“To those who face adversity head on, even when the odds are stacked against them.”- my friend Kris
I didn’t actually, formally decide to run the marathon this year until the beginning of mile 2. But first, a little context.
You see, just 33 days ago, I was face down at a pain specialist’s office getting an epidural injection into my spine (shout out to all mothers). I am not a big fan of being poked and prodded, as it brings back uncomfortable teenage and young adult memories of the disease. In total over the past 45 days, I have endured the above injection, two X-rays, an MRI, a major medical scare, massage therapy, physical therapy, and every medicine you can imagine. So as I wrote previously, I had no intention to run.
But on the morning of Wednesday, October 10, something changed. After a night filled with some crazy dreams, I woke up raring to go. So I rolled out of bed, put on my clothes, and walked outside into the pouring rain. At 7:32am that morning, soaking wet, I told myself that I could do this. As a big geek at heart, I started to test myself. How fast could I walk a mile? How fast could I jog a mile? How long could I go? But the biggest question had nothing to do with my physical being. It was how strong was my mind and heart?
I don’t recommend that you disobey your doctor, which I technically didn’t. Nor do I recommend you disobey your most trusted advisor, which I debatably did. But I also don’t recommend that you bypass experiences that can literally change your life and the way you view the world, and that is what eventually won out. I was one of the lucky that got “invited back” to run the NYC Marathon, while almost 100,000 people did not get accepted. I didn’t take that lightly. Quietly, I’ve been stressed AF about it for the majority of the year. Because deep down, I knew I wanted to do it again. Needed to do it again. Because of how it enhances the way I view the world.
Back to the present. So I decided 2 weeks ago that I would fly to NYC for the weekend. Midweek of race week, I decided at a minimum I would walk it. Mile 2, I just took off, and the rest is history.
If you know anything about the NYC Marathon, mile 2 is straight downhill. For my long legs, it was going to be harder to walk it than run, so off I went. Mile 3, per our new custom, I met my childhood friend Bess for a quick word. And then it was a combination of walk/jog/run for the better part of a half marathon. I was in absolute awe that this was happening.
And then came the 59th Street Bridge. This damn thing has become the bane of my existence. Last year, and then again this year, it just ate me up. To the point, this year, where I got a new experience at mile 16. I had to take a 5 minute pit stop with Dr. C. in the medical tent, as my inner left quad had all but seized up. So he applied some biofreeze (magic) and massaged it out, and I was back to it. Only one problem. When I raised my legs to jog, it would seize back up. As there is a solution to every problem, I simply took a fast stroll through the next 4 miles until I entered the Bronx.
My 2 favorite areas of the race are the Bronx and Harlem. The people, the energy, and the music are right up my alley. I guess I had some energy left, because I rapped out loud with all of the DJs for the better part of miles 21 and 22, helping me forget that my legs had all but seized up. There was Ma$e, Jay-Z, Pitbull, Big Pun, and Fat Joe being blared through speakers, and some I had never heard, but I liked.
Did I mention it was a beautiful, beautiful day? I mean pitch perfect. And it just got better as the setting sun shone through the golden leaves in Central Park along the final stretch. I tempered a fast walk with a slow jog until I rounded that last curve. Real talk, I was so spent that I could not even run the full final 800 meters. I was telling myself to, but my body wasn’t having it. So I took a quick walk and then sprinted (lightly jogged) the final 400 meters.
Very different from last year, the finish line did something to me. I gave a very personal fist pump, a high five to someone, shed a few tears, and then almost threw up. I literally gave every ounce of everything I had in my body. It was different this year because I wasn’t supposed to be there. I told myself before the start that this was either going to be the dumbest thing I’d ever done or one of the greatest. And it was.
A few things to leave you with: my time was 5:31:59, which was 59 minutes and 47 seconds slower than last year. I consider that a freaking miracle, considering where I was 33 days ago. I also cannot walk real well today. But that also doesn’t bother me. Because once you see people that cannot walk EVER completing a marathon, you slow your role.
The NYC Marathon is the perfect combination of an extreme individual test that also allows you to be a part of something that is so much bigger than yourself. You know, one of my goals of being a true citizen of the world.
It’s just simply the greatest race in the greatest place, and I am so happy and proud that there was a Volume 2 to share with you.
Have a great week, and thanks for all of the support. -Benj
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