Friday was like the last day of school before vacation. It was all anxious anticipation. The time ticked by so slowly! When the day finally ended, I headed over to Javits with Chuck to pick up our numbers at the Marathon expo. It was a nutty experience so we just grabbed our stuff and ran home. (Not literally, of course.)
Saturday was a lovely day. I let go. There was nothing to be done and I became completely relaxed. I had a lovely lunch with Mary, who was in New York because her husband also ran the Marathon, and then I went for a manicure and 15 minute chair massage. (I was so relaxed that on my way home that I completely spaced out and managed to fall flat on my face in the middle of Fifth Avenue.) My parents arrived from Rhode Island and we headed to the team dinner at Carmine’s.
It was an amazing night. Having everyone in one room was wonderful. And we were so lucky to have David Hyde Pierce come by to give us his support – and make a surprise (very generous) donation that brought our total team fundraising to $323,000! (I actually think we’re even higher than that now.) He gave a hilarious and charming speech that left the team feeling pretty great. (“The longest run I’ve ever done was Fraiser, for 11 years.”) Our coaches gave each other gifts, and we gave gifts to both of them, and then we pigged out on pasta for two hours.
And then there was nothing left to do but run the race.
Our bags were packed and we were ready to go. We jumped on the team bus just after 6 am and all of our favorite people were there. It felt like a party. It was hard to grasp what we were doing and why we were there. I know that sounds insane, but it’s true. It didn’t seem like the moment when 6 months of hard work were coming to fruition. It just felt like we were going on a road trip with a bunch of friends.
And then…a lot of waiting. Waiting in line to get into the waiting area. Waiting to get a bagel, waiting to use a port a john, waiting to just go! Finally the 9:40 group headed to the start, and then the 10:00; and then our turn.
I was still, at this point, without any real sense that I was about to run a marathon. I was just excited and happy with Chuck and my friends. When the starting gun goes off, it’s still not real. When they start playing “New York, New York,” I’m dancing and singing as we slowly approach the start line. And then we’re running over the Verrazano Bridge.
Chuck and I started alongside Sara, Tricia, and Jason. It was cold and windy on the bridge but I felt good. As I had feared, we were going a bit too fast for my pace, but it was hard to resist the urge. It was the excitement, necessarily, like so many people say; it was more the need to be with my team, to do this with the people I’ve been running with since June.
We got to Brooklyn, still feeling good. Suddenly there were a handful of people cheering us on, and then the crowds grew bigger and bigger. By the time we reached 4th Avenue, we’re in the middle of the biggest, best block party ever. How could we not get excited!? Plus, I knew that in a few miles I’d be seeing my parents and my friend Ami, so I couldn’t wait to get there.
These first miles were a blurry, wonderful dream. I didn’t even feel like I was running (!!!!!). Everything was smooth sailing. Still going to fast – I told Chuck and Sara at every mile marker – but I didn’t care.
We reached my parents and Ami – mile 7 – and I handed off my gloves and arm warmers because I was nice and toasty. A quick hello and we were off again. I started to feel it a bit after that, knowing that I wasn’t likely to see anyone again for many miles. But Fort Greene was an even crazier party and we happily moved on.
Then: a very quiet neighborhood. Few people on the streets, and the people who were there were definitely not cheering. This is when things started to turn. Luckily, we still had each other. The pain was manageable and we got into bustling hipster Williamsburg, where there were lots of people and music and fun. They pushed us to the Pulaski Bridge – the half way point. What a glorious moment, knowing that now we were counting down instead of up. But scary, too: I have to repeat the same distance I just did? I’m already exhausted!
Queens is blurry, though not quite in the way 4th Avenue was. I was just pushing to make it to the bridge. When we got there, I think I pushed a bit too hard. The bridge is a long uphill climb and then a long downhill slope. Most of the people around us walked the uphill part, but for some reason, I was just so anxious to get it over with that I pushed Chuck and Sara to run with me the whole way. At the peak, we noticed that Tricia and Jason were off to the side. He proposed to her on the bridge! How does one run the remaining 10 miles of the marathon after something like that? I couldn’t have done it!
I was expecting a big burst of energy when we reached First Avenue, but no such luck. The pain was becoming substantial. We had some excitement when we saw Chuck’s parents at 80th Street and then Chuck’s friends from work at 90th Street, but after that we really started to suffer. At 100th Street – mile 18 – Chuck asked if we could stop because his knee was bothering him so much. We walked for a mile and then started running again for the transition into the Bronx.
The Bronx is mile 20 – the famous Wall. We were definitely in very rough shape at that point. We allowed ourselves breaks for stretching and walked a bit. I thought about how we still had 6 miles to go. I wondered how we would make it. The bottoms of my feet were screaming. My legs could barely move.
By the time we were back in Manhattan, I was stretched to my limit. I started to cry. The pain was so intense. But we were still running! And luckily, at 124th and 5th, my friend Marissa met us and ran with us for the next two miles. We needed her then! And I was also buoyed by the thought of seeing my parents and friends again at 100th and 5th. So we kept moving.
It was such a relief to see everyone when we got there! I had a quick sit on the sidewalk, ate some Gu, and we were off again. Marissa stayed with us until we had to turn into the park, and then she peeled off.
The park. Still over two miles to go. We ran until we passed the Met, and then took a break for a bit. We were walking when we saw our friends waving at us from the sidelines! I felt so bad about that that we started running immediately – and then we didn’t stop until the finish.
I don’t know how I made it through that last mile and a half. We just kept moving. It was like my brain wasn’t connected to my body. I felt like the finish line was so close and I just had to get there. I had to get there! This had to end. It was too much. Central Park South never seemed so long.
And then we were back in the park. I caught a glimpse of the finish line and I welled up again – finally, finally! 400 meters, 300 meters, 200 meters, and then. And then! We are there! We crossed the finish line! It’s over! WE DID IT! 5:25:48.
And we did it together, which was a very wonderful surprise. All along I had thought Chuck would sprint off ahead, but he stayed with me the entire time. I could not have done it alone, and I am so grateful.
Thank you all for reading about my adventure and supporting me and making generous contributions over the past 6 months. I think we achieved what we set out to accomplish. 55 Team Run to Remember runners crossed the finish line on Sunday. We raised almost $330,000. And we honored the people we’ve loved and lost to Alzheimer’s Disease.
Grandma and Grandpa, I hope you’re smiling