NYC Marathon Real Talk

NYC Marathon

I’m running the NYC Marathon on November 5, for the 4th time.

When I got in through the lottery in March, this Sunday seemed not months, but years away.

My mom was several months out from a major emergency surgery she had in December, and she was still struggling, but she’d been so resilient the first time around that I was sure she’d come out on the other side again.

I hoped that calling her and telling her about the marathon would excite her, would give her something to look forward to, to rally for, to channel her energy into getting better for.

As I sat in that sunny booth at work, I waited to hear some glimmer of the mom I knew coming out, to say that of course she’d be at the marathon. It scared me to think that she might not, but I never, ever thought it would be because she didn’t live long enough to see it. That happens to old ladies, right? Nope, cancer knows no age. My mom was 72. Two years ago, she ran all over the city with my friends, even as the cancer was growing within her.

As she got more and more sick and the end came into sight, I pushed down the thoughts of her not being there when/if I get married one day (those are entirely too painful to think about). But it became apparent that I would run the marathon this year and she wouldn’t be there, and that made me cry harder than most other scenarios I discussed with friends or my therapist.

I started running for me, but in some ways, I think I ran the marathon to make her proud, for that moment of watching her beaming from the sidelines, a very real and tangible display of her love and pride. In a world where so much is unsure, I thought my mom waiting for me on the sidelines was a sure thing and not such a big thing to ask for.

She passed away on July 8, and after a summer of grief and attempts at self-preservation, I didn’t start “training” until Labor Day-ish. When the race was about 8 weeks out, I decided I had to make a decision. I’d miraculously gotten in through the lottery and had committed to raise money for the Junior League. It’s difficult for me to sit out the race in most years, and I knew I’d feel awful on quite a few levels if I didn’t run.

So I “trained” very casually, just trying to make sure I got into double digit runs, and I made my best attempts at increasing mileage. I never made it more than 17 miles, though I did that twice.

Part of me knows I should be OK getting through (that is my only goal); part of me thinks I’m an idiot for attempting to do this on such limited training. I’m trying to remember “whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Part of me, honestly, isn’t that excited and doesn’t even really want to run it right now.

I’m hoping that the energy of the expo and the weekend will carry me.

I’m terrified of going to the brunch I last attended with my mama, though I’m surrounding myself with friends to hold my hand during the inevitable tears.

I’m searching for the strength I found two weekends ago. That resilience of facing down the toughest year of my life and still fighting through a race.

I mean, if Jordan Hasay could come in third at Chicago after losing her mom, I can finish, right?

And yes, I know she’ll “still be watching in a different way,” but I just want her here with me for a hug.

6 comments on “NYC Marathon Real Talk

  1. Mindy

    As always, sending so much love your way, friend. I wish there was more to say/do, but I’ll be cheering for you from afar on Sunday! Not that losing my grandma is at all the same, but I had some similar thoughts regarding her passing in April with Chicago. I was going to run FOR her, to make her proud, because I promised her I’d keep living my life, etc. I know I made the right decision to defer, but I still have regrets about not running this year.

  2. Erica

    Let me tell you about my marathon training….My best friend was getting married and said, hey I want to run the NYC marathon because I want to lose weight for my wedding, come do it with me…here’s the group training. I signed up and entered the lottery. I had never ran anything organized except one 5k. I lied to the training group because they were all talking about the half marathons they did and I casually threw out one someone else said they had mentioned because who would train for a marathon who’d never ran more than 3.5 miles!!!!! Ha! By a miracle, we both got in. After the fourth week of training, she dropped out. I kept at it. Two weeks before the marathon, I broke my toe. I ignored it. I had a plane ticket and hotel room and I was doing this alone. Six days before I flew out my manager sent me to her husband’s fraternity brother who’s an orthopedic surgeon. I couldn’t even wear MY HEELS to his office. That’s how swollen my foot was. I was in denial. It was broken bad and there was no way I could run. I postponed. The next year, the friends I found through training convinced me at the very last minute to train. I was about 10 weeks out when I decided to train. However, I’m not very athletic and not in the best shape compared to people who can train in a short amount of time. I developed plantar fasciitis in BOTH feet and this time, I let my entry go and went to NYC in a boot on the worst foot and to cheer my friends on. I never saw my friends running. However, I met the most amazing people at Starbucks on the way to the start line. I traveled to five different locations with these guys and can tell you it was one of the best days of my life. I saw the mayor riding in the convertible, I saw blind runners and runners in wheelchairs, I saw people literally hanging out their windows cheering for people they didn’t know. I went to Broadway and got lottery tickets to see Hairspray in the front row, I ate cheesecake in Times Square at 10pm on the way back to the hotel while talking on the phone to my mom who was freaking out in NC because I was a single girl walking through the streets in the dark (LMAO). It was the best, most fantastic day I’ve ever spent alone. When I got back to the hotel I was watching the 11:00 news and the last ‘runner’ was making her way across the line with a single police car behind her as she walked. All I remember thinking is that she didn’t give up and how I had no clue who this lady was, but I was so proud of her because she finished! I really hope my body will carry me through the streets of NYC to run this thing one day as it’s one of my dreams. I’ll be cheering you on from NC Sunday!!!

  3. Sarah D

    So, so super proud of you and so happy to be running as teammates this season. It honestly wouldn’t have felt right without you as a member. You got me up and over the 59th Street Bridge without stopping in 2015 (honestly, I was ready to surrender to it), and I am forever grateful. I thought of the things you were saying then when I went back over it last year, too, and I’m sure I will this year, also. And I can’t wait to give you a huge hug at Tallulah!

  4. katie

    Love love love to you! Physically this marathon is going to be hard, and emotionally hard as well. But your mothers love will remain the same. I hope you have plenty of friends running/spectating to give you the hard long hugs you so deserve!


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