One year ago this morning, I was among the 52,000 runners of the New York City Marathon. Like lots of first-timers, I experienced all manner of metaphors for life while training and running it. Lessons about goal-setting, human struggle and tenacity, perseverance through pain, mind over matter… you name it, they’re all in there for the learning.
But looking back a year later, the part with the most lasting impact for me wasn’t what it took to cross that finish line (with 7 toenails instead of the usual 10). No. It was the realization of how important my girlfriends had become to me during a time in my life when other relationships were no longer there.
From the highest high to the lowest low of the race, it was the smiles and hugs of my girlfriends that propelled me. Sprinkled throughout the course, these women tracked me and supplied me with energy bars and Gatorade and candy and incredible boosts of love and support just when I needed it.
And, as a result ... my race time was terrible! Ha! But I had a blast!
Other runners (smartly) try to be quick about their water stops and make little conversation. Not me! When I stopped for my girlfriend Cathia who had come up from North Carolina, she couldn’t get over that I had gotten eyelash extensions for the first time. “Omg! Are those new? When did you get them? How often do you have to re-do them? Etc. Etc.” So, right then and there on First Avenue after running 17 miles, we chatted about my eyelashes ‘til finally I said “well, I should probably get back to running!”
When the curtains came down on me around mile 22, the only thought looping in my head was “this sucks!” But the knowledge that all my friends were going to be in my hotel room within an hour for a post-race cocktail party kept me going. After crossing the finish line though, I hobbled back to the hotel barely able to bend my knees and it occurred to me that perhaps it would’ve been a better plan to simply take a hot bath and call it a day rather than throw a party.
But after a quick shower, I found myself in bare feet with a celebratory glass of wine in hand, counting my blessings for these amazing friends and knowing that this is what it was all about.