For the first time in my life, I decided to run the NYC marathon this year. And for the first time ever, it was canceled for obvious reasons. Many runners shared my tale, whether they were locals or traveled from far away. But unlike many, I have foreseen this event somewhat…
Dreams and Visions
I had 2 dreams prior to the cancellation. In the first one, I was in the front with the elites on the Verrazano bridge until a blizzard suddenly came. All of us had to jump off the bridge onto these zipline cords leading us to a small mountain. The runners then started to run in different directions. I didn’t know which way to go, ended up running miles in the wrong direction, and could not finish the race. The final thought was: I had to train again for next year’s marathon. The second dream was finding out that there was a sudden change to the course. That’s all I remembered but the final thought was: I’ve been cheated out of the race, it’s not the same. In a strange twisted way, this all happened in real life.
Friday (2 days before the marathon)
I returned from the expo with a bag full of goodies as if it was a trick-or-treat basket. As I was going through all of the stuff and admiring my race bib, the worst announcement appeared on TV… “The NYC marathon will be canceled”. I stared at the screen until it sunk in, then paced around my apartment a bit. I didn’t know what to feel. Hurricane Sandy didn’t flood my house but it did shatter my plans. All the training, fund-raising, and sacrifice throughout the year for this moment has been delayed for another year. The sadness quickly transformed into anger and rage. As I gazed outside the window thinking of how far I’ve come, there was only one thought in my mind… I’m running a marathon anyway!
I wasn’t alone, not at all. I quickly reached out to my fellow wolves who trained and traveled the journey with me. We gathered a wolf pack of 5 to run a 26.2 mile course which closely resembles the actual course as it covers 4 boroughs.
We all were to meet at Columbus circle (lower left corner of Central Park) at 8am. Many runners had the same idea; to do what we trained to do. It turns out that central park became the marathon course for the “Run Anyway Marathon“. But running circles in central park is not what the wolf pack had in mind.
26.2 mile long run with the Wolf Pack
Off we went, the fearless 5, without water/Gatorade stations or clear roads. The first few miles was the happiest for me. To know I wasn’t alone in this. We cheered at every runner who passed by because we all had something in common that day; the joy of running. Just like in my dream, it was as if we were the elites running an alternate course; it was awesome! I’m the wolf to the right in the below.
The wolf pack typically runs a bit faster than my comfortable pace but I figured that I’d keep up as long as possible. From Central Park, across Queens borough bridge to Queens, south across the Pulaski bridge to Brooklyn, west across the Williamsburg bridge to downtown Manhattan, North west to Riverside park, north to Harlem. 14 miles down in about 2 hours.
I started to break down during the following 4 miles (miles 15-18 on Riverside park), it was obvious that I couldn’t keep up the pace. Either way, I’ve never lasted this long with the wolf pack, which is an accomplishment in itself. 2/3 of the journey down, 1/3 to go.
So I become the lone wolf once again. I took one last GU and proceeded through Harlem to 1st Avenue, north to the Bronx, a U-turn back into Manhattan to fifth Avenue. Then slowly and painfully, made my way back to Central Park where glory awaits. Nothing, nothing, nothing could have prepared me for the last 6 miles; the final 10K; the darkest hour. My precious 8:30 – 9:00 pace became a sloppy 10:30 – 11:00 pace. Every mile required a walk break. Oh, the pain. I developed the “walking dead” zombie walk by mile 25. I kept checking my distance to see if I was there yet. Mile 26 was at almost walking speed, 3:21 pace. Unreal, this was it, 0.2 miles to run up a Central Park hill. Almost there, almost there…
I DID IT!!! This is me seconds after: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_GT1iyZEOU&feature=plcp
26.2 miles in 4 hours and 8 minutes and 3000 calories burned! Without cleared roads, water/Gatorade stations, or cheering crowds. My wife met up with me at the finish line to scoop me up from the ground. I thought this would be the post to end this blog, but the JC_Path_To_Marathon continues! There is an official NYC marathon to run, and it’s not over until I get the medal and photos to prove it. But now I’m sure that the distance is achievable. All runners get a 2013 NYC marathon freebie. I’m looking forward to another year of new training sessions with the wolf pack, new friends, races, travels and journeys. But first, its celebration time!
The Wolf Pack; the coolest group to run with, thanks again guys!
To all who follow my blog or read this particular post, thank you for taking the time to read my story. This is just the beginning…