It turns out that not getting selected to run in the 2010 NYC Marathon (NYCM), and missing registration for the 2010 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM), were two of the best things that could happen to me as a runner. Earlier this year my Grandma Gabriel passed away from Alzheimer’s and I promised my Grandpa I’d do a charity race for her. At the time I figured I’d do a local Alzheimer’s walk in her memory, but when I learned that I could get into MCM if I ran for the Alzheimer’s Association, I knew there was a reason I missed registration in the first place. It took me less than five minutes to decide I’d dedicate five months of marathon training, a 26.2 mile race and $1525 in raised money to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Training for MCM definitely had obstacles. Between distance runs in a city filled with millions of people, crazy cab drivers and limited space, coupled with late nights at work, failed attempts of running before work and temperatures in a new city that my body hadn’t quite adjusted to, there were definitely days I had to remind myself why I was doing this. However even through the obstacles, I always seemed to find motivation in unexpected places, such as these training runs:
– The Brooklyn Half Marathon – The course required us to run two loops of Prospect Park before cutting down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island. While pushing myself to finish the first loop, I got lapped by the lead runners. In a situation that could have been discouraging, I felt re-motivated and an urge to push myself harder. Being passed by such amazing runners made me want to work harder.
– The NYRR 18-Mile Tune Up – As I approached the starting line, the furthest distance I had ran in the last few months was 14 miles. Needless to say, my mystery miles, the last four, hurt! In the three hours and 25 minutes it took me to painfully cross the finish line, I had a lot of time to think. But instead of getting discouraged because my knee hurt, or thinking negative thoughts about being behind in training, I was surprisingly re-motivated. I was running for those who couldn’t, this wasn’t about me, it was about them and I just needed to keep going.
– The Newark 5K – When I got a call from my mom that she wanted to run a 5k, I was beyond ecstatic. She was a walker, not a runner, and this was a huge step for her. She started training and only a few months later we were running the Newark 5K together. Every step we took I was so proud of her and I know she was proud of herself. It was extremely motivating to see how running had changed not only my life, but hers.
While all of these races definitely re-motivated me to keep training, the most impactful encouragement came from those who donated and supported me as a charity runner for Alzheimer’s. In 2008 and 2009, my mom and I had raised close to $10,000 for the 60-Mile Three Day Breast Cancer Walk, so I wasn’t a stranger to collecting donations. However, this year I was in a new state, raising money for a new charity and had no idea what to expect. I learned quickly that people will always amaze you, especially when you aren’t expecting it.
Between family, friends, co-workers and even people on Twitter who I have never met, I raised $1525 for the Alzheimer’s Association. I only directly asked family and a few close friends for donations, and used Twitter and Facebook to share my link with others who might want to donate. The support I received was amazing and so inspirational. Not only did the support and donations I received from so many wonderful people keep me motivated through long runs, painful miles and moments of weakness, but I was able to run for many other people who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s. At MCM, I dedicated each mile to one of the amazing people below and in some cases to one of their loved ones.
Thank you so much to the following people:
Anne Swaykay (Honor of Ed Miller), Bill Bade, Caitlin Nees (Memory of Grandpa Nees), Charlie Miller, Dan Gabriel, Diane Fleming, Eileen Moore (Memory of Karen Moore, Honor of Marie McKay), James Parker, Jenni and Greg Page, Jess Greco, Kamari Guthrie (Memory of Leanord Guthrie), Keith Weinzierl, Kim Hagen, Kristine and Don Thompson, Laney Cohen (Memory of Great Grandma Rose), Mike Miller, Mike Striker (Honor of Grandma Meema), Nick Cross (Memory of Grandpa McIntyre), Pat Miller, Penny and Velcro, Piper, Teresa Cantwell (Honor of Grandma K), Tim and Hayden Garmon, Sam Gabriel and Steven Grafnitz.
Also, a special thanks to The Sports Mole, Jon Stillwell who not only supported me, but traveled to different races, took pictures and always asked, “did you win?”