On the 10-year anniversary of my NYC marathon, a special Run for Veterans

Today is the 50th running of the famed New York City Marathon.  Ten years ago, on a crisp, sunshiny fall morning, my brother and I joined the throng of runners at the starting line of the NYC marathon.  We were in one of the last “waves” of runners and we weren’t going to break any records, but we were all wired and ready.  Along with thousands of others, we crossed the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, leaving Staten Island and heading to Brooklyn and the other three boroughs.  A recording of Frank Sinatra belting out “New York, New York” filled the air from the speakers mounted on the bridge.  The Statue of Liberty gleamed in the harbour and the Battery and the skyline of Manhattan could be seen in the distance.  Every single person on the bridge brought his or her own personal story of what inspired them sufficiently to get to the starting line.  Everyone was smiling broadly, as the reality that this was actually happening sank in.  After all those months of training, all those plans of how to make it happen.  The adventure was finally about to begin.

VerrazzanoNarrowsBridge

5 hours, 49 minutes and 54 seconds later I crossed the finish line in Central Park.  Yes, the adventure lasts longer for some of us than others!  And every one of those minutes was special.  Nearly 6 hours of interacting with literally millions – yes, millions – of encouraging spectators.  The marathon route goes through an enormous variety of ethnic neighbourhoods, speaking to why New York is a city that belongs to the world.  Each neighbourhood in the boroughs welcomed us in their own unique way, entertaining runners and spectators with live bands, dancers, and cultural dress.  My brother had thought to bring small Canadian flags to hand out to kids along the way, so we were able to reciprocate.  It was magical.

NYCMarathonRoute

And even though the elite runners and wheelchair athletes, not to mention serious non-elite runners, had finished hours ago, spectators still lined the route right through Central Park to the Finish Line as we came through.  I can still remember running down 5th Avenue and turning into the entrance to Central Park – the entrance I had watched so many elite runners turning into when I watched the marathon on TV over the years; I thought, “Oh my God, I’ve got this!”  What an amazing feeling.

JaneNYC004

What has a senior citizen who had never previously attempted anything remotely athletic in her life learned from her late-in-life efforts at long distance running?

  • Practice may not make perfect, but practice can make the impossible possible. Training actually works!
  • Listen to your body. It turns out that your body often has a lot to say!
  • There’s a whole world of physiotherapists, massage therapists, and online help available as you learn about mysterious things like IT band injuries, tendonitis in tendons you didn’t know you had, metatarsalgia (sore ball of foot), and many more marvels and complaints of the body. Wake-up call: you must follow the exercise plans of these professionals religiously (sorry to say).
  • Sometimes giving your body a rest is the best thing you can do. Think of it as part of your training regime.
  • The running community is one of the most welcoming groups of people one can imagine. They are incredibly supportive of everyone who puts on a pair of sneakers and puts one foot in front of the other.
  • For me – and I understand that this is not true for everyone – running is good for my soul as well as my body. Finding whatever makes you feel that way is important.  And when you can’t do that anymore, find another passion that can make you feel just as good … and maybe less tired. 🙂

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of my NYC marathon experience, I chose November 6, the actual date 10 years ago, to complete my 11K Run for Veterans NB.  This year this Run for Veterans had to be virtual because of COVID, so we were able to do our individual 11K on our own, anywhere and any time between when we register and November 11, Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in the U.S.).  And so, on a crisp, sunshiny fall day similar to that day in New York 10 years ago, I ran my 11K along the beautiful Wolastoq, aka the Saint John River.  There were no massive crowds (although there were plenty of walkers, runners, cyclists, and families with dogs) and no throng of runners, but it was immensely satisfying.  Beautiful and immensely satisfying.  I spent the time thinking about running in New York City, for sure, but also spent time thinking about the ultimate sacrifice that so many soldiers have made in so many wars even after World War I – the war that was supposed to end all wars.  I was able to run along a beautiful trail in a beautiful, safe, peaceful city thanks in no small measure to those who gave their lives fighting for peace.

RaceToque

On this, the 50th running of the NYC Marathon, I wish every participant success in meeting their own person goals and joy in being part of such an amazing, life-affirming event.

