There was no part of me that wasn’t going to finish.
Of course, when I received the email in March 2017, that I had won the lottery for the 2017 New York City marathon, I was ecstatic, albeit a little nervous. I had been a distance runner my entire life, but I had never taken on a marathon before. I could still hear the doctor telling me – when, at age 19, I first began experiencing mysterious health concerns – that I should probably pick a less strenuous sport and that a marathon was far from an option.
Nevertheless, from the moment I read that email, I had my game face on. I read articles, evaluated my dietary habits, and developed a totally new respect for sleep. I printed a training plan and taped it to the mirror in my bedroom. I only missed one workout. I was steady. I was dedicated. I was focused.
By the time my friend and I were on the Staten Island Ferry, headed toward the starting line, no part of me was nervous. I had put in the hours. I had prepared meticulously. No part of me was worried about the next 26.2 miles.
Crossing that finish line in Central Park, completing my first marathon ten minutes faster than my goal time, wasn’t a single, exact “great moment.” The entire four hours and twenty minutes of pavement pounding that preceded the finish line was what mattered the most.
For hours as I ran through borough after borough, I felt an entire city standing behind me. More than that, I felt all my hard work coming to fruition. I’m not sure I had ever worked so hard or been so dedicated to a thing in my life. I’d certainly never been so prepared. I was relentless in my pursuit of the New York City marathon and it paid off.
The night before the marathon, as I finished setting out my outfit and downing the last of my water, I sat on my bed folding over and over in my hand a small stone that I keep on my desk. This stone says, “POWER” and I keep it with me as a constant reminder that I can be strong. I thought about everything that led up to that moment and I started to cry. Happy tears.
I thought of what it felt like to have no control. I thought of how amazing it felt to love and trust my body that had taken me through not just hours of early long runs but through 23 years of living. I thought about how it felt to take back the most intimate part of myself and to have total faith in myself and my abilities.
I have never been more confident stepping onto a starting line. I have never been prouder of an experience and the growth I felt throughout the entire process.
To everyone running in New York City today – Godspeed. Take a deep breathe. Savor every mile. And trust your heart.