Hey gang! We’re back with our continuing coverage of FIT’s awesome tales of victory at The New York City Marathon. Let’s dive right in with two more buttkickin’ FIT pals, from our buddies Noemi and Bruce!
I was wondering if I should start by mentioning that I tripped and fell in the lobby of my condo while waiting to be picked up to go to the airport. I wasn’t hurt, just freaked out that I could have been. Or I can tell you that I placed a wake up call for the morning of the event and the hotel never called. I believe there was a Seinfeld episode where the runner overslept. I had back up, so it was okay.
This was my 4th marathon and prior to that, I decided I would not do anymore full marathons, unless I got into NY because after all it is NY. As I am sure it was for everyone, training during our summer is brutal. I had some difficulties in training. After some of my longish runs, I was having some breathing problems which was a bit frightening.I saw a doctor and he told me to rethink my marathon goals and to take it easy. (He obviously is not a runner). I took his advice and dropped from 5/1’s to 3/1’s. I don’t think that is what he had in mind, but it helped and I didn’t have anymore incidents. I had issues with my toes as well. They would cramp up at around mile 6 on every one of my training runs. In retrospect, I was extremely lucky running this race. I was listening to my body regarding my breathing and my toes seemed okay.
I am usually a nervous wreck prior to a race, and for some reason, I was very calm the night before. Not only did we get an extra hour of sleep, but my wake up call ( which as I mentioned before, never happened) was for 5:00am, so to me, that was like sleeping in. Nerves started kicking in on my walk to the bus stop, but once I got in line with the other thousands of runners, I felt better. I took the bus from the NYC Public Library. The lines were several blocks long, but moved very quickly and it was very exciting to be part of all the conversations around me. I got to the start village, which reminded me of being back at Woodstock. ( I know I’m dating myself here and no need to put that in the blog). I saw Bruce while waiting in line at the port o potties. Not one of my favorite places to be at, but It was so great seeing seeing him. I almost gave up my spot. I eventually met up with the girls from Team for Kids. It was great seeing the FIT family.
It was so exciting anxiously waiting in the corals and seeing the runners before us already on top of the Verazzano bridge. The weather was perfect. I dressed in layers and started peeling them off early on. I was told, even from my boyfriend that I wasn’t recognizable, since I changed from black to pink and yet I was trying to maintain being fashionable. I knew Jeffrey (my boyfriend) would be at around mile 11, 17 and 21. That was the highlight for me, knowing that I would see him at those mile markers. My own personal cheering squad. His sister was also there at mile 17 and 21. It was really so cool.
We were off by 11am and I was feeling very strong. I, of course, started out too fast (sorry, Marcela), but I felt so strong and it was so exciting, I couldn’t stop myself. However, the Queensboro bridge did me in. I lived in NY for many years and have a driven over this bridge numerous times. All I kept thinking was that I don’t even want to drive over it anymore. it never seemed to end. I started walking a lot.
By the end of the bridge, the crowd along 1st ave, was enormous and loud. It was truly unbelievable. I kept thinking that they were the crazy ones out there. When we entered Manhattan, with crowd support, I started running again. I know the blocks are short, so I just set small blocks as my goal before taking walk breaks. I was also looking forward to seeing my cheering squad, as I knew they would be around mile 17, so that gave me a boost. Although the last 3 or so miles were really tough and seemed like I still had another 10 miles to go,I couldn’t believe that it was actually almost over. I had shut my phone off from the early beginning, since my battery was very low. I turned it on at the end and it was great seeing messages from everyone that was tracking me. It meant a lot. My Garmin also was not working in the beginning, so I had no idea what time of day it was, or even what my time was.
I loved seeing the signs welcoming us to the different boroughs. I lived in NY for many years, so this was very special. Ending the race in Central Park was awesome especially with the fall colors. I got my poncho, a souvenir, that I will cherish forever. I was happy with my finishing time and more importantly I felt great, considering I just ran the NYC marathon. Woo Hoo!!!!
I met up with Jeffrey and took the subway back to our hotel. There were so many marathoners everywhere and everyone was congratulating each other. It was comical to see the runners trying to get up and down the stairs in the subways. Even though there were aches and pains, everyone had huge smiles. I flew home on Tuesday, proudly wearing my marathon t-shirt as did some others on the flight. Everyone was still congratulating each other. This was my 4th full marathon and I don’t know if anything will compare to this. I felt like I was smiling the entire route. Well, not really, because the photographer did catch me struggling at a few spots. But I did it and can hardly believe it. If it wasn’t for Friends In Training, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to. This was so much more than a marathon, it was more like a huge party.
