Tag Archives: NYC Marathon

Lucy’s Marathon

When my alarm went off this morning, I didn’t want to wake up. I thought of several reasons to stay in bed.  But one reason finally compelled me to get out of bed and lace up my shoes–my grandmother.

My grandma Lucy died the summer before I started seminary, just two months before Jay and I were married.  The quintessential church lady, grandma was a Sunday school teacher, Bible study leader, youth coordinator, president of the United Methodist Women, and was once given a Lay Pastoral Care Award.  So when grandma reminded us repeatedly that she prayed for each one of us by name every night, even after Alzheimer’s started to claim her brain, we believed her.  I remembered this right around mile 4 of my run this morning as the sun finally peaked through a series of sky scrapers in lower Manhattan, spilling light onto my path and my face.  Even after my grandmother’s death, I still feel her prayers.

Just as my grandmother’s prayers continue to touch my life, so does her legacy with Alzheimer’s disease.  When my grandmother was living, she shared with others the implications of her disease.  She participated in the Texas Alzheimer’s Research Consortium at Texas Tech University.  And in her death, she donated her brain to the Brain Bank program for further research. 

Yesterday I registered for the NYC Marathon… again. Last year I trained for the NYC Marathon while raising over $6,000 for the Colon Cancer Coalition in memory of my friend Aimee.  The marathon was cancelled when hurricane Sandy hit, so I ran the Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon in Aimee’s hometown instead.  It was amazing.  The love and support for Aimee and me carried me to the finish line and still brings tears to my eyes.  And yet, I didn’t get to run the marathon I’d trained for.  So when I was given the opportunity again to run the world’s biggest marathon, I knew that a) I would run it, and b) I’d run it for my grandma. 

I’ve teamed up with the Alzheimer’s Association to make this a “Run to Remember.”  My goal is to raise $100 for every mile, $2,620 all together.  You can join me in this cause by donating online or via snail mail, or by sharing this cause with friends and family.  100% of the funds raised will go to the Alzheimer’s Association advancing research, prevention, treatments, education and care. 
And if by chance we break $5,000 again this year, I’ll dye (part of) my hair purple leading up to the race. I know there are a lot of good causes out there, but if by chance you knew and loved my grandmother Lucy, or if you know someone else affected by this crippling disease, or if you just want to see what I look like with purple hair, please join us in this run to remember.  Your support changes lives. 

Join my team and learn more here: http://act.alz.org/goto/lauren-ingnyc

Thanks for your support!  Go team LUCY!

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Come Hell or High Water

What a week this has been.  This time last week, the winds of Sandy were just starting to really pick up, causing a branch the size of a tree to fall right next to the chapel.  I was lamenting the fact that I had missed my pre-marathon massage–something that had been on my training plan for months.  I had no idea how trivial and selfish my lament would seem just a few hours later, as I watched the Hudson River creep up past the West Side Highway, past 11th and 10th Avenues, nearing the gates of the seminary.  Oh.  Right.  This is big.  The lights went out in Chelsea (and all of Lower Manhattan) around 9pm.  They didn’t come back on for 4 days.  Some are still waiting in the dark.

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Meanwhile, Jay was working “wall-to-wall” as they say in the newsroom.  Because his work needed him to be accessible at all times, they reserved a block of rooms at a hotel across the street from the station.  We never knew what to expect from one day to the next, but I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude again and again for a warm bed, a hot shower, a charged phone, a meal shared with a friend, and an occasional siting of my sweet husband.  Not to mention our community back at the seminary caring for our dog–she is a warm snuggler when you’re living without heat!

Tuesday afternoon, we were waiting for a decision about the NYC Marathon.  Being all too aware of the devastation around us, Jay didn’t see how it could go on–but he seemed to think it would anyway.  Sure enough, the mayor announced that the marathon was a GO.  Alrighty then.  We’ll stick to the plan.

As days went on, it became abundantly clear that the marathon was pissing a good deal of people off.  I was unhealthily glued to facebook, taking every negative comment to heart.  I knew we were doing something good–heck, we raised over $6,000 to fight colon cancer!  But how was I supposed to feel good about starting a race with my back to the war zone of Staten Island?  And why were people taking out their anger on the runners?  Why weren’t they upset with the mayor for making a bad call?  People who think this sport is a narcissistic one should come to one of my speed workouts.  If anything, my experience of training for this marathon (and shorter races before it) has been a) humbling, and b) camaraderie building.  Narcissism is judging others for doing something you know nothing about.

