Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today!
Most people agree that the top five marathons in the world are: Berlin, London, Chicago, Boston and New York City! New York is certainly the biggest Hundreds of thousands apply every year and only 45,000 are accepted. There are an estimated 35 million spectators aligning the street and watching it on television. If you want to do a marathon… this is the one to do.
I started my application process four years ago. Every year on April 15th I would submit my registration only to find out by mid June that I was not selected. After four years they automatically grandfather you in- last year WAS my year. I stuck to my schedule but at 12 weeks into my training I tore my calf muscle- depressed but not defeated I was able to defer to 2011.
As excited as I am to stand on that start line, the NYC marathon is a process. It is not a race for someone who doesn’t like to jump through hoops. After the application process, there is the hotel booking, which needs to be done asap. I booked a hotel back in March, (cha-ching) for $500 per night with a two night minimum. Then there is the transportation issue. You start in Staten Island and end in Central park so you need to get to Staten Island waaaaaay ahead of time. My heat goes off at 10:40 am but I need to get up by 6:00, to get on the subway by 6:30 to get on a ferry by 7:00 to get to the athlete village by 8:00 to get to the start by 8:30 to wait on the Verranzano bridge for over 2 hours. A process indeed, but that is fine, because I AM IN.
Friday night, someone new to the area invited me to a pampered chef party on Sunday, November 6th. I mentioned that I couldn’t because I was running in the New York City Marathon . The conversation turned from running marathons to participating in triathlons and (of course) to the MHWTC. As I was walking away, I thought to myself…I sounded a little manic and she probably thinks I am crazy. I do realize to an outsider looking in, my life may seem a little nuts: the kids, my job, my marriage, soccer, tri club, triathlons, an active social life and now the New York City Marathon. The pace at which I lead my life is difficult for some to understand. Very few do, and those who can relate with a smile on their face are even crazier than me (you know who you are ).
The craziness should have stopped after SheRox in August. I needed a break, but when you get into the New York Marathon you train for the New York Marathon. No questions asked, you are in and you are doing it. I am certainly a “glass half full” type of gal, but I won’t sugar coat it. The training is difficult, the long runs on the weekend suck the life out of you By mile 18 my ankles throb, by mile 19 I start questioning if I need psych help. At mile 20, I am a complete train wreck but I know if I can do 20 miles, I can do 26 miles. Difficult…yes, impossible…no, selfish…maybe. My personal goals aren’t easy on those who love me. Everyone suffers. My husband has been diagnosed with WMBD. Wife with Marathon Blabbing Disorder. He seems to think that I can work the NYC marathon into every conversation and I can… I am a pro at it. My daughters could probably get around New York by themselves because they have heard me talk about it so much. My friends dare not ask me to go out when I have a long run the next day. Colleen + drinking water all night doesn’t equal a fun night out. Who would want to look at me anyway? Marathon training has taken its toll on my appearance. Pony tails, compression bra, t-shirt and shorts, no make up, toe nails falling off, chaffed breasts, unplucked eyebrows, gray roots- not a pretty sight. It is the price you pay to train for a marathon. All vanity is tossed out the window going about 90 mph.
Despite it all … I CAN NOT WAIT FOR SUNDAY!!!!!! The excitement for the NYC Marathon is building up. It will all start with the expo- which is is the mother of all expos. Next stop, checking into the “flagship” hotel will all the other athlete including the Kenyans. Going out in Little Italy for a high carb dinner and it bed by 9, 10, 11, midnight 1, 2 (who knows?) with an attempt to wake up in the city that doesn’t sleep. I have gone up to NYC the past 3 out of 4 years to watch. I have always know someone who is running and it is just a thrill to be there. You run through all five boroughs of New York. You start in Staten Island at the bottom of the Verranzano Bridge, then onto to Brooklyn to Queens to the Bronx and then into Manhattan. There are diverse, multicultural crowds every step of the way, but the spectators at the bottom of the Queensboro bridge ( entering Manhattan) will blow you away! The scene is overwhelming, the crowds 10 people thick and huge jumbo screens everywhere. Every runner is smiling, every country in the world is represented. I can’t describe the feeling I get as a spectator just watching this race. Then it strikes me, the runners have cameras and are taking pictures of us because it is such an incredible scene. The crowd support at the NYC is amazing. Kids in trees, on shoulders, more signs than you can ever imagine, 350 ( yes 350) bands will line the streets. Every runner has a story of how and why they are there.
One particular year stands out. I was on a corner near 66th street. As I look to my right there is a women who has worried that she missed her daughter. She spoke very little English and asked me to calculate where her daughter should be at mile 19 if she runs an 8 minute mile and started at 10:30 am …ummmm. Then this woman grabs me and hugs me and jumps up and down. I don’t even know her but I am jumping with her and I am screaming the name Katie with her. A 25 year old Katie runs over to us with the biggest smile you can ever imagine with tears running down her face. Her mom starts crying, I get all choked up. Katie is on a runners high at mile 19, but her mom looks worried and says something I don’t understand. As she runs away I notice Katie only has one leg, the other a prosthetic. This was her first marathon. Just one of 45,000 stories whose 90,000 feet are hitting the streets of Manhattan. Ten of those feet will be my family and my friends! My brother Chuck Garrity, my sister in law Kat Garrity and two other very good friends will also be participating on Sunday. It will be a spectacular day.
My goal is simple: to enjoy the day and to see my family on the course- my mom, my husband, my kids and my very best friends will all be there ( at mile 18 and mile 23). Their presence and support will carry me those last six miles through Central Park. I plan to celebrate with friends Sunday night into the wee-hours of the morning Dancing on tired legs and wobbly ankles we are going to do it up NYC style. No rest for the weary! After that I plan to chill out. Relax-no more triathons, no more marathons…..this year. I promise. Maybe.