2018 TCS New York City Marathon, Running, Sandy Hook Promise

This journey began May 3, 2018…

It was May 3, 2018. I got the email from Sandy Hook Promise. I was selected to the 2018 NYC Marathon Team. This is when my journey started. 6 months later, I was standing at bottom of the Verrazano Bridge waiting, looking up at the starting line, up into that long uphill climb out of Staten Island. This is my story from the 2018 NYC Marathon. I initially was going to post this to FB, but this wasn’t appropriate for FB anymore. It needed to be more, something that I knew would be the perfect first post to my new site. I hope you enjoy it and please let me know what you think. Follow my site, as I share my stories with you.

I did it! The 2018 NYC Marathon. And I helped raise over $5,000 for Sandy Hook Promise from my $3,000 goal through the generosity of so many people. I am so grateful. I will also be throwing a benefit fundraiser rock band show for SHP on Saturday, March 2, 2019 at the Carriage Barn Arts Center in Waveny Park! I wanted to share with all of you my experience from Sunday. It’s long but from the heart. I hope it will inspire you and inspire you to help my future work with Sandy Hook Promise. sandyhookpromise.org

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3:34:42

Sunday November 4, 2018

I woke up early Sunday morning in midtown Manhattan to get the shuttle bus from the NYC public library to the start in Staten Island. After a night of restless sleep, a window that wouldn’t shut overlooking 42nd street, the sirens and sounds of drunk people below, I was ready with all my gear laid out on the double bed next to me. And I had that extra hour of sleep from daylight savings. Bonus. I got dressed and made my way to from 3rd Avenue up to 5th to Bryant Park drinking an average–but strong tasting–cup of hotel Starbucks coffee. I could see a sea of runners holding their pre-race see-through plastic bags in the distance. Hundreds of rows of runners immediately made this all real. The long, wide cue wrapping around the corner to 6th avenue with the sun rising across 42nd street. It was cold. But I had my Amazon inexpensive clothes with me. I would toss them into the blue Goodwill donation bins at the runners village later. So I was prepared. I was warm.

Shuttle Bus

It took almost an hour get on the bus, but time seemed to fly by and at the same time it felt like it was taking forever. I was excited. Police everywhere. The buses were eventually picking people up at 42nd and 5th ave. I was fine. I had plenty of time. But then it seemed so long from now. The start. 6:15am bus. Wave 2 start time at 10:15am. I had my gloves and hat on. Cosy. Checking out everyone’s shoes, clothes. Waiting. All kinds of preparedness and unpreparedness from those around me. So many different languages being heard. I felt I came prepared. Physically in the best shape. And again, I was warm. Finally, finally it was my turn to get on a bus. I found a window seat and after a few minutes I made a new friend on the bus as I wondered if I was gonna get a doozy sitting next to me—like the dread of that single, open plane seat next to you. Luckily though, it was going to be a runner, and even better it was going to be a marathoner. It was Amanda, my seat mate—a teacher from the UK. We were both first time NYC marathoners but it wasn’t her first marathon, unlike me. She was lovely and kind. We had wonderful conversations as fellow runners often do about life, running and the experiences that shape us– a pure and shared understanding amongst runners. Why we run. Finding that balance. And even though Amanda and I shared a connection only for a little bit, I will remember her and that ride forever. I mean how couldn’t I? It was nearly 2 hours long. And it was a beautiful sunny NYC morning. I got to show my new UK friend some of the landmarks as we made our way to Staten Island. Like this gem:

Briooklyn Bridge Marathon morning
A view of the Brooklyn Bridge at 6:45am from the shuttle bus as we made our way to the NYC Marathon 2018 start in Staten Island. It was an amazing and daunting feeling knowing I was going to be running all the way back to Central Park.

We got off the bus and we made out way through packed security line. Before we went our separate ways at the entrance of the runners village we managed to take a really good selfie. 

Amand and I - NYC Marathon November 4, 2018
At the security check in. The ground was wet with hay underfoot. The sun began to warm our bodies and our minds. Helicopters whirling above as the excitement grew. We said good luck and goodbye.

