November 5, 2017

Towels and bed sheets. When I look back at the first time I ran 26.2 miles, the 2017 New York City Marathon, that is what I will think of first: towels and bed sheets.

I’ve got you confused. Let me start from the very beginning…

On Friday night I left work a bit early to head to the expo to pick up my bib. I was anxious to spend the whole day Saturday lying around and didn’t even want to leave my apartment if I didn’t have to–much less head into the city and deal with crowds. My exit from my office was rather uninspiring. I wasn’t expecting a ticker-tape parade sendoff, but I did think my coworkers might be a bit more enthusiastic seeing that it was my first marathon and a long-held goal of mine. Even more disappointing, it seemed none of them were planning on going out to cheer me on on Sunday. I had learned this earlier in the week and had since tried to curb my hurt feelings; I had too much emotion swirling around my body already, I had to let some things go.

Despite the lackluster adieu, I left with a hop in my step; I had waited for this weekend my whole life and it was finally getting started. I met my hubs somewhere along the subway line and we finished the journey on the 7 train out to the Javits Center together. Even a block away there was marathon buzz in the air. I saw moms and dads with their kids, groups of older ladies in matching outfits, men in suits coming from work–all holding gleaming plastic drawstring bags that I knew held their shirts and numbers.

Everything at the expo went quickly and smoothly. It was busy, but we didn’t wait in even one line. We built in a bit of time in our schedule to walk around but our interest faded pretty quickly. We are not big shoppers. I am one of those people around the holidays that gets bummed out and judgmental about everyone running around furiously with mountains of bags and camping out for deals on Thanksgiving instead of being home with their families. I’m aware that I probably need to work on the judgmental part of all this. But at the time, watching runners at the expo stock up on overpriced New Balance gear was a bit of a turn-off. We found a place to snap a photo of me with my bib, and headed back out onto the city streets.

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We had dinner reservations in the West Village with my sister and my mom, who had just flown into the city earlier in the day. I was glad we left the expo with time to walk all the way downtown, it’s thirty-five minutes I’ll never forget. I often wonder if when I’m older, walking through the streets with my hubs will be my most cherished memories. I think they might be. On this night it was unseasonably warm. People were sitting outside of restaurants and cafes laughing, sharing baskets of crusty bread, and clinking their glasses of pinot noir.

Every street we turned down held something old, and something new. In one moment we’d remember an apartment we went to a party at or a scrumptious Saturday brunch. In the next, we’d see a little hole in the wall restaurant that I’d read about and exclaim “Ahhh, that’s where this is, we need to eat here soon.” That’s what I love about New York City–how it always feels like home and a new adventure, all at the same time.

Our walk to dinner also allowed me to talk out some of my feelings with my hubs. He kept encouraging me to let things out; it was hard to contain all the emotions I was having leading up to all of this, but it was equally hard at times to let myself feel them. A dream I’d had for myself for seventeen years was so close to being realized–everything felt BIG. It felt most important on that walk to reveal the grief I had over my Dad not being there to see me run, and his overall lack of encouragement and interest in me reaching this lifelong goal. It’s impossible to get him to come to New York to visit, even though my sister and I both live here. Since I moved here almost eight years ago, I’ve said to him many times, “Alright, I get it, you’re not going to come–but if I ever run the marathon, you’ve got to come then.” I’d imagined the whole scene in my head a hundred times–him finally getting on that plane. But, this year, when I actually got into the marathon, I knew I had to let that part of the dream go. It made me sad. But like always, more than that, it made me mad that it made me sad. Over the years, my hubs has gotten very good at helping me release the anger I have for myself–that bullshit idea I have that I am weak because people can hurt my feelings. I am so grateful to him for that night and for letting me say what I needed to say, and for allowing me to grieve the loss of the fantasy I had about a proud Dad swooping in for marathon weekend. It was essential that I let these feelings go so I could receive and enjoy my other parent who was actually there, and whose heart was totally in every moment. By the end of that walk I wasn’t feeling lack, I was feeling unbelievable gratitude for the man by my side and the two women sitting on a bench, waiting for us outside the restaurant. A beautiful and delicious Italian meal was had along with loving and inspiring conversation in the coziest corner booth in Manhattan. I went to bed that night feeling warm and full and honestly thinking, Who in the world has got it better than me?