My story of this years marathon began in 1986, when I last ran the New York City Marathon. Shortly after this race I stopped running. Then FIT came into my life about four years ago and the running bug took over. This year after turning 70, I decided that my first full marathon since 1986 should be the New York City Marathon once again. As I was battling knee pain, the training was long and hard. About a month before the race, I found out that I had torn cartilage in my knee as well as a tear in the miniscus. Since the doc told me that training and running would not cause further damage, I decided that this injury would not keep me from running the marathon.
This did however, change my attitude about the race from having a good time (in terms of hours and minutes) to having a good time (in terms of lots of fun)!!
I ran the race with Fred’s Team which was named after the founder of the NYC Marathon, Fred Lebow. who was treated for brain cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. The team raised over 5 million dollars for cancer research to “Imagine A World Without Cancer”. I ran it in honor of friends, family and patients that have suffered from this terrible disease.
After spending a few days with my son and two grandsons (they live in NY), my wife and I trekked into the city for a four hour bus tour of the course. This raised the excitement level as the tour brought back memories from 29 years ago. We then headed to the expo to get my race bib , shirt and walk around the hall. I was also able to get my knee taped with the KT tape which ended up making most of my run a lot more comfortable. You could feel the excitement starting to build. Saturday was a relaxing day in the city and then we enjoyed Fred’s Team’s pre-race carbo dinner at B.B. King’s Club followed by an early night to bed.
Sunday morning came at 4:15 with what I considered perfect running weather. We headed downstairs to the team breakfast and then taking a page from FIT we all went to Times Square for a team picture – woohoo! Then myself and over 900 other members of Fred’s Team boarded out buses and off we headed to Staten Island. This was now real!
Once at Staten Island I found our team’s tent and was able to relax for the few hours before heading to my corral. Encouragement and nervousness was everywhere! Then it was off to the corral and finally the canon sounded for the start of one of the most amazing running experiences one can have!
The views, the crowds, the excitement were amazing. The people in Brooklyn were such an inspiration and hearing your name being yelled by so many people really made you feel like a rock star! At mile 8 I saw a familiar yellow shirt- as Mare and Richard Castro were there cheering us on. It was so good to see them. And then two miles later I saw my wife, son and my grandkids who were holding a sign for their grandpa! I stopped to hug them all and also saw my other son in Atlanta on face time. It was a great moment in the race and I actually got a little emotional.
All along the way there was music, cheers and kids looking to “give you five”. I even got a high five from a dog – his owner was lifting him and holding out his paw. It brought a smile to my face. Brooklyn was amazing and then off to the Pulaski Bridge into Queens and then the “dreaded” Queensboro bridge. Coming off the bridge and onto First Avenue you were hit with throngs of peoople who were crazy and loud and gave me motivation to keep running even though by now the knee was starting to act up.
I pushed on to mile 17-18 where I passed a Fred’s Team cheer zone which was wild and then I saw my family once again. The grandkids wanted me to stop (so did I) and they were so excited to see me again. At about mile 20 I saw the FIT team of Mare and Richard again and stopped to talk. That little rest felt great and we moved forward to the Bronx. As we got to the last bridge a chant of “Last Damn Bridge” was reverberating through the crowd and the runners. I found this pretty funny.
Returning to Manhattan I had to deal with the incline up 5th Avenue. By now running was painful and a lot of walking became the way to get up the incline. I was not alone as many people struggled at this point of the race. Once entering Central Park and a downhill section and knowing that the end was getting nearer, I was able to pick up my pace and turning onto the home stretch I saw my family cheering me on and then ran into Yasmin from FIT who was also suffering from a sore knee and we crossed the finish line together! We did it! Slower then I had hoped, but an experience I will never forget!!!
The people of New York were amazing both during the race and the next day. The runners were all wearing their race shirts and badges and everyone you passed had congratulatory comments and kudos for you. The city embraces this race to an amazing extent.
No I did not get the good race time that I originally wanted, but I certainly had a good time and was proud that this 70 year old runner was able to finish the most amazing run for a second time – 29 years later – and to be able to share it with my wife, sons and grandkids. Also a rewarding part was running with a team of about 900 runners and raising money for such a meaningful and worthwhile cause. Will I run it again, maybe not, but there are other great marathons yet for me to run!
Thank you for sharing your stories, Noemi and Bruce. Tune in for our next installment, coming soon!