Marathon Weekend: A Celebration of Running

Runners cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the start of the New York City Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Runners cross the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at the start of the New York City Marathon, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

You know you’re a goner/runner when there’s a super-huge racing event coming up and though you had made the decision the year earlier not to run, you’re here mad wishing that you could be running – my current predicament as it relates to the TCS New York City (NYC) Marathon this Sunday. Of course it doesn’t help that the city is abuzz with Marathon fever and I’m smack in the center of it. I’m running past the finish line and on part of the course during my weekly runs for crying out loud. Is it any wonder then? Add to that the number of runners who are so happy to share their epic moment and I’m just about ready to forget all about the challenges and pain of last year and take up anyone’s offer to run in their place – just to be a part of the drama. Then I’m reminded that I do have a part to play, albeit a less challenging one, but surely no less important. I’m happily volunteering at the start!

Post my first time running NYC Marathon, I decided there and then, that I would endeavor to run every other year, partly due to its challenging course and in large part because of the entry criteria. I felt this would leave me with more opportunity to travel and explore other courses. And it has to a large extent so I’m happy with my decision. Around this time though, it’s easy to get caught up in the madness of it all and if you’re me..well, there’s that competitive thing happening..it can’t be helped. As it is, thankfully I know my place and it’ll be out there on the course cheering on those running folks, pouring all the enthusiasm and encouragement that have inspired my running so many times back into hearts and minds of my fellow soul runners. It’s exciting, it’s different, it’s all about running and in it I’ve found my happy place so it’s all good really.

As a brief aside, we’ve stolen into November without much fanfare and with some pretty cool temps. My inner summer is jumping up and down with glee and I’m busy running making the most of the miracle of a Fall that is a bundle of gorgeousness, from the cool weather to the mirage of colors as far as the eye can see. I love it here. It’s the perfect weather for running why wouldn’t I? The predicted weather for Sunday seems pretty cool – high 40s with a bit of a headwind at the start and heading into Brooklyn, then warming up to a high of 58 with partly sunny skies. A marathoner can do wonders with this I think. These conditions are much preferred over last year, which was much warmer; for that we are thankful.

Meanwhile, we begin Marathon weekend with lots of running-related events: Ascis Extra Mile Challenge, the Marathon Opening Ceremony, The Marathon Expo, The Night of Champions dinner tonight, then the Abbott Dash to the Finish race tomorrow leading up to the Marathon on Sunday, which will kick off with the NYRR (New York Road Runners) Youth Invitational and the kids leading the way of the few final miles of the race. All in all, it’ll be a good weekend for running. Of course I’m getting my runs in amidst all of this. Juggling it all is half the fun.

centralpark.com

centralpark.com

 

 

 

The Other Side of Running the TCS NYC Marathon: Volunteering and Cheering

Runners on the Verazzano Bridge, Staten Island

Runners on the Verazzano Bridge, Staten Island

Last Sunday was Marathon Sunday here in New York City. Over 50,800 runners braved the most windy and chilly day we’ve had in the longest time for the coveted title and medal for having run the largest and, some would argue, best marathon in the world: the New York City Marathon. As far back as last year, I had decided I wasn’t running this year; I felt I wanted to explore and expand my boundaries and focus my running outside of the city. I’ll be honest, on Sunday I was torn. Witnessing runners of all persuasions with varying abilities and over 50,000 reasons for running brought out my competitive spirit and I couldn’t help but wish that I had run. On the flip side, volunteering at the start quickly assuaged those running notions as I witnessed the anxiety and chilly determination of runners as they hunkered down in near-freezing temperatures to await the start from as early as 6am.

TCS NYCM 2014 VOLUNTEERS

TCS NYCM 2014 VOLUNTEERS

We did the best we could, chatting them up and seeking to encourage them as we too bore the brunt of the wind. Finally, it was time to usher runners on their way, as the canon boomed in the distance declaring the sending off of the first, second, then third and finally fourth wave of runners at 10:55am over the Verrazano bridge in Staten Island to the sound of Frank Sinatra’s “New York.” Consider those runners as they progressed throughout the five boroughs, oftentimes to the company of a head wind especially upon crossing the five land-mark bridges of the race. Tenacity is the one word that comes to mind, it describes the mindset and spirit that pervaded runners as they struggled against the odds, having to adjust their strategy and even goals. Through their journey they were not alone; accompanied each mile by cheering spectators: an estimated 1 million in total, and hard-working volunteers encouraging and providing sustenance, many persevered despite the prevailing conditions and made their way through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, The Bronx and finally to Central Park and the finish line.

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There was never a doubt that after finishing my shift I was going to be a part of the most amazing cheer crowd the world over. 26.2 miles of spectators lined the streets of New York City, themselves braving the weather to make this race the phenomenal experience it is. It wouldn’t be the same without them and so more than anything, I wanted to be a part of that. I chose to stand close to the finish in Central Park and for four hours, cheered my encouragement and support, along with thousands of others, for runners I had never met but felt such an affinity with. Running, jogging, hopping, walking, crawling they came: an incessant wave from all over the world: young, old and everywhere in between they kept on coming; smiling, crying, in-pain, determined and victorious, to the utter delight of the crowds they came. From as early as 12pm runners were already in Central Park, Wilson Kipsang leading the pack as he cruised to the finish line in a time of 2:10:55 and picked up his first New York Marathon title, $100,000 and an additional $500,000 for going on to win the World Marathon Majors title with his win here in New York. Fellow Kenyan, Mary Kietany won first place in the women’s category with a time of 2:23:10. We clapped, hooted, whistled, rang bells, screamed and cheered for hours for thousands as they made their way home to the finish line, more than 3/4 of which were first time NYC marathon finishers and/ or first time marathoners at that.

Wilson Kipsang, 2014 TCS NYC Marathon title holder & World Marathon Majors 2014 title holder

Wilson Kipsang, 2014 TCS NYC Marathon title holder & World Marathon Majors 2014 title holder

I finally gave in to the chill and my voicelessness around 6:30pm while runners just kept on coming, no end in sight. In spite of the cold, I walked away with an incredibly inspiring feeling and felt much love, kudos and the deepest admiration for all runners this year. It does a girl’s running heart good to see so much love, support and dedication for her sport of choice. Thank you New York Road Runners, TCS New York City Marathon and the city of New York including all spectators, volunteers and runners for putting on a phenomenal event. See you next year. I will be running!

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