Friday morning, John and Katie (the husband and youngest daughter of my friend Aimee who died of colon cancer in March) arrived to their hotel–ready to catch some shows and cheer me on.  Friday afternoon, my mom arrived with encouraging words, knowing I’d had nightmares about people protesting the race.  Friday night, NYRR announced the marathon was cancelled.  As much as I have have looked forward to running the legendary NYC Marathon, I breathed a sigh of relief when I received Jay’s text saying, “it’s cancelled.”  He knew I was on my way to church and would not be watching the announcement on TV.  He was steps away from Mary Wittenburg as she told the world that this race was meant to bring people together, not to divide them–and given the divisive nature of the controversy the marathon posed, it could not go on.

While I was in church with my mom for an All Saints service, remembering departed saints in our own lives as well as all who had lost their lives in Sandy’s wreckage, my husband and friends were already thinking of ways to support me, coming up with Plan B.  Jay emailed his contact at the Philly Marathon to see if he could switch his elite entry over to me–he was told no.  Our friends Tanya and Josh (the same two who ran in men’s underwear with me back in June to raise awareness for colon cancer) had found a marathon in PA set to take place on Nov. 4–same day NYC had been scheduled.  Jay immediately registered me for the race, worried it would fill up before I got out of church (it did).  He, Josh and Tanya were ready to drive me to PA and take turns running with me through the whole race.  I was touched when I met Jay for dinner and he told me the news.  But my heart had already decided on another race: Charlotte’s Thunder Road.

I’ve got to say, I never would have thought to sign up for Thunder Road as my “one” marathon to run.  (It’s looking less and less likely that I’ll only run one).  I’ve run the TR half-marathon, and loved it!  And I love Charlotte!  But I only started this journey after getting into NYC via the lottery.  Pure chance.  It’s like the decision wasn’t even mine.  Once it was made, I was stoked because of the cause that fueled me and the opportunity to run in the world’s largest (?) marathon.  2 million spectators are no small potatoes!  But now that my registration for TR is in the mail, and my plane ticket to CLT is purchased, I can honestly say I am as excited if not MORE excited to be running in Charlotte Nov. 17.

Our goal going into this race was to finish, have fun, and honor Aimee.  My training has been such that I’m a little faster than we anticipated, and it was fun to go into the NYC Marathon with a possibility of running 3:50 or faster.  My teammates thought I should be shooting for 3:45 or 3:40.  And maybe if everything on race day had been picture-perfect, I could have.  It won’t be the case in Charlotte.  I’m ready for the hills (thank God for all those Harlem hill workouts!!) but tapering, picking up my mileage, and then tapering again just isn’t ideal.  Jay’s concerned I’ll be more prone to injury.  So running TR brings my original goals back into focus–finish, have fun, honor Aimee.  We toasted Aimee Friday night after making the decision, shedding a few tears.

And that’s it!  I can’t imagine a more perfect place to finish this race than in Aimee’s town, surrounded by people who miss her as much as I do.  To run on the very streets she and I used to drive together–it was Aimee who first drove me around Charlotte, picking me up from the hotel when I interviewed at Christ Church.

There is a good chance Jay won’t be there since he is scheduled to work that weekend (and every weekend).  But Jay’s closest friends will be there, and I know I’ll feel him with me every step of the way.  Julie, Brian and Mom won’t be there, but their presence this weekend cheered Jay and I up (Pepper too) after a long and difficult week.

And as for NYC (and many other areas hit so hard), send us your prayers and your donations.  It’s a long road to recovery.  If Sunday is any indication, the running community will be a significant presence in restoration.  Thousands of runners went to Staten Island, Breezy Point, Rockaway, and Lower Manhattan to lend a hand.  Thousands of runners met in Central Park to donate goods and “Run Anyway” for the various causes they’d been supporting all along.  And thousands of non-running New Yorkers also met in Central Park to support those running–cheering for people, handing out water and Gatorade.

Despite the marathon being cancelled, or because of the marathon being cancelled, or because it just needed to happen, people are coming together.  “I sing a song of the saints of God… God help me to be one too.”

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learning endurance

I’ve had some interesting runs of late–none of them alike.  I keep meaning to blog about the highs and lows of my training, but I only ever write things in my head.  So–a brief recap of some notable runs:

Sunday Aug 19: I was pumped about running 16 miles at McAlpine with two Charlotte ladies.  One of the women coaches novice runners like myself, the other was a regular running mate from my CLT days. Running flat/wide trails for my longest distance yet was also appealing.  But Sunday morning came, and with it rain, thunder, lightening… both ladies had to bail.  Having never run McAlpine before, I bailed too.  No use in getting lost while running 16 solo.  The rest of the day was beautiful!  And every time I saw a runner, I felt a tinge of failure.  Jay reminded me I was on vacation and could run Monday instead.