The next day I left the house at around 7am for what I had determined would be my only outing: a meeting. When the chairperson mentioned they needed a volunteer to speak, I knew it was my day to try and share my experience, strength, and hope. After all, there was never a day where I felt more hopeful. More than anything, it was important for me to tell the group how much they meant to me, and how each and every one of them had a part in me finally getting to that starting line. They had to know they would all be with me, every step of the way. Afterwards I had 30-40 alcoholics come up one by one to give me a hug, tell me how proud they were of me, and wish me luck. There were tears. Lots and lots of happy tears. I had already felt like I was physically ready to take on the marathon, but leaving my tribe, I felt spiritually fit as well. It was just what I needed.

When I got home my hubs asked if we could go for a walk in the park later. I felt a bit annoyed, he knew I wanted to lay on the sofa and relax the whole day. He insisted that we wouldn’t be long. He said that he had regretted a bit that the year before for his marathon, he had stayed in the whole day and not gone out to take in a bit of the city with me. I didn’t really get this logic seeing as I would be taking in 26.2 miles of the city the next day. Still, my husband doesn’t ask for much, and since this walk seemed important to him, I agreed.

After some brunch and a brief visit by my mom and sister, I threw on some sweats and we headed out the door. As we sauntered down the hill towards the park I began to feel a bit suspicious. When I mentioned taking a detour to grab a green juice, it seemed to throw my guy off a little. I backed off the idea and told him we’d get it later. As we continued walking, and edged into the park near the water, I watched his eyes dart around as if he was looking for something, or someone. Finally, we came upon two people sitting on a bench, and I burst into tears. It was one of my best friends and her husband. I couldn’t believe it. Their business sometimes takes them to the city, so honestly, my first thought was that they were there for that. When I exclaimed, “Oh my God, what are you guys doing here!?” My friend answered, “We heard you’re running a marathon!” I couldn’t believe it. I had just talked to her two nights before; I had to make sure we spoke before the race, I needed her with me. And then, there she was–in person, to witness it all. My hubs had arranged the whole thing. We found a table outside a cafe in the park and all four of us sat down and drank tea and talked for hours. The warm sun bouncing off the glass buildings and rippling waves of the East River perfectly mirrored the gloriousness I felt in every moment.

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We left our friends around 4pm. As we walked back up the hill towards our apartment, my hubs told me they were all thinking we would meet up for dinner at our house in a couple of hours. I was excited to spend more time with them, but also a bit anxious. This wasn’t the plan. I had a whole plan for everything I was going to do and eat the day before the marathon, and things were being thrown off. Happily so, but still thrown off. Again though, my hubs seemed quite determined, so I loosened the reigns and allowed myself to live in the present.

My friends arrived a couple of hours later and I could feel nothing but happy from the moment they walked in. My hubs and I had ordered steak and potatoes for my pre-race meal. They later decided on Thai food for themselves. Although they ordered after us, their meal came first. I began to set the table for four and the doorbell rang for our delivery. As the courier handed me the bag, he smiled at me strangely.  A little creeped out, I thanked him and began closing the door. That’s when a crazy Columbian man appeared in the hall and began pushing his way through our apartment. I jumped and began pushing him out the door. Then I looked up and saw another familiar face and I stopped. I was floored. Two more of my best friends in the whole world were there, in Brooklyn, in my apartment. My friend, the wife of the crazy Columbian man looked up at me and said, “Surprise, we’re here for a sleepover, and to watch you run the marathon!!” Of course tears. Total sobs. I had never felt so loved in my entire life. I looked at my hubs and he smiled at me, relieved. “No more surprises, I promise, they’re done now.” I laughed, and I cried some more. I could not believe that all of this joy was for me.

True to form, my happiness was suddenly served with a small side of panic. Thankfully we had had help (thank you Lenir!) and our apartment had been cleaned the day before, but I still wasn’t sure we were prepared for guests. Then I remembered earlier in the week that my hubs had insisted on organizing our guest room/office. I thought it was too much for him to take on at the time, but he spent a whole afternoon tossing papers and getting things in order. Upon remembering all this I grabbed my hubs and hugged him and kissed him for the millionth time that day. Then I interrupted my friends who were chatting around the table. “Apologies in advance for our shitty sheets, our guest room is not quite where I want it to be.” As my girlfriend rolled her eyes and began insisting that they didn’t care, my hubs interceded. “No, we have new sheets, and new towels, it’s all taken care of.” I looked at him. He took my hand and led me into the guest room. He opened his closet door, grabbed a giant reusable bag, and began tossing it’s contents on the bed: new sheets, pillowcases, towels, washcloths. I looked at him in disbelief, where had it all come from? He told me he had planned on my friends staying over for a while, but knew that I was not happy with our guest linens. He had secretly employed the help of my mom to pick out everything and had it all shipped to my sister’s apartment to avoid any suspicion on my part. Standing there in our perfectly imperfect second bedroom, I felt blown away by the work and the care and the love that my partner especially, and everyone else put into every detail of the weekend. The rest of that night was one of the best I’ve ever had. Our apartment in Brooklyn was full of people we loved, amazing honest conversation, yummy food, and Michigan Football on mute. I insisted on interrupting all the gabbing to take the photo below. I knew I would want to remember the evening for the rest of my life.