It was a long bus ride and I was nervous about having to go to the bathroom during the race. And I should have been drinking a lot more water during the long ride, which as I said was over 2 hours long! I’ll come back to the hydration thing later… cause I want to tell you about the worst nightmare for a marathoner. My buddy was on a bus that took a wrong turn, got lost… ending up in taking him over 2.5 hours. He was in Wave 1. Can you imagine?? Well, luckily that bus made it back to Staten Island just in time. Later that night via texts he told me all about it… and he still managed to run a blazing 3:08 without completing his pre race routine!! He made it to the start just in time for his Wave. I would have been freaking out. A runner without their pre-race routine? Yikes, you don’t wanna go that route on marathon day.

I finally got to the security entrance of the runners village where just beyond that check point thousands of people were waiting, stretching, sleeping, all doing their own special pre-race routines. And of course rows upon rows and more rows of porta potties.

Security Check In
Thousands of people waiting to pass through security to enter the runners village. It moved fairly quickly and security was no joke. Thankfully you could keep your shoes on for this one….

I walked around the village looking for a spot to stretch and put on my arm sleeves, headphones and sort the order of my energy GU gels packs. I thought of my 6th grade niece who was running her own big race at Wickam Park–the State Open back in CT. Flanagan reminds me of my niece. She even runs and looks like her. I heard them introduce the professional women runners. People were cheering as Flanagan was introduced. I couldn’t see any of them but you could feel their presence. It was awesome.

Then “….Runners take your mark!!….BOOM” the howitzer canon went off! A cloud of white smoke rose from canon above the bridge. I could make out the police escorts as they took off at a blindingly fast pace. Then Frank Sinatra’s “New York New York” began playing over the loudspeakers. The sound quality was beautiful. Later I looked over when I got to my start and saw they were using EV PA speakers. Damn those things are so good. Such little distortion at proper gain settings, balanced, open…ok fine I won’t get into that here…..you’ll have to follow me to learn more about my career in music production. Here’s a cool video:

So after Frank, they announced the professional men. The canon rang out once again in a gorgeous low end BOOM! White smoke rises in the crisp blue sky. The professional men take off. It was getting closer to my turn. Wave 1 off at 9:50am sharp. And within each Wave there were 4 different Corrals. I was Wave 2 Green Corral C. You could see the sea of people lining up on both levels of the Verrazano Bridge. Like a migrating flock of birds about to take flight. So amazing. I thought of all my friends up there getting ready to run. Mayor de Blasio, and the race director spoke. Those EV PA speakers dazzling the sonic crystal clear morning air as if NPR was broadcasting live, just waiting for Brian Lehrer to jump in with the next caller. And after the star spangled banner…..”BOOM”–Wave 1 was off!! Two levels of runners on the bridge made their way through the starting gates–it was incredible to see that many people taking off. Roughly 20,000 people! Nuts! Helicopters whirling above, people cheering. I was time for me to finish getting ready and make my way to Wave 2, Green Corral C. I took off my warm pants, the tags still on and put them in the Goodwill bins. 

Getting ready at the runners village

Runners Village
Check out the sleeping creeper staring at ma butt

Again, I should have been drinking my gatorade down, eating more and drinking more water.  My body was so used to getting tons of water in the days and weeks prior. I just was so nervous about having to stop my run to pee.  I just didn’t load up enough.  I would pay for this at mile 20 and 21. Soon it was time to enter and they closed Wave 2. The staging Corrals were set. We entered another waiting station as I found the nearest and last porta potty. Ahh…..no poop though.

We got a pretty good rendition of God Bless America.

After waiting another 5 minutes which seemed like an eternity, the Wave 2 Corral started to make it to the upper and lower level starting gates. I tossed my insulated jacket, ate my Roctane GU Gel, drank some Gatorade and tightened my shoes. This was it. It was so real now. 

