Every year around this time, I get the New York City Marathon bug.
My usual every-other-day run generally takes me to Central Park, where I loop around for three or four miles, sometimes doing the full six.
This week, it's hard to focus on anything but the upcoming TCS NYC Marathon, with banners streaming throughout Central Park, and people pouring in from all corners of the world to watch, volunteer, or, even more exciting, run. Even Tom Petty crooning in my ears can't drown out the sounds of workers getting the park ready for one of the most thrilling sports events of the year.
That I happen to live on the corner of mile 17.5 of the grueling (and it is grueling) 26.2-mile course just adds to my heightened interest. There's just no getting away from it.
And, since 2011, along with the building excitement I feel each Marathon week, is the deeply held belief that I will do it again.
When I turned 50 almost eight years ago, I wanted to pull the proverbial blanket over my head and stay there. Post-menopausal pounds were piling on, I hadn't exercised in years, and everything seemed to be changing all at once. It was a terrible feeling of being out of control, and out of touch with my authentic self. I wasn't sure how to get fit and healthy and stay that way, and I knew that if I didn't do something now, I would just continue along this path.
That's when I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and said "Enough is enough." I grabbed the reins, researched and wrote my first book, The Best of Everything After 50, and started to run. It worked. Eight years later, I'm still running.
Now, I run for health. I run for joy. I run to meditate. I run to keep the weight off. I run because I can.
Running fuels my power.
I felt so powerful, in fact, that in 2011 I did something that earlier in my life was so beyond my reach that it never even entered my mind.
I ran in the NYC Marathon to celebrate my 55th birthday.
After many months of training, and getting into what was probably the best shape of my life, I completed the marathon in 5 hours and 20 minutes, and immediately started to plan for the next one -- five years later to celebrate my 60th birthday -- before I even got home.
My belief is that if you can walk, you can run. And if you can run (even slowly, and even with walk breaks, as I do) you should do everything in your power to run -- at least once in your life -- in the NYC Marathon for all these reasons and so many more:
- You'll get a real medal (here I am with mine!)
- For the rest of your life you can call yourself a "Marathoner" and no one can ever take that away from you
- It's extremely cool to say "I ran in the NYC Marathon . . . " at cocktail parties or job interviews (everyone dreams about it, but very few actually do it)
- Your kids will be amazed (and very proud)
- You will be forced to get in shape
- You will be motivated to stay in shape
- You'll run through all five boroughs of New York City in one day (and across many bridges)
- Your adrenaline will be at an all time high just going through Brooklyn
- Your friends, family and complete strangers will be standing and waiting at various points during the 26.2 mile course cheering you on
- If a specific end time isn't the main goal (mine was just finishing), you can stop and snap photos with New York's extremely adorable and heroic firemen (here I am with a few)
- You will do something that you never, ever thought you were capable of doing
- You will feel like a rock star
- If you're over 50 -- like me -- your feelings of accomplishment will be double
- You will feel the urge to 'high five' every person you see cheering you on along the streets when your adrenaline is still sky high (but save some of that much-need energy for the lull during the jaunt through relatively quiet Queens)
- You won't be able to resist doing a little internal smirk when friends boast about running a half marathon
- You can raise money for a very worthy cause (I ran with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network team)
- By mile 18 you will wonder if you can keep going, but you will
- By mile 25 you will start to wonder if you will ever truly make it to the finish line, but you do
- By mile 26, as you're getting closer and closer and the crowd is yelling and screaming and pushing you to the finish line with their support and enthusiasm, your adrenaline kicks in again, you start running faster and faster and, knowing that your photo is about to be taken, you hold your head high, smile and cross that finish line . . .
. . . and reason #20, which is really the #1 best reason why you should run in the New York City Marathon at least once in your life . . . If I can do it, so can you.
If you've never run before, or want to learn more about how to run with walk breaks, take a look at this short video:
We can't control getting older . . . but . . . we can control how we do it!