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The marathon itself was an incredible experience. I had the benefit of the knowledge of both my husband and other bloggers who had run NYC before which took all the stress out of all the logistics of the day. I saw other runners freaking out when it took a while to board the ferry, or when buses got full and we needed to wait for the next round. I felt so lucky that instead of feeling anxious, I knew what to expect and I knew everything would work out. I took every moment as it came and was able to enjoy all the nuance and even offer some comfort to a couple other first timers.

I’m not going to go through how I felt at every mile or 5k. Many of you know my biggest fear for this race day was rain. By the time we started those fears had melted away–I knew I was going to do the damn thing regardless. But I couldn’t help but feel like the Universe was winking at me as it rained almost every single step of my 26.2 miles. Some points were just a drizzle, some were heavier showers–none were dry. I didn’t run the way I thought I could or would. I had had such a strong 18 and 20 miler, I was sure I had 4:30 in the bag. It was not to be. I realized that when you are running 20 miles, it is quite a different thing to reach 18. Two miles left feels like nothing, you can fly. But when you reach 18 miles and you’ve got 8.2 left, it’s an entirely different animal. Wrapping your head around the distance you still have to run is a type of agony I didn’t know existed.

The thing is, I thought the race was about the running. If in the end, that was all that it was about, then it would be easy for me to feel disappointed. But that wasn’t it. For me very little of the race was about running; the whole weekend, including the 26.2 miles, was about people.

At mile 3 I couldn’t find my yoga teacher Vin, but I could feel him there. He was telling me to take it slow and save my energy at a place where everyone was getting hyped up by the first crowds. I carried him with me further into Brooklyn where I saw a dear friend from AA who shouted out for me around mile 6. At mile 7 I saw the man who sits in the park every morning, who I’ve been running past and nodding hello to for years and years. This man who had maybe unknowingly (and maybe not) witnessed me chasing after my dream for so long, was then witness to that dream coming true.

Around mile 8 I saw my incredible family and friends–right where they said they would be. At this point I was in love with the city and in love with running so seeing them made me feel pretty much unstoppable.

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As I left them my hubs reminded me that around mile 10 I was supposed to look for his friend William. I had never met this friend so the past few days that my husband had been reminding me to look for him felt odd–why was he so insistent, why was his friend so set on seeing me? I shook off my questions for the last time and decided to just try and focus my eyes on the crowd and find this guy. As I turned the corner onto the street where he was supposed to be I instead found my husband’s actual last surprise: almost all of my amazing, nerdy, insanely lovable coworkers were there with a GIANT blowup of my face and other signs, screaming my name and cheering me on like mad. I was moved beyond belief. I of course lost it, right away.

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After the high of all this came some strong miles. While a lot of people walked the bridges, I ran them all and felt powerful coming off the Queensboro at mile 16. First avenue though was when it really started to get hard, and right before mile 18, I showed my first signs of real struggle. Luckily, that was right where my next group of people were at. My legs wanted to call it quits but when I saw my girls–one of whom had to travel down from Upstate– standing there in the rain with signs, shouting their hearts out for me, I knew I had to keep going.

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A little less than a couple miles later, one of my husband’s friends actually was there, and him and his wife and their little girl got me through one of the toughest points in the race. I remember they kept on saying, “You look great!” I knew they were lying, but it bolstered my spirit all the same.

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I’ve had a week to think about this now and I’ve decided it’s a tie–Miles 20 through 26.2 are tied with getting sober and quitting smoking for the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Everything in my body hurt–but the pain in my mind was the most unrelenting. I kept thinking, what could I have done differently to have made this NOT like THIS. The anguish came from knowing that the answer to that question was nothing. It was my first marathon, I was soaked, and there was nothing I could have done. There is a reason that only .5% of people in the US have run a marathon, and that reason is miles 20-26.2.

