My NYC Marathon Was A Bloody Mess…With A Surprise Ending

“The greatest gift of life is friendship, and I have received it.”~Hubert Humphrey

In another moment, having Alicia Keys walking next to me…might have been exciting.  However, given the context, I hated being next to her, because I shouldn’t have been WALKING.  Oh, life…it often takes us on a direction that we did not plan…even if we valiantly fight against it.  However, if we step back and take a moment to put down the boxing gloves, we can have the clarity to find the lesson life had in store for us.

This March, I kicked off an intense training program to prepare for the 2015 NYC Marathon.  I trained and ran in small races, then bigger ones, all in preparation for the Big One.

On the morning of November 1st, I was excited – enjoying the energy of the start line, I inadvertently walked into a puddle — I got my entire left shoe muddy and wet.  When the race started, I maintained my composure; I had been warned to not go to fast.  My plan was to run negative splits — a faster pace in the second half of the race.

I was ready to go…

A few miles into the race, my left foot (the one that got muddy and wet) started to hurt.  A small rock was lodged in between my toes.  When I stopped to remove my shoe and sock, I noticed the rock had cut open the skin between my toes — the open wounds created a bloody mess.  To make matters worse, my left sock – soaking wet from the puddle excursion – created friction and even more blisters.  I limped into the medical tent to get it cleaned and taped up.  I was determined to rejoin the race.

toes were a mess, thankful for strong pedicure game

At first, I was able to block out the pain and run.  After a few more miles — my body shut down.  I’m not sure if it was from the pain from the bandaged, bloodied toes or if I was depleted from not having enough food in the morning.  I couldn’t move.  I have never experienced something like this before — and I have done plenty of long runs, leading up to this race.  At mile 13, I stopped running and stood there for a moment, with my throbbing foot, trying to decide what to do.  It hurt so bad to walk at this point, but I didn’t want to quit.  At the same time, I knew it was impossible for me to run — the future had 13.2 miles of painful walking or quitting.  I still don’t know how I did it on a gimpy foot, but I finished.  I limped through, fighting back the tears coming from physical pain and disappointment.  I was walking with the walkers (not a runner in sight), Alicia Keys was nearby, and I hated it.

The last few miles were miserable.  I had to stop many times to lean against a pole and breathe through the pain.  My friends came and gave me their support along the route.  I crossed the finish line and had the medal placed around my neck, but I was sad.  It was not the finish I had expected.  I went home, and after a painful foot bath to clean the grime out of my open wounds, I went to bed, feeling like my heart was broken.

I woke up the next morning, and cried; a mixture of emotional exhaustion and disappointment.  Then, I picked up my phone — I hadn’t checked it since race day.  I was shocked.  I had over 40 friends send me text messages of loving support; saying how they had tracked me the entire race and followed me on the app until I finished (yikes, everyone knows my awful race time and they’re still proud of me?).  It took me an hour to read all the messages and I started to smile through the tears.  I laughed at the jokes my friends sent me about my run.  I was reminded of all my friends who took the time out of their day to cheer me along the race; I had friends in Brooklyn, UES and Central Park who waited for me to pass by.  I was blown away by the kindness, love and encouragement — it felt good.

Very often we focus on success and forget about enjoying the friendships and life we have.  And so I thought my Marathon Story would be about achieving a goal, after almost a year of dedicated effort.  Funny, it ended up being something completely different.  It awakened me to how lucky I am, to be surrounded by a loving group of friends.  My heart feels warm and I am grateful.  I didn’t quit.  I still can’t believed I persevered through it.  I made it through the pain.  And my friends still love and cheered for me with excitement, even with the abysmal finish time.  Truth is, friends make life a lot more fun — and I like this ending better than the one I had planned.

biggest gift in life: not measured in goals achieved, but by true friendships.

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