The ING NYC Marathon: Winning the lottery

One World Trade Center and the lower New York City skyline, including the Brooklyn Bridge, are seen from the air over New York on May 13, 2013.  Credit: Getty Images
One World Trade Center and the lower New York City skyline, including the Brooklyn Bridge, are seen from the air over New York on May 13, 2013.
Credit: Getty Images

The New York City Marathon.

Just saying the words makes me feel like a New Yorker. Like Yankee pinstripes and Central Park, it is something that is uniquely New York. Having grown up in the Boston area and being a huge Red Sox fan, the last thing I thought I’d ever do is participate in an event that could solidify my residency as a “New Yorker.” Here I am, though, less than four months away from doing just that.

It started innocently enough a year and a half ago when I went outside my apartment and ran 20 city blocks. I didn’t keep track of my time and didn’t know that 20 city blocks equals a mile. Within a couple months, I had conquered my first goal, running across and back along the Queens Borough Bridge. At that point, I was just running without knowing time or distance (think: Forest Gump). At a friend’s suggestion I started keeping my time and recording my distance. Soon after, I joined the New York Road Runners and ran a series of races in Prospect Park and Central Park. I had officially been bitten by the running bug.

I remember when the idea first entered my mind that I could run (and finish!) the New York City Marathon. It was early spring and I was completing a couple loops of the reservoir in Central Park. My mind wondered to the fact that I might be ready to run a half marathon in the summer, rather than later in the fall as I had originally planned. Then I thought if I could do that, then I might be able to run a marathon in the fall, rather than the following fall in 2014 (my original plan).

I went home and Googled fall marathons to see which ones I could run if I didn’t get into New York. I looked at Chicago and Philadelphia — both great races — but not New York. I wanted my first marathon to be New York. There was a lottery for entrance into the New York Marathon, but the odds of getting in were very slim. I put in my lottery bid anyway and started to investigate possible charity teams to run with (they give a guaranteed entry) as an alternative if I didn’t get drawn. When, low and behold, I came home from the movies one night and found this announcement waiting for me. It was like getting the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, but instead of candy and joy it would be a tour of pain and suffering — but with a happy ending, I hope.

I was in and now the journey begins.

Over the next 16 weeks, I’ll be blogging about the highs and lows of first-time marathon training, one mile at a time.

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