Part I of this Blogpost-Turned-Three-Act Dramedy focused mainly on the training that got me to the
Now I am going to recap (in two acts) what my 26.2 miles looked like and felt like all the way to the
Part II specifically is dedicated to the most challenging, the most arduous, intensely physical and emotionally demanding part of a marathon: THE WAITING to run the actual marathon. Below I retell with plenty of drama (and some random screenplay direction for effect) the hours and minutes that seemed like days leading up to my first footstep as a marathoner. And a list of what to do and also what NOT to do…
November 2nd, 2014.
The day of the TCS NYC Marathon.
INT - a cozy Astoria apartment - EARLY EARLY EARLY DAY SLOW FADE IN reveals a duvet in a dark bedroom, clearly covering our heroine, ELIZABETH. Suddenly, ALARM RINGS.
2:45am. ELIZABETH reaches for phone. Turns alarm OFF.
2:46am. Scrolls through some pictures of last night for inspiration, and smiles…
INT. - A New York City Italian Restaurant [FLASHBACK]
Elizabeth (VOICE OVER)
After working a full day at Mark Fisher Fitness, I attended a pre-marathon dinner hosted by Team Fox honoring the runners, their family and friends. At the dinner, we all mingled and DUH totes ‘carbed up’ together while Team Fox staff spoke, including the incredibly funny and inspiring Michael J. Fox.
THIS AMAZING MOMENT. Had to pinch myself.
The excitement was tangible, being seated in a room full of people with such full hearts, all for the same cause. Everyone shared stories of why they were running for Team Fox: some dedicated their mileage to family members with PD, others simply because they love the organization; some of us were running our first marathons like myself, some were tackling their seventh. Everyone chatted nervously on loop about their training their goal time the expo the weather attire nutrition chafing hydration excitement fears wonderment speculation over how scary/exciting tomorrow might be. During heartfelt speeches given by Team Fox staff, we learned that not only were we an army of over 150 runners conquering the 26.2 miles for Parkinson’s together, but that
8 of our fellow runners would be running the marathon with PD.
I was overwhelmed at this news.
They also announced that collectively, at that moment, we had raised $515,000, meaning that each mile essentially was worth over $19,000 for Parkinson’s Research. It was a very emotional night, to say the least. Full of laughter, some tears, lots of nerves and excitement. And pasta. All the pasta. It was hard to believe in less than 24 hours we would be celebrating crossing the finish line. I still wondered, though: Would I? Would I cross? And if so, what time? Will I hurt? Will I have to walk? Will I make it?
I collected my Team Fox gift on the way out the door, tucked my arm underneath Preston’s, and we braved the blast of cold air that awaited us outside. I felt excited and pensive and nervous and excited. The dinner helped calm my nerves a lot. It was an incredible reminder of my WHY; that it wasn’t about me. I was not running for a PR, for a medal, or for recognition. I was running for Michael J. Fox, for Robin Williams, for MK, for Josh’s mentor, for Ashley’s family, for M.E.’s dad, for Kevin’s dad, for Stella’s dad, for Bob’s mom, for Laura’s boyfriend’s mom, for Richard’s dad, for my dad. For the EIGHT RUNNERS living bravely with PD. My mom also reminded me: the incredible and important work had already been done. Awareness and money had been raised. The 26.2 miles that were waiting would simply be the joyous reward.
INT. - a cozy Astoria apartment - STILL EARLY EARLY EARLY DAY
2:50am. ELIZABETH peels face off pillow and actually gets out of bed.
2:56am. Checks email.
Elizabeth (upbeat) Well. This doesn't change anything.
ELIZABETH shuffles into kitchen. The WIND HOWLS FEROCIOUSLY outside.
Cut to ELIZABETH updating Facebook status whining about high winds. Things like whatamIdoing pass through her head several times.
3:00am. She guzzles coffee as she energetically moves around kitchen, making a gluten-free English Muffin with maple chicken sausage.
Elizabeth (still nauseatingly upbeat) I hope this keeps me full for the next 7.5 hours of my life.
3:30am. CLOSE-UP of race day attire.
Elizabeth 43º with high winds. Feels like 33º. Shorts or no shorts. Shorts or no shorts. F#@& it. Stick with the plan. Shorts. (Plus, you'll look more believably badass in your marathon photos bare-legged. Let's be honest.)
