The Ultimate Dream…

8 Nov


I always told myself I would never run a marathon. I actually promised myself I wouldn’t.  Because I was sure it was a physical impossibility for me. It’s not because my heart didn’t want it. I wanted it more than anyone could possibly imagine.  I mean, I don’t have a runner’s bod and I have asthma, so 26.2 miles sounded like torture. But then as the half marathon finishes increased and and my body thinned out a bit,  my dreams got a little bigger.  But I still never thought I’d actually do it.  All of a sudden I was given this opportunity to run the TCS NYC Marathon.  It kind of felt like it was meant to be. So I said yes, skeptically of course. Could this be the time I pulled off the impossible?

So I signed up, hashed out a plan with my coach and training commenced. There was a family talk because this was a lot more training and everyone had to be on board. There was family dedication but it ended with a vacation so the kids were game.  It meant weaving around the summer with no school, my night shift schedule and transport calls, Pete’s regular shifts and details…. and then life.  Talk about giving Coach Laura the ultimate challenge. There were issues around ever corner. Illness, injury, lack of sleep. I had some doubts, but she believed and I kept going.

Coming up here to New York, I was eerily calm. Part of me didn’t feel ready. Another part didn’t feel worthy.  Being a slow runner always leaves me with a sense of not feeling worthy. People would ask my pace and I could see them cringe when I said it. I saw the doubt in some eyes. And I tried to filter that out because for every one person who thought I shouldn’t be running NYC, there were ten who backed me with no doubt. I knew I could do it but didn’t feel like being critiqued for my slow time or need for medals. (There are some shitty people out there!)

The day before the race, I had a 45 minute conversation with my coach who is probably one of themost amazing chicks I know, and a fast and fabulous runner who just completed the World Marathon Majors.  I walked away from that conversation pumped and ready to go, but had a small meltdown that night laying out my gear, but pulled it together before bed. I was carbed up, puffy as hell, hydrated and ready to go.  My son fell asleep holding my hand and drifted off whispering “Mommy, just believe in yourself…”

Marathon morning started for me at 3:45.  I silently dressed thinking about nothing but “no regrets”. That phrase would stay with me all day. I didn’t realize how important two words would be to me.  How long they could carry me.  I looked at my bagel and banana and knew for sure that there was no way it was going down.  But I had 5 hours til start time at least so there was nothing but more waiting.

Getting to Ft. Wadsworth was amazing. There was crazy positive energy, and a ton of sleepy runners who all looked like homeless people with their throw away clothes on. I snagged my husband’s pajama pants and a scarf as well as a jacket for throwaway.  I found a grassy patch, soaked up the view of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge with a lady screaming she had free bananas for all of us. After a while I wanted to shove those fucking bananas down her throat.  I ate and fell asleep next to a lady from Germany and dudes from Holland on the other side.  I was tired from all the waiting.  And anxious…because it was time.  I texted a friend and asked if it was too late to fly home. I was advised to go kick some ass. So like a cow with thousands of other runners, I lined up in my corral and met Sam and Mark from NJ, and Nakisha from Virginia.  Mark disappeared but the three of us gals chatted over the bridge as we ran our first mile.  Holy crap…one mile uphills still cold.  That was a mindfuck, but the view while I ran, priceless.  This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. No regrets….

Going into Brooklyn I was strong, and so were the the cheers, the signs, the high fives.  It was amazing.  I finally understood just why this race was the world’s best. These were residents just hangin’ out drinking mimosas out of their pink solo cups.  These were my kind of people. “You go, DP!” “You got this, DP!!” Little kids lined up for hugs and high fives. And for me, tears of joy. This was my dream and it was coming true. But for Jake’s sake, can I have a sip of your mimosa?

After a potty break and Nakisha catching up after a bra mishap. (Did you know the medical tents have  zip ties???), we chatted a little more. Gave more high fives. These people were incredible.

Then came Fort Greene. One of the most overwhelming moments. Wall to wall people, blasting music holding out hands and screaming and dancing. I cried like a baby. It was like being part of their family for a moment.  A random man looked at me and put his hand over his heart “Don’t cry, it’s all right here. You’re going to finish” with an extra hug and a few high fives I was off again.  “No regrets…” This is my dream.

Getting into the Bronx was a little lonely, but there were cheers more high fives, more music. A group of 4 neighborhood kids joined me during the run. They were chatting and asking questions. We raced a bit and they made me laugh. “We runnin’ all da way with you.” They probably ran for a mile with me.  One asked “why don’t you walk like those people?” I responded so matter of factly and they giggled. “I run slower than they walk…I gotta keep up!” Eventually the kiddos left me after some awesome hugs and  then I spotted the sweeper bus.  I was doing so good. Is this really happening.  Tears start again as I try to run harder and then they start announcing that it was the end of the police escort, that runners have to move to the sidewalk and continue on their own. The man on the sweeper bus asked if I was ok.  I nodded through tears. I kept running and an older man grabbed my hand and started pulling me along. “We just need to get back ahead of the sweeper bus, I hate  running on the sidewalk” so I ran with him for a while. But his 13m/m pace and I’m pulling my arm out of my socket wasn’t working. I told him I was ok but couldn’t maintain his pace. Turns out neither could he. I passed him a bit later but graciously thanked him for his help.  I texted Pete and my cheering section through teary blurry eyes. “The sweeper bus passed, I have to go on the sidewalk. They aren’t timing me anymore. I’m trying to hold it together.” And I got the response back “Just keep going, we’re waiting for you over the bridge. You’re doing it!!!”

