My NYC Marathon Moment…
Weeks leading up to the NYC Marathon were both emotionally and physically stressful.
That night, I tossed and turned, just as I do with other major races. I had a dream about a dog. I’m not sure whose dog it was but the dog kept jumping off the roof and landing on it’s feet. I woke up thinking the dog must be me.
The day of the race
I got up at 4:45 am, dressed and mixed my nutritional supplements and was out the door by 5:30 am. As I walked over to the Marriott from the Bryant Park Hotel, where I was staying, I was surprised to see so many people on the streets, including marathon runners.
The bus took us directly to the drop off location in Staten Island. It took a while to get there. Between loading the bus and getting there, it was approximately an hour. Once there, we stood on a long line to go through security. After that, it was smooth sailing. I paid for the VIP access so I immediately found the white tent on the right and went in. It was nice and heated! I found a chair and I sat and I waited nearly three hours before taking off. During that time, I was getting texts, emails and messages of encouragement. My cousin, Hal, called me and wished me luck. “You gotta win this thing,” he said. I laughed.
My plan for the day
I had a plan to run 15 min/mile the entire way. A marathon is a long distance and I was afraid to burn myself out. So I chose the 15/30 run/walk ratio and stuck with that the entire race.
At 10:15 am, I made my way out to the cold and the crowds. There I tried to position myself in the front of the back of the packers. I knew that the course would be closed after a certain point and I wanted to make it into the park before then.
I had a last minute pit stop and got back in the pack. We inched our way up the ramp to the Verrazano Bridge. The National Anthem was sung for the fourth time and a cannon went off. We started running. I was a little afraid that my 15/30 would be detrimental to my race because of the other runners, but to my pleasant surprise, most of the folks in the last wave were doing the same thing that I was doing — a run/walk of some sort. Many people were walking up the bridge. I felt confident and strong. It was the first time in a long time that I actually felt good.
And the start onto the Verrazano Bridge
The bridge was not bad, even if it was a mile going up hill. That first mile, I dedicated to my sister, Lori and her boyfriend, John. Mile 2 was a downhill from the Verrazano Bridge into Brooklyn. That mile I dedicated to my brother-in-law, Gary, sister-in-law, Rebecca and nephew, Jeffrey.
Brooklyn was an exciting borough. There were lots of people on the streets. It was cool going through different neighborhoods and seeing the signs along the way. There was a definite trend in signs that said, “run fast so that Trump doesn’t grab your pussy” (with a photo of a cat) to “run as if you were running for President because anyone could.” There were mostly pro-Hillary signs although I did see one or two pro-Trump signs in Manhattan.
During miles 3 through 14 were incredible. I felt fantastic. I had a big smile on my face and thought about the following people:
Mile 3 – Stefanie, Joe and Finley (my niece and nephew just had a beautiful baby, Finley)
Mile 4 – Ed, Andrea, Max, Ben and Jacob (my brother, sister-in-law and nephews)
Mile 5 – Sharon and Zoe (my sister-in-laws)
Mile 6 – Marilyn and Stan (my mother-in-law and father-in-law) – Marilyn is one of the strongest women I know who has built an incredible business and Stanley was the most amazing fathers! He reminded me of one of the TV dads, always there for his kids!
Mile 7 – Rose and Irving (my paternal grandparents) – Although they passed several years back, my grandmother was my rock. She always listened to me and was always there. My grandfather was encouraging too. He told me that I should always “reach for the stars” and although at the time, I didn’t think it was possible, today, I know it is.
At that point, I saw my daughter, Zoey, holding up the following sign:
Mile 8 – Max and Ann (my maternal grandparents) – How I loved these two people so much! They were so incredibly loving and although my grandmother was always sick, she always shared her love with her family. My grandfather was also incredible. We started a dog walking business until one day, a dog bit us both!
Mile 9 – HJMT – I started HJMT with nothing, knowing nothing about business but knowing everything about getting publicity for clients. I had so many obstacles and still do. Curve balls constantly thrown my way and yet, 25 years later, we still survived.
Mile 10 – NYRR Coaches
Mile 11 – Dan (my daughter’s boyfriend)
Mile 12 – My Dad
Mile 13 – Lisa (HJMT’s executive VP)
Mile 14 – Mindy (my cousin) – We grew up together and are close as sisters.
When I left them and before I went on the 59th Street Bridge, I saw my friend Wendy, manning the water booth. She ran with me for a few minutes and we chatted. It was great seeing her on the course!
That gave me a little boost to go up the 59th Street Bridge but between the wind and the steepness of the bridge, I started to walk. My chest was bothering me. I was finding it hard to breath. I gave myself a squirt with my inhaler but that didn’t really help. I was a little concerned that I may need to stop because the pain was intense. So I walked.
Mile 15 – Jessica (my niece)
My coach, Danielle Sullivan, has been so encouraging during the entire training and the day before she called me after he big Ironman Florida race to tell me that it’s okay if I need more walk breaks. Knowing that, made me feel better.
