Why I Run

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Because... I didn't think I could. 
Because It's the only thing I do just for me. 
Because I love doughnuts. 
And bread. 
And strawberry ice cream. 
And pasta. 
Because I ran that first 5k without stopping. 
Because of Oklahoma City. 
And Boston. 
Because people think it's cool. 
Because I feel prettiest in workout clothes. 
Because there's a place in Riverside Park at 91st where the path curves. 
Because I became a doctor, aunt, and marathoner this year. 
Because there are things much harder than running. 
Because I thought it would be inexpensive. 
Because running shoes are cool. 
And runners are the most encouraging people. 
Because I am strong enough. 
Because I finally stopped caring about the number on the scale. 
Or the size on the tag. 
Because it's uncommon. 
Because this city is magical. 
And impossible. 
And heartbreaking. 
And home. 
Because sometimes you turn a corner and see the Statue of Liberty. 
And the Empire State Building is a normal view on a morning run. 
Because I fell in love in this city. 
And fell out of love in this city. 
And realized I was so much better than that in this city. 
Because I can. 
Because this is my city. 
Because New York.

26.2 Thoughts on 26.2

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Running a marathon is, in fact, hard. 

Really hard. 

To be completely honest, there are parts of it that I don't remember very well. And to be even more honest, that might be okay. Part of me wishes that I remembered every single second of those six hours, 20 minutes, and 28 seconds. The rest of me is pretty glad I can't quite recall every step...

In an attempt to document the journey from the Verrazano Bridge to Tavern on the Green, I give you 26.2 thoughts on 26.2 miles...

1. This can't be that hard, right? I've already done the hard work. 20 miles is practically 26.2. I'm good. Oh wait, this bridge is pretty steep. And crowded. Move over people. Speed up. Really really steep. Am I wearing the right clothes? Seriously, it's still the first mile? 

2. Whew, downhill. I can totally run 25 more miles. No problem. 

3. Hello Brooklyn. Where are all the people? They said it would be crowded. And, um... it's still pretty far to the finish line. This is serious, right? At least there's Gatorade...

4. Oh hey, Brooklyn people. I wonder if I know any of you. You know, because I know like five people who live in Brooklyn. I bet I'll see them soon. 

5. Seriously, there are a lot of people in Brooklyn. And they have cool bands. And kids who can't wait to high-five you. And gatorade. And I just ran my fastest five miles ever. And it's time for my first energy chews. Totally winning this marathon.

6. Okay, these people are excited, but they really need to stand away from the street and not in the street. I'm running a marathon here, people. 

7. If you don't get out of the street, I am going to yell at you. But thanks for cheering for me...

8. Are you kidding me that we're just now in downtown Brooklyn? And I still haven't seen those five people I know who live here? 

9. If I hear one more loud, obnoxious band, I am going to scream. How am I supposed to hear my motivational playlist over the stupid bands?

10. Totally nailed the first ten miles with my fastest time yet. I am rocking this marathon. Time for some more energy chews. But someone seems to have not told Williamsburg's Orthodox Jewish community that the streets are closed. They keep walking through the marathon like it's not even happening. Please don't let me run over someone. I really can't run another 16 miles with skinned knees...

11. Those hipsters in Williamsburg are just sitting there drinking their mimosas and having brunch and watching me like it's a fun easy morning. I hate them. Maybe they will let me join them? Wait, is that my cousin?

12. I hate Brooklyn. How am I still in Brooklyn? Oh right... It's bigger than Houston. But Greenpoint seems kind of cool...

13. I am going to be in Brooklyn for the rest of my life. And my legs are maybe starting to get a little tired...

13.1. Oh hey, halfway... Oh wait, it's only halfway. This is usually when I stop running. But I sure do love this city...

14. So this is Queens? Interesting. I usually only come here to go to the airport. It's kind of nice. In a Queens kind of way. These people are real friendly. And they have Gatorade...

