A new memory

November 23, 2010 at 4:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Once again, we woke up at the crack of dawn, donned our gear, and headed towards the bus. Off to run our second marathon!

I was feeling excellent. I trained pretty well, I had a game plan, I had a companion. And I thought there was no way the second marathon could be as hard as the first one.

Wrong! It was so hard. But also so wonderful and so worth it.

We arrived at the start village really early – before 7 am – and that resulted in a lot of waiting around. It was freezing, and even though we had lots of layers on, we were ice cold. We killed time walking around and reading magazines, but the clock ticked slowly. It wasn’t until 10 am that we finally had to give up our bags and move to our corral (Chuck was already off with wave 2 at that point).

Laura and I lined up with Pat and Natalie (thanks for the pics!), peeling off layers as we moved closer to the start. The sky was clear and the sun was bright and the views across the Verrazano were extraordinary. I felt amazing. I was ready.

Our plan was to run 10:15-minute miles for as long we could, ideally though mile 20. The first mile over the bridge was crowded, and we were slower than that; the second mile was downhill and speedy, and we made up the time.

Then we were in Brooklyn, and I had to pee. I waited as long as I could stand it, but finally, I had to stop at mile 5. I told Laura and Natalie to go ahead, but they wouldn’t have it. The lines were long and we lost about 7 or 8 minutes waiting. It was a lot to make up, and I felt pretty sure that we were going to have to let go of the 4:45 goal.

We picked up where we left off and powered through the next few miles in good time. Between 7 and 8 we saw my family and friends – those are the happiest times of the race, always. Shortly after that we saw Chuck’s mom and brother, and then Laura’s family, which was also wonderful.

And then there was a long stretch before we saw anyone else. We had a great fun moment in Fort Greene when “Single Ladies” was blasting and all the runners were dancing; when we got to Williamsburg, we heard “YMCA” and everyone did all the moves. But I was starting to feel tired and I was worried, because it was too soon. When we got to the halfway point, and moved into Queens, I was already concerned about finishing.

The Queensboro bridge, at miles 15-16, is famous for being so difficult – it’s the longest, steepest hill in the race and comes at a challenging time, when one’s body is just starting to rebel. The bridge is my wall. I felt pretty miserable running it, and I didn’t recover once we were on the other side.

On First Avenue, Natalie went off to see her family, and Laura and I were alone. We got a boost of energy seeing her parents and husband, but then had to face that long stretch into the Bronx – 60 blocks – on our own. There were a few surprise highlights along the way – seeing my boss, and then Chuck’s mom and brother – but I was already so miserable at that point that it didn’t have much of an effect.

We had slowed to 11:30-minute miles, and we were both suffering. We had long ceased chatting except for the occasional “Water?” or “I’m dying” or “Go ahead without me if you can.” But we stayed together – we were somehow still on the same page, fading at the same rate.

The mental mantra for the last 8 miles was “one foot in front of the other.” There were many, many times when I thought I could not go on. The 4:45 goal was long gone, but I had to finish. We had to finish. We just nudged each other along, without speaking.

At mile 24, we saw my family and friends again, just before heading into the park for the final stretch. I wanted to burst into tears when I saw them. We couldn’t really stop – we were afraid that we wouldn’t be able to start again – so I grabbed some Gu and kept going, knowing that the end was in sight.

Just like last year, I was digging from a place inside me that I didn’t know existed to get through those final miles. When we turned onto Central Park South, we could see Columbus Circle, and it never seemed farther away. But we knew we had just over a half mile to go, and there was no question about finishing.

Finally, finally we turned back into the park. I could have burst into tears at any moment. Seeing the finish line is a feeling like no other I can describe. As we approached, we put our arms around each other and crossed together. Relief! And joy! We did it!


Not 4:45, but under 5 hours and 27 minutes better than last year.

To be totally honest, I was disappointed. I know a 27 minute improvement is a lot, but I really thought I trained so much harder and better than that this year. I actually thought it would be easy! I was definitely humbled.

But then I remembered that the point of this is not being fast. I became a runner to honor the memory of my grandparents, and to raise money in hopes that there will be an end to Alzheimer’s Disease in my lifetime. I have worked hard towards those goals, and I have results to show for it. So I’ll just be proud of my time and effort, and hope that my grandparents are too.

And anyway, I need something to work towards for next year, right? 🙂


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  1. Megs,
    I’m so proud of you! I just teared up a little reading this post. Way to go girl – it’s amazing. xoxo

    • Oh thanks, Ab. Love you xx

  2. Hi Meghann! Thanks for sharing your story. You’re so inspiring! I just signed up for my first 1/2 marathon in March with 6 family members. I started training but I have no idea how I might pull this off..Eee! Would love to run with you sometime. Talk soon & Happy Thanksgiving! -Francesca

    • Thanks, Francesca! Good luck with your half…is it the NYC? We signed up for the lottery for that too so maybe we’ll be running together 🙂

      • Yep, NYC Half on March 20th. Would be awesome to run together! Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. you’re amazing Meeeg. This is truely inspiring. I’m sad i wasn’t there to support you.

    Next one, London!

    • Thanks Jooles!!! Or maybe next year you’ll come do new york??

  4. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Meghan

    I am very impressed and inspired by all you have done since I met you years ago… No doubt your grandparents are very proud of you as am I. Keep up the incredible work and hope to see you one of these days! Even though we don’t speak like we used to I still follow your efforts.

  6. Congrats! What a great accomplishment!

    • thank you so much!

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