I am back in the the Big Apple for the New York City Marathon as a spectator for the first time since I ran it in 1999. I am not running this year but it brings back memories of when I strode the streets of NYC.
I have been back in NYC plenty since then but the is the 1st time while it is being run since I staggered across the finish line in just over 4 hours in what turned out to be the last marathon I would run. It ended my marathon career after 8 of them, including the Pittsburgh Marathon, Marine Corps Marathon, San Francisco Marathon and the Dallas White Rock Marathon. My best time was 3:27 in my second Marine Corps Marathon. My worst was somewhere in the 4 hour range in the Dallas White Rock Marathon.
Each Marathon has specific memories attached to it. I remember running the San Francisco Marathon next to a one legged guy on a skateboard. I remember getting a huge boost from seeing my parents and law school classmates out in force cheering for me running past the University Of Pittsburgh Law School during the Pittsburgh Marathon. I remember my only failed marathon, crapping out from dehydration at mile 14 of the now defunct Columbus -Bank One Marathon. My memory of the New York City Marathon? Pizza. After running through all of New York City in one of the greatest marathon spectacles in the world, it all came down to pizza.
I trained well and ran fairly well through most of the marathon in cool, rainy weather. At about 20 miles however, I hit the wall just as the course turned back into Central Park to head to the finish line. By the time I crossed the finish line I was so dehydrated and cramped that I could not even straighten my legs. To make matters worse, the course funneled the finishing runners, in what amounted to a “death march” back up through Central Park to an exit about 3/4 of a mile away. I cried, cursed and cramped every brutal step of the way. My mood brightened considerably however when I finally existed and saw that I had come out of the Park right across the street from the apartment I was staying at. I limped inside and headed straight for the bed. Once down, I began cramping so bad that I was basically in a fetal position. I however knew that I had to get some water and food in me. There were two problems. I did not know the area to go anywhere and even if I did, I could not straighten up to walk anywhere. I had to think outside the box.
I had to think outside the Pizza Box. It hit me. What is the international language of “I am hungry”? It is Domino’s Pizza! No matter where you are in this great country of ours, lost or found, there will probably be a Domino’s Pizza within delivery distance. After a brutal, panicked wait for food, the doorbell rang. It was either the NYC Marathon committee to congratulate me on my great finish or the pizza guy. Either way there was still an problem. I could not get off the bed to walk to the door. I rolled off the bed onto the hardwood floor and crawled s-l-o-w-l-y to the door. I reached up and opened it while on my hands and knees. The pizza delivery guy looked down at me and said “ran the marathon huh” I painfully nodded and handed him his money telling him to keep the change and put the pizza and drinks on the floor. I then pushed my deluxe pizza and cokes s-l-o-w-l-y back to the bed. I rested the pizza on my stomach, and when finished, praised my ingenuity and the virtues of pizza delivery. I finally managed to straighten up and passed out. The marathon committee never did show up to congratulate me. If they knew the whole story they might have.
That’s my New York City Marathon memory…