3:45am. Pours more coffee. Paces. Stretches. Pretends not to hear the WIND HOWL. Checks Facebook for any likes. 1 like from a fellow runner, 1 like from a friend who she used to wait tables with, 1 like from a friend with a brand new baby. This makes sense because it’s 3:45am.
4:00am. ELIZABETH steps out of room, dressed in race attire.
4:15am. Credit card, metrocard, ID, cash, water, clif block shots, GU, phone, charging case, body glide, bib, belt are packed. ELIZABETH puts on scarf with a brave look of determination on her face. Deep breath. EXITS apartment.
This is happening.
EXT. - Broadway in Astoria
4:23am. ELIZABETH walks to the R train. Almost blows over.
This is actually happening.
INT. - a typical New York City deli - EARLY EARLY MORNING
4:55am. ELIZABETH enters, purchases a water at deli.
Elizabeth (innocently) May I use your restroom?
DELI MAN doesn’t answer. Throws major shade ELIZABETH’S way. Finally leads her to restroom.
ELIZABETH marvels at this strange reaction. CAMERA PANS OUT to reveal:
INT. - Team Fox bus - STILL EARLY MORNING
5:10am. ELIZABETH boards the TEAM FOX BUS. It’s still dark out, and the only people you see walking around outside have clear plastic bags and bib #’s. It is clear that the city’s gone rogue with runners. She waves to CHRISTOPHER, who was at her dinner table the night before.
Elizabeth Did you sleep last night? Christopher Not really. (ELIZABETH and CHRISTOPHER laugh because this is something only runners would find funny given the insane circumstances.)
5:30am. Final bus call. The mood is quiet and pensive on the bus. People are either conserving energy or literally sleeping. ELIZABETH chooses the former, watching a dark NYC pass by her window.
6:00am. Cross the Verrazano. ‘The next time I cross this bridge’, she thinks, ‘I will be on foot. In 4.5 hours.’ This feels like an eternity from now.
6:15am. Team Fox un-boards the bus. It’s time. Bag check. Frisked by security. The sun is beginning to rise. With 4 hours to go til race time, ELIZABETH finds herself alone in a sea of runners.
6:30am. ELIZABETH walks across expansive field toward Wave 3. She runs into CHRISTOPHER and both are visibly relieved. They silently make a pact to stay together.
CAMERA PANS Wave 3 area. We see a Dunkin Donuts truck handing out bagels, hot tea, coffee and sad looking beanies. And no shelter, no tents, no heaters. It looks something like a refugee camp, with runners sprawled out everywhere all over the lawn, huddling together to stay warm.
4 Hours to go…
6:35am. ELIZABETH questions sanity. And whether this is the NYC marathon, or actually the Hunger Games.
7:00am. Trying to stay warm and conserve energy is physically impossible. ELIZABETH decides to split the difference, hold herself and rock back and forth.
7:15am. Feeling has officially left both feet.
CHRISTOPHER shares a hilarious marathon blog post by The Oatmeal. They laugh.
Probably a little too hard.
7:30am. Maniacal laughter cut short by strong gust of freezing wind. ELIZABETH wonders how one would return back to civilization if one decided that maybe they made a mistake and this isn’t actually for them. Über? She’s only asking for a friend…
7:45am. Delirium sets in. Silent pep talk.
[THOUGHT BUBBLE APPEARS over ELIZABETH’s head with VOICEOVER]: This really isn’t THAT bad. My God, remember those people who went down in that plane crash in the 70’s in the Andes and survived months of icy winter? This is literally 4 hours of your life that YOU CHOSE for yourself. If they can do it, you can do it. I mean. They didn’t even have convenient Dunkin Donuts trucks for nourishment. All they had to eat was…
[THOUGHT BUBBLE QUICKLY POPS and DISAPPEARS.]
8:00am. We see ELIZABETH sipping on hot tea with new friends, laughing and shivering together, which is one of the best ways of fooling yourself into thinking you’re having a good time.
INT. - Port-a-Potty
8:30am. ELIZABETH realizes that huh, who knew, it’s really quite cozy in here. She contemplates staying.
EXT. - Random field at Wave 3
9:00am. ELIZABETH huddles and questions sanity for the xth time.
9:10am. A CANNON FIRES in the distance.
OH MY GOD I WAS RIGHT THIS IS THE HUNGER GAMES.
Suddenly, AN ANNOUNCEMENT comes across the speakers:
The TCS NYC 2014 Marathon has begun! Elite Women are off!