As the rain came down harder my feet began sliding a bit in my shoes. About every half mile or so I yelled out “FUCK!!!!!!”, at times to the amusement of the young volunteer handing me my water or gatorade. I felt like a wild animal trying to escape some inevitable fate. Noises I had never heard emerged from deep inside my belly. One of them I am sure was especially heinous as it elicited a side hug and a “we got this!” from a lanky but strong brunette passing me around mile 23. Each step felt impossible. But I kept on. Honestly, if this race was anywhere else but New York City, I am not sure I could have done it. The crowds literally carried me to that finish line. I can’t tell you how many eyes I connected with–people standing in the rain in ponchos–looking me straight in the face and telling me I could do it. As I was in “animal” mode my natural rebelliousness was out in full force. When some of them yelled, “You can do it!” I yelled back, “You don’t know that!” When they’d tell me, “You’re almost there!” I’d shout back, “No I’m not, there’s still two miles!!” In any other place, they might have thought I was crazy, or negative, or rude. But these were mother fucking New Yorkers–they came right back at me. They looked me straight in the eye and yelled, “I DO know! I DO know you can do it, just keep going, know, that YOU have got this!” Another girl answered me, “Two miles ain’t shit–you’ve run 24 miles, you’re about to KILL these two miles, let’s go, one step at a time.”

It felt like I was in some alternate universe that knew itself well, and that I somehow fit into without ever having visited before. We were all there for each other. All of us in the race were running for those who didn’t have the strength in their bodies, but we were being carried by those on the sidelines who had the power in their minds and in their hearts. We all need each other. It’s something I had always known–I had just never seen it in action like I did on this day. The whole city was together–young and old, rich and poor, black and white. I have never high-fived so many cops in my life. It felt like everyone had put aside all their differences. It’s an experience and a feeling I know I will never forget and that I will share with others in times where we desperately need that sense of hope.

As I gave it everything I had in the last couple of miles and chased down that finish line, I knew I was far from my goal time. Almost poetically, my legs found the strength to sprint out the last half mile or so, just like they had in every other race I have ever run. Right before I crossed the finish I looked up and saw my husbands sweet face, and I knew the loud blur of voices and figures behind him belonged to people that I loved. It was the ultimate ending–it was validation like I had never received in my entire life. It’s as if they were all shouting: We see your dream!! You’re gonna do it! We had to be here to see it because we love you and this is a BIG FUCKING deal!! 

I crossed the finish line at 4:53:18 and proceeded to add to my record for the most tears cried before, during, and after a marathon. When I got home and read all of your comments and saw how many of you were tracking me the whole day and cheering me on all over the world, the waterworks continued.

My Dad told me once that joy and pain are kind of the same. At first, it sounded absurd to me, but over the years, I’ve come to understand what he meant. Apathy, indifference, these things are easy. But pain and joy can feel so enormous to hold in your heart–the weight of each of them can be overwhelming. I can’t tell you how many private moments with my hubs I’ve had the past week where I’ve just sobbed into his chest and tried to catch my breath because the joy and the love almost felt like too much.

The running will come and it will go. I will get faster, I will get slower, and some day, I’ll even have to stop. That’s what I realized out there–that there were some elements of my strength that can be weakened, or even taken away. But, there is one part, that no matter my physical condition, I can always grow and draw power from: the love of other people. As long as I am a human that loves, there will be humans that love me right back. I know that now. I believe in it. We are up against a lot in this world. Some have bigger battles and longer races to face than others. Not everything is simple. Solutions can be complicated. Still, LOVE is the answer. Always. Politicians and pundits will tell us otherwise. But I’ll never believe it again. Love is the most powerful thing on this earth. I saw it last Sunday in a way I had never seen it before, and I know now that I will spend the rest of my life, witnessing it over and over again. It took me seventeen years to get to that finish line–only to find out that this was only the beginning.

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I can’t thank you all enough for all the love you have shown me throughout this entire process. The night after the marathon I think my hubs was secretly praying I would put my iPad in the other room. Every time I opened it and read a message from one of you I bawled like a baby. And then I told him all about you–what you blogged about, where you were from, what your goals were. My heart was so full, and it still is. Thank you thank you!!

For all you running junkies who prefer a more technical recap–I will be following up with something more along those lines–and shorter!! So please look for that sometime this week. I can’t wait to catch up with everyone and read about all the running and life trips and triumphs that have gone on while I’ve been completely self-centered and in my own glorious marathoning world. Thank you guys, really. Love you all. x

103 thoughts on “November 5, 2017

  1. First off – Congrats!!! I hate that it took me so long to get over here to congradulate you. Second – Your husband is the best!! All that coordination to get all the people that love you together without you knowing it, just the best!!

    I hope your recovery is going well!! Have you signed up for your next marathon??

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  2. I love everything about this post! What a fun ride its been. Thanks for sharing your journey. I’m inspired by you and can’t wait to hear about the next thing you tackle!

