Running the NYC marathon was a long time in the making. As a 3-time lottery reject, I finally gained guaranteed entry into the 2012 race. Superstorm Sandy devastated my hometown of Long Beach Island, NJ, so I was disappointed about the cancellation of the marathon but completely understood and approved of the decision. 2013 it would be. And then I ran a marathon in Wales in July with a torn calf muscle and had to defer my NYC entry to 2014.
Arriving on Staten Island took many years. But through the long wait and the cold winds, I smiled. I was here. I had no time goal for the day -- I just wanted to soak it all in and enjoy the entire experience.
Getting blown sideways across the bridges, I giggled. Hearing the millions of amazing spectators, I marveled. Seeing the firefighters and police officers cheering us on, I waved and said thank YOU. Listening to the bands playing, the choirs singing, the "Welcome to Brooklyn!" cheers, the "You can do this! Way to go! Keep going!" encouragement from every volunteer, I smiled.
I grimaced, too. When my stomach felt upset from miles 15-20, and my right hamstring was really cranky from mile 17ish on, I fought the discomfort. I adjusted my running. I slowed down. A good friend once said, "If you're not having fun, you're running too fast -- slow down!" and I did, because my only goal was to enjoy the day.
I found friends at mile 17 and snapped a pic with them after big hugs. I kept my eyes wide open and my mindset positive as my body hurt. I made my way into Central Park and decided I loved the downhill of mile 25 more than anything else. I loved the final stretch up Central Park South. I loved the turn back into the park and loved all those people lining the final quarter mile. I loved seeing my family in the grandstands, and I loved crossing that finish line.
It was a tough running day, but one of my favorite marathons. The volunteers make that race incredible. The 26.2 miles of party that is the NYC marathon is truly an experience like no other.
Running moves us forward. We gain through each run. We grow. We learn. And the NYC marathon is a run that will leave its mark on all of us in the form of a smile with each recollection.