How NOT to Run a Marathon – in 7 Easy Steps

So I ran the NYC marathon, yesterday.

It was tough. Like…really, really, really tough.

I’d joked to friends that I was just hoping to finish.

Secretly I wanted to finish in 3:45, which I told no one…except the entire intrawebs when I took the above pic and posted to Instagram at the starting line. (Seeing this discarded placard seemed a harbinger of the marathon miracle I’d soon conjure.) Apologies to those I made think I’d finished in 3:45.

I most assuredly did not.

I finished in 4:25. A good time, but definitely not what I’d hoped…especially as I deluded myself for 18 miles by running 8:40. Because at mile 19…I hit a wall.

I’m pissed at myself for not following the rules. I literally forgot it was a marathon. My out-sized ego magically believed in unicorns and marathon miracles. While the jury might still debate unicorns, marathon miracles don’t exist. You have to follow the rules.

Let my idiocy serve as a learning experience for all of you.

How NOT to Run a Marathon in 7 easy steps:

  1. If you are speeding along at mile 8 and think, “Wow. Am I going too fast? Nah. I’m just cruising along.” then SLOW THE HELL DOWN.
  2. If you see a 75-year-old man whose shirt says “Finisher…15 marathons”, don’t be proud to pass him. SLOW THE HELL DOWN. (This man totally passed me at mile 22 when I was on the verge of tears and he was waving to the crowd like a parade float princess.)
  3. Just because your friend says her 7th marathon was her best because she just “listened to her body”, does not mean that you should listen to your body on your 2nd marathon (the first of which was 7 years and 2 kids ago). You should NOT listen because you are the marathoning equivalent of a 4-year-old. You have no idea what feels right. SLOW THE HELL DOWN.
  4. If you see a guy wearing spandex from neck to toe and you think, “What a douche” …you should not be proud to pass him. SLOW THE HELL DOWN.
  5. If there’s an amazing street band with a 7-year-old girl wailing Aretha Franklin’s “RESPECT”, or a Black church choir is SANGIN’ on their church steps, and you speed up because it feels so great to run to the beat, have fun. But ten steps later…SLOW THE HELL DOWN.
  6. If you trained for 3 months to run 9:00 miles, but your running app shows you’re running 8:40 miles, this does not mean you’re suddenly superman. It means you should SLOW THE HELL DOWN.
  7. And if you read these rules but flagrantly disregarded them because you think you’re such a bad-ass, then you deserve it when you hear the crowd at mile 23 say, “Yay! Yay! Keep it up! You’re almost there! You’re…ooh. Ohmigosh. Whoa. Look at that guy. Should we just tell him to stop, now? That looks dangerously painful.”

Five happy highlights from my run:

  1. Favorite crowd signs: “Hurry up. The Kenyans are already drinking the beer.” “Don’t trust a fart after mile 8.” “Love your stamina. I’d right-swipe you.” “Welcome to the Bronx. See you next year.”
  2. Laughing to myself after the finish line that we all looked like refugees limping across European borders, which…isn’t funny at all, except in the moment our bodily misery was equal to refugees although I’m not making light of refugee suffering I’m just…oh, never mind.
  3. I was touched by the hundreds of people who read my name on my shirt, shouted support, but mispronounced it.
  4. In the last 1.5 miles, my back/ankle/knee pain reduced me to walking. Suddenly, I heard a woman saying (not shouting) “Run”. The voice traveled with me. It was a random woman in a red coat walking with me just behind the crowd. She looked straight at me and said loud enough for me to hear, “You can do it.” Thank you, random woman in the red coat. I smiled, blew a kiss and started running, again. Until I walked. I did run across the finish line. But that was just for the photo op.
  5. Coming over a hill at 85th Street and seeing my son perched above the crowd on my friend’s shoulders, then hugging and kissing my partner, both sons and more friends at 86th Street. That was great. Oh, and then my body fell apart and my speed evaporated.


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