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  3. HI there. My guess is that you are still on cloud 9. Hope you are recovering and maybe took a little jog today. It’s so euphoric to complete a marathon. Some say it’s humbling. I never felt that. I just felt so accomplished. I have loved your journey and I know it’s too soon but wonder “what’s next”? Cyber hugs. Kudos to your husband too, to make sure you had support along the way.

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  4. Fantastic post and a wonderful insight into not only the day itself but the kind of people you have in your life and how special you are to them. Technical recaps are for training – race day is all about the heart not the head 🙂

    Well done once again Cat – your story is truly inspirational and I can’t wait to hear about all the adventures to come.

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    1. Thanks Nik!! Funny you say that about the technical recaps, still haven’t brought myself to do it. Just did a travel post cause I think I need a short break for writing about running! How did your marathon go? I’ll head over to your blog soon to see if you’ve written about it. Can’t wait 😍.

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      1. My marathon was…interesting! Seriously hot day which started really nicely until at about 16km my legs felt super heavy and my chest was tight. Got to the half marathon point in about 1:41 but was a huge struggle from there. Finished in 3:54 after a lot of run/walk – needed to break 4 hours to get my required seeding for the 35 mile race I do at Easter so job done. However I was clearly not quite right and seems I picked up some sort of viral infection and have been off work for chunks of this week! Tough day on a tough course but a great mental test as I really was ready to call it in not long after halfway!! Will blog about it soon along with some more successful half marathon PBs that happened prior to the big one!

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      1. Thanks girl!! I am just reading your post about the race now–you rocked that shit! I saw so many NYPD running, wish I would have seen you, that would have been amazing. Congrats on kicking ass and thanks so much for all your encouragement along the way!! x

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  5. What a celebration of you and your journey, Cat! I am both in awe and deeply touched emotionally. Thanks for inviting me, and all your other appreciative readers along on this journey. And cheers also to Mikey for such beautiful support and honoring of you. Go team Gato!

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    1. Steph I can’t tell you how touched i was to come home and see your messages and others, really blew me away. I wasn’t sure my heart could hold so much love, but I am glad i was able to be open to it and give it a go. Weekend I will never forget!
      PS-Finally had my pizza–it was delish ❤

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  6. Hanna

    This recap was so beautiful!! Congrats on your accomplishment – you are a marathoner!!! It’s so lovely that you had friends and loved ones cheering you on. What a journey it’s been – I’ve enjoyed following so much!

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  7. 👍 Your story behind the running over the course of training and preparation has been inspiring, entertaining and touching in equal measure. It’s plain to see in words and pictures what this meant to you, and what you mean to your friends and family. Following your journey has coincided at a time when I’ve begun to take a different direction in my life in terms of determining what is important to me: through reading your blogs and getting me thinking, you’ve played a part in that.

    I’m excited to tackle London next year and am thankful I was fortunate enough to get a place. It was never a long-held ambition in the way NYC was to you, but I’ll draw on your experience during my preparation (and on the day I’m sure!). I went for a 13.1 on Sunday after nearly 10K of cross country the day before: my legs were a little heavy by mile 10 and quite tired by the end. My thoughts afterwards were I’d be doing that plus more in April! And then to the numerous people I know who’ve done the work, put in the effort and come out the other side.

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    1. I feel honored to have played a small part in getting you thinking during this transformative time in your like Paul. I think London is going to be BIG for you. The whole process of training and the coming together of all those people who have put in that work too, it is really going to be something. I can’t wait to follow along!

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  8. 😍😍😍😍 so much love for this and that video clip! Wow, a beautiful end to an epic journey. You deserved all that love and support, you worked so hard for it. Words fail me, just so happy to have been a part of your dream realised 😘 so how’s your cycling and swimming?😉 xx

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  9. Cat a few weeks ago I didn’t even know you existed and now I have never been so proud of a complete stranger. Your journey has been amazing and inspiring for me. Well done not only on completing the marathon but for putting in a brilliant time. I hope I can be as quick as you! If you use twitter or Instagram follow me @fatblokerambles. I’d love to read about your next adventure.

    Take care and we’ll done!

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    1. Ahh so exciting you are starting your journey, I am so excited for you!! It’s going to be great. Training was tough, but honestly, i miss it now–it might be one of the best things I have ever done. I learned so much about myself and about my body and my spirit–everything. Take in every moment, it’s gonna be great!!
      Thanks so much for reading and checking out the blog, I am so happy to have you here. And so much good luck with your training!! x

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  10. CONGRATS!!! I’ve been anxiously checking my email since last Sunday waiting to read about your experience! I teared up watching Flannigan win it imagining what she was experiencing but I just cried reading about your adventure! What an amazing journey and how inspirational to have so many people there supporting you along the course, strangers included! I hope you’re pigging out on all your favorites and resting those legs – you earned it!

