my goal. But somehow at mile 23, I had enough in me to go for just three more miles. That’s what I kept telling myself, it’s 3 more miles.
I hobbled through the park, and got to the finish line. I remember hearing someone just screaming so loudly he was hoarse. The voice was somewhat familiar to me, but I couldn’t place it until Marathon Monday, when I discovered it was Hugh Jackman, one of my favorite actors. He had sat out in the bleachers and cheered just about every runner in. It was so touching. Not just having him out there and cheering, but every last New Yorker and visitor who came on that cold, windy day to cheer. I don’t know if they realize how much they change me as a runner, or how deeply they affected me. That blustery November Day was the 3rd best day of my life– the first was getting married, followed closely by giving birth to two wonderful children (though some days the ranking is different), but that day was up there. That one day, I was a New Yorker, and a marathoner. If I don’t qualify for Boston, I want to go back to New York. I ❤ New York.