Seas of people behind me at the start

I looked up through the bridge on the lower level. I saw the insanity that was set before me. The Verrazano is nearly 2 miles long with the first mile of it being an uphill climb. I could see the starting clock that would elapse to 25 minutes by the time I was going to cross through the gate. I had my pace band on and my RunKeeper ready to start on my Apple Watch–but I knew I was going to still need some math at the mile markers. I took comfort that I also knew my body. I could rely on my training. I put in the miles. Over 500. I just made sure I set my RunKeeper to show me Current Pace, rather than Average. I wanted to know what pace I was running at any moment and none of the other running apps gave me all the metrics I wanted. I tried them all. And I’d like to ask–Did the TCS Marathon app gave you push notifications on your Apple Watch while you were running? Lemme know. Or let me know what running app you like and why. Check this one out below. It makes the hairs on your neck stand up.

Clock ticks down to start
The dark, cold windy uphill bridge abyss before me. The 1st mile. Game on. Bring it. Counting to the Wave 2 start at 25 minutes.

At the start ready to rock

People behind me at the start
The last picture I took before the start.

Here’s a map of the course. 26.2 miles.

TCSNYCM18_Map_Course_092618

Miles 1 – 3

The last few seconds ticked off and “BOOM” the howitzer canon fired off and the next 20,000 people were off. We all started moving. Fortunately I was near the front of Wave 2 and very close to the front of the pack, so I didn’t have to run through many people to have a clear lane. Only about 20 feet before I started running. When I started my training I didn’t know how fast I could run this distance, so I was in Wave 2 which was collectively slower than my goal finish–a sub 3:20 – 7:36 pace/mile. But I soon came to terms with it— this was better for me.  I just had to do one thing. Run. Run and relax. Have fun. You made it this far. Yeah no pace group to follow but you have done the work. You have the angels on your back. You have already won. And also there was nothing I could do about it, believe me I tried to sneak into the Wave 1 start. Really, I’m pretty good at that kinda stuff…Just ask my wife about one of our first dates…I’m a pretty solid weasel, but this wasn’t security’s first rodeo either. It was better this way. All meant to be in the end.

I felt great as I started uphill on the bridge. I looked down at my orange racing shoes. Yeah I did it. I got the Nike Vaporfly 4%’s and by the Beard of Zeus those shoes are FAST. So. Damn. Fast. My orange flynits glowing below me guided me through the dark, cold, cold wind. It was humbling. What…what is that ahead? This tall, European woman. Dutch. She either sweats profusely in winter or she used so much petroleum jelly that she looked like she was going to use herself as a slip n slide all the way to Central Park. I mean it wasn’t subtle. Wow.  Glistening… moist.. wetness… eww so gross… I had to look away. Go left. Pass left. My friend Douglas would later point out to me she was probably regulating her temperature and knew what she was doing. Well…. it was still funny looking.

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My hands were cold but I was so pumped up I just looked ahead, keeping everything in check. This wasn’t nearly a bad as some of those New Canaan hills. It was just windy as hell and cold. I was right on target, a little fast, but knew I needed to go slow this first mile. I could hear the advice from that pace leader at the EXPO. Go slow. Slow. The downhill was approaching as it began to propel me along. RunKeeper. Headphones were on. Jaybird X3…But no music. Didn’t want any. I want to hear it all. The whole natural experience through NYC. Just give me my RunKeeper metrics every mile. My pace was a little too fast as I passed that first mile mark at the peak of the bridge, 6:46. It’s ok, the same split I had for the Ridgefield Half before I settled into a 7:13. Slow down.

I remember wondering if I would see any of these same faces at the end of the race. Well, except for the greaseball behind me. And yes, there was that one women running with me that I stayed with for about 7 miles–every so often she would let out a big   “WHOOOOO!!”… run run…then like the old wrestler Ric Flair…”WhooooooOOOO!!” Except she was 4’9″ and from Chile. She came back to run with me at mile 22.

