New York or Bust

NY Marathon 1After 4 months of no running, it’s been tough to start up again. Why? Work and life have been busier than ever. I was cleared to run at about the crunch time of NIWeek planning, one of my busiest times of year. I also have struggled partly because it’s really freakin’ hot this summer and tough to acclimate and start running again with daily 100+ degrees record heat. A little bit of the challenge is due to being slow. I’m running pain-free (it seems the hip has healed,) but slower than ever while all of my friends have kept training and are moving faster than ever. It’s a little discouraging when I know I’m capable of so much more. I got injured at the time when I was running my fastest. But, mostly it’s been tough because I haven’t had a goal. I had accepted that is was no longer realistic to think I could run the Chicago Marathon with our gang.

That’s where a little friendly intervention came in. Entry into the coveted (and difficult to get into) New York City Marathon was offered to Rogue coaches and my friend, Laura, and me. (Thanks, Ruth and Laura!)  At the time, it was 13 weeks away, so still not enough time for me to build back up and race it, but possible to build up enough mileage to run it. Something as enticing as New York is exactly the motivation I needed to get serious about training. It’s something to look forward to to get me back out on the roads in this heat. I started from a base of 14 miles in a week (nowhere close to a marathoner’s base mileage), and built up to 18 miles this week, with a challenging 8-mile long run. I don’t expect to race it, but running it again is enough.

A small group of us (Scott, Afton and I) ran the New York Marathon in 2001, about 6 weeks post 9/11. Ground Zero was still burning. Air traffic had just resumed. There were threats on many US bridges like San Francisco’s Golden Gate and the New York bridges (the marathon crosses 2 major bridges, 5 total.) There was a lot of fear and uncertainty. None of us had trained enough, but we wanted to go and run it and show our support for New Yorkers.

Crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

Of my 8 marathons, it is my favorite race. It’s not my best time or the easiest course, but it was an awe-inspiring experience. The course takes you through New York’s five boroughs: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan, through culturally diverse neighborhoods like the Hasidic Jewish community and Harlem, across five bridges, and finishes in Central Park.  The sight at the start with 25,000+ people running across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is spectacular.

I ran with a camera and took photos with firemen, policemen and people running in honor of those lost in the tragedy of the World Trade Center. I ran alongside people and listened to their stories, crying through much of the race. I stopped and had a beer with spectators on one street lined with pubs.  While it was a slow race, I truly experienced New York.  Even recounting the experience gives me chills.

It’s now 11 weeks until the race.  My Rogue coaches are supportive and encouraging.  Next week, the goal is 22 miles with a 10-mile long run, and plenty of cross-training. I’m going to take it week by week and see how things go.

For now, it’s the New York City Marathon Nov. 1 or bust!

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