This past weekend, I finally did what I set out to do last year - I finished the 9:1 program with New York Road Runners. Run in 9 races and volunteer in 1- and you qualify to run the following year's New York City Marathon.
After I got injured last August with just two races to go (just two!), and found no mercy within NYRR to offer me a chance to get those credits back, my running wife and cheerleader Laura sent me a sweet little meme that simply said, "Injury makes the comeback sweeter." It feels so amazing to be on the other side of that journey and to feel that...yep. Yep, that's true.
Would I have preferred not to have gotten injured and to have done it all in one go last year? 110% YES. But it didn't work out that way, and I definitely felt ten times more emotional crossing that final stepping-stone finish line yesterday than I would have had I been able to achieve it last year.
These last two races were particularly meaningful just on their own. The Pride race is one I've always wanted to participate in, but my Saturday morning classes always conflicted. The turnout was low this weekend due to the crazy downpour of rain in the morning, but miraculously as soon as the clock struck 8:30 and it was time to start, it stopped. By the end of the race, the sky was almost completely clear and the sun was blazing. The spirits of everyone who made it out weren't dampened a bit, though - they even had cheerleaders on the sidelines for us! My personal favorite was the guy who started singing "Turn the Beat Around" at the top of his lungs while struggling through the hills alongside me.
The Achilles race - Sunday's race, and race #9 - is one I've done about four or so times now, and is absolutely amazing. It honors the Achilles organization which pairs disabled athletes - whether they are a veteran missing a limb or someone with special needs, a wheelchair athlete or a blind athlete - with guides to help see them through a race. Seeing folks push through obstacles far worse than any I've ever had to face is always a humbling and heart-opening experience. I usually spend half the race in tears, and yesterday was no exception. Having Laura by my side - and it was her final qualifying race too! - made it a thousand times better.
Now we don't have another one on the docket until August's France Run (which I was so sad I didn't get to do last year), and we're both eagerly looking ahead to the Abbott 5K Dash to the Finish in November, the day before I'll be cheering on my friend Lu in the NYC Marathon (check out and donate to her fundraising page here!). It'll be the first time I train for a 5K since my very first 5K over nine years ago, when 3.1 miles seemed an insurmountable distance. This time, I'm training for speed and efficiency. It'll be good for my body to have a race on the horizon to train for that's a shorter distance - I know it makes my physical therapist happy! The rest of the summer I'm focusing on getting stronger - and running stronger.
Just shy of seventy weeks until the 2018 New York City Marathon. I can't wait.
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