Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NYC - I saw the signs

So, last winter I applied to run the 2012 NYC Marathon. 

I had run the Chicago Marathon twice and heard that in order to run NYC you must apply and get your name pulled through a lottery process.  My running bud Lish told me that if we apply for 3 years and do not get our names pulled that you are guaranteed a spot the next year, so we applied to start that process.  Little did I know that my luck would kick in April when they did the lottery and my name was pulled. 

I was actually very upset but didn't tell anyone.  I had plans to run the Chicago Marathon with the REACT thyroid foundation charity on October 7th and this one was going to be a month later on November 4th - that would be too much for me and I would enjoy neither race.  Lish said not too worry because I could take it easy in Chicago and use it as a training run for NYC. 

What everyone did not know was that I was sick and had not run yet in 2012.  How could I run Chicago without any base training let alone a 2nd one 4 weeks later? 

After several doctors appt. and fixing some "chick stuff" plus Crohns disease stuff I was finally running again on June 10, 2012.  Problem was that I was way behind the plan.  I had no energy and my joints ached more than normal.  Turns out that I now have arthritis and it sucks.  I needed to take it easy, slow down and take a lot more rest days.  Leading up to Chicago I was feeling good but knew I didn't have the same stamina I had in the previous years.  I ran Chicago on my 44th birthday - October 7th and we all saw how that went - went out too fast and had no energy to push myself at anytime. Finished but it sucked.

So, I came home from Chicago devastated and embarrassed, joined Good Life Fitness so I could continue to train indoors and use the treadmill to get my pace back.  I spoke to a nutritionist and was feeling great about NYC.  I had never been to NYC and was a tad nervous about the size of the race (47,000 runners) and the city itself.  My mom would come with me and help me get through it all.

I made a shirt and checked the weather daily.  Things were looking good until about a week before the race a hurricane struck the east coast and cause severe damage to the state of New Jersey and New York City. 

Little did we know the extent of the damage and the widespread problems that water, sand, and winds caused to this area.  We watched the news and weather reports and on Tuesday October 30th an announcement was made that the race was still on.

Friday morning mom and I got to the Buffalo airport and our flight had arrived to take us to NYC - a good sign. 

We had a great flight as it is not very far to NYC where I saw the city for the first time ever and was so thrilled to catch a glimpse of the skyline of Manhattan. 

We did not know about the problems with the gas shortage or widespread electricity issues but my brother John did and because he was so worried about us he arranged for a car service to get us to our hotel.  I have never had a driver hold a sign up with our name on it let alone ride in a Mercedes SUV - we were pimped out. 

Right away the driver explained to us the problems in the city and about all the gas/electricity issues.  As we drove we saw the long line ups at the gas stations, no traffic lights and people walking to get home without any public transportation.  He got us to the hotel in 1 piece and we were able to check in - another good sign. 

We immediately went to the expo and I got my bid and started shopping for cool race gear.  And then, out of no, where I saw him...Ryan Hall my favourite runner at a booth signing autographs.  He signed my bib last year in Chicago and I got a personal best time - I wonder if he signed it again this year if NYC would be where I break 6 hours.  I was so thrilled to see him again and we chatted it up.  Another good sign..

We left and went out for dinner and grabbed a coffee when I received several texts and messages that people were sorry to hear the marathon was cancelled.  I thought everyone was kidding until we got back to the hotel and watched the live broadcast of the cancellation.   I was fine with the decision as it did not feel right.  How could I be running when no one was able to celebrate when they had lost so much.  It was a sign...a sign to stop and appreciate what we have, and a chance to come back next year, faster and stronger when everyone could celebrate.

Saturday morning we headed back to the expo as we had arranged a bus trip called Marathon Route in a Coach tour.  A four hour tour of the marathon route and city.  This was the best thing as we learned everything there is to learn about NYC, saw all of NYC, and I was able to see how difficult of a marathon route it is.  I think this was a good sign...  I need to be much lighter, faster, and stronger if I want to finish this race well - it is sooo hilly.  One of the most wonderful sites on our tour was seeing ground zero and the construction of the Freedom Tower.  It rises about the city and it is like a beacon of survival and hope. 

We saw all the boroughs, all the sites but was sadden to see such sorrow for so many.  the gas lines were so long and the lack of power left many people freezing.  We saw houses and cars wreaked by the winds, water, and rain. 

We finished the tour and got back in time to see the Lion King - I cried as soon as the curtains open, the singing started, and the elephants came down the aisles.   We went out for dinner that night to a wonderful Italian restaurant after a very full day. 

I forgot that for lunch I even got to eat really NYC style pizza in our favourite part of the city; Williamsburg which is in Brooklyn and the marathon runs right past a street of amazing shops, cafes and pizza places. Next year I look forward to seeing this part of NYC again with all the people out to cheer us on.
Sunday morning we woke up and heard that many of the marathon runners were in Staten Island helping all the people there with bringing supplies to those in need.  Another 1/3 of the runners went home, ran other races or didn't come and the other 1/3 were in Central Park.  I put on my NYC marathon shirt and we hit the park with thousands of other runners running laps and celebrating a makeshift marathon.  We cheered for an hour as people ran by and then we joined in the fun.  Many people had come to cheer the runners on from all over the world.  Mom and I could not believe the countries represented.  I would need to make a better shirt next year with the "Canada" letters much bigger.   

I then asked mom if we could hit all the spots and do all the things I have ever wanted to do in NYC.  She was game and had her running shoes on so we walked to Bloomingdale's, shopped (I knew I needed to get Megan something from here) and we had lunch.  Went to the Empire State Building which is so gorgeous and walked back to Times Square for photos and to see if we could get tickets to another show.  No tickets were available so we found a great place for dinner (Mexican our favourite), a way to donate my clothes to charity and saw the NYFD on 8th Avenue to say thank you and see their memorial wall to their fallen firefighters. 

I know we did soooo much more but am forgetting a ton.  It was an amazing 4 days.  Thank you to everyone for your care and thoughts while I tried to complete this race this year.  I promise you that this was not a waste of time, it was the best thing for me.  I love doing stuff with my mom and we haven't had a trip together since San Antonio in 2006 plus it showed me that I need to work harder next year to train for this race.  I know the city will bounce back and the people will overcome all of this..they always do.  I am excited to return to celebrate in true NYC style with the people that deserve to be happy.
My favourite part of the trip was when I was saying goodbye to Lennie in the parking lot on Thursday night to head to Buffalo.  He asked me to hold out my hand and he placed his most prized possession on my finger...his dad's dog tag.  He told me to wear it in good health and for good luck.  I tied it to my shoe and was hoping that I wouldn't lose it - I tied it 3 times to my laces and under the tongue part so it wouldn't fall off.  I wore it everywhere it was a good sign...