As we ran off the bridge into Manhattan, I thought I would hear the roar of the crowds, but instead, it was quiet. Everyone already left and yet, there were 10,000+ people behind me. I was excited to be back in my old neighborhood!
As I approached 81st Street, I saw my family again. I swapped out the bottles, talked with them for a minute or two and was off. I was excited to enter The Bronx!
I started to notice the people around me like the juggling Forrest Gump for president, the three British women wearing only sparkling bras and a woman wearing a super hero cape. There was also an older man, George, who was in his 80’s running by. In addition, there were tons of women running for “two.”
I thought there would be tons of people on the sidelines but there weren’t.
Mile 17 – Jeff Galloway – He’s been training me for this marathon for several months and I appreciated his feedback and helping me love running again. I could not have done this marathon without his assistance.
Mile 18 – Brian (my husband) – As we were still in Manhattan, I dedicated this mile to Brian because of our lives together. I met him when I was 12 and since then we’ve been best friends. Although he gets mad at me for doing these “crazy” things, like signing up for a Marathon, in the end, he always supports my decision and for that, I dedicated this mile to him.
Mile 19 – NYC – I love New York City. I’ve had my most memorable times in that city and running the streets of the five boroughs was an incredible experience!
I left Manhattan and went over the Third Avenue bridge. As we were running the Police came by and said that “this was the end of the Police escort” and that we needed to stay on the sidewalk if we wanted to complete the race. It was only five hours into the race. I really couldn’t believe it. People around me were angry. They traveled from Sweden and England to race and they were not going on the sidewalk.
Going over the bridge into The Bronx, I stayed on the bike path with many others. As we got closer to the end, we had to jump over a fence! It was ridiculous. I could barely climb up the fence and one of the women in the sparkling bras, helped me over it. (That was really nice!)
Mile 20 – Danielle (my tri coach) – Mile 20 has been my hardest mile throughout my training. I did it twice and couldn’t make it further. Her encouragement and dedication really helped me get to the start line!
As I ran the streets of The Bronx, I saw two of my teammates from the All Women’s Tri Team. They were handing out oranges to the runners. I stopped, gave them both hugs and went on my way.
Mile 21 – Gino (My sister’s vicious dog) – This little pup is cute and cuddly but don’t get too close. I’ve been bitten more than once! I knew that 21 would be tough and the thought of Gino chasing after me pulled me through!
Now, I crossed over another bridge into Manhattan on the west side. I knew that my family would be there. I was excited to see them. I got a jolt of energy. And, when I saw them, I opted out of getting more nutrition gels or hydration. “I think I’m actually going to do this!” I screamed out to them as I passed by.
My daughter screamed back, “you got this ma…”
At the same time, I got a text from my son, Derek, who is at UC Berkeley – “You can do it Mom, I know you can.”
I pushed on.
Mile 22 – Mom – I started to think about my mom. I wore her “P” angel pin, on my shirt. I started to cry. I miss her so much! She had so much crap thrown her way from the time she was a little girl and throughout her life, between Polio, asthma and COPD. Although she was always sick she persevered and loved life.
Mile 23 and Mile 24 – Zoey and Derek (my children) – They are my life. They are the best thing that ever happened to me and thankfully, they are so supportive of the things that I do (as I am for the things that they do). Every day, I thank God for giving them to me. I cried some more.
The last three miles were torturous. We were now running in complete darkness. Everyone around me was walking. I ran/walked. I wasn’t going to stop although I did realize that they walked much faster than me and when I ran, I just caught up and then fell back. I felt like this would never end. It was cold and dark and I was afraid my music would give out. “Battery low,” I heard in my ears.
Mile 25 – People who say they can’t – There are so many people in my life who say that but it’s really not true. You can do whatever you set your mind to do, just like my grandfather once told me. So if you want to run a marathon, do it! You got this in you!
We ran past Columbus Circle and back into the park. We were getting close and I was feeling excited.
The last mile, mile 26, was for me, for all the curve balls and the struggles I endure every day and for my accomplishments.
I started to think about my life and much like my mom’s nothing came easy. I was raised in a lower income family where my father worked three jobs and my mother worked and we all had to work hard to get anything we wanted. I guess going through that made me a stronger person so when someone tells me I can’t, I always want to prove them wrong.
As I can see the finish line and thankfully people were still giving out medals, I was getting very emotional. I saw Brian, Zoey and Dan screaming my name, cheering me on. I started to cry. I really got this. This was a goal that I wanted for so many years, for as long as I could remember. I got this and as I crossed the finish line, I got a call on my mobile phone.
“Mom, you did it! I’m so proud of you.” It was Derek on the other end.
I was weeping now. I have never had such an amazing experience and so incredibly emotional. I felt bad that I was crying but I couldn’t help myself. Between my husband being there, Zoey and Dan cheering me on and helping me with the replacements and Derek’s words of encouragement, I began to think how grateful I am for my family, friends and all of the people in my life who have supported me throughout the way, because nothing ever came easy and this Marathon was an example of that!