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    1. Thanks so much Tracy Nicole! Yes, I had support coming at me from so many different angles, it was quite something to experience–almost overwhelming–GREAT, but overwhelming!
      Thank you so much for all the love. As for the pigging out–it happened for a couple days, but wasn’t as satisfying as I would have hoped. I’m slowly getting back into some sort of routine which feels good!

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  11. sharonstuartschmidt

    I loved reading about your whole journey. You are such an inspiration! I ran Boston in 2014 (1 year after the attack) and I totally TOTALLY get what you describe here in this post. (You can read about my Boston race on my blog (that I don’t post often enough on). It’s true: Love is the answer.

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    1. Thank you so much Sharon! Wow, Boston!! That’s amazing, I will def check out that post. I didn’t think that would ever be a goal of mine but after NYC, I’ve dared to dream. Definitely will have to be in a couple decades though because there is no way I am qualifying for those times anytime soon!!
      Thanks so much for being here, so happy to have you!

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  12. Congrats on finishing; I know that you have worked very hard for this. It looks like you had a great support group rooting for you. Are you planning to go for 2018’s marathon? 😉 I’m a little glad that it rained because now I know that I can run/walk through the rain for 26.2 miles. Typically, rain is a no go for my running activities.

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    1. Kwame!! Congrats to you too!! I can’t remember now if I have commented on your post yet-I have read it though and remembered that you are a total badass. I can’t imagine what you would do with this race if you trained the way you wanted to and even quit smoking–prob be pretty amazing!! I am proud of you for pushing it out in the rain, you are right, it is something to know we can do it.
      I think i might take a “break” for 2018 and do the 9+1 for 2019. I want to run a few halves and work on my speed a bit, and also I’d like to run with my hubs. If we enter the lotto but only one gets in, that will be annoying.
      I am guessing you are all in for 2018?
      Hope the new job is going well!! x

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      1. I’m not completely in for 2018, because I still need to run 4 more races for 2017, and one of those races has to be the midnight run on Dec 31st.

        Like you, I definitely want to work on speed going forward.

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  13. I’m so proud of you!!

    “Two miles ain’t shit” is my new favorite race motto, by the way.

    Your husband is so lovely and he made me tear up at work – how wonderful to have so many friendly faces out there to share in your dream and lift you up and over that finish line. Race day rain is no joke (especially on slippery bridges!). From now on, whatever you find yourself pushing up against something hard, you’ll be able to look back on this race as yet another example of how you looked some tough shit in the eye and got it done. And perhaps better still, think of all of the people you inspired with your process.

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    1. Thanks Hill!! “Two miles ain’t shit!” OMG, I will NEVER forget this girls face ever. If i ever see her again I am going to grab her and give her the biggest hug and she will probably freak out. People are so amazing–they got me through for sure.
      I know I am so lucky with my friends and fam–I think the rain would have bummed me out way more without them. You’re right though, and what you said is what i kept looking up to the universe and thinking while i was running–like alright, if i can do this, I can do ANYTHING! Now I can’t wait to run a race in great weather!!
      PS-love your phrasing–“looked some tough shit in the eye.” That’s good. I’m gonna use that.
      Thanks girl ❤ .

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  14. I am currently bawling like a baby!!!
    This is my kind of race recap, what you felt, who you saw and where you pulled your strength from. This brought back so many feelings for me, from the love from all your peeps to your 4.30 finish disappearing in those brutal last 6 miles but mostly I felt immensely proud of you Cat!! You DID smash it! You are a marathoner congratulations xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thanks Ang. Thanks for being proud of me, that is the most wonderful thing to hear I think. Also, glad someone can relate to seeing their time goal slip away—it’s quite something when you tell your legs to move and you think they are going faster than they are, lol.
      Thanks for staying with me every step of the way girl 😘.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I have been waiting for this!! So many feels. That capture brought out tears, laughs, and so much pride. YOU DID ITTTT!! And with so much love surrounding you.
    Thanks for sharing your journey – it was truly inspiring. I can’t wait to see where that beginning takes you to next. ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Cat

    So happy to hear about all your support for the race. I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey.

