I just found out that I was selected to run in the 2012 New York City Marathon. By selected, I mean I put my name in a lottery and I got lucky enough for them to select my name. So the fact that I was selected isn’t the same thing as qualifying for the Boston Marathon, but I am beyond excited that I got into New York!
I found out on a Thursday morning while I was at work. The rest of the day was productive only in the sense that I was able to book a hotel room, check on flights, buy a souvenir T-shirt and hat, and post my victory on Facebook. I then spent the rest of the day in a state of bliss. I actually got a little emotional about it!
Let me give you a little background. Roughly 20 years ago, I worked with a guy who ran the NYC Marathon. He said it was the highlight of his life and his proudest accomplishment. This is a guy who had two kids and he ranked finishing the NYC Marathon above that! After a while, I started running with him and another guy at lunch. I was really slow, but they helped me with my form and gave me some tips to help me improve. I learned about fartleks and intervals and how to enjoy running. I started by running some 5ks and ended up running the Indianapolis Half Marathon. That was the peak of my running career for almost two decades. Our company was sold, everyone moved on, and then I stopped running.
About 16 years ago, my divorce was brand new and I was just learning how to be alone. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who I was and where I wanted to go from here. One day, I was flipping channels and I came across the NYC Marathon. I said to myself, “I’m going to run that one of these days.” I was on my couch, out of shape and probably hung over when I said that. I didn’t take one step toward that goal for 13 years. I saw it again a few years later and I had already given up on that goal. I felt like I was defeated without even trying. It took me those 13 years to take my first step toward the NYC Marathon.
In 2009, I was walking 45 minutes a day and I was feeling like I was in pretty good shape. So I decided to try run/walking the same route. The first time I ran, I could run for only one minute before I thought I was going to die! I walked for 4 minutes, then ran another minute. I kept this up over the next few months gradually increasing the running time until I could run the same 45 minute walking course without stopping to walk. It was during this period that I signed up for Team in Training to run the Flying Pig Marathon. My body wasn’t ready for the rigors of training for a marathon! I had hip pain so bad I eventually got a cortisone shot to help. I ended up running the Flying Pig Half Marathon because I was going to run the San Diego Marathon a month later. I broke my toe a week before that marathon, so my goal to run a marathon was put on hold. To make a long story a little shorter, I rehabbed and then ran three marathons in 2011.
I did two of those marathons with Team in Training. Running with Team is addictive to say the least! I am committed to the Team and all it stands for. I enjoy raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and I love running with my teammates. But the NYC Marathon is all for me. It’s my Boston. It’s my Everest. It’s my Pulitzer Prize (for my blog – there really should be an award for that!). It’s my making good on the promise I made to myself 16 years ago. I’ve been training for three years and I’m getting faster. I have a goal to finish a marathon in under four hours. When I get to New York, unless my competitive drive kicks in, I’m going to savor the experience and not give a shit about the time on the clock. What I will remember years from now is how I felt when I crossed that finish line. The clock started 16 years ago. It’s time to finish.