I completed the NYC Marathon on Sunday. I can barely believe that sentence is connected to something that I actually did. It was a long and hard and intense journey that took me through the five boroughs of New York City, including my hometown of Bay Ridge.
Countless thoughts went through my head during this long and challenging journey: Why am I doing this? I can’t believe I’m doing this. I want to stop. This sucks! This is amazing! I can do hard things. Push, push, push!
My running journey started about 10 years ago when my oldest was born where I would go to Prospect Park as a way to have some time alone and get in some exercise. A no-brainer at the time, it was a free way to get in some fitness a few blocks from my home. I never thought of myself as a runner then, and still don’t, really. It was just something positive that I could for myself that wasn’t about work or family; it was simply for me.
I didn’t pay attention to my time in those days. I just pumped up my playlist and went. I loved having the 30 or 40 minutes away from it all where I returned to my world mentally clearer and stronger. It was hard, but after every run I felt accomplished. I can do this.
A month after my youngest was born, I decided to try The Color Run, a 5K run/fun where you basically get splashed with paint. I then ran my town 5K three times, slowly getting stronger and faster. Over the course of that time, I would sneak in runs before the start of my day and I kept trying new races where over the past few years I completed the Brooklyn Half, a mountain run in Killington, the Bronx 10K, and now the NYC marathon on behalf of the City Parks Foundation.
It’s hard to describe the overwhelming emotions I went through during the marathon. A constant up and down, it was incredible at points and grueling at others. My spirit was really awakened by the city, especially having the opportunity to run in Brooklyn– just mere steps from where I grew up. The city was by my side the whole time, cheering, chanting, playing music and rooting us all on. There was nothing better than seeing my family along the way with their signs, tears, and words of encouragement.
But by around mile 20, I wanted to stop. My legs were literally burning and I physically didn’t think I had it in me to go on. But I keep telling myself You can do hard things. You got this. As cheesy as that might seem, it really did push me along. I had gotten this far so I knew I had it in me. It was time to push and push and push. Those last two miles were killer–mentally and physically–as I was trying so hard to reach my four-hour goal. It got to a point where I knew that wasn’t going to happen where I had a new goal: to finish this beast and cross the finish line.
Reaching the finish line to screams and cheers was the most incredible thing I ever experienced. And while my legs were sore and my body was in pain, I smiled with my medal–feeling so alive and so thankful to have had such an incredible and life-changing opportunity. I didn’t reach my four-hour goal (ended at 4:26) but I know that one day with more training and focus, I’ll get there. I can do hard things, and you can, too!
Until my next running journey….
Oh, and please consider donating to the City Parks Foundation on my behalf to support their incredible programming that reaches over 425,000 people every year.