Monday, Aug 20: Redemption day!  Met up with my friend Shenna at 5:30am for a 6 mile loop, did that same loop back on my own, and finished up the last 4 miles with my friend Sloan.  It was perfect because a) Shenna gave me the best excuse to get up early, b) it rained so I didn’t feel like a wuss for not running in the rain the day before, c) the in-between miles alone were especially inspiring as I considered the meaning of running along the same roads/sidewalks I used to share with my dear friend Aimee (in whose memory I am training for), d) Sloan helped me with a strong finish–the same girl that convince me to run my first 10k a few years back.

Thursday, Aug 23: Glad to be back at UA for a workout in Central Park.  We were slated for a 4.3 mile tempo, with splits given every 1387.5 meters.  My splits were 6:20, 6:25, 6:15 and 6:22.  This means my pace was pretty consistent… my last split was supposed to be the fastest, but I was trucking it up Cat Hill as fast as I could go.  The odd thing is that the per-mile pace for the workout was 7:20.  Wah?  I’ve never run 7:20’s in a 4-miler or even a 5k.  What the heck.  Part of me was like, wahoo!  Improvement!  But the other part of me was like, uh-oh… I pushed to hard.  Needless to say I was pretty sore the next couple of days.

Sunday, Aug 26: I was hugely relieved that UA scheduled a supported long-run the day I had to do 18.  Runners were supposed to run at “marathon pace” as opposed to “training pace.”  When I explained to Jerry (team coach) that my marathon pace was my training pace, he said, “That’s ok for today, but we need to change it.  The marathon is a race.”  “Not for me, it’s not!” I responded, “My goal is to have fun and finish comfortably.”  “Ok then,” he said hesitatingly.  One of the benefits to my husband coaching me through this race is that we’re on the same page.  Jerry is an awesome coach–he’s perfect for competitive runners like my husband… but not me, not this race!  I went out with the 9-min pace group, and we kept it just under 9’s.  My legs were still a little tired from Thursday’s tempo, but I was feeling good.  We split at mile 16 so everyone could finish their own mileage (16-20) at their own pace.  I knew my last miles were supposed to be the fastest, so I pushed through mile 17, feeling good, and then BAM.  Pain.  My left ankle hurt so badly, I thought maybe I had broken it.  But I was 90% sure it was muscular, so I ran through to 18.5.  The pain never stopped that last 1.5 miles.  Oh no.  Crap.  What’s going on.

Long story short–I rolled my ankle slightly at mile 5, and the gradual swelling from that combined with swelling from a unfortunately placed mosquito bite (smack dab on my tendon) resulted in substantial pain.  I limped through half of Monday until the bite subsided–and all was well!  I was relieved and embarrassed.  Stupid mosquito.

And that brings me up today.  I my legs are aching.  I know I did 18 on Sunday and a tough workout on Tuesday, but I did nothing but ice, rest, compress, soak and elevate on Monday!  And I ran easy on Wednesday and Thursday!  And I’m taking today off!  Most of my friends are suffering from soreness or sudden cramps/strains/pulls… I guess maybe we’re to the point in our training where the idea of “endurance” really comes to life.  It’s not just getting through the long runs, it’s getting through the days, weeks, months of training.  It’s getting through every-day tasks when you’re sore from last night’s workout.  Getting through the mental games you play with yourself over every hint of pain.  Getting through the weeks you feel awesome, and the weeks you feel like a hot mess.  It’s being surprised to find a spring in your step despite your aching muscles.  It’s new territory for me.

Tonight Jay and I will be carb-loading and going to bed early to gear up for an early half-marathon at Rockaway Beach.  Earlier in my training, we had this down as a race.  But with my hamstring injury last month, all my long runs got pushed back a week, making this a recovery week rather than a race week.  It’s still a race, and my goal is to PR.  But Jay reminds me that this is just a step toward the real goal, and not to go all-out.  The same goes for my hubby–tomorrow will be only the 2nd time he’s run 13 miles since April.  It’s a small field, and I know he’ll be tempted to push it.  But the goal is to recover from 4 months of injury, and this is just a step along the way for him.

So much learning, so much to endure, and one heck of a good reason to run through it all.

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