Last weekend, I traveled to New York City to participate in the marathon. In my opinion, this is THE marathon to run. It was on my bucket list and it was one of those races I thought I would never, ever get to run. But fortunately, I was lucky enough to win an entry to the race. It’s made me realize that I really am a lucky person.
I was also lucky enough to have a friend, Bethany, who signed up for the race and had already booked a hotel room. Bethany was gracious enough to let me share her room with her. It was also a great experience to share with a great friend!
On Saturday morning, we woke up and headed to the expo to pick up our race bibs. Expos can be crazy and this one wasn’t so bad – maybe it was all the heightened security – I felt pretty safe. Anyways, picked up the race bib and immediately stared at my number…I even considered asking for a different one. Maybe it wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else but it immediately took me back to where I was on 9/11/01. I’m not a New Yorker (far from it) and I didn’t lose anyone close to me on that day but my heart goes out to everyone who did – it was the moment in history that our world here in the US changed forever.
But I carried on…it was just a race number that was randomly generated.
After walking around at all the booths, we stopped at the Runner’s World booth to see what they had to offer. I had just read the latest edition on my flight to NYC and I was pumped and motivated. As it turns, out Summer Sanders had given an interview in the magazine and it just so happened she would be at the expo. She was also running the marathon. I got to meet her and she was amazing, motivating, and inspiring! She gave me her autograph that said “Dream Big!” Perfect – I was dreaming of a new PR. We also ran into my oncologist and snapped a few pics. I love races! It’s not just about the running, it’s also about being with friends and other people who share your passion.
After leaving the expo, it was time to see the sights of NYC! We walked from the expo to the bus depot to pick up Bethany’s daughter. From there we walked through Times Square and stopped at Magnolia Bakery – this was the BEST CUPCAKE EVER!!! And finally we stopped at Rockefeller Center and then the 9/11 Memorial.
Race Day! Each race I do, I have anxiety. It starts a few days before the race where I have dreams about waking up late, getting off course, missing the race completely, etc. And this race was no different. I don’t think I slept good any night while in NYC. But race morning came and it was time to start the routine. Luckily with this race, there are so many people racing that they have waves and your start time is based over the color of your bib and the wave. My start time was 10:30 am. For once, I felt properly fueled, bathroom issues taken care of ahead of time instead of on the course, and I was wide awake.
The race starts with the song New York, New York and then a cannon and the runner’s are off over the bridge. It was incredibly windy but it was awesome! Everything was big about this race – the crowds, the bridges, the support, and the adrenaline. I loved every second – well almost – at mile 20, I started to feel the impact of the pounding the pavement for several hours. I was in pain. At most marathons, the crowds make signs for all the runners – and every single one of them helps motivate me to keep moving. But my favorite sign is “Pain is temporary, Pride is Forever.” After seeing that sign, I quickly realized that I was on track for a PR and no amount of pain was going to stop me. At mile 22, I kept chanting my goal time 4:30 4:30 4:30…over and over. Well I didn’t make the 4:30 but my final time was 4:39. 14 minutes faster than my fastest marathon. I’m proud of my time. After every race, I feel like I can accomplish anything that anyone throws at me.
It’s true, I’ve fully recovered from the race but my pride in my 14 minute PR will last forever…or at least until the next race. Summer Sanders was right, dream big and anything can be possible.