Last Sunday was my 3rd New York City Marathon. Not only was this race my most memorable NYC Marathon, it was also the most meaningful race of my life – and it had absolutely nothing to do with personal goals.
The first time I ran the NYC Marathon was in 2007, two weeks before deploying to Iraq for 15 months. It was a big PR, my first time qualifying for the Boston Marathon and the first finish line my parents saw me cross.
2011 was the 2nd time I got to run through the streets of my hometown. I participated in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge. It was my first marathon as a mom and I broke the finish line tape for the first (and only!) time in my life!
Although I would love to run the NYC Marathon every year, it’s not an easy race to get into. Nor is it a cheap race (hello $250!). I was MORE than happy with my two NYC Marathon experiences and had resigned myself to cheering along the sidelines for the foreseeable future.
But then I was given an amazing opportunity.
About five or six weeks ago, my good friend, John, asked me to be his guide for the NYC Marathon. He is legally blind and was representing our hometown, Staten Island, in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge. Although I’ve never guided anyone before, I had made the offer to John that I would love to guide him one day.
I was initially on the fence – the marathon was only two weeks before my goal race (Potomac River Run Marathon). My mind started coming up with all the reasons why I shouldn’t run the race with him: too long of a run before my race, I wouldn’t be able to taper the way I should, what if it ruins my plans for my race?
After talking to my husband and sleeping on it, I realized that even though there was a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t run it, the one reason why I should trumped everything else: running isn’t always about me.
Running is definitely an individual sport. No one can carry you or physically assist you across the finish line. But as I learned, it’s a beautiful thing when it can be a team sport as well – whether it’s through guiding, pacing or encouragement.
Last Sunday was an emotional, special day. Not only did I run the NYC Marathon, but I got to see the marathon FOR a good friend while helping him achieve his goals. He safely made it to the finish line and came in 2nd place in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge.