The New York City Marathon has played a small role in my life since I moved to New York City five years ago.
The first time I watched the marathon was long before I was a runner myself. A coworker was running it and I remember thinking that was the coolest thing ever. I had no idea whether she was fast or not (she was), and I didn’t know how far a marathon was. I had no concept of whether running 26.2 miles would take her one hour or 12 hours (I’m pretty sure she came in with a solid Boston Qualifying time).
I loved watching the marathon that year, and I trekked from my apartment in midtown up to 1st Avenue to watch the runners cruise through mile 17, and then moved over to 5th Avenue to see them coming up what seemed like a brutally long hill.
I never thought to myself, “This is something that looks fun. I should try this someday!”
But each year after that, I made sure I was around that first weekend in November to spectate the marathon.
It was especially fun watching the year my roommate at the time was running it as her first marathon.
The year Meghan (former roommate) ran NYC was the first time I thought maybe I, too, could conquer 26.2 miles. I had gotten more into running and had a half marathon or two under my belt at the time.
So the next year — 2011 — I became a member of New York Road Runners and gave the “non-profit” club all my money as I embarked on the quest to run nine NYRR races and volunteer for one in order to gain automatic entry to the 2012 New York City Marathon.
The “qualifying” process burned me out quite a bit since I was training for my own first marathon simultaneously. I quickly grew sick of the crowds at NYRR races and my bank account was depleting rapidly. And this was just to get into the marathon: I knew that even once I got my 9 + 1 out of the way, I’d still have to actually train for the marathon — and pay the skyrocketed entry fee.
It’s been a long road to the New York City Marathon, but I’m finally 19 days away from running the dang thing.
There have definitely been times over the past few months when I didn’t think I’d make it this far, and my training was far from ideal. A lot can change in 19 days, but right now I feel strong, healthy and ready to run my way through New York City’s five boroughs.
I’m a little nervous and a lot excited. But let’s just talk about the reasons I’m excited…
1. It’s going to be a friend-filled experience. Not only is my best friend, Becky, coming up from Charlotte, NC, with her tall new husband to watch the marathon (he’s never been to NYC!), I’ll also have two extra-special friends out on the course with me. (OK, maybe not with me with me, but they’re running it, too.)
Last year, Emily, Lauren and I had a “best weekend ever” weekend when we watched the marathon from the sidelines. This year, the three of us will all get a much better view of the course because we’re all running it. I’m so excited to have them in town for a few days, and I don’t even care that cramming five people (three girls + one boyfriend + one husband) into a one-bedroom apartment seems completely illogical. It’s going to be fun and Brian has already agreed to cook our pre-race meal.
At least he agreed in my head. I actually can’t remember now if we’ve had this conversation or not… BRB, texting Chef Brian to confirm…
Plus, having two seriously-seasoned marathoners by my side at the expo, the night before the race and on the chilly ferry ride out to Staten Island will probably keep my nerves slightly more at bay. Or maybe not.
2. I’ve run hundreds of miles in New York City, but I’ve hardly run any of these miles. The majority of the course is new territory for me. I’ve heard great things about the streets (and crowds) in Brooklyn, and I’m psyched to get my tired butt over the Queensboro Bridge and onto 1st Avenue where the spectators will be screaming and cowbelling. I love that the one part of the course I am familiar with is the finish line. I’ll get to turn into Central Park at Engineers’ Gate, where I enter the park every day, and from there I know exactly what to expect in the final few miles.
3. New York City feels like home now more than ever. This is my city, and this is my marathon. I mean, it’s yours, too, if you live here and if you’re running it. We can share. But I’ve lived in NYC long enough now that — sorry, Mom — it feels like my home city. When I’m traveling and people ask me where I’m from, I tend to say New York without thinking about it. I’ll always be from New Hampshire, but now my home is here, and I can’t wait to run my hometown marathon.
4. I’m trying to prove that Crohn’s disease doesn’t always completely control me. Running this marathon — after months of being sick — will help me prove that point, if only temporarily.
5. I bought my marathon outfit weeks ago and I’ve been dying to wear it. On November 4, I’ll finally get to remove the tags from my new red shirt. I have no idea why, but when I first decided to run the marathon, I knew I wanted to wear red. I’ve never owned a red running outfit. This is obviously a very big deal. Legwarmer colors TBD. The fashion editor at my office is working on this task for me. She’s great.
6. I want the shirt. I realize the cheesiness and pathetic-ness of this statement, but it’s true. I never ever ever wear race shirts. The only one I’ve been known to wear is the Bronx 10-Miler T-shirt, which I wear around the apartment every day.
But I want the long-sleeved NYCM technical shirt. Now that the temperatures are dropping, more people are running in long sleeves, and I swear every person I see in Central Park has a marathon shirt from the past three years.
Every person, that is, except for me.
So I want that shirt. I want to be cool like everyone else.
7. I’m stronger mentally than I’ve ever been. I feel like there’s a chance that Brian is reading this and that he rolled his eyes at this statement. But I swear, I’m in a better emotional place than I’ve been leading up to past races.
Remember the Las Vegas Half Marathon in December? Remember how I trained and I was in great shape despite a Crohn’s flare-up in the middle of training, and remember how I traveled all the way out to Vegas ready to PR?
And remember how hard I bonked on that course? Remember how I went out too fast, and how I freaked out and how I got tired and how I stopped to use a bathroom at mile 8 even though I probably didn’t really need it?
And remember how I beat myself up for days after that race? I cried. I was disappointed in myself. Dare we all agree that I overreacted ever-so-slightly?
After that race, I took a significant break from racing. I didn’t sign up for another race until this past September, and I went into that one with an entirely different, entirely more mature (yeah I said it) mindset.
And that’s the mindset I’ll carry with me on NYCM day. A race is just a race. I’ll do my best. It’s a simple strategy, really.
8. It’s going to be a heck of a way to wrap up a heck of a year. I hate being so whiny, and I swear 2012 has had plenty of positive moments and happy memories. But overall, I look back on 2012 and recall a great deal of frustration. It’s been the most stressful, exhausting year I can remember, and I hated being sick and missing out on so much. If I can finish out these last two and a half months of 2012 feeling healthy and in control of my life and my body, I’ll confidently — and honestly — say that 2012 was a good year. Hold me to it.
9. The finish line. The space blanket. The medal. The “I just ran a marathon” feeling. The post-race “I get to eat everything in sight now” celebration. All of it.
10. I’ll finally get to “be a part of it.” At the start of the marathon, rumor has it they blast Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” as runners begin heading over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. You know the words: “I want to be a part of it…New York, New York!” I can’t wait to hear those words and to truly, finally, be a part of it.
I remember reading this post from Lizzy listing all the reasons the New York City Marathon is so great. And she must mean it: Boston dwellers don’t often compliment New Yorky things!
The excitement and energy surrounding this marathon is always palpable, but I’m always on the outside of it. And that’s been fun. Spectating is sometimes more fun than running.
But not this year.
This year, I’m a part of it.
We’re going to make fun memories, NYCM. Get excited.
ANY OTHER NEW YORK CITY MARATHONERS FEELING THE EXCITEMENT? Tell me why. What makes you want to run this marathon? Or, you know, if you’ve got another big race planned, tell me why you’re running it. What makes it special and awesome and exciting? Also, GOOD LUCK!