We entered Brooklyn and you could see clothes scattered about. There were some people doing some free Sunday shopping along the road picking up a hat here or jacket there–trying it all on, nahhh.. How about this one? hmmmm..This jacket is nice… ok you take that one. And as I made the turn up the exit ramp the crowds began to form and wouldn’t stop until the very end. It was simply amazing to see that many people for 26.2 miles. The signs, the bands playing, the costumes, the diversity, the families, runners crying to meet and kiss their kids. Those Hasidic young girls so curious about the world, getting a glimpse of the marathon outside their apartment while those few blocks remained empty and silent except for them…It made me think about when I would see my girls, my family–oh yes…87th and 1st Ave. 16 miles from now. Whew ok. So I continued on as I made it through the first few miles feeling good. I also thought about each of those angels from Sandy Hook shining down upon me. Miles 1 and 2 check. Thank you angels.

Miles 4 – 10

I felt fantastic as I ate my first GU gel at mile 4. I was on a great pace at the 5K check, 7:27 average pace. Mostly flat miles up 4th avenue as the temperature began to climb. No shade until Carroll Gardens. And miles 5-9 were kinda of a blur as I made the turn around the clock tower. Huge crowds, Gospel choirs singing on the steps. I was just locking in, getting some texts from friends and family on my Apple Watch as they tracked me on the TCS app. #MuffTexts. It was awesome. And so accurate how the app tracked me. The water stations were crowded and I had to find a technique so as not to get splashed or trip on anyone or anything in the road. Don’t mess up my 4%’s people. Shoulda taken more liquids in.

Brooklyn
Let’s go Artie! Artie look up! No Artie the other up!

Miles 11 – 13.1 (Halfway)

Then came the biggest runners high I’ve ever had at mile 11.5. And it lasted for awhile. Cray Crazy tinkles that wouldn’t stop. I dug deep into it. Embraced it all. Eyes rolling back, mouth open. Yeah. Take it in. Breathe. Long breaths through my nose. Feel it. It’s still going. Remember when it would come at 6 miles, now it takes 11 or more. Complete euphoria.

I think my body was in perfect harmony here. My pace was steady and everything felt great. I was locked in with some time to make up on the back half of the race to make that sub 3:20 I thought, and I was sure of the sub 3:30. Crossing over into Queens over the Pulaski bridge I saw a crowd of people in front of me and knew this had to be some celebrity sighting. Tikki Barber. The former NY Giant Football star. With his training posse and fans. I just ran around them as they were running so slow. Talking. People taking selfies. It was here that I realized I was passing constantly. I was working harder than I needed to. Was I going to suffer for this later? It seemed like I had nobody around me to pace with, and no pace groups in sight until the very end. Did I pass the 3:30 pace group that had started 25 minutes ahead of me? Unlikely. There was no way I would ever see them with the elapsed start of 25 minutes. Right? There weren’t any pace groups in Wave 2 that I remember. Maybe they were all upper level at the start……. Do the math. Ok. Right. I’m still on track. Slow down a little. Slow down. Pull it back.

I think if I had that pace group to start things might have going differently as I might have had a negative split race–which is usually how I like to run ever since high school X-C and now in my adult years. I could hear one of the pace leaders I met the EXPO in my head–“…when you think you’re going too slow, slow down…the real race starts at mile 15…”

13.1 miles
Somewhere around 12-13 miles. The sun beating down in Brooklyn

I was at the halfway point, 13.1. I got a text from Sara like we planned, giving me my average pace–7:46 and expected finish 3:23. That felt good. I knew I had slowed a bit but remembered my last speed distance workout when I averaged 7:46 for 18 miles on a really hilly run in CT. So I felt good. I was on point. Disciplined. But still was concerned I may have gone out too fast. No. Remember when you ran those races this summer. The Ridgefield Half. You had to relearn and prove you can go further and harder than you think. It’s all in your head. You can do this.

Miles 14 – 17

And as I approached the 59th street bridge I thought about entering Manhattan. The excitement. The rush of seeing my family on 87th and First Ave.

