Though I will probably slip in an SEO news update somewhere next week, I will also be posting about my marathon experience this weekend, good or bad.
I got in to running for the most part when I met my wife, who has always been a runner. Up until that point, I basically always considered running as a punishment for mistakes or goofing off in other sports I participated in. I was heavily involved in adult rec football and softball and still love those sports, but at the same time, an aging body can take only so much football, and you also become the “old guy” amongst a bunch of twenty-somethings that doesn’t get the ball thrown his way very often.
With a metabolism like mine, I needed something to keep me in shape and when I lived on the boardwalk in Long Branch, NJ, I started doing some small runs and worked my way up to a 5K with my wife. It was a Giants Draft Day 5K, which is pretty fun, even though the Giants are not my primary team. They are sort of an adopted second team to my Steelers because my wife and her family love the Giants, and my father and grandfather rooted for them growing up. The race allows you to finish on the field at Giants Stadium and I had a decent performance that day, which sort of got the ball rolling.
I think many marathoners experience this, but you always look a that next longer distance as the distance only crazy people do. I do 5K and 10K races, but only crazy people do marathons. I do marathons, but only crazy people do ultras. I have taken that path as well.
Cancer and Commitment to Health
Though I think I started on the path already, being diagnosed with parathyroid cancer a few years back really set me on my way to marathon running. I may have ended up there anyway, but at the time I was diagnosed, I had actually fallen out of shape, I know now partly because of the energy sucking power of the cancer. I ran the Camptown Races a week before being rushed in to the hospital. I was heavy and slow and didn’t know I had cancer, but the race that year was to honor my grandfather, Loring Skillings, so I felt I should run it. I believe I actually finished last that day. Definitely at the very back of the pack, but a couple of weeks later I was in surgery having my tumor removed and moving on with my life.
My cancer was very rare and mostly only showed up in elderly so the mortality rate was high, but that could be associated with the age of people getting it and the small amount of data. Still, it is enough to put another scare in you to get out there and do things (being in the twin towers on 9/11 certainly does that too). I decided I was going to get in shape and run the Pittsburgh marathon.
My wonderful wife Karen, who was my rock when I was going through all the confusion of a cancer that nobody knew much about, ran with a group of friends in Princeton to train for long runs like half marathons and marathons. They were nice enough to let me in, even though I was a guy. They were all women, but having a man join them was not unprecedented. However, I was scared I would be the guy left behind and not fast enough to keep up. They were very patient with me and though I did get behind a few times in the early going, they took care of me and brought me up to speed both figuratively and literally. I ran the Pittsburgh marathon in spring of 2013 and was able to hit my time goals and had an amazing day running through the city I so loved from going to college there and supporting all the teams. It helped to be running through neighborhoods I was very familiar with so it made the mind game easier to deal with.
Through this group, though I learned the wonders of the NYC marathon. I lived in NYC for several years, but mostly viewed the marathon day at the time as an annoyance and something to avoid. When I went in to see our friend Nora run the marathon several years ago I knew I would eventually run it. Though NYC wasn’t my primary goal, (Pittsburgh was priority 1), Karen always wanted to run it, and I had it set in my mind too. We actually ran it together in 2013. That day, though difficult for Karen (she had an injury that forced us to walk the last 8 miles together), showed me how wonderful and supportive the crowds there are as they cheered for us the whole way and were so uplifting as we walked in to the park and the finish. I decided then that I needed another shot at it. The running community is very supportive and positive and that is what I love about it. Both the road racers and the trail racers. I ran a trail marathon this past spring. They are a different group of people and sometimes look at each other as rivals, but the communities themselves are very supportive of each other. I love it.
So that brings me to the 2015 NYC marathon. I’m racing this weekend because I went through a long process of 9 NYC races last year and a volunteering criteria. It was a great experience, but long and takes a lot out of you getting up early and going in to the city ten times for races. I did it and am excited to run. I, like all runners in every training period, have had some obstacles come up in my training. A knee injury that still lingers a bit, a bit of a cold that popped up a couple weeks out from the race. A miscommunication with NYRR about my estimated time which has me starting in the wrong corral. My family being unable to come down and root me on in person. But all of that will go away the moment the race starts and I will run with over 5o,000 other runners to the shouts of encouragement and support that only the NYC marathon can offer.