Wednesday, November 6, 2013

ING New York City Marathon 2013

For the pass month or so, I have been talking and thinking about nothing but Marathon. Marathon, marathon, MARATHON. I know I drove The Husband crazy with all the marathon talk.

As the marathon neared, I got butterflies in my stomach. I wasn't running, why is this happening? I know exactly why this was happening.

1-  I was handing out medals and social media reporting. I was in the finish line area. There is lots of excitement at the finish line. And with the events that happened in Boston early this year, there was also a little fear.

2- Thanks to Instagram, I collect a group of awesome running instafriends turned real life friends. Many of them had set their goal of completing the New York City Marathon long before we met and became friends.  I was going to be the one they saw at the finish line.

3- IT'S THE FLIPPING NEW YORK CITY MARATHON. The mother of all marathons! (In my option that is.)

When Sunday finally arrived, I was full of excited and confusion. I never got the volunteer break down email from NYRR telling me where to go and what time to be there. Good thing I texted Kathy, @kata_razza, for more information. I would have ever got there in time. I rushed out of my apartment and prayed that the MTA gods were on my side today.

Lucky me! I got to check in super early. I got there before most medal volunteers. I quickly met up with Bob, the medals supervisor.  I had worked with Bob during the NYC Half. He remembers me from that day and shares my stories with those that volunteer with him. He told me that he needed me and a few others to head to the finish line early to get started unpacking and setting up.The event organizers pushed medal set up back and this made Bob very nervous. We had a hell of a lot of medals to unpack and detangle. I was ready to work with Bob again. Along for this adventure was Kathy, Dave, @runnyc1 and Phil, @phillmina.

When we got to the finish line it was time to get to work. The boxes were wrapped in a tarp with tables and chairs on top of them. Hmmmm, I wonder what that stuff is? They have been there for a long while because there were leaves, water and nature all over it. Soon enough the rest of our group arrived. We had about 30 volunteers for medals. With that many hands it made it easy to unpack 50,000 medals.

 I was ready to greet all 48,000 runners waiting for their bling in Staten Island.

The first participates to first the finish line were the wheelers. Each and every one of those wheelers were amazing! This guy was my favorite.

 He is from Brazil. He wanted all of us to know how much he loves the America. He didn't speak any English!

You could tell that the winners of the women's race hit Central Park because you can hear and see the NYPD helicopters fly over head. Excitement filled the air even more.

To be honest, I wasn't really interested in the elite runners. I wanted to see my group of #nycinstarunners. When the elite runners made their way over the finish line I knew that my gang was going to start crossing in a few hours.

As the crowd passed and I handed out medals I noticed that the most friendliest runners were the Frenchman! I've must have gotten over a dozen sweaty cheek to cheek kisses. All from Frenchies. Bob told me to call him on Monday if I become radioactive for all the love I was getting.

Next up with Stalina, @amazing1983. I knew she was coming because she is just that awesome. Of course, I didn't know exactly when that was going to be. I reached over to get some more medals and turned back. There standing in front of me Stalina. Her first words were, "Can you please carry me?" If I could have I would have carried her home. She came in at 04:21:30. She is truly amazing. She is a super mom of two and is running her first Ultra Marathon two weeks after this marathon. This was her warm up.

A little bit of time and a lot of medals passed. Next up with Johanna, @p1ernazlocasz2011. She is an emotional running just like me. She came to me with tears in her eyes. I forgot my tissues!!!! This was very first marathon and she owned it! She came in at 5:05:19.

So soon as she left the area Miguel, @ll_mj, walked right up to me and Kathy. He fundraised for his spot in the marathon. This was his first marathon too! He came in at 5:09:16.

After Miguel the crowd started to slow down a little bit. I was able to use the runner tracker to see where everyone was. The other volunteers stepped forward into the crowd and were handing out tons of medals. Kathy and I kind of stood back and watched. We spoke about how we were going to be these people next year. We will be running the 2014 New York Marathon together. Seeing the runners inspired us and scared us at the same time.

I hear my name being scream out from the crowd. It was Jay, @Jaydenson. He was so excited to see me. He gave me a great big sweaty hug!!!! This was a great moment. All the #nycinstarunners surrounded him to show him love for accomplishment. He was so full of life and energy. Where did he get this energy from?  He came in at 05:47:18.

When we calmed down a little I turned around. There was my Tutu, @Tuhina2883! Tutu quickly because instafriends over the last few weeks. The one thing we definitely share.....

...we are emotional runners. As soon as I saw her face I bursted into tears! Her tears were her release. She finished something she had never done before in her life and she did it well. I am so proud of Tutu. Every time I see this picture I start to tear up. This is a total bounding moment for me. She is finished her marathon at 05:31:42

....I had to step away from the computer. I starting crying from sharing Tutu's finish line.

Lots of runners pass. I handed out so many medals I lost count.  The sun started to set and I was missing two runners from the list of people.Sheryl, @bitchcakes, and Alexie, @misterutah. At this point I gave all the medals I was holding to other volunteers and I held on to two medals. One for Sheryl and one for Alexie.

I got closer and closer to the finish line to make sure I didn't miss them. I looked and looked. I told Kathy that I was very nervous. I hope they didn't get hurt on the course. We kept tracking them. They hadn't crossed a sensor in a long, long time. I asked Kathy to please take pictures of me and Sheryl when I see her. I waited and waited some more. I kept the medal and the ribbon rolled up in my hands. I promised them that I was going to keep the medals warm.

Out of the darkness I saw a pink sparkle skirt...It was Sheryl. I screamed so loud and grabbed Sheryl close. We cried in each other arms.

I couldn't say anything. I listened to Sheryl cried her tears of relief.  We stopped hugging for a moment so that I could give her warm medal.

She told me that all she was thinking about was she needed to get to me.

She had to keep moving so that she did cramp up. I walked with her to get a heat sheet.

We stopped for a picture with Sheryl's camera. You can see the tears in our tears. Sheryl make-up was flawless.

Sheryl has been my inspiration since I found her blog back in 2011. That year I met her as a fan. On Sunday, I met her as a friend. We shared many tears this year at a few races. This race, by far, was the most memorable. I am so proud of your Sheryl. I read about how you were never a runner and now you are a marathoner.

She came in at 6:34:36.

Sheryl had to keep going without me. I had one more person to wait for.

Alexie had been on the course for a long, long time. I communicated with my friends if anyone knew where he was. The tracker didn't move. I posted this picture on Instagram and said, "I've been holding this medal for hours for @misterutah.. Not leaving until he gets it."

 We all tried calling him and it was a so good. I am sure his phone was dead. I rolled the ribbon around the medal and place it inside my glove. I prayed that he wasn't injured....I looked up and saw a little kid running towards the finish line. I recognized that kid! It was Alexie's son! Alexie was running right with him. I screamed so loudly and ran up to him. I gave him the biggest hug ever. Just as big as Raf's earlier in the day.
He finished with a time of 7:23:50! He never gave up on himself and I wasn't going to give up on him. I needed to stay until the last runner crossed that finish line.

I walked with him until we got the pictures area. I jetted out of that place. I wanted to go home so badly. I left the apartment at 6:30am. I had been standing since 7:30am to 7:00pm. I just wanted to go home. I got home pretty quickly.

When I got home I shared a lot of stories with The Husband. I had a rush of fear. What did I get myself into. I bursted into tears.

A year from Sunday, I will be running the New York City Marathon.

and it is going to be awesome.