The entrance towards the 59th street bridge began and I could hear my friend Larry saying “…it’s just uphill for a mile. And it sucks…” And this hill is no joke. You can’t see the top of the peak on the bridge. Its eerily quiet. It’s deceptively steep. Everyone is suffering. The footsteps, your breathing, people scattered about stretching. Some just looking like its all over for them. I remembered all those hills in New Canaan–Putnam from White Oak Shade to Waveny, Shagbark to Waveny. I felt totally fine. But this is where the turn happened for me.

I remember licking my lips and thinking….hmm I really need to drink some gatorade and water when I get to Manhattan. I need a GU gel. I could taste the salt on my skin. This was a bad sign. Dehydration was starting to begin. I just hoped it wasn’t too late. I should have been drinking more at each station in Brooklyn. Not just one sip and toss the cup. The sun was rising higher in the sky and the temperature was rising as well. Finally the bridge descent was underway as I could hear the roar of the crowds begin to take form. A steep descent. Quads are getting a pounding. I could hear the rows and rows of people lined 1st Ave as the sound came on like a sweet rising roar. Like a Moog Lo Pass filter sweeping across the frequency spectrum but in real life. I got to the bottom of the bridge and made my way up and around. I could see it was only about…what…30 or so blocks until my family. Time? Whats my pace? GPS is trying to catch up now. The sun was so incredibly bright, the excitement from the crowd, the Manhattan energy and my anticipation from seeing my family— I quickly forgot about the water. The water!! Not enough Gatorade. Not enough food. No. No. Remember the salty skin and smacking your chapped lips. You didn’t eat or drink enough before the race and your losing touch with your body. There was no way I was going to catch up.

This was the ticking time bomb, the final blow only to reveal its nastiness later.

I was so excited to run up First Ave as I heard friends and strangers alike calling my name out loud. My daughters had made my name tag on my bib perfectly. Red letters outlined with black. Designed by Eva and Arden with a special purple heart from Eva and an invisible ink heart in the middle of the bib from Arden. We tested it at home. They could read it from across the living room…I looked down at my watch. Looked up. Sun. It’s hot. Entering the 70s. I saw Rob from human holding up a “Sloan Zone” sign. Awesome. Did I see friends from Penn there too? Who was that shouting my name? The slow incline up First Avenue wasn’t too bad I thought. And it was only a matter of a few more blocks til 87th. Right? Ok. 15 more blocks, 10…then 5….4 ….3 …2….1.. 87th Street. Where are they? I know left side. Stay left. But I couldn’t see them at first as I couldn’t only see the green signs of SHP. But there they were. My two precious daughters holding signs they made for me. With smiles and pride on their faces that cut right to the core of me. Unforgettable. My parents there with so much love. And my wife, Sara. Not fully recovered from foot surgery standing there with love and her sign blowing kisses to me.

It was amazing. I only wish that I had stopped longer to hold and kiss them but I was afraid I was going to tighten up if I stopped too long. Right? And I would lose too much time off my goal finish time. I wish I stopped. Just 10 seconds?

Post race Sara said to me: “Sloan… its ok…they loved seeing you. If you stopped and got 3:35 you would be questioning it all. You know you would see a difference between a 3:35 and 3:34…” Sara was and is probably right. So I blew them kisses as I went on my way. Sara broke down right after I passed by. Comforted by my Mom, she told Sara I couldn’t have done it without her. She’s right. 1000%. My crew:

Parents and the girls at 87th streetSara Mom and the girls at 87th street

Dad Nancy and SHP signs
SHP cheer cards, my Dad with the SHP hat and Nancy in yellow!