And as Remembrance Day approaches, I encourage each and every one of you to take the time to remember.  Remember with everlasting gratitude those who fought for our freedoms, and those who gave their lives in that cause.  Lest we forget.

Poppy

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31 Responses to On the 10-year anniversary of my NYC marathon, a special Run for Veterans

  1. swosei12blog says:

    Congrats on finishing. I have to say it was a weird feeling knowing that many marathoners finished before we even started.

  2. heimdalco says:

    A fantastic, inspiring post. I could almost feel myself running along with you. (I may spend a little extra time on our recumbent bike … LOL). Thank you for sharing this lovely experience …

  3. Roy McCarthy says:

    That’s brilliant Jane, well done. Sounds like you enjoyed the whole experience as well as the knowledge that you were supporting a great cause. Canada and the States (e.g. Marine Corps Mara) seem to commemorate their war veterans with memorial races more than we do. Like you, I get a real buzz out of running generally, racing in particular as the years roll by. After a 10k race last Sunday someone asked me, ‘Did you enjoy that Roy?’ My answer, ‘Always. For all I know, each race could be my last.’

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks a lot, Roy. You’ve got it, every race – even every run – is a privilege. For me, each one is one more than I thought I’d ever be able to do again a few years ago. 🏃🏽‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️🏃🏽‍♀️

  4. What a wonderful highlight of your journey! Thanks for sharing. So inspiring!

  5. LiziRose says:

    Wow, you are an inspiration. I like running too but I have not run nearly as far as you! Maybe someday. 😁

  6. debscarey says:

    Amazing Jane. I’ll never be a runner, but I’m a passionate walker, and it makes such a big difference to my life and to my mental health to get out & about in the fresh air every day.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      That’s the main thing, to find a physical activity that brings you joy as well as some physical well-being. These days my running always includes some walking! 😊

  7. BernieLynne says:

    Congrats on your run. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Remembrance Day and how important it is to take time to think about the wars and the impact. Sadly people forget about the wars still being waged and the people who are suffering now but you aptly pointed out most of us have so much to be grateful for. Take care. Bernie

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Bernie. I fully support your belief in the importance of Remembrance Day, of remembering and being grateful to all who have sacrificed on our behalf. It will be gratifying to be able to hold fully participatory Remembrance Day events again, hopefully next year. Lest we forget.

      • BernieLynne says:

        I have found 2 outdoor small options this year — at the tiny town we get our mail in and at the University of Saskatchewan Memorial Gates. We will be safe attending those and keeping our distance so that is the plan. You guys reopened so smoothly and smartly. I know it’s hard to miss things like this but man I wish Saskatchewan had used some common sense in opening up. Bernie

  8. Inspiring post! And what great pictures. My daughter lives in Bay ridge, where you ran. Her apartment is not far from the Verazano Bridge.

  9. iidorun says:

    I love this! Running is definitely a great way to connect with others – whether we know them or not! The spectators and the other runners are just two reasons why the running community is awesome! The NYC Marathon is a bucket list race for me. Congrats on running it and bravo for your run for veterans! Also – love the new hairdo!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Irma. Yes, keep it on your bucket list for sure. I was 65 when I did it, so you have plenty of time!! Glad you like my sweaty now-white hair under my running toque! 😊🏃🏽‍♀️

  10. Congratulations on your accomplishments, Jane! That’s so impressive. I’m wondering what challenge you will tackle next?

  11. I’ve never run a marathon but I was very moved by this post and your observations . For the past 3 years, I have been doing extensive reading focused on the World Wars finishing the most recent yesterday, Madeline Albright’s ‘Prague Winter’ which I highly recommend. Perhaps my reading explains why references to the sacrifices of war, military and civilian, hit me hard very these days. Thanks, Jane.

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Jill. And thanks for the book recommendation! I will miss not having our usual extraordinarily well attended Remembrance Day parade and ceremony for the second year in a row here in Fredericton. Remembering is so important.

  12. Thanks for the encouragement to keep on keeping on!

  13. Inkplume says:

    What an accomplishment that turned into a memory you will have forever. Congratulations!

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