11/1/08

Marathon Sunday

"Fitness is like the blade of a knife; you want to sharpen it without ruining the blade." SALLY JENKINS, The Washington Post

Unedited:
Seasons begin to change and chills of cool air create a different feeling in Central Park. The park is packed with runners all gearing up for the New York City Marathon. The sight of Halloween costumes and candy gets any child giddy with anticipation of the last day in October. The same giddiness comes to a NYC marathon runner when advertisements are posted all around subway stations in the city. The NYC marathon is like the Superbowl of our sport. Those who have done the marathon can simply say that the NYC marathon is not like any other marathon you do elsewhere. It has this aura, this mystical ambiance of energy that erupts from the city all for the first Sunday in November...a runner’s heaven, Marathon Sunday.

Each marathon is different. If you have done a marathon in different states or countries or even the same marathon year after year, each one differs due to experience: weather, people, shape that you are in. These factors all play a huge roll in your performance.

May this be your first marathon or your last marathon, the “experience” you get the days leading up to the marathon never leaves you. The excitement or nervousness the night before (which I always seem to get no matter how many I do) is enchanting. The feeling never gets old, where you feel uneasy because the race is overwhelming. You are literally running 26.2 miles. For some runners, they will be on their feet for 3+ hours. But you have trained 3 or even 4 months for this moment. You have listened to other runners with their experiences of the New York City marathon and the hype. And all you want to do is just want to experience it for yourself. As you anticipate, you count down the weeks and week’s turns to days. Finally, the final week comes around and emotions are running though your head.

"did I train hard enough?, am I ready? What is the weather going to be like?, etc..."

Relax. Breathe, and take it all in. NYC suddenly turns alive to a runner as Marathon Sunday arrives. The final days before leaves you to wonder which day you should go to the marathon expo: Thursday, Friday, Saturday? Or all three days? (Helpful hint: Get a good nights rest 2 days before the marathon – on Friday.) Then the night before where you can't sleep a wink, just looking at the clock and finally zonking out...

Alarm wakes you up and you are out of bed. You see that all of your clothing attire is folded and in stages as you had left the night before. You wear more clothing since you will be at the start for quite a while (3 + hours in Staten Island, but first have to get their by bus or ferry.) You arrive and marathon village is hoping with runners like you that will be running in the NYC marathon.
Did you get chills? I just did.

Take it all in. Take everything in and remember what has gotten you there. The countless hours of training on the roads, the hot and humid weather of the summer, the sacrifice of sleep the night before and finally you are here. Three hours pass by pretty quickly, as you have fun just walking around and finally it is time. Time to put your clothes into the UPS bus, line up into your waved color starts, and RUN. The cannon goes off and the marathon is on it's way. Songs of New York, New York is playing and you find yourself passing the starting line to a journey of 26.2 miles and visiting all 5 boroughs and having a dream of a lifetime.

You will always remember this moment of the great cheers of the crowds in Brooklyn, the ruckus of thundering chants when you leave the 59th Street bridge and onto 1st Avenue. The many people that line up 5-10 deep to just be in the experience of it all...and finally when you reach Central Park the joys of happiness in finishing arrives.

Tears of joy and happiness come to mind, with a little pain of just running 26.2 miles and completing a marathon. It’s a great accomplishment to finish, no matter what time you get. If it’s your first? You will never forget your first marathon moments and an invincible feeling of accomplishment, joy and feeling like you can accomplish anything in the world…
Tell us your experiences on Marathon Sunday and we’ll hopefully be able to post up these experiences in the next issue.

Edited:

The seasons have changed and the chill of cool air has created a different feeling in Central Park. The roads have been packed with runners all gearing up for the New York City Marathon. Tomorrow.

Just as the sight of Halloween costumes and candy makes any child giddy with anticipation for the last day in October, the same can be said for the runner who spots his or her first NYC Marathon ad of the season in a subway station or magazine. The NYC Marathon is like the Super Bowl of our sport. Those who have done it say that it is simply not like any other marathon, anywhere. It has this aura, ambiance, energy that erupts throughout the city, every first Sunday in November. This is Runners’ Heaven. This is Marathon Sunday.

Each marathon is different. Even if you run NYC year after year, your experiences will always differ due to the weather, your corral placement, the number of runners around you on the course, the miles you have logged in preparation of race day, the shape that you are in, and the confidence that you bring with you to the starting line. These factors will all play a role.

And whether this is your first or fifteenth NYC Marathon, the excitement leading up to the big day will never leave you. The nervousness the night before (which I always seem to have, no matter how many marathons I run) is overwhelming. It never goes away.

You have trained for this moment. You have listened to other runners share their experiences of the New York City Marathon, and potentially shared your own. You have surrendered to the hype. And you are ready to experience it, for the first time, or all over again. The anticipation, as you have counted down the months, weeks, and now days, has finally come to a head.

So now, with mere hours until the cannons will fire, the final emotions are coursing though your being.

Did I train enough?

Am I ready?

Can I really believe the weather forecast?

Relax. Breathe. And take it all in.

You’ve picked up your race packet, survived the expo with a little money left in your wallet (hopefully), and slept well last night so that tonight you can stare at the clock, pleading for even a wink of sleep, tossing and turning until the alarm “wakes” you up and the day is finally in motion.

Your clothing and shoes are folded, stacked, and ready to go. Race gear, check. Throwaways, check. Bagel, banana, gels, water, Gatorade, check. Hydrated, lubed, and just a little bit nauseous, you will arrive on Staten Island, Marathon Village stretching before you and surrounding you with thousands of other runners just like you. You will replay in your mind your race strategy as you visualize yourself completing the 26.2-mile journey that begins here, in the shadow of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Take it all in. Take everything in and remember how you arrived here. The countless hours on the roads; the hot and humid weather you suffered as you trained throughout the summer; the side-stitches, cramps, and mysterious pangs that popped up—out of nowhere—at the most inopportune times; the poor choice in a gel or sports drink flavor you choked down in preparation for this day; and all the late nights and early mornings sacrificed all in the name of the Long Run. In so many ways, you have arrived.

Three hours will pass quickly as you try to conserve your energy—but you can’t sit still!—walking cautiously around to find your fellow teammates and friends. When it’s time to pack it all in, you will put your clothes on the UPS bus, line up with your wave, your color, and in your corral. And then?

The cannon will fire and you’ll be on your way. Frank Sinatra’s optimistic “New York, New York” will punctuate the elation you feel as you cross the starting line and fulfill what is, for many, the dream of a lifetime.

You will always remember this moment. Awaiting you are the great cheers of the crowds in Brooklyn and the thundering ruckus that overtakes you after you barrel through Queens and descend the 59th Street Bridge onto 1st Avenue. They will be there—lined up five, ten-deep—cheering just for you. You will be celebrated, you will persevere, and you will conquer the Bronx, returning finally to your haven that is Central Park. The joy you experience when you cross the finish line will be impossible to replicate.

Tears are possible. Pain is likely. And the pure, raw emotion that can only stem from an accomplishment of this magnitude is inevitable.

You will never forget this moment.

_______________________________________________________________________________
So, how did it compare? Send us your marathon stories and we’ll publish a “best of” in next month’s newsletter.

Now, go take your ice bath and mark November 1, 2009 in your calendar. Only 52 more weeks to go.

No comments: