Lessons Learned from Running the NYC Marathon (aka Why Luann May be Right about Bethenny and Carole)

When I first considered running the NYC Marathon, I asked around for some advice. Tom’s turned out to be the most useful: “Run. Follow the training.”

The training, it turned out, was where the transformation happened. Marathon day was the memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience with extreme highs and lows, a day I treasure from dawn to dusk with a minute-by-minute memory of the route (yup, all 440 of them).

But the training began months before that. Reading the books, following the timeline, prepping my gear on Saturday night so I could quietly sneak out of the house and not wake up my husband and the three kids he would be caring for until I got back from my Sunday run (and the two hours afterwards when all I could do was plop on the couch). The training is where the work happened, the need to focus and prioritize so that I would be ready on Game Day. The training is when all my attention was on me because it needed to be on me: on my body, my nutrition, my conditioning, my aches and my pains. I was as alert to myself as I was to my kids (especially when the Sunday runs hit 16 miles — preparing and recuperating from those required an unusually high amount of self-care. The most comparable time I can think of when I tended to myself in that way was during my pregnancies.). The training is meant to be intense so that when you get to the Start Line you feel prepared and ready to go.

What I learned from running the NYC Marathon is that you don’t get to the Start Line alone. There are people on the way who support you, train you, teach you, advise you, inspire you. It’s not a single-person affair because there are so many people involved in getting you there. Your spouse, your friends, your family, your team; even your kids who learn that 'momma is going for a run’ means that they won’t be with momma for several hours.

What I learned from running the NYC Marathon is that you get to the Finish Line alone. There may be throngs of people to cheer you on and give you drinks and clementines and tissues; fellow runners who become friends after the marathon when they call NYRR to look you up based on your first name and your estimated finish time; a kind sister joining you at Mile 18 to take you through the end; and an angelic EMT driver who reads your mind as you head out of the Bronx and get a glimpse of the sweeper buses, and slows down her truck to crank up the music and give you a desperately needed boost of energy and inspiration.

There may be all of that and more (and you may be grateful for all of it to this day), but at the end of the day -- you run the marathon alone. And the aloneness of it is at times comforting and at times overwhelming. It is what brings you the most glory when you hit the finish line and the most angst when you wake up the morning after with PMS (Post Marathon Syndrome), wondering what the hell just happened and what the heck do I do now?

What I learned from running the NYC Marathon is that when you require that much from yourself, your tolerance for other people’s bullshit diminishes. You call on all of your strength, stamina and resilience for the road, so there is little patience left over to deal with people who have a hard time managing themselves. At which time they are put on pause, placed in perspective, to be dealt with when your twenty-six-point-two miles are done (at which time you may choose not to deal with them at all).

What I learned from running the NYC Marathon is that relationships that cannot go that distance, do not end up going the distance. That there is, as Luann says about Bethenny and Carole, a sense of entitlement that comes with running the marathon. Not in the special treatment sort of way, but in the true meaning of entitlement - a right that a person has to something. The right we all have to keep friendships that feel nurturing, caring and giving. Friendships where we feel cherished, adored and respected. Just as we have the right to move away from friendships that do not feel that way. Friendships where the dynamics have become unhealthy, where one or both of you have changed too much to stay together, friendships where the love is still there, but the exchange of give and take has long since past.

What I learned from running the NYC Marathon is that the road is long, strangers are kind, we are stronger than we know, and the people running with you change as you travel the course. Either because they are running faster or slower or differently, it doesn’t matter. Some will stay with you through the end, some weave in and out, and some were there just for a portion of the course -- all of them get space in your heart.

What I learned from running the NYC Marathon is that that’s OK, too.