    Your race sounds a lot like my race last year when I really struggled miles 20-26.2. This year I think I discovered “what could I have done differently to have made this NOT like THIS” : start slower! I ran the same time this year as last but I finished strong and smiling because I paced myself much better. Granted I was still a lot slower overall than I can theoretically manage, but by mile 20 I knew I would be ok and I can tell you that felt so awesome that i can’t wait to do it again! So, see you out there next year?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Just reading about your race as well, sounds like it went well. So happy for you!! I am not sure starting slower would have helped too much–I was going pretty slow and when I looked at my race at the end i ran it extremely evenly, I think even a tad faster at the end. I wouldn’t believe that but i think that is what the numbers say. But yes, more to learn for sure and more to experiment with. Very grateful for the process and the whole experience!!
      IDK about next year, still trying to decide! Want to run with my hubs so we might do 9+1 and then run in 2019. We will see! Thanks again!

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  17. Ah technical schmecnical! This post is what it’s really all about. The marathon is a challenge, and a personal journey, even if you share it with colleagues, family and friends as you train, and over 50,000 other sweaty souls as you slog it out in your home town. What a great story you weave. I can be a little nerdy about the technicalities at times, but when you strip away all the ‘stuff’, it’s always about the journey, the experience, the struggle (and yes, the odd ‘fuck it!’ moment too). And without love, affection and the sheer joy of being alive, we couldn’t get to that finish line. To paraphrase a blogging runner mate of mine, ‘keep on, keepin’ on!

    P.S. Your hubby/event manager/support crew coordinator has set the bar fairly high… I suspect your blog may be surreptitiously emailed to a few partners of runners over the next wee while 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The sheer joy of being alive. YES. I would say the marathon experience provides that exactly. Nicely put.
      I like reading about the technicalities as well, so I didn’t want to disappoint the running junkies :). I always feel like i learn a little something from those details! I am very grateful for all the little tidbits i got from you along the way for sure!
      PS-That bar is sky high! Has been ever since I met the guy over six years ago. No matter how hard i try, my gifts and surprises are never quite as wonderful as his. Not sure how i got so lucky!!

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  18. Just had my first cry of the week. What can I say Cat? Unbelievably moving post, and you are so right, it’s to do with you and the people who so very obviously love the bones of you and why wouldn’t they🙂🙂? Such an amazing achievement, sending you so much love S xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. ❤ ❤ ❤ . Hoping that is the first cry of many girl ;). I'm glad i have attracted other criers into my life–you make me feel like i am doing alright!! Thanks for all the love along the way girl, I couldn't have done it without you!!

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  19. OMG girl, I’m crying with you. Amazing race girl, absolutely amazing. I love this. You have an amazing husband, amazing friends and co-workers. I love seeing all the pics you posted and the video. Absolutely amazing. I’m so very proud of you girl. Hopefully one day, I’ll run NY with you 🙂

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  20. Oh MAN, I have just added some big tears to that pond you’ve been crying. Your HUSBAND is the best in the world (sorry to my husband, the best in the world over there). How amazing. And your co-workers. And the friends. And the LINENS oh my goodness.

    I’ve never met you and I only picked up on your journey right at the end but I am so bloody proud of you.

    Also, I loved this: “About every half mile or so I yelled out “FUCK!!!!!!”, at times to the amusement of the young volunteer handing me my water or gatorade.” I am a middle-aged, small and quiet ex-librarian editor with glasses and OK yeah, I had orange striped hair for the marathon. But I shouted “Where the FUCK is the finish” when I was almost finishing mine, so this made me laugh out loud.

    You are fab. One of my running club friend did NY and came in around the time you did. She loved the crowds and the support and the cameraderie. If you met a red-haired English lady with a Kings Heath vest, that was her. I have a friend who lives in NY and I’m going to come and do this marathon one day.

    WELL DONE!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww, happy to have your tears Liz, the more the merrier!! I love that you totally got the LINENS thing–isn’t he just too much? I couldn’t believe it. Honestly, i think i was way more emotionally wiped after all of this than physically tired. It was such a BIG life thing and to have people really show up for me was an incredible and moving experience that i will never forget.
      I am not laughing out loud imagining you yelling “Where the FUCK is the finish?!” So great. I felt like everyone around me running that race was like a wild animal, i’d never experienced anything like it, it was kind of amazing.
      DEFINITELY come to NYC and run!! When you do let me know–if i am not running with you, I will be out there screaming on the sidelines for you, rain or shine!!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. charliesbird

    Amazeballs! I am so thrilled for the support you had, with so many people visually showing you their love; that’s incredible! Well done, you marathon runner you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you lady!! I think you are right–that was what i got here that doesn’t always happen in everyday life–people visually showing their love. Really really special, feeling very lucky i got to experience it. I will be holding onto it forever! Thanks again! x

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  22. Wow, what a weekend! I’ve been so looking forward to this post and as always you didn’t disappoint. It’s been a hell of a journey, hasn’t it? And as you say, it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. I also love what you said about it not being about running. It never was for me either. Welcome to the club x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It really has been a hell of a journey Ali–I could never have planned it all the way it happened, and i am so glad i didn’t have that type of control. Yes–only the beginning. Of what, I am not totally sure of. Excited to relinquish control of the reigns again and find out :).

