On November 2, I ran the New York City Marathon. It was overwhelming and celebratory and exceeded every expectation I could have ever placed on a race. Everyone should run this race, to experience 4 hours of a city coming together, of thousands of people accomplishing a goal, of seeing an iconic place in such an unusual and glorious way, of getting cheered on and high fived by complete strangers over and over and over and over. It was a perfect, magical day and it’ll hold a special place in my heart for a long, long time.
I haven’t written about it, though, for two reasons. The first is that the week before the NYC marathon, something happened in my life that was emotionally and physically exhausting. In the week before the race, instead of resting and focusing, I was drinking and crying and having night terrors. It completely re-framed my goals for that day and will forever be tied to that experience. I wasn’t sure how to write about the race and not write about that, so I just chose not to write. It’s been three months and I still don’t know how to write about the race without writing about that. I don’t know if I ever will.
The second reason is that I am not entirely sure about this blog anymore: what purpose it serves, what I get from it, if I have it in me to make it a great, important, positive thing again. I’m not sure. Jill’s not in Toronto anymore. (I hope she comes back, but more importantly, I hope she’s happy, wherever she ends up.) Neither of us are blogging much. I have other creative outlets I’ve developed since this blog started three years ago. I’ve been spending time (too much time) thinking about it and I still don’t know the answer.
I may be back. I may not. But I am at peace with not knowing. Because here is what I do know:
1. If you think for even a second that maybe running a marathon might be a thing you want to do, do it. I’ve learned more about myself and what I need to be healthy and happy since running insane distances.
2. I need to run insane distances. I will never be a happy, peppy runner who wakes up at 5am and bounds out of bed to the track, but I thrive on having goals, and having a fitness outlet other people think is insane. Perhaps it’s the braggart in me, perhaps it’s the overachiever. But since the NYC marathon, I haven’t really run and I’ve been and directionless and felt terrible and also felt not very happy. Running – no, training – calibrates me. A small part of me hates that I’ve learned this about myself, but a bigger part is relieved I can latch on to something to get me through trying times – and to keep me from getting fat.
3. Wear a singlet with your name or country on it when you run big races – you will feel like a rock star. I wore a Canada singlet and every Canadian I came across went crazy.
4. I don’t need people to run with to run, but I need people to run with to run fast.
5. Fitness for fun is a good, important thing to have in my life. I ignored that for too long.
6. Races are more fun when they are shared experiences.
7. When everything is crumbling around me, I can run. Even if it doesn’t make it better, it makes me feel better. Or at least makes me breathe better. And, hey, running is better than drinking when it all goes to hell.
8. NYC is magical. Everything about that day – from being wished good luck by a guy walking his dog at 6:30am in Lower Manhattan as I headed to the subway, to freezing on the Staten Island Ferry, to Central Park being so loud I couldn’t hear the music in my headphones – was completely surreal. If you ever get a chance to run NYC, do it. You won’t regret it.