Lessons in the Big Apple

Last weekend I was blessed to watch my sister and her boyfriend successfully complete the New York ING marathon in 8 hours and 4 minutes.I learned a lot last weekend. I think maybe a list would be best:

1. Old-fashioned maps are still useful. Crazy I know. But sometimes a cell phone won't do and you need to pull out the paper map. Without our paper maps of the city, the race course and the subway system we never would have gotten anywhere last weekend!! Sometimes technology is no substitute for paper.

2. Running is a lot more complicated than I realized. I've always wanted to be a runner. I know I've blogged several times before about how envious I would get every time I saw runners. Oh how I long to be them!! So when Kara suggested we run a 5K as a family on Thanksgiving morning I thought, this is my chance. Despite all my failed attempts before and my current dislike of running, I can do this! I could have signed up and walked the whole thing but I wanted to run it. After all I was pretty sure Mom could beat me (she does power walk quite frequently) at the time I signed up for the race. And no offense Mom but that's just not okay. So I decided to start training. I loved it the first day, hated it the second, grudgingly got through it the third. By the fourth day I LOVED it. These weren't consecutive days though; I am taking breaks and doing other exercises since I'm new at this and don't want to injure myself. As the marathon neared I thought, one day I can run one too! I have tennis shoes, a sports bra, a music player and a place to run. What more could I need?? It turns out I was quite wrong. Mom and I accompanied Kara and Chris to the expo the day before the race. If you're like me you probably won't know what an expo is. I didn't know until I went to one. It turns out the expo is a lot like those home decorating expos your parents dragged you to when you were younger: just a huge room FULL of all things running. There was a row of booths where you could sign up for marathons in locations as exotic as South Africa, as sophisticated as Milan and as fun as Disney. There were gels to eat and sports drinks to try. I didn't really know what a gel was. In fact I'm still a bit fuzzy on the concept. And oh my goodness the gear! From high tech shoes to high tech clothes to high tech socks, this expo had everything a runner could want to put on their body. There were disposable clothes and commemorative clothes. It was insane. The early marathons were most likely run naked and barefoot in ancient Greece. Today's marathoners run in high tech gear. I clearly have a lot to learn.

3. Running is not age, gender or size specific. Seriously I saw runners of every shape, size and gender on Sunday. I saw people running with two prosthetic legs. I saw people who were quite overweight and people who were slender and fit. I saw people in their 20's. I saw people easily in their 80's. One such individual was on his FORTY NINTH marathon. Insane! If all those people can do a marathon, so can I.

4. Running a marathon is hard but rewarding. A stranger ran up to me around mile 18. She stopped, grabbed my arms and said, "this is the single hardest thing I've ever done." Then she ran away. At the time I was taken quite aback by her comment. I still have no idea who this girl was. When I brought the incident up to my sister later, she said she would have done the same thing had she not had her boyfriend there to tell the exact same thing to. Both of them admitted that they would have dropped out at mile 15 had the other not been there. Both limped across the finish line, crying the last several miles mostly out of pain. Both cried again but for a very different reason when they crossed that finish line though. I'll never forget Kara whispering "I can't believe this is happening" when we were mere yards from the finish line. They had fought an intense battle and ultimately come out victors. There's nothing like seeing a loved emerge triumphant first hand to inspire you.

5. New York is surprisingly easy to navigate. I did most of the navigating over the course of the weekend. The first place I ever navigated truly on my own was Rome, Italy during the fall of 2008. It was the single most confusing thing I'd done. The streets were twisted and largely unmarked on any map anywhere. There was no rhyme or reason to any of it. New York isn't like that though. The subway system is still a bit of a mystery. But the streets? Those are remarkably straight forward. When we were out walking I never felt confused or lost or overwhelmed like I so often did in Rome. If we veered off course I was able to easily find us on a paper map.

I'll share pictures soon!

1 comment:

  1. Ok so we did have a great time! Lots of laughs and lots of learning and lots of walking.... My "Dumble Dore" toe is still killing me!! And, yes! Paper maps are still my friend! You were the best navigator... Just wish the maps weren't printed so small that I can't read them anymore!
    Love you!