Miles 18 – 22

This was it. I felt as though I was in the last third of the race and my time was perfect. Or was it? I knew from that last long hard run I did a 2:20min/7:46split at 18miles and I was ahead of that time at my mile 18 mile mark. But something started to happen….as I quickly remembered the water. The water!! Frantically I drank at the next station and slowed up a bit… Drink, drink. drink. Gatorade. Down another GU gel with no caffeine. But it was too late. I should have been eating and drinking way back at mile 5. Even though I still felt okay I looked down at my watch and saw my current pace at 8:29. Crap. How am I going to negative split this now? The sun was beating down on me as I could see Harlem approaching at the Willis Ave bridge. The incline of the bridge hit me hard and I could feel the lack of water leaving my body…it was all gone— I wasn’t able to balance the water leaving my body fast enough with new water coming into my system. I came across the bridge and could see hundreds of people bonking, totally crashing. Around the corner into the Bronx was a BioFreeze station, with that smell drifting across the street. I saw those people and said no thats not me. I can break through this. Its not that bad. But I didn’t realize how bad it was going to get. Angels I need you. My pace slowed even more. My mind started to wane. But I wasn’t going to give in now at mile 21. It’s only 5 miles left. I got this. Don’t you dare slow down.

Making my way onto the Manhattan Ave bridge, the sun blasting its unrelenting glare down on me. I look up, “The last damn bridge!” a sign said. My pace slowing even more as my legs start to seize up. A struggle to make them move the way I wanted them too. It was different from any other pain I knew. It wasn’t like my legs were tired. I felt fine but my legs were just saying no we don’t want this. I’m not moving forward that way. I’ll move a little bit this way. You didn’t treat me right—-my muscles screaming out to me.

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Then the 3:30 pace group leader passed me at mile 21.5. Damn. Dammit. That was really tough. My pace slowed even more. But I quickly thought about the 26 angels again and again. The pain they went through and the pain of the families. My pain was nothing compared to that. So I pulled it together. Every step was brutal. So painful. But I picked it up and caught up with that 3:30 pace leader. I dug in. That uphill to 90th street is not that steep…wait it feels like a huge hill now…you just humbled me NYC again. Two weeks ago, back to when you ran up 5th avenue during that training run. I know. I knew. This part. What mile? Look up. Stop it. Move it, stay with that pace leader. Who? He’s short, the pace leader. Over there. you can do this. I can push through this pain. Stay with that 3:30 group. Angels. Help me. Angels. I was going to see my family again. 91st street. Just get there. 26 for 26 right. 

Miles 23 – 26.2

In the distance I saw my Mom waving her arms, my daughters. But I didn’t see everyone. Things are fading now. I just remember my Mom waving to me, blowing a kiss. And as I made the turn into Central Park I thought it’s only 2 miles. Its not that bad. Run down Old Stamford around to South Ave then down to White Oak Shhhhh to Putnam…2.38 mile mark from the bottom of Putnam to South Ave into Waveny Park…26 angels. Pain. It will be over soon. Liar. You lie. Don’t let that pace leader leave you. 24 miles. Where’d he go? Dammit. Keep it together. There’s a downhill coming. You did this training run. It will all be over soon. But my body is giving out. Reach into the left pocket for one last GU gel. It’s the super Roctane one. But I just held it because I felt that extra caffeine was going to ruin me at the end. Any water left in my body would be totally gone. It was too late. And I had no energy to eat anyway. I had to put all my focus on keeping my legs straight and moving forward. Look down at the watch. 9:??. What? No move it. 

Central Park
Central Park as the 3:30 pace leader runs just a few steps in front of me.

Every half step it seemed as though the 3:30 pace leader slowly drifted off into the distance, fading slowly fading away in front of me. It wasn’t going to happen. A sub 3:30. I failed. It was my own doing. Not enough water and gatorade. Not enough food. Not enough electrolytes. Failure. Don’t you remember? Wet muscles are fast muscles. Now I just needed to finish and get through this unbelievable pain. I wasn’t going to stop. No way. If I stop running it’s over. 26 angels please help me. Think about them. They’re praying for me at church. Everyone is on the app. No texts coming thru. My family will love me no matter what time. 26 angels. If I told you what time you would finish back in May, under 4 hours…you would be happy. $5,302 raised. Even better. You are lucky. One foot in front of the other. Don’t you dare stop.