No regrets…

The Queensboro bridge was a windy cold mess.  I was freezing and thirsty. My family waited on the other side.  My kids can’t see me giving up. No regrets…. I met a man named Buddy on the bridge.  He was struggling. We walked for a bit and chatted and intold him he could totally finish. He said he didn’t train. He didn’t think it was a big deal.  I told him…”Mile 16… there’s no turning back now, 10 more miles…Buddy.. kick ass!!!! ” and I ran off to meet my peeps. That cheering section. The best of the best…beaming with pride. My hubs, the kids, my dear friends. (And water!!!!) No regrets…

It was getting dark and colder.  I was running with Buddy for a bit more.  He said he didn’t give up because of me. This is what I love about running…there is always that  “we’re in it together” attitude.  But I had a weak moment and broke down. Cold, tired and hurting a Coach named Tony was waiting for some people to pass.  He grabbed me hugged me,  placed his arm around me and began the walk and talk that got me back on track.  He was amazing. His last words,  “I’ll be at mile 22, and I’ll give you a hug and another talk.  But go get that damn medal!!!

I got a text from Coach Laura a few minutes later:

“Ok steady Eddie, you have run a very smart race so far. Proud of you. Turn on the passion now, you run the first half with your head and the second with your heart, this the time that separates the good from the great. Show everyone how great you are!!!!!!!!!”

…and tears…more friggin tears.

Then a call from Kelli, my first half marathon partner in crime. She calls once during every race just so I can get it all out. “Another mother fucking bridge and some bitch took a short cut! Can you believe someone would be ok with doing that for something this big?” She giggled and talked me up that bridge.  And into Harlem, in the dark. With no escorts, no cops closing streets, no water or Gatorade, I stumbled to mile 21.5  and my family. Who fueled me and hugged me but I had to  hurry. I had to stay with the people who knew where they were going!  My first dip into Central Park and I met Francesca from Parma, Italy. She was 57 and also making her marathon debut.  She didn’t speak much English but we talked the rest of the way.  She was my rock. We held hands and laughed and cried. (And talked about Parmesan cheese of course!!!) We passed the 96 year old marathoner with his guides, and a girl with MS trudging along. That’s inspiration. We kept going. I met Francesca’s daughter in Central Park, she told me that her mom didn’t give up because of me.  “No regrets…” This is the benefit of being a back of the pack runner. I would have missed some true heart…it’s there all around during the race. But the fight and the will…that comes in the dark when everyone else has left.

Francesca and I sprinted to the finish line. And I crossed the NYC Marathon finish line.  Someone put a medal on me and hugged me tight. Francesca and I hugged and cried like little babies.

I did it. I achieved it. I am a marathoner. There are no regrets today.  No regrets… I put it all out there, and no matter how slow I was,  I earned that damn medal. I ran 26.2 miles and it was the most beautiful and painful  time I’ve ever had.

Would I do it again? Abso-Fucking-loutely!!!! But not for a bit. I’ve got somethings to work on before the next one.  And I need recovery time.

So the next time someone looks at you and says you can’t, or you see doubt in their eyes…stop and know that if you set your mind to do it, you can. A marathon, a career, a life changing move…you can do it.  Screw doubt. Punch it in the face.  It’s all in you…you just need a little heart.

I just needed to shut out the negative, the nonbelievers, and focus on what was important. And in doing that, I pulled out the win. The win for me my ultimate goal for now. Planning my next big dream…just watch me get it…

To everyone who believed in me and never doubted me, thank you. I got your texts, your messages and I felt your positivity. It carried me through 26.2 miles.  I seriously love you all.

And PS if someone sees Francesca, tell her that I kept going because of her ❤️

Until next time…

DP Babbles (if you look closely below, there is a tear… no regrets)IMG_7152.JPG




6 Responses to “The Ultimate Dream…”

  1. Marianne November 9, 2016 at 3:52 am #

    I’m so proud of you I’m crying right now. Thank God for Tony and Francesca and all the amazing people you met along the way. Congrats my dear friend.


    • DP Babbles November 9, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

      Awwww. I’m still in disbelief but I’m over the moon that I was able to accomplish the finish. Thank you for being in my corner!!!


  2. Kelli November 9, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    Tears. This is a beautiful post! So proud of you! We were thinking of you and praying for your perseverance all day.


  3. Paul Lamb November 16, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    It was a great marathon. I finished in the dark too, but I finished. And I’m ready to run New York again!


    • DP Babbles November 16, 2016 at 9:18 pm #

      Congrats to you!!!! It was really amazing, right??? I would love to do it again!


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