In less than an hour I will be starting my journey through the five boroughs of New York City. I really wanted this marathon to have been my first. I did apply to run it in 2011 but through the lottery system was denied that year and the next two. I am in the last year of runners who have been automatically given guaranteed entry into the marathon for having been denied three years in a row. If you look at it that way, I have been training for this marathon since the day I started to run.
As this is published, I will be in Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. My starting corral will have just let me and I will be waiting to be moved forward after the wave before me starts. Third of four waves, third of the three color designations (blue, orange, green) and third corral in the letters A – F; I will be bundled in extra layers of jackets and warm up pants that I will ditch after I get moving. The temperature is forecast to be perfect for running but the winds are predicted to be a steady 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph.
It may be a while until I toss aside every extra layer and I am required to have my bib with race number visible at all times. That will be a little tricky for me as I am planning on wearing a couple of jackets over my running shirt. I have planned on pinning my bib to an elastic strap that will be around my waist and just move it down each time I shed a layer. It will be the same strap upon which my Bia Sport watch’s Go Stick is attached and I want to give it clear access to get good gps reception.
Waiting around always gives me time to think, sometimes too much time to think. I know I will try to focus on the course and my fueling and hydration plans. I will also think of the folks who have been very supportive of me. Let’s start of with what I would mouth into the lens of a tv camera, “Thanks Mom!” Thanks for buying me my first pair of running shoes, cheering for me at races and giving me such sweet hugs and running gifts and good luck presents. I remember the blue nail polish was the perfect gift that one half marathon I got a bloody toenail. You listen to me go on and on every day about my running and never fail to ask what workout I had done in the morning. You ask about my recovery and how long my long runs are going to be each weekend. You ask, you listen, you remember and you care. Thank you!
As my corral shuffles forward I know I will be chilled from not moving. In the cold, I will remind myself that I endured cold morning runs last March as I ran the lonely stretch of road to Health South to visit my Dad. As he was recovering from a stroke, he stayed there for over a month and I would run on Tuesdays and Thursdays to join him for breakfast. My parents live 30 miles from my town and the rehab facility was only 4 miles from my hours. Nights without Mom nor being in his own home were hard for Dad. Prior to his stroke, he had been dealing with a terrible infection that had him hospitalized so he hadn’t been home in months. Rehabbing so close to me, it was a no brainer to help ease those few hours before my Mom could make it to Health South. It was during one of those breakfasts I asked him how he got through the tough times, the hours that tortured him at night. He admitted that being able to see a clock helped him know that the minutes then hours were passing and that the progress was getting him ever closer to when Mom would come. I admitted to him that I was looking for some key to enduring the hard times during the NYC Marathon and told him that watching the clock might not be as helpful to me. We both got a little chuckle about that. Worrying about how long runs or races are taking me stress me to the point of almost panicking. I do best when I relax and try to enjoy so what I will bring along from my Dad is that he endured and is home finally. His strategy worked for him and I will draw on his endurance of dealing with so much this past year.
Standing elbow to elbow with a thousand others in corral C of the green group who start at 10:30 will have us barely moving. I know I will feel stiff from the wait but I will stretch what I can and do some over all body checks. Glad my right hamstring isn’t hurting, knowing my calves and hips will take a while to warm up. I may try to get in a downward facing dog yoga pose if the space allows and I will thing of Arron (in which whose apartment I am writing this in). It is to my son whom I turn when I need advice how to take care of overuse injuries. As a professional ballet dancer for almost half of his life, Arron has dealt with some serious injuries and built back well from them. He knows that calf strains take a long time to come back from and advised me to be patient with mine. He will correct my form on stability exercises when we workout together at home and give a solicited critique on my running form when he bikes along as I run. He turned me on to the benefit of Epsom Salt baths and made sure Santa included a Trigger Point ball for my piriformis in my stocking. Many of the songs on my marathon playlist were gifts from him; Hackers sound track and Daft Punk will see me through the very first miles and an hour of Techno party music will keep me moving after the half marathon point. It is Coldplay’s, “The Hardest Part” that will make me think of him for sure. The lyrics remind me of how when we (Arron or myself) are injured how difficult it is to not be participating in the things we love and have trained hard for. The wait and patience required during recovery really is the hardest part and Arron has given me the strategies and tools to make the best of it.
If I think of my music, and I certainly will be fussing with my little iPod as I wait in the starting corral, I can’t help but think of my daughter-outlaw, Amy. She has introduced me to some really bright and different tunes that have also made their way onto my marathon playlist. I have very carefully placed Yolanda Be Cool & DCUP’s “We No Speak Americano” to fall when I run through Queens. Of all the boroughs I will be running through, almost 50% of the residents in Queens borough are currently foreign-born. Amy works well with so many diverse peoples, she is director of a division of a wonderful outreach program in the Bronx that empowers the youth that live in an area eschewed by many. She is outspoken about social injustices and has little tolerance for tasteless humor at the expense of others. She is my kind of gal and I draw energy from her focus and drive. Amy is one of my biggest supporters in this race and is always telling me how her students are wishing me good luck. As I wait to start the race beside hundreds of runners who speak no English or look very different from the all white peoples whom I have been living with most of my life, I will see the faces of her eager students, their parents and community whom I have had the opportunity to visit with. The world is a damn big place and we should be respectful of our neighbors. Amy’s gift to me is how to embrace the best of the NYC Marathon who accepts maybe 40% of its runners from counties other than the USA.
Good luck charms, swanky workout wear, shoes and free rein in an Upper West Side NYC apartment; I have been gifted so much from my family to assist me in getting to this start line. I would be remiss in mentioning my biggest supporter, Jim. My husband, my bug, my Jimmy the eye, he is by my side even when we are apart. It is through Jim’s hard and steady work that has bankrolled my ability to run this marathon. The entrance fee alone is quite cost prohibitive. Yes, I was accepted after 3 lottery rejections but that acceptance wasn’t for free. If you add up the three lottery goes and the entrance fee the cost of just getting into the NYC Marathon is close to $300 for this US resident. The money I made last year was put aside so that we could purchase a new computer so it has been from Jim’s income from which I have drawn to pay for: coaching, workout clothes, many pairs of shoes, special food and drink to train with, travel to the city, and all of the extra niceties like the tour of the race course. Any time I am struck by something I think will enhance this race, Jim is on-board with it, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity Bugheena.” That’s how Jim is, nothing is too much for me in his eyes. As I am chomping at the bit to get moving at the start line, it will be meeting him along the race course that will be on my mind then and keep me going during my most difficult moments. He will be sporting a crazy blue hat to help me pick him out of the crowd just after the 30K point. I know he will have been standing there and freezing for a long time while waiting for me, just as he did on my training runs. Ever ready and steady is his devotion to me and my passions, I most deeply do not want to disappoint him. I always apologize in advance about how long it will take me to get to certain points where he is waiting for me. He has invested so much time and energy in supporting my participation in the NYC Marathon that it is like he is running it too.
I will soon step across that starting line and will be thinking thanks to many others too. My coach, Angie Spencer of Marathon Training Academy, my mother-in-law Grace who always asks about my running, my friends whom I miss participating in many activities with, other running friends who have sent me loads of well wishes over the months and the thousands of organizers volunteers along the race course have made this all possible for me.
I dedicate the 52 minutes prior to my start time to all of you above, I couldn’t have gotten here without your support and dedication. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a marathon to run thanks to you.