15. Can't. Keep. Going. So. Tired. Maybe I should just walk the 59th Street Queensboro Bridge. It's really super big. And so so steep. Walking is good. Everyone else is walking too. It's just so quiet on the bridge. Eerie, creepy quiet. I really don't think I can do another 11 miles. But I love this view... 

16. Hey there, Manhattan. Hello, second wind. Love these crowds. Love this city. Love running. Love Gatorade. Doesn't even matter that my phone died. I have an iPod. I've totally got this.

17. I might not have this. First Avenue is really long, and I'm not really liking this hill. I wonder if I know any of these people? My stomach feels a little funny.

18. Where are all these banana peels coming from? Why can't I find a banana? Those energy chews were pretty sugary. I really need some real food. I would give someone that $5 in my pocket for a banana. I don't know about these next eight miles. 18 plus 8 is 26, right? 

19. I can't make it any more. How are there still seven miles left? I would pay $1000 for pepto-bismol chews. Or some sort of food other than energy chews and Gatorade. Please God don't let me throw up. I hate Gatorade.

20. Maybe if I just stand here on the Willis Avenue Bridge for a few minutes and focus on breathing, I won't throw up. Maybe I just need to stop moving for a minute. Just breathe. You can do this. Those runners who just stopped to check on me are so nice. Runners are the best people in the world. And now I'm crying. It's just too much. People were not meant to run marathons. Just breathe. And stop crying. And start running. It doesn't matter how long it takes. You don't have to hit your five and a half hour goal. Just move. Oh hey, fake a smile for that photographer over there...

21. There are no people in the Bronx. Except for that super annoying band. At least it's mostly downhill. Maybe I'll be okay. Praise the Lord, I'm back in Manhattan. Why are there so many banana peels and no bananas? I would seriously eat a banana off the ground if I saw one. They said there would be bananas at mile 21. It's like a mirage. Maybe I'm hallucinating...

22. A banana! Thank you God for sending me half a banana. Just four miles. Breathe. And maybe just walk for a little while.

23. Fifth Avenue is kind of a big hill. And my friend said she would be here and isn't. I thought the crowds would be a lot bigger. Where is everyone? Is that lady holding out an entire banana a mirage or is she real? An entire banana from a stranger and not even a race station? I love you so much, random stranger lady. You are my hero.

24. Hello Central Park. There's the Met. And the reservoir. I know these roads. I've run these roads. I can do this. But bananas are kind of sweet though. No more sugar. I never want to see Gatorade and energy chews and bananas ever again. I cannot possibly wear this arm band for one more second. And my iPod died. And it's getting kind of dark in the park. How am I not to 25 miles yet?

25. I can see the Plaza. I'm going to make it. I might as well walk for a few minutes and save my energy for the finish line. Central Park South has never looked better. Except that they're starting to take the marathon banners off of the street barricades. How long do I have before the streets reopen? I guess all the spectators left for dinner.

26. I am going to finish a marathon. I am going to finish a marathon. I am going to finish a marathon. I should start running again. I can do this. I am strong enough to run the last few steps. I am going to finish a marathon. Oh hey, there's The Chief. And BFFs. Those grandstands are totally empty. It's so dark. It's okay. I am going to finish a marathon. 

26.2. I just ran the New York City marathon. I have a medal. It actually happened. This recovery bag is pretty cool. Oh hey, it has pretzels. Pretzels are the best thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. I love pretzels. This bag is really heavy, but at least I have my pretzels. Why didn't anyone give me pretzels at mile 20? But I did it. It seems a little cruel to make people who just ran 26.2 miles walk another 10 blocks out of the park. I'm just going to walk real slow and eat my pretzels. Finally, the post-race poncho. I've been waiting 26.2 miles for this. And the volunteer lady who put the poncho around me was so nice. This post-race poncho is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I am going to wear it forever. Oh wait, the poncho is slipping off. I'm too tired to catch it. My hands are busy with the pretzels. Hi, cute volunteer guy who rushed over fixed my poncho. I love you. Do you want to hang out sometime? Seriously. How long are they going to make me walk before I find The Chief? Cute guy says another five blocks and an avenue. That is so so far. And I'm out of pretzels. Oh hey, I found The Chief and BFFs. Wait, how did we get to Shake Shack? And why is there no line? And where can I sit down? 

