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I Ran the New York City Marathon

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The Big Day!

I am walking toward the start with one of my teammates, Shari. The stately Verrazano Bridge beckons us along with the huge sea of people who are all gathered here for the same reason -- so that our feet can hit the pavement and we can find that deeply personal place where running supersedes all else. The sky is a perfect blue. There is barely a breeze. I feel incredibly blessed and surprisingly calm. For the first time in my life, I am ready to run; to rock this race. For months I have struggled, I have cried, I have screamed in pain and been enveloped in darkness. Now it's time to reach inside my core, where my heart and head meet, and find the joy. This is my day.

The gun goes off and Shari and I cross the start. We are near the front of the pack and grateful that we don't have to wait in the chilly air. We run over the beautiful bridge, trying not to go too fast, just like our coach taught us. You want to hold back in the beginning so you don't burn out halfway through. It's hard though because this wave of energy is so incredibly tangible. If you could translate the energy on this day into kilowatts, you could power New York City for a week.

We finish mile one at around 9 minutes. Right on target. We continue at this pace into Brooklyn. I have stenciled BROOKLYN JILL on my shirt and every time someone screams my name, I scream back a thanks or I wave. I'm worried about exhausting myself with my cheerleading, but I can't help it. This run is just too much fun. Did I just say fun and run in the same sentence? I did!

One of our coaches told us to run the first 10 miles with your head, the second with your personality, and the last six with your heart. I carry that with me as we run into Park Slope on 4th Avenue, which is mile 8. It is here that my neighbors and husband are waiting for me -- on this same spot where I have been a constant for the past six years, cheering on runners. And now, I am the one being encouraged, receiving from the massive crowd their spirit and finding my own state of grace.

My husband jumps in and runs a few blocks with me. He's going to try and find me at mile 14 and run the last 10 with me, jumping out right before the finish. It's called bandit running and while the "official" race people don't like it, hundreds of people do it as a show of moral support.

I tell him I am feeling great and for once I really mean it. He waves goodbye and I am off, feeling the energy surge through me as each foot continues to hit the pavement. I am flying.

Shari and I continue together until mile 18. She is tiring while I am still going strong. We agree to split up but promise to see each other at the finish. I have no doubt she'll make it. By now, my husband is with me and all the negative energy that has held me back in the past has reversed itself into positive. Even those nagging voices in my head haven't made a peep. They know better. If there is such thing as a running miracle, then today I have found it.

Next:  The Finish Line


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carolccforbes wrote:

Inspiring, and it also taught me a thing or two about marathon running.

8/19/2011 06:09:28 AM Report Abuse
anonymous wrote:

Great motivation. I'm running NYC this year.

3/2/2010 12:26:54 PM Report Abuse
pattiwalls wrote:

Great article. Very inspiring. I am running my first 5K in April and continuing my training until I can do a marathon. Thank you for your story. Patti C.

2/24/2010 05:16:10 PM Report Abuse

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