Excuse the non-baseball post on this blog, but I’ve learned ‘The Wall’ does exist. And for me, it looks like the Willis Avenue Bridge.
I promise the next time I take a cab to Yankee Stadium and the driver decides to go over that particular structure, I’ll have a few choice words for it. But it’s also true that if you push through that wall, you get a second boost of energy – one that allowed me to go as fast as I could all the way into Central Park and across the finish line.
Running the ING New York City Marathon yesterday was simultaneously the most difficult and most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. The course route is absolutely amazing, spanning neighborhoods in Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx. It’s like a tour of the entire city with Gatorade stations mixed in.
Slapping hands with the cheering crowds and reading their motivational signs blew me away. Feeling the unconditional and complete support of thousands of strangers must be what pro athletes feel every night when they take the field.
This was my first marathon, so all I really wanted to do was finish. I’d never run more than 13.1 miles before this, and training while chasing the Yankees all around the country is no easy task. There were a lot of days where I wanted nothing to do with it – I can remember one morning in Boston where the Yankees were playing a day game and I hadn’t crawled into bed until 2:30 a.m. after a rainout, but there I was, chugging out 10 miles along the Charles River.
I thought a lot about those mornings during the race, and the support of my family and friends that helped me get to the starting line at the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. I wish I could pack all of my thoughts and emotions into one succinct blog post, but as everyone who I’ve spoken to in the last 24 hours or so knows, there’s no shutting me up about this topic.
My time of 4:52:19 might be a little higher than I’d wanted – Amani Toomer jetted by me on the Verrazano, never to be seen again – but I’m satisfied with knowing I kept it under five hours, a goal I adopted along the way. I saw the pace group for 4:50 going down Fifth Avenue and never let those balloons out of my sight all the way to the finish.
I said when I started this training back in July on the San Francisco Embarcadero that I was going to be a one-and-done marathon guy, check the box off my to-do list and then stick to half marathons and shorter distances the rest of the way. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t already thinking about doing New York City again … someday?
I’ll conclude with what I read from one of those signs, a mantra that helped me get to the finish line: “Pain is temporary, finishing is forever.” And right now, forever feels pretty good.