42.2 KM or 26.2 Miles through the streets of Manhattan, lined 4 or 5 deep with spectators encouraging you on. Race logistics for 50,000 runners that are out of this world, including bagels, hats, coffee, protein at the start line and water/Gatorade every mile that doesn’t run out. Vistas from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and bands on every corner….doesn’t get any better than that….but it does.
We left for NYC on Friday morning, November 1st, feeling ready. Jan had caught a cold, but we were pumping him with all the antioxidants and cold fighting remedies and we were confident he would be ok to run on Sunday. The entourage was with us, my mom and dad, good friend Linda and my Aunt Anne was meeting us in the LaGuardia airport arriving from Montreal. We arrived on time, ditched our bags, ate AGAIN and headed to the runners expo. This was held at the Javits convention center and was the location to pick up our bibs. Once that very important task was accomplished you were shuffled into a runners heaven of ING NYC Marathon authentic gear and the latest and greatest running technology to see, try on and play with. This was by far the best expo I have ever seen and we made the most of it:). We were very impressed with the security and checks even going into the expo. It was thorough and didn’t hold up the 50,000 participants at all. This city has done this before! After a few hours of the expo and about 30 min trying to get a cab in rush hour of the Friday Marathon weekend, we located the subway and successfully returned to our hotel. We had gotten up early and wanted to conserve our energy, so ate AGAIN and retired early for rest.
The next morning we had the Marathon Route tour in a coach bus. It departed at 9am and as we made our way through the route it started to dawn on me….we are running a long way tomorrow morning…..and it is hilly as %^&*. The hills were not steep, but LOOOONNNNGG. Nice steady inclines for several KMs. My mind reverted back to other marathons where I felt the wall, nauseated or didn’t want to move. Most 42.2KMs runs have this, and I usually experience it at about 27KMs and it disappears again by 32KM. But it is always there. So as excited as I was, I had that gut wrenching feeling…the anticipation and concern about how I would feel the following morning. The route was through the 5 Boroughs and if I reflect to that tour I am very happy we did it. I think it will help us remember the route even more. During the run I was able to say “now we are on borough #2….Brooklyn!”. The cab situation after this tour improved and we headed back to the hotel. Jan and I rested in the room, watching The Heat (hilarious!) for a few hrs, getting our run gear out and going through all the information about the race. We got ready for the Team Fox private dinner and met our family and friends in the hotel bar. I felt the nerves still – getting a bit anxious and uptight. We arrived at Arno’s for the pasta dinner with all the Team Fox runners/families. There are 215 runners and together we raised almost $600,000 for Parkinson’s research. That is $22,900.76 a mile. Now that is awesome! We felt a bond with so many in the room, as we are all there for the cause, for a loved one and to make a difference — and we felt we did. 87 Cents of every dollar goes to research and the Fox Foundation is doing leading edge activities to not only help find a cure but deal with the symptoms. 6 men in the room were diagnosed with Early Onset Parkinson’s and were running this marathon. Oh My God! Michael J. Fox then arrived to say a few words, some funny and all inspirational. He also committed to getting out on the course and completing the last few miles with us….and he did. We were sitting right beside him, so I didn’t want my camera phone in his face, but I did get a minute of his speech. MJF Pre Race Speech. Listening to him, and his pride in all of us beaming through, well running a marathon seemed like a pretty minimal thing to do at this point and all the nerves and anxiousness melted. I was able to thank him for that and we all thanked him for the wonderful work that the foundation is doing.
The reason why we were here stayed with us to race day morning and literally carried us through. I won’t get into all the race details, but from a runners perspective this event is something to experience. There was so much to look at, but one thing that really caught my attention was the number of runners that had charity or names written on their shirts. The majority of people on the course were here for something greater, and it was like New York knew that and came out in spades. I of course thought of my dad quite a bit and how our family has changed since his diagnosis. Michael J Fox has taught us to look at what Parkinson’s has brought into our lives. My mom reminded us that none of us would be in NYC doing this, experiencing Team Fox, if it had not been for my father being diagnosed. It is so easy to look at those challenges negatively, but life is not about that….it is an experience and if put in the right perspective it is an expression of gratitude. I have never had a long run go by so fast. I absolutely LOVED every single minute. There was not a step that I felt the wall, tired or like stopping. We came down 1st Ave towards 93rd street, the location of the second Team Fox cheering section and from blocks away I felt so much love and anticipation to see our family there – with us. That moment will absolutely stay with us forever. There was smiles, laughs, hugging and a few tears of joy at the 28KM mark. We kept going, out of Manhattan into the Bronx and then back down 5th Ave to the last Team Fox cheering section. I could not believe we were at 38KMs, it felt like 20KM. I know my legs slowed slightly on the inclines, but that didn’t seem to impact the run or the force pulling us to the finish. We headed to the last leg in Central Park and I had a moment that I wished so much for time to slow down. The flagged line path, going into the grandstands is completely surreal. We were at 42.2KMs and our mission was complete. We ran at a great pace, but also took a bit of time to soak it in and stop at the Team Fox sites along the way. Jan made sure that we passed the finish line at precisely the same time (to the second!) and we have that moment to share in for the rest of our lives. It was not a personal best time, but wow….what a personal best time ever!
You were all there with us. Names scrolled through my mind, emails of encouragement, words of understanding — we were all on course together to make a difference….and with $18,000 combined towards the Fox Foundation ($15,660 going right to research!) we have made a difference to all PD patients and all that BELIEVE.
From my entire family, thank you. Those words seem so small for such wondrous gestures. Know that our hearts have been changed forever.
Here is a short slideshow of our journey to the start and finish line of the NYC Marathon. It is in sequence and includes some photos from our training time. Sorry – some are blurry phone shots but mean a lot to us! Trotting For Fox Slideshow