Yesterday was the 2014 TCS NYC Marathon. Thousands of runner come from all over the world to take on the 26.2 miles that weave through the five boroughs of the city that never sleeps. Being someone who has completed a marathon, I know all the training, pain, and sacrifice that goes in to the preparation to get across that finish line. I have the utmost respect for marathoners. If it takes them 2:13:17 or over 7+ hours, every one of them has completed an amazing feat that can never be taken away from them.
During my first long distance race, the Tower of Terror 10 Miler, I remember how long and lonely the race was because a lot of the race was on the high way where spectators were not allowed. At the 10K mark I was really dragging and a volunteer was standing clapping and said “Souzapalooza, you’re doing great! Keep going! You can do this”. On the verge of tears, I said to myself, “Yes, I Can!” That one gesture changed the entire race for me. Having the opportunity to give that feeling back to some one else today, was incredibly rewarding.
I was with an army of friends today, cheering for my running bff, The Flash! Ka-Ka and I took the train to meet, SK1, SK2, Irish Kat, and D-Wall in Grand Central and we booked it over to Vernon Blvd in Long Island City to catch The Flash right before mile 14. Not From Argentina, DJ Cool (who lives in the neighborhood) and Nike Nick, all met up with us as she passed the half way point. She looked strong and was making great time, pacing at about a 11:13mm.
Once we saw her, we booked it back to the 7 train and transferred to the 6 uptown to jump out at 116th Street and made our way to First Ave just past the 19 mile marker. We waited for her there, seeing some of the same faces we saw back in Long Island City. It was really fun to call out their names (Have your name on your running gear is great for spectators to cheer for you!) At 19, she was still looking strong, smiling and even stopped to remind SK2 that she was going to be doing the same thing next year! (SK2 just earned a guarantee for the NYC 2015 when she finished the Dash with me on Saturday)
While The Flash made her way in to the Bronx, we hightailed to the 22 Mile Marker (with a small pit stop at Dunkin Donuts…don’t judge, it was freezing out!) I loved being at mile 22! Again we were seeing some of the same runners for the 3rd time, but we could see they were loosing steam. A lot of spectators skip this part of the course and just head to the finish. Sadly, this is really where people need that last extra push. It was so gratifying to be able to help give others a boost to get to the finish. Yelling all sorts of motivators and walking parallel with some of the runners pep talking them get running again. Many of them winded and tired, would nod, smile, give a thumbs up, or just mouth a thank you in my direction.
Mile 22 was the last place I saw The Flash. We agreed beforehand that we would cheer along the course but not try to find her at the finish due to the crowds and poor cell phone service with everyone searching for their friends and loved ones. As much as I know this was the right decision (and how much I really hate crowds), I really did miss not being there to see her cross, get her medal and give her a great big weepy hug (because I’m a crier). For the record, The Flash finished in 5:24:39 pacing around 12:23mm
The Flash has been talking about running NYC pretty much since I met her two years ago. A girl, who after two foot surgeries was told she wouldn’t be able to run, now as not one, but two marathons under her belt and she is going for number three in January! I know all the work that she put in to her training and it makes me incredibly upset that many people around her don’t recognize or appreciate the immense dedication and effort she has and the size of the accomplishment she has achieved. I know it does not make up for everyone else’s lack of understanding, but in my humble option I will say…..
(and yes, I am teary-eyed in front of my computer screen!)