If you made it through that obnoxiously long title, I applaud you. I haven’t written a post in ages and have seemingly lost my talent for brevity. My apologies in advance….
Why, you may ask, have I been inspired to write a post? Well, this happened:
That’s me running the NYC ING 2013 Marathon. Yep, this chick ran a marathon.
I will say that it was one of the most amazing, difficult, painful, joyous, heartbreaking, and beautiful days of my life. While I have tons of stories from that day (that started at 4:15am and ended at I’m not sure what time at night….8ish?) Here I am, 4 days later, still trying to process the whole experience, and what is coming to me is that the whole thing is just a big bundle of life lessons….I think….so I decided to share some of the things that I learned (and things that were reaffirmed for me) along the 26.2 miles that I ran….in no particular order:
-I am not the only person that talks (and sometimes yells) to myself…I was having all sorts of conversations with me along the way and at one point, around mile 19/20, gave myself a loud “COME ON!!!” cheer, much to the surprise of a few runners around me
-All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward…I ran, I walked, I ran, I walked, I hobbled, found some strength and ran, limped, etc….just kept moving forward, even though, for the most part, I had no idea where I was going..just followed the signs and the huge group of people
-I am never alone….all of the spectators cheering for you (by name! A little disconcerting at first, but it didn’t take me long to fall into it and feel like a frickin rockstar running the streets!) it is an incredible feeling to be carried by a group of people whom you largely do not know. Not to mention having the best running partner a girl could ask for….
-Feelings come and go…the amount of emotion that happens over the course of 26.2 miles is staggering! Some of the things I felt: anxiety, elation, pride, fear, anger, relief, anger (again), fear, happiness, sadness, joy, sympathy (is that an emotion?), humility, anger (yet again…there was a lot of that towards the end), defeat, hope…I’m sure the list goes on, I’m just running out of words to describe them….
-I like cherry tootsie pops (discovered at mile 11…I only ever liked the grape ones before)
-Trust the kindness of strangers…at mile 23/24 running down the east side of Central Park, delirious with pain and fricking exhausted, a spectator (a woman with a Dutch, I think, accent in a white down coat) trotted up next to me on the course, asked me how I felt (I shot her a look like “how the fuck do you think I feel?!?”) then ran with me for 20 or so yards, stroking my arm and telling me that I was going to be ok and that I would finish…I could barely say “thank you” I was so blown away by her kindness
-NYC is just as beautiful at sunrise as it is at sunset
-Pain is sometimes what you make it…don’t get me wrong, physical pain is a VERY real thing. What I’m trying to say is that buying into that pain (especially early on in the race) was a lot like buying into fear…for me. “Ooh, what’s that going on in my toe? Shit! I’m done. That’s it. I won’t even make it to mile 10….” That kind of stuff. Turns out my toe stopped hurting. And the twinge in my heel. And left hip. By the end, however, the pain in my legs was super real…but that leads me to my next point:
-My limits aren’t what I think they are…I wanted to stop. To sit down My mind and body were in cahoots and were doing their best to convince me I was finished…at mile 20. I didn’t listen. They tried again at mile 23. I didn’t listen. They got really loud at mile 24 and I started to listen….then something amazing happened:
-People will always be there when you need them, whether you know you need them or not…my girlfriend, family, and friends were at different spots along the marathon route. Knowing where they would be gave me something to look forward to, and seeing them gave me that extra boost (that I didn’t even know I needed) - especially at mile 16 coming off the Queensborough Bridge. But the amazing thing that happened (mentioned above) was right before mile 26, along Central Park South…I had my name stitched to the front of my shirt so people were calling my name all day. It was great! By this point, though, I could barely hear anyone, let alone lift my arm in a feeble gesture of thanks. But for some reason I heard my name loud and clear and turned my head to see a very dear friend amidst the crowd of spectators. I ran (sort of) over, hugged her, and she told me I could do it….I could finish. And at a moment that I was truly ready to quit, I was given what I needed to get through. And so I did.
-Medals are cool…though it felt like 50lbs being put around my neck and I could barely see through all the tears, it’s still really cool
It was a long day…to say the least…I am still limping a bit and still recalling things that happened. But, suffice it to say, I will NEVER forget Sunday, 11/3/13, and know that I will carry what I learned with me wherever life takes me. I also am looking forward to the time where I am met with some challenge or other and can say…”I ran a fucking marathon! I can do this, too!”