Then I heard a familiar voice ring out. “Sloaner!! Sloan!! Go Sloaner!!” Kim and JT there you are…jumping up and down. Left side of the street. Look. Yes. I needed that. I raised my arm with a fist. I woke up. I looked at the clock down towards the 40K mark and the 25 mile mark ahead. Wait what mark? I still had time to spare. I dug deep trying to find something. I could hear a band playing the White Stripes…Seven Nation Army as I made my way through Central Park South

I thought “hmm…that would be a good song for my band to play if we played it kinda different….” I started day dreaming. Wake the F up! The crowd noise filters down to a drone in my head. It was now a low rumble. I could see Columbus circle ahead of me as my legs felt like they were barely moving. I felt like I was tying to run into the ocean. The waves pushing me backward and the salt was so thick on my now cracking chapped lips. 25.5 miles. Forget the watch. Keep moving. Turn uptown back into the park. Angels I need you. Can I see the finish?

This was it. Take that second turn. Ok now it’s close. 26 angels here I come. 26 mile marker. I needed to keep my balance. I tucked the GU gel back into my pocket. Just put it back. The adrenaline will kick in right? Only .2 miles left. Let it all out. Finish strong. Toe off hard, Push off…lean into it. Pump those arms. I could see it. The glorious blue arches. The finish line. There it was in front of me. Keep going through the finish. Don’t screw this up. 26 angels.

I raised my arms as I crossed the finish, eyes closed, tears. Relief. Pull it together I want to remember this. I remember it. It happened so fast. I did it. Is it really over? Without thinking I took out my phone. Take a picture now. You need one for you…right now…. You need to do this. Ok ..ok..one selfie. Click. Ok. Good. 

Finish 26 angels NYC Marathon 2018
26 Miles. 26 Angels. 3:34:42

I wouldn’t see this until later but in this picture above if you look closely there happen to be 26 rays of light in that photo at the finish. I like to think those are the angels shining down upon me. 26 miles. 26 angels.

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3:34:42

Overcome with emotion, the tears washed down my salt crusted skin. It actually tasted so good. It was tastier and better than that mile 11 high. A wave of emotion from the months of training and sacrifice rushed through me. The sun beating down on my face. Memories of the past six months moving like a speeding train, a montage of small moments zipping through my mind. The sun was so bright. My medal. Give me that damn medal. I earned it. Ok. Medal check. What was my time…my time….???!! I couldn’t see the clock. 25 minutes minus what? Ok so I opened the TCS app. Just hoping it was close. Loading…loading… 3:34. Ok. Ok. I’ll take it. Get those pictures. Take a bunch. And over there, by the backdrop. Nice. Take your headphones out..never listened to any music but I need my metrics read to me. Thanks for being 1.3 miles off Apple Watch. At least I knew my heart rate was consistent until the end. RunKeeper says workout complete. Closed the rings. Oh good. Whew. Wasn’t sure bout that. Distance 27.4 miles. Time 3:35 RunKeeper tells me.. Thanks but not helpful.

Photo with my 2018 NYC Marathon Medal
3:42:42 Official

Whoa…Poncho. Yes. So cosy. Mmmm. Crinkly sounds. Record that sound later. Hold on there’s the food and gatorade over there. That would have been good to have earlier. Lets get me some…Legs are going down…3..…2….1. Whoah steady….steady…No. Whoa, that was from someone else….Whoa again…said the guy in the red jacket. You ok buddy? Me– Yeah I just need some gatorade. Take this blue bag. Sneak two bags. I want 2 gatorades. Orange and yuck they’re giving me a blue one. Fine. Nope can’t really walk. Let’s get you some help. So off we went to the tent in a golf cart. God I’m so soft. Ugh. I’m such a wimp. Don’t worry buddy…says the red jacket guy, What’s your name? Ok, ok…We’ll get you sorted…said the other guy in the red jacket. Then I thought, hey this is nice. A little ride. Some nice pampering. OK! Yes! Close my eyes, lie down and Take Me To There!!

Red Jacket Crew
The best red jacket crew ever.

