Friday, November 09, 2007

Special Guests

Now that the fog has lifted and I'm back to things as usual, I realize I forgot to mention two very special guests on the marathon course -- Mariana Silva and Melissa Jones.

Mariana, who was scheduled to run the marathon this year, but, sadly, had to forgo her space due to injury, cheered for us in Brooklyn AND in Manhattan. She made a pink flag in honor of Alison, Ciara, and pink shirts (not planned, btw), and, was therefore, easy to spot in the massive crowds. Plus, her arms did not get tired holding a bothersome sign, a lesson my fiancee and soon-to-be in laws learned very quickly. Mariana has been and continues to be our biggest cheerleader, coming out to races at 7:00a.m. to encourage us on (Nike Half), getting Alison entry into that same race, and, as mentioned, trekking around two boroughs to help us at the 'thon. And, she's cute as a button. Seriously, the girl is so freakin' adorable everyone she meets falls madly in love with her.

Melissa, who I met through Alison, gets so excited about our running. She's another one who supports every inch of the way. She was around mile 18 on 1st Avenue, then she high-tailed it over to 5th Avenue at mile 22ish with her big yellow sign to cheer us on to the last four miles. Unless you've run a marathon there is no way to express (at least for me) what a boost it is to see a friend in those last few miles. I was feeling like I was going to break, but I saw Melissa, and it totally recharged my will. Melissa drove in from Westchester, cheered for us, then helped Alison get home after her run -- above and beyond the call of duty. Melissa is pretty awesome.

Monday, November 05, 2007


MARATHON 11/04/07

So, I prepared all week for the marathon by getting my clothes, socks, shoes, body glide, bandana, throw away clothes all in place so I wouldn't be running around Sunday morning getting it all together. The alarm went off at 5:30a.m., I took a shower, got myself dressed, made my peanut butter and banana sandwich, and was out the door by 5:58, ready to meet Alison and Barnett at the Holiday Inn across the street to catch a cab to the ferry. I get in the elevator, hit the button to "1", do a little jig, and the elevator stops at the third floor. I'm thinking, "Who is up this early? Probably someone walking their dog." I wait a few seconds, but the door doesn't open. And doesn't open. And continues not to open for even longer. My heart starts racing, panic takes over. "OhmyGodohmyGodthiscan'tbehappeningthiscan'tbehappening." And, yes, I'm saying this out loud. I look around frantically, hitting every button on the panel -- nothing lights up, no sound, the elevator has died. I hit the alarm button, which does little other than make a very loud, shrill ringing sound that I'm worried is going to wake the people on the third floor. Yes, I was actually worried about waking the building; I'm nothing if not sensitive to the sleep needs of others. I hit the "Call" button, which dials down to Shaun, the doorman. He answers and I explain that I am stuck in the elevator. He says he'll call the elevator repair company. I hang up, then immediately call again: "Tell them it's an emergency! I'm running the marathon!" He hangs up, then calls me a minute later to tell me the elevator guy is on the way. I ask how long it will take because my friends are waiting, I don't have a cell phone to call them, and, ha ha, I know I said this already, but I'm running the marathon today. He says he'll call me back. When he does he tells me the elevator guy will be 20 - 25 minutes. I look at my watch; it's 6:10. I wonder how long it will take for Alison and Barnett to come looking for me. I call downstairs again and ask Shaun if he'll go across the street and tell my friends where I am. He says he will, but I don't think he did because he called back too fast to tell me he didn't see them -- then, Shaun says "Oh, wait, I think these are your friends." Next thing I hear is Alison's voice on the other end, very comforting. I tell her she and Barnett can leave me: "Save yourselves!" She says they won't leave me, there's plenty of time, the last ferry leaves at 8:00, she and Barnett will leave by 7:30 if I'm not out by then. I'm thinking "This cannot be how I miss the marathon. Really? This is happening today? But, I planned for everything that could possibly go wrong." And, that's when I learned a lesson I'll probably keep learning: we have no control over anything, really. We can plan all we want to, but, no matter what, eventually we're going to get stuck in an elevator. Anyway, Alison stayed on the phone with me until, 25 minutes later, the elevator guy arrives. Seconds later I hear activity right outside the elevator door and, suddenly, the door starts to open. I jump out, thank the elevator guy whose name I can't remember now, but I am eternally grateful to him for getting there in time instead of taking his time on a very early Sunday morning, race down the stairs, hug Barnett and Alison, and we grab a cab which seemed to be waiting for us right in front of the Holiday Inn.
The End.

I'll skip the ferry and shuttle bus travel to the start except to say it was crowded, long, and bothersome. We got to the tree where we were to meet Ciara, Amanda, and Andy, by about 9:00, but they weren't there. An hour and ten minutes later, while waiting to start on the bridge, I saw a little star tattoo on the neck of a tall woman. I turned my head to get a look at the woman's face and low and behold it was Ciara! We reunited loudly, probably bugging the people around us. We ran together for the first mile, then we got separated by the crowd.

Almost first thing over the Verrazano we see Colin in a fetching hat holding a cup of something warm looking. We wave and smile. It's early so smiles are coming easy. As we go up 4th Ave. I keep a look out for familiar faces, but don't see many until around mile 8 where Steve Schine and Matt Stinton are giving out high fives.
I think we caught up to Ciara and Co. around mile 9 (not Amanda and Andy who I never saw) once again. This time we stuck together for another few miles. By the Pulaski Bridge our group of five was spreading out with Barnett in front, Ciara and I in the middle, Alison right behind, and Ciara's friends suddenly just gone. I have no idea when they disappeared.

