Sunday, December 6, 2009

NYC Marathon '09

I am not a runner.

I have never pretended to be a runner. In fact, runners annoy me as much as outspoken wine aficionados (if we want your opinions, we'll ask).

Yet, foolishly, I decided to try to run the NYC Marathon.

My thinking was:
1- it would make for a great story.
2- I have no idea how long I will live in NYC.
3- I am not getting any younger.

So, I applied to the lottery . . . and got rejected on March 31st of this year. A few months later, a friend's (loyal reader RMac) girlfriend notified me that there was an opening in the race that she could claim for me. I agreed.

On July 8th, my spot was sealed.

That gave me 115 days to prepare for the 26.2-mile jaunt. Now, mind you, I had never run more than three miles at once in my life. Ever.

My goal (successful completion) was not anything in the realm of "heroic," but it would be a challenge.

My training regiment consisted of three 5-7 mile runs during the week and a longer run each Saturday followed by rec league football games on Sundays. (Personally, I think the football was a huge help as it satisfied my sprint workout requirements.) I had great training partners (loyal readers CGleas, Bitman, and my fiancee) making the runs a bit less boring. Running around a track is brutal, but running around the greatest city in the world, even if it happens at the asscrack of dawn or before, can be relaxing, even therapeutic.

My longest pre-race run came on October 17th when I went for 19 miles. Once I knew I could handle that distance, I hoped adrenaline and the crowd would carry me the rest of the way.

Fast forward to November 1st, race morning. I'm sitting on Staten Island waiting anxiously for the race to begin. At 9:14, the gun to start the women's race sound, 45 minutes before I'm released. Time passes quickly, and I'm off.

The excitement and energy were palpable.

As we ran, the congregations of at least three predominantly African American churches burst into song and dance which was awesome. Seeing 50 people clapping and belting out song inspires you greatly. It may not sound like much, but just trust me.

My parents met me three times along the course, my fiancee twice. Again, this was hugely important as running for four plus hours is draining mentally as much as it is physically.

The weather was ideal - mid-50s - for November and the crowd was abuzz for all 4 hours and 24 minutes of my run.

People have asked me two questions: "what was the best part" and "will you do it again." To answer the first, I say the last half-mile where the crowd stood about seven-deep as we approached the finish.

Overall, the experience can best be described as the most fun I never wish to have again (that answers the second).

It's been five weeks, my IT bands still haven't recovered. If you don't know what those are (and I did not), go ask a runner.

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