The following is the email I sent to all my supporters to say thank you after I finished the 2010 NYC Marathon. I thought about editing it for this blog, but I think it captures my feelings as it is perfectly. I hope you enjoy it!
To paraphrase Ghostbusters, a quintessential NYC movie, “I came, I saw, I kicked its ass!” I am extremely proud to say that I FINISHED THE 2010 NYC MARATHON with a time of 5:47:03 which leaves room for me to beat 5:30 in 2011! (Yes, I have already registered for the 2011 lottery. I’ll be there next year to reprise my marathon experience.)
My marathon experience really started on Saturday Nov. 6th as we scrambled to figure out how to get Samantha to her soccer game and then to somewhere for the night while I attended the TeamFox pre-marathon dinner at Mario Batali’s Manhattan restaurant. Thank God for adorable little Isabelle’s mom, Andrea, who graciously offered to take Samantha to the game and have her sleep over until Joe could pick her up on Sunday. Samantha would have been heartbroken to miss her game. (I was sorry I had to miss it as the coach.) Once I got Rachael off to Grandpa’s for the night and then Samantha over to Andrea’s I was off to the city for dinner.
Dinner was amazing! Joe’s cousin, Michelle, came to dinner with me as Joe had to attend a conference on Saturday. She’s a fellow TeamFox member and is going to run the 2011 NYC Marathon with me so she’s a perfect fit. Thanks for coming with me Michelle! (She may kill me for announcing she’s running, but I really want her in the race with me.)
Sunday Nov. 7th started at the wee hour of 4am with a hotel wake up call. Joe and I both got up and got dressed, me in all my marathon layers. I double checked that I had everything and we headed out into the streets of Manhattan. As we left the hotel, there was a woman waiting for a cab, dressed in sweats, so I asked if she was running for TeamFox. She said yes and I made a new friend for the morning. We offered her a ride to the TeamFox bus as Joe was driving me and then heading home to get Samantha and bring her to the marathon. Melanie, was from Utah, was about my age and was running for her husband who has early onset Parkinson’s Disease. Although we had different start times, we stuck together for the morning and helped each other navigate the world of the NYC Marathon starting villages. Her start time was first, so I gave her a hug as she went to line up and we wished each other the best with the marathon and with everything else. She was a great person to wait with!
Soon it was my turn to line up and strip off the outer layer of clothing, including my old socks that served as makeshift mittens. (Thanks Aunt Nan for that tip!) It seemed like the time flew by and the cannon sounded 3 times to start Wave 3 up the Verrazano Bridge. It was absolutely thrilling and was the first time I wasn’t tied in knots at the start of a long run. I was already having fun!
The view of lower Manhattan and the Harbor from the bridge was just amazing. Many people stopped to take pictures as we crossed. When I reached Brooklyn on the other side I said to myself that no matter what happened with the rest of the race I will always know that I ran over the Verrazano Bridge. That was the first of my many firsts for the day.
In no time I was in the middle of Brooklyn running through neighborhood after neighborhood and hearing band after band play great music. Eye of the Tiger was my favorite song in Brooklyn. I high-fived as many little kids, cops and firemen as I could. Everyone was calling out my name and telling me I was great. It was a terrific experience. It didn’t matter who you were, where you were from, how fast you were or what you looked like, everyone was cheering for you.
I was looking for family around mile 7, but alas it was not meant to be. I had run faster than expected and everyone missed me, but at about mile 10 my cell phone was ringing. It was Joe. He said they’d try to make it by the end of Brooklyn at about mile 13. Mile 13 came and went and I was a little dejected as I crossed into Queens, but at about mile 14 the phone rang again and he told me they were a little past mile 14. I was behind them now so I knew I’d see them.
When I saw Samantha, Joe, and “Aunt” Cathy, I was so excited. I ran up to Samantha, gave her a hug, and asked how her soccer game went. She said they’d tied and she’d scored a goal. I hugged Joe and Cathy and was off. Samantha and Joe ran about 100 feet with me and then I was on “my own” again.
