This is part 7 of a 9-part series where I cover various topics in preparation for the 2016 TCS New York City Marathon on my blog. Today I’ll discuss Why I am Running the TCS NYC Marathon. In the previous post, I discussed where I train and run.
When my friends at New York Road Runners (NYRR) sent me the list of topics they wanted me to discuss on my blog, I quickly scanned through it and stopped on Topic #7: Why I am running the TCS NYC Marathon. So many thoughts popped into my head at the time, but I was still mentally preparing for the last two races leading up to the TCS NYC Marathon. Now that there is one race to go in 2016 and it’s a big one, I can finally shift all of my attention to that one race.
I’m nearing the finish line on what has been a very busy year. My legs are over-tired and the issue I’ve been having with my right knee the past two races is likely a sign I’m trying to do too much this year. Next year will be different, but for now, I need to prepare myself for what will be an epic encore to what has been an incredible year. I don’t think there is a better way to close out the year than toeing the line of the 2016 TCS NYC Marathon and the reasons I am running this particular race are as long as the race itself.
It’s a Hometown Race!
I’ve given everyone enough clues to know I’m from Brooklyn, NY; heck, the name of this blog makes that somewhat obvious! In November, 2005, I met my wife, who is a Torontonian, online. We were engaged eight months later and married three months after that (Our 10 year anniversary is this coming Saturday!). On May 5th, 2007, I left the States and started a life in Canada. The past nine years have been an incredible adventure, but that’s for another blog post at another time.
Shifting our focus back to Brooklyn, somewhere around the age of 21 or 22, I decided it was time to move out of my parents’ home. At the time, they were living in the Georgetown\Old Mill Basin section of Brooklyn. I found an apartment on Fort Hamilton Parkway in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn which was very close to the subway and tons of bars and clubs (that and a cheap place to live where my top three or four priorities when searching for an apartment at the time). My apartment was also VERY close to the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, which anyone who knows the NYC Marathon course will know runners cross this bridge at the first mile of the race.
I wasn’t a runner when I lived in Brooklyn and in the 7 or 8 years I lived in this apartment, I may have only cheered for the participants 2-3 times; one of those times was in 2006 (when I was living in a different apartment, but also in Bay Ridge) to photograph Lance Armstrong who was participating in his first marathon. The few times I did witness thousands of runners crossing the bridge, I was so inspired, I attempted to start running myself. It never lasted and I wasn’t interested in running at the time.
Fast forward to 2013. In an earlier blog post, I discussed my eating habits and why I really started running. I was now living in midtown Toronto and still two years away from participating in my first marathon! By the time time I did finish my first marathon on June 20th, 2016, I was already thinking about the possibilities.
The Boston and TCS NYC Marathons were top of mind for races I wished to one day participate in. My Boston journey is well documented on my blog, but running NYC held a very special purpose for me. Being able to run through the five boroughs, crossing bridges and streets I traveled most of my life, is a dream come true! I was fortunate enough to participate in the 2016 AirBnB Brooklyn Half, but this is different. The TCS NYC Marathon is a race of epic proportions.
In three weeks, I’ll no longer be a 20-something year old Brooklynite watching thousands of runners pass me by; instead, I’ll be a 43 year old Torontonian running past thousands of spectators, some of whom I’ll know and others whom I hope will be inspired by what I am accomplishing and will want to start running themselves.
The statement above is ultimately why I am running one of the world’s greatest road races.
It’s a World Marathon Major
When I first started running, I instantly started obsessing over all things running. Shoes, clothing, technology, and races were at the top of my list. When I completed my first marathon, that obsession resulted in me seeking out big name races and I somehow found myself on the Abbott World Marathon Majors website. I don’t know if I’ll ever have an opportunity to complete all six of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, but on November 6th, 2016, I will at least complete my first!
What’s an Abbott World Marathon Major? I’m glad you asked! Below is the mission statement on their website:
The World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world: Tokyo Marathon, Boston Marathon, Virgin Money London Marathon, BMW BERLIN-MARATHON, Bank of America Chicago Marathon and TCS New York City Marathon. The organizers of these events are united in their effort to advance the sport, raise awareness of its elite athletes, and increase of the level of interest in elite racing among running enthusiasts.
With the TCS NYC Marathon soon to be checked off my list, that leaves five races to complete allowing me to join the list of only a few hundred people in the World to have completed all six world marathons majors. I am hopefully registering for the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon considering I beat the qualifying time of 3:15:00 for men and I’ll be working my butt off in 2017 to qualify and participate in the 2018 Boston Marathon. The remaining marathons won’t be as easy considering the difficult lottery standards for each race and, of course, the costs to register and travel! Still, having my name added to the list of Six Star Finishers and receiving the stunning medal below is very high on my bucket list!
The NYRR Mighty Milers
I wish I could do more when it comes to fundraising for worthy charities. I’ve tried in the past and this is not a strength of mine. In the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I asked people to consider donating to the Alzheimer Society of Toronto. A few people donated on my behalf and it really made me feel good. This year, the good folks at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto asked me to participate again; however, they asked me the week of my race and I didn’t feel comfortable asking people to donate at the 11th hour.
The preferred charity for TCS NYC Marathon is the NYRR Mighty Milers. According to the NYRR website:
Mighty Milers is a FREE running program for kids of all fitness levels from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. It’s designed to get kids moving and prevent obesity and illness. Participation in Mighty Milers helps kids build their self-esteem, and learn to make and reach personal goals.
Over the course of a program cycle, children in Mighty Milers set goals to run and/or walk a certain distance and earn rewards for reaching milestones along the way.
Mighty Milers is easy to implement, and has a flexible structure so you can tailor the program for the unique needs of your school and environment. NYRR provides logistical, motivational and training support so that your staff members and/or adult volunteers can run the program at any school or community center.
My nephew runs with the Mighty Milers at his school and I met a few volunteers who work for Team for Kids the Mighty Milers program when I ran the AirBnB Brooklyn Half earlier in the year. They do amazing things for kids and this is why I have asked my friends and family to consider donating to this very worthy cause. If you would consider donating, you could do so through my fundraising page found here:
Finally, whenever I brought up the TCS NYC Marathon to anyone who ran it before, their eyes lit up and they instantly had a huge smile on their face. Anyone who ever participated in this race says the same thing; it’s insane! From the expo to the deafening cheers of spectators that span nearly the entire distance of the race, you won’t soon forget the time you participated in the TCS NYC Marathon! I can not wait to ride the wave of cheers from the starting line in Staten island to the finish line in Central Park. In all the blogs I read, one of the most common tips from other runners is to add your name to the front of your shirt. I may do this so I can take advantage of a few extra cheers when I know I’ll need them most.
Most Importantly, My Family!
My parents, my two brothers, and their families have never seen me race. My dad was waiting for me in the family reunion area of the AirBNB Brooklyn Half, but he didn’t actually see me finish. I can’t wait to high-five them as I pass them in Brooklyn.
Finally, this will be the first time my wife and son will be waiting for me at the the finish line of a race and I can’t wait to share this moment with them. I was nearly in tears when my son finished the 1 Mile Kid’s Race shortly after I finished the AirBnB Brooklyn Half and I can’t wait to see the look on his face when I cross the finish line.
I’m already getting choked-up about this race and it’s still 17 days away!
The next time I blog about the 2016 TCS NYC Marathon, it will be in the form of a race report. If you would like to track me and cheer me on virtually, you can download the TCS NYC Marathon on iOS or Android and search for bib 9480.
Thanks for reading!