Three weeks ago, I was sprawled on my couch wrapped in blankets and wearing my warmest PJs. Bottles of water and NyQuil were within easy reach. Fuller House played in the background as I shifted between restless sleep and groggy consciousness. The pounding in my head seemed as though it would go on for eternity. I told my also-sick boyfriend that my body ached as though I’d run a marathon (this certainly turned out to be an appropriate thought…).
The flu had knocked me on my ass.
Feeling sorry for myself, I casually checked my email in a futile attempt of distraction. Then I saw it: an unexpected note in my inbox.
First, I felt shock. Then excitement. Then denial. Then confusion.
I pushed my phone in front of my boyfriend’s face, “WHAT DOES THIS SAY?” I demanded.
“Um, something about a marathon?” He croaked, his voice hoarse from two days of nonstop coughing.
“Did I get into the FREAKING NEW YORK CITY MARATHON?!” I gasped, spending at least 85% of my remaining energy for the day.
“I guess so…” then I think he fell back asleep. Or I blocked him and everything else out except for that email on my screen.
I stared down at my phone, reading the email again and again. Suddenly, a million thoughts rushed through my mind: I have to train. For a marathon. Again. I have to run 26.2 miles in November. I’m running one of the most important, one of the best, one of the biggest marathons in the world. I need to go run right now. Wait. I’m sick. Oh, crap. I’m sick. I’m already behind on my training and it hasn’t even started yet! OMG, I’M RUNNING THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON!?!?!?!
Flu medicine wrecks havoc on your brain power, people, just saying.
That day, between bouts of NyQuil-induced naps, I saw countless friends and bloggers announce whether they’d received the “You’re In” email. Those who got in shared excited Tweets and photos; those who didn’t posted sadder, disappointed notes.
But, I didn’t want to share my news yet. It felt too personal, too big, too scary to make public.
Three years ago, I ran my first marathon in Jacksonville, Florida in 4:12. During my training, I ran several half marathons, hitting a PR of 1:42. My 5K time dropped to 21 minutes without doing much speedwork. Low 8-minute miles were easy, and I felt better if my average pace per mile started with a 7. Some Saturdays, I went out and ran 16 miles because it felt good, I wanted to explore a new area, and needed some time to clear my head.
After the marathon, I ended up with severe bursitis in my hip and it took me almost 18 months to fully recover. The injury destroyed my confidence and, subsequently, my motivation. Running fast has been challenging for me the past couple of years, so I’ve taken to not really training hard for anything, and running more to stay sane and healthy (and to sightsee!) than to achieve any big goals.
The New York City Marathon? That’s a ridiculously big goal.
All the long-distance runners I’ve ever met have this race on their bucket lists. I’ve entered the lottery 4 years in a row, and previously, I had been one of the sad, disappointed runners sharing the “nope, didn’t get in this time” message. I’ve frequently joked that the only way I’d come out of “marathon retirement” is if I got into this race.
Well, now I’m in.
I have a lot of training in my future so that I can cross that glorious finish line in Central Park, and I plan to share most of it here, especially since I have quite a few trips scheduled before race day.
To get ready for November 6, I am taking now through July to build a strong foundation, essentially trying to work my way up to where 10 miles feels “easy.” From there, marathon training will start. In July. In Florida.
Let the fun begin.
Have you run the New York City Marathon before? What tips do you have for first-timers?