Right after the Pulaski I knew Karl and Laural would be waiting to take my shirt, and, yes, they were there. It was great to see them as I hadn't seen them since August. I planted sweaty kisses on their cheeks, gave them my shirt, and took off. Barnett was still ahead, Ciara and I still together, and I no longer could see Alison behind me. Next would be Jody and Uma. I saw them and all I said was "I lost Alison!" and ran off. Later on the Queensboro Bridge I thought "Well, that was rude of me."
The Queensboro Bridge is hard. I don't know why exactly. It's not as steep as the Verrazano, but it's dark and kinda long, and anticipating the entrance into Manhattan on 1st Ave is exciting, but also causes impatience. Ciara and I didn't talk much, both of us concentrating on different goals: she, breathing; me, running.

Finally, Manhattan! Kirk, Mary Lou, Bob, and my dad, Steve, would be here, somewhere in the 60's. I pulled to the left and scanned the crowd. Soon enough I saw them. I couldn't speak, I don't know why, so I gave a few poses and a smile and kept going. At this point my right leg was hurting at the thigh, knee, and especially my ankle. I tried to think of other things, like my mom, Kirk, Kiersten, brunch, catching up with the 4:15 pacer, if I would make my goal time.

By mile 18 Ciara and I separated, a choice I was debating because I knew I'd really be on my own and, though I'd been preparing for this circumstance during training, I wondered if I could run the last eight miles by myself.
Entering the Bronx was cool, though. There isn't the crowd you see in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but they're fiesty and energetic, and there is good music.

Mile 22 I'm really struggling. My ankle is killing me as is my knee and I just want to walk. I stop this thought by looking at the crowd. No one is cheering my name because I lost my fabric name tag at mile five (lesson for next year -- attach fabric name tag with pins). However, I must've been close to another Erica because I hear her / my name yelled every now and then. I see Nicole with a friend I don't recognize, but he's smiling so I make an effort, tell Nicole Alison is behind me, and keep going.

MILES 24 THRU 26.2
This is the part where every step takes on new meaning. Some steps are slower than others. Some hurt more than the ones before. I can feel my posture change and I try to realign, stand up straight, and dig in for the last two miles. I'm convinced I can take it anymore, so I try to say things to myself like "hey, you're really strong, you're out here, you're going to make it", but all these thoughts do nothing but annoy me, so I clear my mind and think about nothing but connecting my foot to the ground. I push the pain away at mile 25 and pick up the pace. It's almost over. I'm on Central Park South and I can't even see the crowd anymore, it's just me and the end. Finally, I turn the corner and re-enter Central Park. Tears well up and I cry; just as soon as it starts it stops, though, and I see the finish line. Running a little faster I cross. As soon as my foot hit the mat I stop and walk, look down at my watch: 4:14:21.
I collect my metal and the heat wrapper thingy, have my picture taken, then walk with the crowd. Someone says "good race." I nod. Sara Kmack is a little ways ahead -- I see her curly hair. I am so happy to see a friend.

After wrangling me at 72nd Street, Kirk and the gang get me home (we walked). Later we go to the party Kirk's parents have planned, which was lots of fun. I don't get to talk to Alison about her race, but we promise to talk later.
At home I pass out by 10:00, but my sleep is interrupted periodically by the pain in my leg.
In the morning I check my official time and it's better than I thought: 4:13:51, 34 minutes faster than last year! I've made my goal, which was between 4:00 - 4:15 and I can't believe it! And, other than my ankle and knee, I feel really good. Stairs aren't fun. Other than that I feel like I can start running again by Saturday.

Thanks to everyone who came out to support us, and thanks to those who came out who I didn't see. Thanks to Ciara, Barnett, Amanda, Andy, especially Alison and especially Kirk who doesn't run, but supports my addiction with enthusiasm.

Until next season run strong, run proud, think big.


What do you say to yourself when the race gets tough?

The faster you finish, the faster you finish.

Come on motherfucker.
That's right bitch.
You not gonna take me.
You not gonna beat me.
I am about to kill you.
Fuck you. Fuck you.
Come on motherfucker.
Lets do this bitch.

Around mile 25 last year, when I wanted to stop, some guy who had already finished the race was walking out of the park and saw me struggling. He called out “Stay strong Marne, stay strong”. I spent the last mile repeating that phrase to myself.

You can do this. You are a single girl living in New York City.
Compared to that stuff (feel free to drop in whatever latest 'are you
kidding me' story)... THIS STUFF is cake! And then I like to picture
whatever latest loser who doesn't appreciate how fabulous I am on the
sidelines with his jaw dropping and regretful because I look fantastic
(no matter if I am sweaty or whatever) and full of power and
determination. And me blowing by him with a big "see ya I'm on to
better things in my life -- oh by the way I'm in the middle of running XX miles this morning, what did you do today?"
I also like to think... You can do this. "You've done harder things
than this before." I picture my decision to move to New York City and
how amazing and beautiful this city is. I focus on what I'm running
past (the trees, lampposts, whatever) and really SEE IT and it's
beauty. And thinking damn I am one lucky person! Moving here with
only a backpack and a couple of distant contacts and look at how full
and amazing my life has become with friends and experiences. Thinking
how happy I am to be living life to its fullest and that not many
people can really say that. Wow this run is so cool, not everyone
gets to run past this and see this. Then the moment of needing some
help while running is over and I feel really good for the next couple
of miles.
If on a hill -- Just make it to the top and the rest is easy.

Damn, this is hard, but I'm not stopping. Not stopping, not stopping, not stopping. Never stop.

I like what I saw on a couple of signs this year: Pain is temporary, Pride is forever.