Five boroughs. 26.2 miles. 52,000 runners. That is the New York City Marathon - at least
by the numbers. But the race around the world's greatest city is about much more than just
stats - which is what we seemingly measure everything by in sports these days. Sports has
become an analytic-driven landscape drowning with superfluous numbers, launch angles,
spin rates, and just about anything else spit out by an algorithm.
You can clock the time it takes you to finish a marathon, but there aren't any metrics that
can accurately measure the energy, heart, adrenaline, sweat, pain, exhaustion, and elation
from a journey that starts in Staten Island and finishes in Central Park, one of the best
pieces of real estate this country has ever seen.
Of all the marathons in the world, the start to the New York City Marathon has to be the
greatest of them all. It begins with the Verrazzano Bridge staring you in the face. It's a
spectacular double-decked suspension bridge that just towers over the field, making everyone
seem so remarkably small. And how many times do you get to run over a bridge with 50,000
other people with a crystal-clear line of sight to the soul of New York City? It is truly
So, of course, in this social media obsessed world we live in, a scene like that has to be
documented. As I ran to the crest of the bridge, I started to laugh out loud. About 40 people
formed a line on the near four-foot high wall separating the lanes of the bridge - all of them
taking selfies. And they were loving it. I think the only reason many of them entered the
race was just to get that 'money' shot so they could post it on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
I chose not to scale the divider, my 54 years on earth telling me it was a bad idea - a pulled
muscle or turned ankle wouldn't help in trying to finish a race that had barely even started.
However, I did snap a selfie just to capture the moment.
The moment didn't last long - not with 26 miles ahead of me. Having received an entry
on August 20th, I was a bit undertrained for the endurance event. Trying to
stuff a lot of miles in a 10-week period wasn't ideal and I paid for it with injuries to
my calf and knee. But I did get to the starting line healthy and that is the most important
thing. I relied on my experience of running this event five years earlier and the energy
boost from the people who lined the streets cheering the runners on. It seemed like every
inch of the course was soaked with a crowd that was ten people deep. It was deafening and
electric. You couldn't help but be energized by it.
The things you see and hear during the NYC Marathon can stick with you for a long time.
I came upon a few blind runners with guides leading them the entire way. With
my eyes and mind firmly focused on what was in front of me, there were times I'd
hear a unique sound pounding the pavement only to look up and see carbon-fiber blades
attached to an amputee working his way to completing his goal - the picture of courage
and the resiliency few of us will ever possess.
My plan going into the marathon was just to soak up the entire experience - even the
mind-numbing pain that goes with trying to complete the race. I've done five Ironman
events, so I've become quite familiar with everything that goes with something like this.
As I went through Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan, I was thoroughly focused
but had a mile-wide grin washed across my face. This was truly awesome as it was a
celebration of many things in my life.
I was thankful for just being able to run the race. I've put a lot of miles on this 54-year-old
body over the years and know how fortunate I am to be healthy enough to do it. People asked me
why I was running such a race. Why do you want to endure so much pain? My answer was
simple: why the hell not? The New York City Marathon is so big and just so special. To be
part of something that is way bigger than you is an adrenaline rush that few people get the
chance to experience.
I was not only running for myself, but in honor of John Martin, who passed away just three
weeks before the race. We worked together for two years at NESN, covering the Boston sports landscape together. He was a really, really special person who affected a lot of lives, mine
included. Martin showed the heart of lion while he battled ALS, showing tremendous courage fighting a disease that never loses. I created merchandise to help raise money for the family and
to help tell the story of this great man. I was proud to wear the Café Martin brand on my journey
through New York City. I was inspired by John and the people who screamed, "Café Martin!
Café Martin!", pushed me along the way.
I reached the halfway point at 1:59 and felt good about the pace that I was on before losing
some steam. There were a few internal battles during the last five miles of the race. My body
wanted to stop but my mind said keep on going. I read many posts on social media from runners
who didn't achieve their goal of establishing a new personal record. There were lame excuses
and insufferable complaints. Sadly, many of them missed out on the big picture, choosing
instead to focus on their time of the race rather than the time they had in the race
I have no excuses and no regrets. This race was a celebration of life and everything good
about it. A 26.2 mile race on a drop-dead gorgeous kind of day in the greatest, most electric
city in the world is forever etched in my mind, heart, and soul.
I finished in 4:21 which is just another number that will be attached to my name on the Internet
forever. It's kind of like the age that follows a name in an obituary, though. It only indicates
how long someone lived, but says nothing about their journey through life.
My journey in the 2018 New York City Marathon was simply awesome and something I will
never forget. Ever.