This is happening!
9:40am. SECOND CANNON FIRES. Wave 1 and Elite Men have started. CHRISTOPHER leaves to line-up for his start time of 10:05am. They bid each other farewell and best of luck, knowing they might never meet again. #drama. And ELIZABETH still waits. Now she realizes that she’s kind of lonely. In fact, this actually kind of sucks. Note to self: if you ever do this again, bring garbage bags, bring friends.
9:45am. RAUL, a fellow Wave 3 runner approaches. Dialogue, dialogue, pleasantries, etc. He suggests sitting back to back to prop each other up. Wife is running for Team Fox, dialogue continues.
10:00am. Finally AN ANNOUNCEMENT reveals that it is time for Wave 3. ELIZABETH and RAUL head over to the Wave 3 corrals and file into respective lines. At Wave 3-B, ELIZABETH meets ABBEY, who flew in from St. Louis. Dialogue, dialogue, nervous chattering of teeth and laughter, Abbey’s second marathon, etc. They inch closer to the Verrazano.
10:05am. A THIRD CANNON FIRES. Wave 2 is under way! View of runners ascending the Verrazano. ELIZABETH gets goosebumps, and this time it isn’t because it’s 43º.
10:25am. 5 minutes to go. ELIZABETH cringes as she peels off her sweatpants.
Abbey In no time, we will be sweating! Elizabeth You're right! Okay, on the count of three...
Done. Sweatshirts are discarded into a mountain of other abandoned outerlayers that will be donated to Goodwill. The line shifts, and suddenly they are standing at the base of the Verrazano, staring uphill at all of the runners corralled ahead.
10:28am. A hush falls over the crowd. AN ANNOUNCEMENT. Welcome to the 2014 NYC Marathon. A woman SINGS THE NATIONAL ANTHEM acapella. Nerves and excitement pulse through the crowd. ELIZABETH is shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other runners from all over the world.
Runners take your marks…
10:30am. Wave 3 CANNON FIRES. A collective CHEER resonates through the crowd. “New York, New York” comes over the speakers and
ELIZABETH smiles to blink away the tears in her eyes and starts to jog.
This is happening…
I am running a Marathon.
ELIZABETH looks down and sets her watch.
Only 26 miles to go…
(Stay tuned for Part 3…)
Let’s review, readers. What did we learn from this narrative?
- Bring EXTRA layers (that you’re fine parting with), more than you think you even need, to bundle in while waiting. Even if you don’t need/use them, someone will.
- Hand warmers would also be a not-half-bad idea.
- Garbage bags to wrap legs in and to sit on.
- Blanket/Towel/Tarp to sit/swaddle/lay on and in.
- Plan to meet up with friends if you are traveling alone. Ex: “Meet me at the gate to Wave3”. Trying to entertain yourself for 4 freezing hours in anticipation of a marathon by yourself is really hard when the rules are you can’t use your phone or move around too much for one simple reason: you don’t want to drain your batteries before the race even begins.
- I highly suggest purchasing/borrowing a charger case for your phone. This was something I nailed (thanks, Preston!). Keep your phone off while you wait, or at the very least on airplane mode before the race begins. Don’t be afraid to check in with people 30 minutes prior to the race to give some updates. And sure, take a selfie or two. #twentysixpointtwo #socold #nycmarathon #blessed #runnersarecrazy #hashtag. I ran with my phone on airplane mode in case I wanted to snap some pics (which I didn’t actually end up doing) and because the case was charging my phone as I ran, I got to the finish line with 100% battery so I could call my family, meet up with friends and post ALLLLLL THE #finishline #selfies I wanted.
- If you like plain bagels, great. If you need other nutrition, pack food. Ex: Bananas, granola bars, oatmeal packets (because they supply hot water), individual PB packets, those newfangled cool packets of baby food that come in plastic pouches with a twist top.
- Pack a GREAT ATTITUDE and know that the anticipation will be full of highs and lows emotionally. You will go from euphoric excitement to seeking the nearest exit like a caged animal to total exuberance once again. This is par for the course. Just find a happy medium somewhere between totally coked out and completely miserable as best you can to conserve your energy.
- HAVE A STRONG WHY. If not, you will be tempted to hop in the nearest Über and meet everyone at the finish line instead.
- And most importantly: have fun! You are running the NYC Marathon! You win at life!