Monday, November 21, 2011

NYC Marathon: Seven Lessons Learned

I learned a lot from my experience in the 2011 NYC Marathon.  From the training, to the fundraising, and, of course, from the actual race itself, there were lessons at every turn.  The marathon truly tested my mental, physical, and emotional well-being and it's safe to say that I am a stronger person because of it.

Here are the top seven things I learned from finishing my first marathon:

Generosity:  I can't say thank you enough to all the people that supported me:  financially and emotionally.  Family, friends, and strangers were overly generous with their donations, kind words, and inspiration.

Just Ask:  When I first signed up to be part of the Arthritis Foundation's marathon team, I had just wrapped up participating in the NYC Arthritis Walk with the Sick Chick Club.  I had raised over 1k for that event, and felt guilty going around to the same friends and family members for more donations.  I developed a plan to reach out to businesses and organizations that I truly loved and supported and asked them for donations in creative ways.  I was amazed at how generous some of these companies were!  Monetary donations, shout outs, articles, free goods - I am still humbled by the outpouring.

You Can't Train Enough:  Somewhere at the end of the summer, I stopped taking my training seriously.  This was a big mistake.  You cannot train enough.  I should have been running more, running longer, stretching, cross and strength training.  But I was tired.  And had other things to do.  And a million excuses.  There are no excuses.  You need to train.  26.2 miles is a lot longer when you don't train enough.  Trust me, I know.

Inspiration:  I can't tell you how much it meant to me to read the comments left here on this blog by individuals who said I've inspired them.  It's hard for me to believe that I could be an inspiration, and this was a role that I did not take lightly.  I thought about every comment I read during the course of the marathon, and also the kind words of encouragement from family and friends.  I hope I can continue to inspire you all.

You Can't Train Enough (Part 2):  Ignore what I wrote earlier, you literally cannot train enough.  Nothing can prepare you for  26.2 miles.  Nothing.  At some point, it becomes less about the physical test and more about the mental games you play with yourself.  Just keep one foot after another and cry if you want to cry, or laugh if you want to laugh - just keep going.  (I both cried and laughed numerous times on the course.)

It's a Mind Battle:  Whether you want to admit it or not, when you are training for a marathon, it is on your brain - constantly.  I can't say that a day passed from the time I signed up until, well, today, that I have not thought about the marathon.  Some days it weighed heavily on my mind, other days it was just in the back of my head somewhere.  But it was always there.  Always.  This giant, looming monster of the unknown.

No Regrets:  When I first finished the marathon, and for a few days after, I felt ashamed by my finish time.  I had expected to do much, much better than I did.  However, my toes ceased being toes and became blisters.  The pain was unbearable.  My sister struggled with runner's knee, which she was in physical therapy for prior to the marathon.  But we stuck with each other and we finished.  I am growing more and more proud of that accomplishment as the days and weeks pass - after all, not many people attempt this, and even less attempt it when they live with an autoimmune disease like RA.  

I have no regrets about the marathon.  I am grateful to have learned these lessons.  Why?  Because I am ready to apply them to marathon #2... (in a few years).


Monday, November 14, 2011

NYC Marathon: Highlights

It's been a little over a week since the NYC Marathon.  The aches and pains have gone away, the blisters have faded, and all that's left are the memories.  What follows is a short recap of what I consider to be the highlights of the race:

My Fellow Runners
What a critical mass!  It's amazing to see the sheer number of people undertaking this great challenge.  It felt good to be part of such a group.

The Crowd
Hands down, the best part of the marathon started the moment our feet left the Verrazzano Bridge, and someone shouted, "Welcome to Brooklyn!"  It didn't stop there - Brooklyn was amazing.  The crowd was vibrant and rowdy, shouting out the names of runners as they went by.  (Many of us had our names printed or ironed onto our shirts - I felt like a celebrity every time shouted "Kat!")  There was live music along the route, along with DJs, and even just locals blasting music from their apartment or car.  What's even better, many spectators had runner's essentials:  tissues, water, chocolate!

The Views
Some of the views of the city were breathtaking!  Crossing over the Pulaski Bridge from Brooklyn to Queens was a very cool moment for me.  Partly because we were entering MY old neighborhood of Long Island City and partly because that afforded us the most amazing view of the NYC skyline.

Support & Energy
Just when we would get tired and think we could go no further, we'd see someone or something on the side of the course to give us the courage to go forward.  My father met up with us at multiple points along the course; we saw friends, family members, celebrities - we stopped to take a picture with Carolina for the Elvis Duran radio show!  Thank you to everyone for being there - especially to fellow Sick Chick Jodi, who was there cheering me on in BK!

The Finish
It took me a LONG TIME to finish.  I will get into that in a later post.  There were times that I was sure I would not be able to finish.  But I did.  And what means the most to me is that I finished right alongside my sister, Adrienne.  Throughout the race, we supported each other when the road ahead seemed impossible.  In the end, we crossed that finish line together, holding hands...and that is something I will never forget.

No RA Pain
'Nuff said...


Monday, November 7, 2011

DFL Better Than DNF (Google it!)

Well, friends of the NYC Sick Chick blog, I am officially a marathon finisher!  It was a long, hard road (cliche, I know), but I finished.  What's even better, I finished with my sister by my side.

There are so many stories to tell and I promise I blog about each and every single one of them.  But for now, I wanted to offer a quick check in to say I finished and thank you for the support!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Marathon Eve

'Twas the night before the marathon,
when all through the city,

Not a down tree was left to remove,
Central Park oh-so-pretty.

The mile markers were placed
on the street with care,

In hopes that the pavement pounders
would soon be there...

Kat's Marathon Check List:

  • Running Gear
  • Official Bib/Number
  • Throwaway Clothes
  • Phone w/music and marathon app
  • Chapstick
  • Tissues
  • Energy Gu
  • Nerves
  • Courage
  • Excitement
  • Inspiration
Let's go!!!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Million Thank Yous

Race week is here! I think what I am about to do JUST sunk in.

I am running the New York City Marathon! 26.2 miles...

I am excited and nervous for Sunday, and extremely anxious for the finish line. I know the energy from the crowd will help encourage me to finish (and that is my ONLY goal), but a major motivator will be the love and support I have received from many people. I plan to express my gratitude to each person/organization individually, but until then...

  • My family, including my parents, Melanie and Tom Z.; my sister (who is also running the marathon, Adrienne Z.; my fiancee, Larry P.; his mother, Helayne and brothers Jordan and Zach
  • My corporate sponsors PopChips, Saladworks, and Asics
  • My fellow NYC Sick Chicks, Jodi M. and Sara N.
  • Annie and Rich F.
  • Tony and Beth N. (Tony is also running!)
  • My Rheumy, Dr. Yee
  • Artie and Olga B.
  • Candice H.
  • Sean and Liz H.
  • Erin P.
  • Gary and Francine H.
  • Gina L.
  • Jade M.
  • John and Susan Z.
  • John and Renee G.
  • Jon A.
  • Justin and Michele B.
  • Dr. Kim V.
  • Mario and Cathy H.
  • Melissa and Michael S.
  • Rob C.
  • Carmen and Steve F.
  • TJ
  • Trudi K.
  • Zoe B.