This fall, I tackled the challenge of completing two marathons within four weeks, in Chicago and our great city of New York! The New York City marathon also marked an end to my two year tenure as NBR President & Team Captain. It's been a hell of a ride... physically, this was the first marathon training cycle I was able to stay healthy through in four years, mostly due to the training I did in our NBR group runs. I set a new personal record in Chicago and accomplished a new feat by crossing two marathon finish lines in one season. Concurrently, while serving as NBR leadership handling event planning, public relations, human resources and general maintenance for the club, I've been constantly reminded of the wonderful support network and community our team represents. This marathon season in particular, our best attributes were constantly on display.
Chicago marathon weekend, dozens of NBRs travelled to the windy city not only to run the marathon, but also to serve as 5k finishers, cheer squads, support networks, donut run & post-race organizers, partners in travel and celebration! I can't imagine there's any other run club on the planet that sends almost as many people to cheer and support their teammates as it does marathon runners to an out of town race. It is astounding, heartwarming and makes me excessively happy to be a part of the club and to call you all friends. While my travel to Chicago was a whirlwind, I was ecstatic when my NBR "Just Central" training partners Lisa & Pete managed to find me in the start corrals to joke around, take photos, offer words of encouragement and help shake out the nerves before the race. Even more touching was seeing Polly Jones and John Riccardi cheering out on the course - two club members who departed Brooklyn for a life in Wisconsin, but still made the effort to come out and support us all on race day! I ran the fastest 18 miles of my life through a rainy, but amazing race course, before hitting the wall around mile 19. My friend Anna Spinner caught up to me at a Biofreeze station & we cheered each other on to finish strong. About a mile later, NBR speedster and photographer Drew Reynolds was there to yell at me for walking (a fairly constant theme for me through both the Chicago and NYC races.) I laughed and charged ahead back into a RUN, eventually finishing with a 6 minute marathon PR, after four years of failed attempts. At the finish line, my frequent NBR cohorts and corral partners Kevin & Pete were waiting for me to toast beers to our PRs, and take celebratory photos. My post-race planning was effortless, as teammates Alena and Anne organized a great party at Ballast Point Brewery where the entire NBR squad celebrated our collective accomplishments with great beer and food for HOURS. (Polly even loaned me her NBR Warm-up jacket to wear and stink up, when I arrived in my singlet and heat sheet - if that's not camaraderie, I don't know what is!) I was beyond inspired to hear all my teammates' race day stories. A highlight was hearing that NBR training-mates Q and Becca both ran sub-three hour marathons for the first time, and did much of it TOGETHER.
Upon returning home to Brooklyn, I was unsure whether I would honor my registration into the upcoming New York City Marathon a few weeks later. But after one easy and low-mileage week, I really felt great and had no problem getting back into my 50 mile per week marathon training regime. At the Front Runners Blue-Line Run where we preview the marathon course, I was able to comfortably run 18 miles along with several teammates, and was convinced I had it in me to get the job done at the NYC race.
NYC marathon weekend has just come to a close, and was nothing short of spectacular! Saturday night was spent deliciously carb loading in Little Italy with the NBR teammates I trained most with this season, through hot, steamy and at times apocalyptic rainy conditions: Bev, Amit & Pete. The Sunday morning trek to the start line was equally enjoyable, as we all met up together again in the Blue Start camp, along with Jenna, Luis and Liz. While getting pumped up in our Blue Wave 2 start corral, we even found a full stick of body glide on the ground, and hilariously passed it around for collective use. (The team that shares bodily fluids through body glide sticks is truly living the dream!) Under the cloudless sky and perfect temperature, at the sound of the start cannon and Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York," we slowly made our way to the start line and I traversed the Verrazano bridge alongside Liz Shea - it being her first NYC Marathon, she blissfully sighed "this is surreal," and I was ready to run!
Running, I did - starting about as fast and strong as I had a few weeks prior in Chicago. The race course was extremely crowded for several miles along 4th Ave and Lafayette, and being the shortest in the pack made it difficult to see much of the cheering onlookers. I did hear my name shouted out several times along the way, so I know my NBR teammates were there! While running alongside teammate Becky, she agreed the crowds were a bit much but had decided to stick in the pack, as I dodged and weaved down 4th Ave. I also ran alongside several NBRs looking happy and fresh in their singlets. (In case you didn't know, our club is HUGE.) The Gospel choir that sang along Lafayette Ave., and the Lil Kim song "Lighter's Up" playing in my BedStuy neighborhood got me even more pumped to continue on the course. In Williamsburg, Rebecca and Katie were easily recognizable, as they are also short and at my eye level. We all excitedly screamed and jumped up and down. At our infamous mile 12 water table, the great Jose Lasalle announced my arrival on the megaphone, and all my beloved volunteering teammates glanced up from their watering duties and gave a shout! It was hard not to excitedly sprint through that tunnel...
Unfortunately, between Mile 12 and the Pulaski bridge, my energy severely wained. It was overly optimistic to have started the race in similar fashion to the one I had completed just a few weeks prior. My NYC Marathon options were now two-fold: I would struggle through the second half of the race, or call it a day and be proud of what I had done in the month. I was ready to walk off the Pulaski and head straight to the G train to head home, when John Slaski strode up beside me. He asked how I was feeling and I told him I was about to quit. In wonderful Brooklyn fashion he said "Awwww, come ON!!! You got most of it done already. Just take it easy and finish!" In that moment, John's words were nothing short of heroic, and I decided to continue the race and just enjoy myself. (THANK YOU JOHN!)
And enjoy myself, I did! After waving hi to Alun in Queens, I slowly trekked onto the quiet Queensboro bridge, where I shouted and cheered for the runners around me, trying to keep everyone (and myself) pumped up! Along 1st Avenue at Mile 17, a pub was giving out dixie cups of beer - I ran up and asked for a full one, and someone hilariously delivered me a mug of beer instead. I stood at the side of the road, enjoyed what I think was a Pilsner, spectated and cheered others along the course. (I also made video to let my family know I was ok.) A little further down the road, Teammate Sarah Bacon was dressed in a bacon costume and I ran up to her screaming "BAAAAACCCCCOOOONNNN!!!!" I did some dancing in the Bronx, particularly when the DJ played "Jenny From The Block." Over the last 9 miles, several NBR teammates witnessed my strong walking capabilities and encouraged me on, including Radford, Kevin and most hilariously Annie, who got me to run again, straight into another person. (If anyone complains of a 5' girl tackling them on 5th avenue around mile 23, it was me.) So yeah... I ran-walked my way into and through Central Park, but did finish strong with a full-out run through 59th Street and up to Tavern on the Green! I'm not sure I ever had as big a smile on my face as at that race finish; I'm still stunned I finished in under 5 hours. The fun I had over the course of the day continued with all of you at the after-party where I was thrilled to learn of all the incredible accomplishments and moments you all shared throughout the day. I even witnessed a group hug between our Grandmasters men, as they discovered they had collectively come in 2nd place of all the clubs competing!
This race was indeed my victory lap after an incredible season of training, an all-out wonderful year personally (I also started a new job,) and a happy end to my tenure as NBR President. I could not have asked for a better experience or group of people to share all of it with! It has been a pleasure running, racing and representing all of you!!