Just four weeks ago, I finished the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon with a time of 04:52:17. Several people warned me not to decide at least for one month whether I would run another, so I gave myself the space for my thoughts and feelings to percolate before talking about all the things I've learned by doing this thing - running this race I once never thought I'd run.
5. My favorite signs are the cheeky ones.
Actually, my favorite sign read, "This seems like a lot of work for a free banana at the end." My goal for next year's New York City Marathon is to have an adult beverage beforehand and enjoy being a spectator who yells random names as the runners pass by with their names on their shirts. The people who came out and cheered my name this year made this race so much more fun and interesting... and it seems like they all have a great time too.
4. I can accomplish a lot in 4 months.
Granted, this race kind of began in 2011, when a good friend insisted I run with him in the 2012 marathon unfortunately canceled in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In a way, it took me a few years. That said, my proper training (after establishing a respectable jogging base of thirty minutes, four times a week) only took me sixteen weeks. Those weeks and months did not fly, and I found them enjoyable, rewarding, but incredibly difficult to schedule physically, schedule-wise, and financially. Although I may not participate in another marathon because of that difficulty for some time, I know now that I can accomplish things I once thought impossible in a surprisingly short amount of time with a lot of discipline. As for the marathon, watch for my next actual 26.2 miler when I want to prove something in the future about my age (think a 50th or 60th birthday).
3. Never is my favorite word...
... Because every time I say it, something magical happens to help me understand something I thought I couldn't understand or perform some feat I didn't imagine I could complete. You know, become a vegetarian, go skydiving, run a marathon. By the way, I could never be a billionaire. ;)
2. For my most important races, I need help.
No, we didn't plan the matching shoes. This is my amazing friend Sarah Hawkey, who ran the last 5 miles of the race with me and kept me going to the end. My wonderful boyfriend Joseph Roy met me at mile 14 to help me refuel with coconut water and a kiss (and helped me get to my appointments the next day by keeping me from falling down). Unknown to me at the time, my parents and sister's family watched from home online and on TV, coordinating with their phones to catch me at the finish line. Finally, in the biggest way, I needed dozens of people to help me make this race happen by donating to Team for Kids on my behalf... and I'm so ridiculously grateful for this village who helped raise me to new heights.
1. My body is a vessel.
During my training season, I sang in some Rosh Hashanah services in which the Rabbi spoke about the body as a vessel. She used some recent ideas about quantum physics to discuss our minds, our spirits, and the idea of an afterlife, and it left an aftereffect on me that has lingered in my running and life. I would use the concept while running to remind myself - when tired, sore, or just allowing my mind to spiral into negativity - that my body is just a vessel for my mind and my spirit. The idea that I have a spirit separate from even my mind made such a huge difference when pushing myself beyond my normal limits of physical strength and mental attention.
While running the marathon, I began to feel particularly fatigued around mile twenty-one, the furthest distance I had yet run. Sarah's energy and positive mentality helped so much, but I still had to push forward to keep going and keep my pace enjoyable. We talked and talked, and it kept my mind off of the fatigue but also made me wonder, "Would I finish this race without really processing my journey because of the distraction?"
Not at all. In the middle of conversation, somewhere around 25.7 miles, I realized I only had .5 miles left in the race. My spirit had a brief explosion of laughter, and I found myself tearing carefully hydrated tears, completely unable to ignore the fact that I had just run for almost five hours straight and that, after a long three-year journey, I was about to run a marathon.
And I did. I ran it, and I can't say I'd want it to have happened any other way. I'm proud of the time I accomplished for my first race, despite some ridiculously windy race conditions. The people and friends who gave me advice, help, and support along the way deserve the medal as much as I. I don't know exactly when I will run my next race, but I know that it will inform my future. If I can skydive and run 26.2 miles, I can't think of too many things that will stop me from making the race of my life the most exciting, beautiful one I can imagine. Stick around to see what's next.