Monday, May 7, 2018

My 31st marathon was about 33 miles

I know breaking a lot of rules by calling this a marathon. There were a lot of things missing that are all required to call something race. There was no clock, no one kept track of how long it took anyone to complete the distance. Nobody said"GO"!. We wore bibs with numbers on them, but those numbers were not associated to anybody's name or gender or age. The course wasn't measured by anything accurate. There wasn't a mass start.Honestly, nobody cared if you took a shortcut.

But yesterday, I completed a marathon. In fact an ultramarathon. It was the premier event of the NYC Shore Walkers; The Great Saunter. A walk around the perimeter of Manhattan Island.

Yeah, it wasn't a race. Hundreds of people met at Fraunces Tavern. Many of us sat around and had a cup of coffee and a danish. When we felt satisfied we started out at the most southern point of Manhattan made a right turn and headed north. We had maps but basically we were told keep the water on your left. Everything was nice and casual. There was no getting lost, there really wasn't much stress. Everything was flat and our path ahead was always obvious. We walked past the new World Trade Center, alongside the Highline, past the buildings where they are ripping off Trump's name on the west side. We sow some very surprising art somewhere around 160th St. We actually got to see the artist in action, stacking his rocks.

And holy moly! I was just scrolling through my friend Lisa's photos that she shared on Facebook and wanted to use this one because I remember when it was taken. I remember the feeling I had and we all probably had, that we felt pretty good. We were still relaxed at about mile 13 and speaking for myself I totally forgot that we were about to have to go uphill. But a thing I didn't notice until I just looked at the picture now is that those stones are right behind us. Nikki gotta go to school

That happy feeling totally ended when we walked underneath the George Washington Bridge. The path that went around the perimeter of Manhattan Island ended and we had a make a hard right turn into the Forest of Inwood. It takes a lot of uphill walking to be the spot where you can take this picture.

It wasn't all downhill from there. It was down and up and down and up and down and up some more. Also, when we left Inwood Park we did not go back to the perimeter path around Manhattan Island. The path is still being rebuilt from Superstorm Sandy if it ever existed at all. We walked through the neighborhoods of Inwood, Washington Heights and Harlem. Walking through the city streets was almost as challenging as walking up the hills. I remember thinking how lucky the out-of-towners were who got to see these authentic New York neighborhoods.

I knew what the route would look like heading back downtown on the Eastside. We walked past Gracie Mansion,then had to go back on first Avenue so we can walk directly past the front of the UN. We also walked right past the building where I have my occupational therapy and I had the surgeries on my hand and wrist.  

Then we went back onto the path along the water to spot I was really looking forward to putting my feet on. A little less than four years ago I was hospitalized in the NYU Langone Medical Center. I was there twice. The first time for a couple weeks where they put a central line in my carotid artery and did five days of plasmapheresis, then another five days of IVIG treatments. Then they checked me out and I went to rehab. However, it seemed those previous treatments didn't work because I was still getting worse and went back to Langone for about a week where they did chemotherapy. For both those visits I had the same view from my window. I was looking at the path along the East River where it passes Riverside Plaza. I thought I would take a moment and take a picture of that window or may be uploaded Facebook video. But, it was already dark and is no time for monkey business at mile 27 of 32. So I just turned around and whispered thank you to all the medical professionals that brought me back from quadriplegia. 

I'm in the middle of reading Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, the part about the Leadville 100. One of the quotes from the founder of the race is really sticking my head today. Thank you Lisa, Janet, Marvlyn and Jackie.And a big thank you to everyone in the Prospect Park Track Club tell me I'm inspirational into my other friends/athletes from Achilles International show me what inspirational is.

4 years ago
So now it's two days later and improve reading this (STFU, I proofread), and it's May 7. I don't need Facebook to remind me that May 7 is a big date for me. I think about it almost every day because it's the day I walked into the hospital. I didn't know I wouldn't come home for 135 days. I didn't know that May 7 would be the last day I would walk unassisted for over a year.Well, this year May 7 turns out to be a Monday, the first Monday of the month. And on the first Mondays of every month my track club meets and everyone gets to stand up and talk about their weekend. Yeah, tonight I'm going to get to stand up and say
"Yeah, I just finished my 31st marathon, this one happened to be an ultramarathon, it was 33 miles and it was my second marathon in less than a year."

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