As I ran over the finish line I looked at my watch: 5:01:57.
My first asinine thought was “Where could I have saved two minutes?” followed by “five hours ago you didn’t know if you’d make it to the finish line so shut up.” End of conversation.
I got my medal and thanked the volunteers in that drunken, I-just-won-the-marathon all smiles kind of way. Then I put a Mylar blanket over my shoulders and got in line.
When you have a flow of traffic moving in one direction, all going to the same destination, once it stops you’ll end up with a traffic jam. Even if the vehicles are slowly moving along there is always going to be a total standstill at some point. After running for five hours my body did not like shuffling in a line to get my bag. I tried to move faster by cutting on the side ahead of people that were busy talking on cell phones or chatting to people next to them but there was still a huge wall of people to get past.
This is where I talk about the downside of gigantic urban running events. I love them, but you have to get used to the idea that you’ll be with a lot of people all day. At some point I started to get cold, the Mylar blanket just wasn’t cutting it anymore. All I wanted to do was change out of my wet, sweaty top and pants and get into some dry clothes. Plus, I really wanted my post-marathon Chai Latte reward. I started shivering then trembling and just couldn’t stop. Super duper kudos to NYCM volunteers for the following move: the only question they asked me was “What’s your name?”. Without saying anything else they led me to the medical tent, scanned the bar code on my bib number and I was checked in.
“Is this your first marathon Julia?”
“Um, no. It was my thirty-third.”
He shouted to the crowd of medics at the door, “Do we have a psychiatrist in the house?”
That made me laugh and probably started the healing process faster. They sat me down, put warm blankets all around me and then gave me a hot cup of chicken broth. It was really salty but warmed me up. A doctor asked me if I had any other symptoms beside the trembling. I let them know that I was totally fine; I just needed to change my clothes. After running a marathon, to have to wait for more than an hour standing up as you make your way to the baggage trucks, I’d hate to see what happens on a rainy day! I was out the medical tent within twenty minutes and in another twenty I’d finally changed my clothes.
Just before I left the park I remembered that I didn’t have a photo of myself with my medal….
The funny thing about running photos, no matter how bad you think you look in them, keep them. In ten years time you’ll be thinking you looked great that day!
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After I run a marathon I always take a full week off from exercise. It helps my body heal and gives some perspective on what I just did and what I want to do in the future. Every single time I’ve run a marathon the only thought I ever have is, “next time I will do better.” Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but just the fact that running makes me still yearn to be my best makes me want to run a marathon all over again.