I already know what giving up feels like. I want to see what happens if I don’t.
I fell in love with running my freshman year in high school and since then, one of my life dreams was to run a marathon. But my dream wasn’t to run just any marathon, it had to be the largest and one of the most coveted marathons in the world: THE New York City Marathon! It wasn’t until my third year in college that I decided to enter the drawing and to my surprise I was instantly selected. What are the chances of that happening? I’d always heard how difficult it was to get in. Some runners try for years with no luck. Immediately after being accepted I began my training. Later that year, super storm hurricane Sandy hit New York City hard in 2012 and the race was cancelled the day before.
Five years passed and in 2017 I was ready to attempt to run it again. New York City and I had unfinished business. For that entire year, I embarked on the challenging and time-consuming task of training for a marathon for the second time. In order to properly train for this type of race, you have to put in the time. Months and months go into training. Every week you have to lightly increase your mileage and as the months go on, your runs get longer and longer. You begin to question why in the world you are training and giving away all your free time to running such longs distances. Waking up at 5:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning to run 18 miles instead of sleeping in like the rest of the world, was I crazy?
Fast forward and here I am now, where I can finally say that I am a marathoner. I attempted to write out about it as soon as I flew back home from the race, trying to reflect back on one of the most incredible experiences of my life and I just couldn’t get myself to write. I guess in a way I was still trying to soak it all in.
“Congratulations on your first of many marathons” read one card… “You are so strong”…. and the compliments go on and on. The most interesting compliment I received was “you are crazy, but inspiring”, and at times I did feel crazy for putting my body through all those months of training.
But you see, training and running a marathon does something remarkable to you as an individual. It changes your perspective on life, it teaches you resilience, discipline, dedication, and mental and physical endurance. You learn to be patient with yourself and learn that all things in life certainly always take time. You learn that sometimes there are no shortcuts. You have to take the long road, endure some pain and go through some speed bumps along the way. But, the reward after such a hard journey is that once you reach your destination you are 10 times wiser and stronger.
Running is certainly a lonely sport. You spend 100% of the time in your own head, consumed by a million thoughts and in a constant battle: Mind vs. Body. But guess what? You learn that your mind is stronger than your body. You learn to push through and keep going no matter what.
Allow yourself to be a beginner, no one starts off being excellent.
The weeks before my trip, I had this picture in my mind on how I would run, what race day would look like and I definitely pictured sunny skies. Of course, things in life always play out slightly different from what we picture inside our heads, and race day was no exception. The skies were grey and it was bitterly cold. But despite the cold, I joined thousands of runners at the start line for the national anthem, followed by the firing of the cannon and immediately after, Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” began to play in the loud speakers. As all New Yorkers know, Frank Sinatra is synonymous with the city and as his song blared, we started to run through the start line and towards the Verrazano Bridge. Frank Sinatra’s tune was a cue, we knew our personal race was about to begin, and despite the not so perfect weather, at that moment we were all living a dream.
There is something humbling about running through New York City’s five boroughs, along 50 thousand other runners and almost 6 months after the race I still can’t fully describe that feeling. Every single runner there is running their own race, but in a way we are silently pushing each other every step of the way. The crowds of spectators also push you tremendously. As you run through the five boroughs, there is no shortage of New Yorkers cheering you on, holding up funny and motivational signs, handing you towels, water, fruits and anything else that you might need for a little extra energy to get you through and to the finish line. In mile marker 15 there was a guy holding out a tray with plastic cups filled with beer. I was honestly tempted to grab one as I ran by him, but after running over 15 miles, the last thing on my mind was a beer. I wanted the finish Line!
The truth is that I can continue rambling on about my experience. So I’m just going to end it here. My last take on running my first marathon is that I walked away with a more courageous outlook to life and with the newfound knowledge that no matter what life throws at me, I will have the courage and tenacity to push through. So, if you’re reading this and think that running a marathon is beyond your grasp, please don’t. If you ask me, ANYONE can run a marathon, all you need is the will and determination to do it.
You said “I won’t make it” a million times. You made it every time.