Edge of Glory

Friday, November 6, 2015

So I ran the New York City marathon six days ago.

It was spectacular.

And excruciating.

And the hardest thing I've ever done.

And unbelievably inspiring.

Never in a million years would I have dreamed of running (much less finishing) a marathon. Never mind that it is the largest and one of the most difficult marathons in the world. 

No big deal. 

Piece of cake. (Speaking of cake, I had every intention of eating 26.2 Magnolia Bakery cupcakes after running 26.2 miles. I was, in fact, in no shape to do so.)

So we spent a fantastic weekend in the city, complete with two Broadway shows, cronuts, tons of carbs, BFFs who flew in to celebrate with me, The Chief, more carbs, a West Wing Netflix binge the night before the race, etc. etc. The only real problem was that pesky little business of running 26.2 miles. 

The Chief and I woke up at 6:00 a.m. on race day. Yes, I had new Lululemon gear for the occasion. Yes, I took a shower and put on makeup prior to running a marathon. There were just so many photographers. A girl has to be prepared.

I was scheduled for the 8:00 a.m. ferry to Staten Island. On our way to get bagels and coffee, I randomly found my Twin. We started running when a few blocks seemed like the most impossible distance, and we were insane enough to register for this marathon together. She is my family. God totally knew we needed each other on Sunday morning. 

So we hopped into a cab with The Chief. The Staten Island Ferry Terminal is the easiest place in New York to find. You just drive until you can't drive anymore. The island literally runs out at the ferry terminal. So naturally our cab driver had absolutely no idea where it was. Imagine Twin and I giving directions down the length of Manhattan ("Just keep driving downtown... no seriously, just keep driving. Take the West Side Highway. No, don't turn here. Just keep driving, dude.") and The Chief dying laughing.

Ferries were a little delayed, so we spent the wait taking selfies and then the 30-minute ferry ride just catching up on life. It could have been a normal Sunday morning...


Until we saw this...

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The first two miles of the race. There is nothing narrow about it. It is the longest bridge in the Americas and the 11th longest bridge in the world. Also, it is not flat. Look closely people. That's one gigantic hill. 

So after a 20-minute cab ride and 30-minute ferry ride, we arrived on Staten Island. The best part of Staten Island is, obviously, the view of Manhattan...

But it's not that easy. We then took an hour-long bus ride to the starting village. Staten Island isn't that big, but there were 50,000+ people trying to board those buses. It took awhile. Plus, there was the whole counter-terrorism security screening thing. No big deal.

Not until we arrived in the starting village did Twin and I part ways. Twin was in the green group (running on the lower level of the bridge), and I was in the blue group (running on the top level of the bridge). There was also an orange group, but I don't really care where they ran. Now, I was prepared to wait in the start village for hours. Having read endless articles on the marathon, I packed for the occasion: extra hoodie and sweat pants, gloves, hat, scarf, extra socks, book to distract me, phone charger, banana, granola bar, water, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, kleenex, bandaids, lip gloss, etc. etc. I threw it all away. (No worries: the clothes go to charity.) After the ferry and bus delays, we only waited about 20 minutes before our 11:00 a.m. start time. 

And just so you know, runners are hilarious. If you ever need good entertainment, just watch runners prepare for a race. So many costumes and pre-race rituals and strange customs. It almost distracts you from the idea that you're about to run 42 kilometers...

My pre-race ritual just involved praying that I didn't die and that I would have fun, too. It's a simple goal, really.

So then they lead you (and the 20,000 other people in that start wave) up to the bridge's toll plaza and play New York, New York. You know... It's the whole "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere" mentality. And up until this point, it was all energy and excitement and possibility.

And then I was running a marathon...