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Well I’ve just managed to cry my way through your blog post – you’re amazing! An amazing marathoner!!! The hugest congratulations and your words were absolutely perfect – it’s far more than a race and I’m so happy that you were surrounded by so many loving friends. Miles 20+ are the ones that are still scaring me at the moment – in 7 weeks, I have to face them myself. Bring it on!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s exactly right Gill, BRING IT ON!!! You have got this–just like me, one step at a time. Enjoy the rest of training, I am actually missing it a bit now, believe it or not. Brought such purpose to every morning–even a rest day felt like I was accomplishing something!!
      Thanks so much for the love–can’t wait to see you through yours as well! x

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  24. My sister Cat- you did it! Fantastic run! I’m so proud of you; your story is helping prepped for my marathon run next Sunday! I can’t wait. Months of training and sacrifice, I can’t wait to celebrate. I will be carrying you in prayer and thought while I run! You’ve been such a huge inspiration to me. You crush the course One Step, One Breath, One Mile at a Time 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Petey!! You being proud of me makes my heart happy. So grateful to have been on this journey with you–almost there!! Remember to respect the distance and take it slow–just like you said, one breath, one step at a time!! You know I am with you out there!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dawn, the tone you had with me the entire race is something I can’t thank you enough for–and you have it here as well. Of course my insecurity about being slow or not running the race i totally wanted to is there, but you’ve always made me feel like a rock star. And the thing is–I believe you. I think you have a real gift for helping people see the best in themselves. Thank you for helping me see that in just the short time we’ve been blogger friends!! xx

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  25. Oh Cat you’ve done gone and me me cry with you!

    This is such an amazing accomplishment! You are joyous and you should be!

    You do such a marvelous of of describing the incredible and unfathomable energy and love and support we receive from onlookers, well-wishers and other runners. When we are in the middle of the race and feeling like shit it makes no sense, and even afterwards it seems unreal because we know how low we were.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope inside and outside of the rooms. You are inspiring!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aww Josh, thank you!! you’ve given me some of the most incredible advice over the past few months, I feel so grateful to have you as part of my circle.
      I love what you say about shit not making sense even afterward, like how the hell did i get through that? So true!! Something bigger than me right? That’s about the only way I can explain it!!

      Thanks Josh!! x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We don’t have to understand it for it to be real. I don’t have to know how a plane flies through the air to see and believe and have faith that it will take me safely where I want to go.

        It will do it whether I believe it or understand it. It’s a willingness to get on the plane.

        Thank you for taking those first steps which turned into 26.6 miles.

        Liked by 1 person

  26. I have been waiting a week for this and you did not disappoint. I’m already an emotional mess from my mom breaking her arm so I was crying when your friends showed up, when your husband made your guest room and bought new linens, when it rained the entire time. I also tracked you last Sunday and at first thought you didn’t start until I realized that race is so big the start is spread out over hours. I don’t think I will plan on running it anytime soon. Ha. I’m so sorry about your dad. That is so hard but you did it and I am sure he is proud and if he’s like mine bragging to all his friends.
    Keep writing I love your blogs. At teenage church tonight they asked is their anyone you would want to be friends with. They mentioned famous people but I thought of you instantly. If I lived in NY I would so want to be your friend in real life!!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Aww lady, so many things. First, I hope your mom is ok, so sorry about that!! I am so glad you understood the part about the linens–I thought people might think it was weird to start out with that and have that as a key thread but i am glad you understood the impact him doing all that work to get those linens had on me.
      I know what you mean about the race being so spread out. I am amazed by you and others who do such smaller races. I don’t think i could, i need all the support.
      Lastly, you are so sweet for your teenage church comment–if you lived in NY, we would be real life friends for sure. So glad to at least have you in my blogosphere–your support has been so major in my REAL life :). x

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  27. Congratulations Cat! What an amazing journey you have had and I hope you’re proud of every step you took in those 26.2 miles!!! Your husband sounds wonderful!! What amazing things he arranged for you:)

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Congratulations!!!! I was looking forward to your post all week. What a tremendous inspiration you are! I’m so happy it was a good experience, which I’m sure ‘good’ isn’t a strong enough word. I’ll echo what was shouted to me by a stranger when I first started running, “You go, girl!”

    Liked by 2 people

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