Queens went by quickly as it was only about 2 miles and soon I was crossing the 59th Street Bridge into Manhattan. The highlight of the 59th Street Bridge was passing Superman on the way up. I now know I am faster than the man of steel. (Spiderman was in the race too as were the Blues Brothers.)
As I hit Manhattan and saw the new crowds I started yelling, “I made it to Manhattan!!” People cheered for me and clapped when they heard me. What a great feeling! I continued up the long incline of 1st Ave, cursing whoever laid out this course as it all seemed uphill. Then I got another phone call (ain’t modern technology amazing?) this time from my brother-in-law, Jonathan. He and my new sister-in-law, Meredith, were at 104th St. I was at 96th St. so I hadn’t passed them yet. I started looking for them and then almost instantly there they were! They both got big hugs and thank yous for coming all the way up from Washington, D.C. just to watch the marathon. I’m so glad I didn’t miss them this time. It would have been awful not to see them, for at least the 30 seconds I got to say hi, after they travelled so far.
Before I knew it I was crossing the Willis Ave Bridge (another HUGE uphill) and heading into the Bronx. Hitting the Bronx was awesome because no matter what happened in the last 5 miles or so I had now run through all 5 boroughs. I was ecstatic and let all the spectators know I was so happy to be in the Bronx! Several of them actually said, “Welcome to the Bronx!” The entire time I was in the Bronx loud speakers were blasting the Alicia Keys song, “Empire State of Mind”, and I LOVE that song! I started “dancing” and singing along…. “These streets will make you feel brand new, the big lights will inspire you, let’s hear it for New York, New York…” I’m sure I looked crazy, but I was having so much fun. The mile or so in the Bronx actually seemed to pass too quickly. It was a great part of the run.
My last bridge crossing took me back into Manhattan and down 5th Avenue. Amazingly, going south on 5th Avenue was uphill again. I’d been telling myself on 1st Ave. that 5th Avenue would have to be downhill so just hang in there. I really could have killed someone for this evil trick.
Now the pain was REALLY setting in. I was having trouble and was concentrating on going forward. The crowd helped so much. They cheered and yelled things like, “You’re almost there! You’re amazing! Don’t quit!” I started digging deep. I knew that staff from TeamFox would be at mile 23 and I was anticipating them for over 2 miles.
When I saw the TeamFox contingent I was thrilled. They yelled my name loudly, high-fived me and just made me feel great. They were right before the turn into Central Park and were a great way to enter the park.
About a half mile later I spied Joe, Samantha and Cathy again. I stopped, gave some weak hugs and they sent me on my way with plenty of pep talks. Then at mile 24 I almost missed Michelle, Nick, Lauren and their friends who had a bright pink sign with “Go Karen Go!” written on it. Without their waving the sign, I might have missed them. I hugged them and then started my last 2.2 miles to the finish.
When I hit Central Park South I was practically bursting with pride, I had right around 1 mile to go. Soon I saw the ½ mile left sign and wanted to cry. I knew I was going to finish. It was no time before I passed under the 26 mile banner and then saw the 400 meter sign, then the 300 meter sign, the 200 meter sign and finally the 100 meter sign. At 100 meters I picked it up and “sprinted” to the Finish Line. A volunteer looked at me surprised as I “sprinted” and told me I was great! Then I raised my arms in the air to cheer myself and I crossed the Finish Line. I jumped up and down and screamed, “I FINISHED!” I hugged the nearest volunteer and couldn’t stop smiling. I had done it. I finished the 2010 NYC Marathon. 2 ½ years ago I almost threw up after 2 blocks. Today I had finished the NYC Marathon!
Next a volunteer put an official medal around my neck, I got my finisher picture taken and I started the 10 block walk to get out of the park and find Joe. That walk seemed longer than the marathon and I was so happy when I found Joe. He’s the best husband in the whole world! He helped me through all my training and was there to cheer me on during the big race. I couldn’t have done this without him.
Thanks to everyone for everything you did to support me. I thought of so many people during my run, especially those last 5 really tough miles. I would never have done this without a compelling reason and all of you were that reason. I knew you were routing for me and I couldn’t let you down!
I will be running next year too and I think an addict is born!