When people ask me “How is it to run NYC Marathon”? I reply, “It is a tough race, but the crowds are relentless with cheering and they will NOT let you quit even when you have nothing
left. When you hear “It will move you”, “It will inspire you”, it is true.
I went into this marathon with tired legs with this being my 5th marathon in 6 weeks. The logistics of NYC are exhausting.
This year, our bus to Staten Island was scheduled for 5:15. Our start time was 10:40. When we woke up I said to Kim, “Let’s wait and get the 5:45 bus” and he agreed knowing how long we’d wait outside for our wave. We left
our hotel at 5:15 and headed to get on the 5:45 bus. In the past, when you get to Bryant park, the line wraps around the block and it has taken up to an hour to get on the bus. This year, we walked outside, crossed the street and were directed
right onto a bus. It only took less than 5 minutes.
We had a bunch of our Fleet Feet peeps running this year and they messaged back and forth about meeting in Staten Island, and I told them from my experience
in the past, it’s pretty difficult to meet up and the cell service is horrible. When we got off the bus, we received a text message from Jeff and Hur-shiu with a photo of “E9” where they were waiting for us. We found them immediately.
I couldn’t believe it. We were dressed with our Goodwill finds – Penguin PJ’s, green jacket and Kim had red checkered PJs with an old Navy thick sweatshirt. I made sure I packed hand warmers and heat shield blankets. It
was not freezing or windy, but it was cold enough to use the hand warmers. We waited. Next Fernanda, Samanta and Mike arrived. We waited longer, then Kaitlyn, Sam, Diane and then Glen arrived. We took photos, laughed and jumped every
time the Holitzer-cannon went off for each wave. It seemed like forever for our wave to be called. Every 2-3 minutes I'd look at my watch and say "Wow - it's already 8 o'clock, that's going by fast, and then 3 minutes later I'd annouce "Wow - it's already
8:03, the time is flying"! Finally, we got into the corral, stripped out of our Goodwill clothing and headed to the bridge. They made some announcements and then we turned for the Star-Spangled Banner. The woman started singing and my eyes welled
with tears. I closed my eyes and prayed. It was surreal to have complete silence except for her singing. It almost felt like our world was back to normal. The cannon went off again, and “New York, New York” started playing.
We started to run and it hit me. I’m back! It’s the New York City Marathon!”
It’s funny, I’ve run the NYC marathon 6 times and I still can’t remember the route. This year,
the music seemed more frequent, the crowds seemed louder and the energy was indescribable. Kim and I started off strong and I expected us to slow down and get into our comfortable groove. It was like Boston all over again, and our pace was steady.
I felt so strong as the miles started to build; 5K, 10K, half way.
We knew there were going to be people on the course cheering for us. We started looking around mile 8 on Lafayette Street in Brooklyn for our friend Michael Lo Presti’s daughter,
Abby. Lafayette street was packed with people cheering and the road went on for what seemed for miles. We didn’t spot her, but she did see us and posted photos on Facebook.
Then around mile 15 we were turning left to go onto the Queensboro
bridge. We heard someone yell “Kim”, “Jeanne”, and we both smiled and waved and I said “who was that”? and Kim said “I think it was Charlie from HMF”, but we still aren’t sure.
Next, we looked
for our friends that live on Highland lake around mile 16 ½. We kind of gave up and then Kim heard someone yell and he said “I think that was Catherine and Huy! They did confirm it was them as they also posted photos of us on Facebook!
Next, we were looking for Rebecca who is the founder of CMAK, Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation and the mother of Chase, one of the 26 children that perished in Sandy Hook. We had gone to CMAK fundraisers brunch the previous day. She spoke some kind words
to the runners that raised money for her cause. She also said “please let us know if any of you experience any signs from Chase”. I never had any signs from him, but he was on my mind during that race and I thought about him so many
times. Around mile 20, Kim said “get on the right side of the road and let’s look for Rebecca” who was going to be wearing her Chase yellow sweatshirt, It wasn't long before he said “there she is”, only to realize the yellow
shirt he saw was actually a person with a yellow banana outfit. Then I spotted her and I screamed “Rebecca”! She waved to us the with the biggest smile.
I was still feeling bullet proof and then it hit me; stomach cramps.
I tried to breath through them, hoping they’d subside. They just got worse. I said to Kim “I need a bathroom now, I have horrible stomach cramps”. This is pretty much the worst fear of any runner. Every corner I turned,
I looked for a bathroom. Nothing. Finally, at mile 22 there were port-o-lets. I gave Kim my nutrition I was holding and he said “I’ll walk on the right-hand side of the road” until you catch up. I ran in and it seemed
like an eternity that I was in there. When I got out, I started running and couldn’t find Kim. I think it was about a quarter of a mile when I finally spotted him! He had been doing a walk/run. I kept going with my post bathroom
pace and he said “I need to get back into the groove”. Finally, we had started our accent up 5th Avenue to Central Park which to me is the most difficult part of the race as it’s uphill which seems forever. Now I started
to cramp in my calves. I said to Kim, “I need salt”! He gave me some and from that point on, which was only 2 miles, were the most painful, nauseous, anxious miles that I ran. I put my head down and did my best to try to distract
those negative thoughts.
When we entered the park, I knew our friends Colleen, Jennifer and John would be there. I spotted them on the right and yelled to them. They screamed back “Kim – Jeanne” and it gave me the
push I needed to get to the finish line.
NYC marathon has signs with the count down of how many meters it was until the finish; 800 meters, 400 meters and so on. Let me tell you, it felt like a lot more! We were spit out of the park
back onto 59th street for a bit to enter Central Park again. Kim had his “100th marathon & it’s my birthday” sign on his back. When he ran by the announcer on the stage he pointed to it. The announcer
screamed it out loud and was congratulating him. This just made him run faster. I tried to catch up and then there was the dreaded last hill to the bleachers and finish line. I knew my dear friend Angie was going to be there cheering.
That’s all I needed to know to get the energy to get up that hill and there she was! She was screaming our name and I yelled “I love you Angie”! Then there it was, the finish line. Kim grabbed my hand and we powered through!
3:48 was our finish time. I couldn’t breath and had to keep walking. I get like that sometimes at the finish. I grabbed Kim and we walked to get our medals. My breathing started to get better and I grabbed a water. I slowly
got my groove back.
As we exited the park, Kim said “I want to get a photo of us next to Imagine”. I said “Kim the park’s closed, let’s just leave”. He found a NYRR security guard and asked “Hey,
it’s my birthday and my 100th marathon, my wife and I got married here in 2018, can we get a photo at Strawberry Fields?” and he said “sorry kids, parks closed”. There was a NYC police officer there that overheard Kim’s
request and said “I’ll escort you”. I almost started to cry. He gave Kim the best birthday gift ever! He also took pretty awesome photos of us!
We exited the park onto 72nd Street where our friend Carole
from Team Beef was volunteering in the medical tent. She told Kim to call her when we finished so we could finally meet her. Carole was waiting for us as we crossed the street. We immediatley got the biggest hug as she said " Finally, I get to meet Team
Marchene". What an amazing woman. It’s funny how you follow and chat with people on Facebook and only have this online relationship. It’s pretty cool to actually meet them face to face.
I have to say, even though I had stomach
issues, I still had the most incredible experience. NYC marathon is like none other. The energy, music, cheering and excitement is incredible. I can’t wait for next year!