Three weeks ago, I waited in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with about 200 other runners to start our 20-mile training run into Manhattan, which, for me, was the longest of my preparations for the New York City Marathon. As I stood with the 10-minute pace group, listening to our final instructions, one of the volunteers said something that really struck a chord with me:
There are hundreds of reasons to stop during a marathon, but we all have one reason to keep going. Figure out what your reason is.
These words were exactly what I needed to hear, but, unfortunately, a specific reason didn’t come to mind. Although, I wasn’t worried because I knew it would eventually come to me, so I started my Garmin and off we went to tackle those 20 miles.
I ran with Theodora and Sue, and the three of us chatted non-stop for the entire 3.5-hour run. At one point, we discussed our outfits for marathon day. (Hey, it’s important!) Theodora said she bought a new Brooks shirt, and Sue said she planned to wear a pair of running shorts with lots of pockets to hold her GU and Chomps. I hadn’t yet nailed down my outfit for the marathon, so I just listened and thought about some potential options for myself. Eventually, our conversation switched to another topic, so I didn’t think about my race day outfit again for the rest of our run.
For not having the most ideal training for NYCM, the 20-miler with Theodora and Sue went surprisingly well for me. When the three of us reached the end of the run in Central Park, I felt tired, but I could have run another six miles, no problem. (Hopefully, I feel that same way on race day!) It was my first time wearing my new I <3 Sweat shirt, so I joked that it must have brought me good luck and maybe I should wear it for the marathon. As soon as I said those words, it occurred to me what my reason was to keep running on marathon day: because I can.
Over the past several months, my body has gone through quite a lot: colitis, a hip injury, iron deficiency. Needless to say, it hasn’t been the easiest road to marathon day, but I’m ready for it. I’m also incredibly thankful to be able to even run it.
When my ability to run was taken away from me, it made me appreciate it so much more. Nowadays, I never take a run for granted. As cheesy as it may sound, at the start of every single run, I take a minute to thank God for my health. Because of these issues, running means something totally different to me now, so what better way to remind myself of my reason than to wear a shirt that supports the Chron’s and Colitis Foundation and my friend Ali, who helped me so much during one of the toughest times of my life. I still remember those first few runs after I started to feel better. Each step felt like a blessing, and I haven’t forgotten than feeling since.
On race day, when my legs are burning and I want to quit, I will remember my reason to keep going: I run because I can. Even if those last few miles of the marathon make me completely miserable, I am grateful for every single step.
If you’re spectating NYMC tomorrow, I’ll be wearing a bright orange I <3 Sweat shirt, and I would love to hear any bit of encouragement you may offer.
Wish me luck!
P.S. If you want to track me during the marathon, here’s how to do it: http://www.ingnycmarathon.org/entrantinfo/Join_In.htm. My bib number is 48034.