There were like, no joke, like literally 4 people attending to me. Two people rubbing my legs while another medical red jacket person said, “Hey did you not drink enough water?” Hmm…uh yeah, no…I kinda screwed that up. Ok, sorry to do this but you need to eat this salt packet right now. Ugh so gross. Arden would like it. Drink this chicken broth. Drink this, drink that. Still getting some leg rubs too. I said to them can you guys come home with me and be my life sherpas? Like all 4 or 5 of you. Laughter. So do you want to do this thing again they ask? Yep. Yep I do. Cause I know I can do better. I failed my body but learned so much from it. It was my first. Ok now where do I have to go? Ugh. 93 and the East side.

After I got it together I wrapped myself in my poncho with my 2 finisher bags in hand— one for each daughter. I walked along the race course in the opposite direction towards the east side. It ended being 2.5 miles back to our meeting point. But I was in no rush. It was a beautiful day. I cheered on those racers as I recognized the pain and various states of emotions. I waved my poncho… you get one of these when you’re done! Maybe I helped one or two people along the way. The sun was absolutely beautiful through the fall Central Park trees. I had some time to reflect as strangers said congratulations with my medal bouncing up and down on my weary but proud chest. I was never gonna take this off. I’m also not going to change our of this outfit, ever. This is the best wardrobe I’ve ever had. I wore my poncho like a superhero cape. Yep.

Central Park post race

As I made my way to my family at Nancy and Jay’s apartment, I could see my Dad’s white hair across the street and my daughters playing with Nancy’s dog, Cora. I had to wait a moment for the light to change then hobbled over across 93rd and Park Avenue to greet them. Overcome by emotion again, Arden asked what was wrong. Nothing. Everything was and is right. I love you. You helped me do this. Group hug. Up the elevator to meet Sara resting her foot, my Mom waiting to hug me and Jay waiting to nourish me with food, drink and a hot shower. Ahh.. I cannot wait for that shower. I crumbled into Sara’s arms and once again the tears came out. She knew right away I was disappointed with my time but didn’t say anything. She just told me she loved me and was so proud of me.

Sara and I post race selfie

They say the NYC Marathon will “Move You”. It did. And it will. I’m not done with you and I’m not done with my work with SHP either. It was a journey that started in May and it will continue. I am so filled with waves of emotion, reliving the ups and downs of the race. But I know in time I will come to see that everything happened the way it did for a reason. And that I can be truly proud of what I did. What I did for myself, my family, my friends my community and most importantly what I did for Sandy Hook Promise. November 4, 2018. I will never forget you.

Post race Poncho photo at Jay and Nancys Apt

7 thoughts on “This journey began May 3, 2018…”

  1. Just a brilliant description of that race, exactly as I felt it but slower (😝). I backed off @18 not risking losing one of my medals, I had to get over the line. You definitely are a Marathon runner, you will keep coming back for more and pushing yourself. Chuck the disappointments in the f*** it bucket and move on. Marathon running makes you strong in soooooo many ways that people do not understand – you definitely get it. Run like the wind, my friend, it was a honour to share the bus seat with you x Andrea

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sloan- Beautiful, thank you for articulating what most of us probably felt! I got choked up reading this! Very accurate depiction of the physical race itself and also the mental race that occurs during a marathon. It was wonderful meeting you and being on TEAM SHP with you. If it makes you feel better, my last marathon ended with me in the med tent getting an IV of fluids because I didn’t hydrate well (luckily that didn’t happen this time- I do one water and one Gatorade at every water stop now. Even at 25 I thought about skipping and then was like WAIT, NO, stop, every station, period.)- it is a humbling race distance no matter how many times you do it. Thank goodness for those 26 angels… And DAMN YOU ARE FAST! …perhaps i’ll see you at the finish next year! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sloan
      I am so proud to be your dad
      This was beautifully written
      Makes me wish I was a runner
      Problem is I’ve always needed a ball to bounce or throw
      I really felt your emotions throughout this wonderful blog
      I love you
      Dad

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow … just read the whole thing and cried. So beautifully written . So proud to have been such a small part of your amazing day.Congratulations!

    Like

  4. Loved reading this. There’s something about marathoning that makes people self-reflective, almost spiritual. I certainly was. It was great reading about your motivation for running and the extra help you had from the angels…

    Like

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