I’m IN to Finish 2012 ING NYC Marathon!!

My 67yo father has been running for more than thirty years.  He has run 8 NYC marathons and countless other NYRR races.  His first marathon was in 1979 when I was 7 years old.  Living on Staten Island, the start of the marathon was always an extra big deal in my house.  My mom would wake us early, my younger brother, sister and even my grandparents, and drive my Dad to Fort Wadsworth near the Verazzano Bridge and then cross over to Brooklyn to stake our first of several cheering spots throughout the race; Brooklyn and then on to Manhattan, on the East side just off the 59th Street Bridge and again in Central Park for the last 5 miles.

My Dad said that what piqued his interest in running were Bill Rodgers and Frank Shorter, two of the most elite and successful American runners of all-time.  The NYC Marathon began in 1970 and originally consisted of four loops around Central Park with just a few hundred runners.  In 1976, thanks to the pioneering vision of Fred Lebow, the race expanded to hit all five NYC boroughs and attracted approx 2000 runners, including Olympians Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers.

In this picture we had just dropped my Dad off at Fort Wadsworth.  The date was Oct 21, 1979.  Notice the limited crowd and the low number on his bib.  The running boom was just getting started!

It was absolutely thrilling to see him come running up to us, cold and sweaty, and hug and squeeze us at every spot!  Back then there was no such thing as gels and power drinks.  My mom would have a huge container of honey that she’d scoop into my Dad’s mouth like medicine for a baby and I would hold fresh-cut oranges in a ziplock baggie.  My fingers would freeze holding out extra oranges and then go numb from clapping so hard for all the runners.  As if that was an act of endurance?!

I also remember seeing all kinds of characters pass by.  There was the waiter who we saw at every marathon.  He wore a black jacket with tails and bow-tie and held a tray in one hand with a champagne bottle and glass.  There were those who ran backwards and the guy who ran while juggling.  To my young eyes, watching the runners sometimes felt like being at the circus.

I remember after my Dad finished his first NYC Marathon he received a spectacular poster of the Verazzano Bridge with all the runners crossing it. The shot was taken from above so you saw the full span of the bridge from Staten Island and thousands of runners charging across it.  I put this poster on the wall just to the side of my bed.  At night I would lie on my side and stare at the poster wondering where my Dad could be amongst the crowd.  My Dad told me how runners would start stripping off layers of clothes while crossing the bridge and just throw them on the pavement or off the side of the bridge.  I found this little fact about littering your clothes on world’s largest bridge to be fascinating and would daydream at the poster imaging shirts flying off the sides of the bridge.

That same year I decided  for Halloween I would dress-up as ‘Daddy’s Super-Jogger’.  My mom ironed the letters onto a sweatshirt (she lost the ‘Y’ so it actually read Dadd’s Super Jogger), gave me my Dad’s sweatband and wristbands, a water bottle (she didn’t have a real water bottle so she gave me my little sister’s baby bottle!), sneakers and off I went proudly jogging in the P.S.69 Halloween Parade.  Running doesn’t require much of any props so my costume kinda looked like I was going to gym class.  That’s me in the middle holding up my sister.

In 1981, when my Dad was 37yo, he finished the NY Marathon in his best time ever – 3:29:30.  He said that as soon as he hit Central Park he suddenly felt like ‘a firecracker was up his ass’ and he ran like the wind to the finish.  He got across the finish line faster than my family could keep up to greet him.  My Dad bought a picture of himself crossing the finish line which has lived in a frame on top of the piano all these years.

Everyday when I would practice piano I would gaze at the picture and think how casually normal my Dad looked, merely hopping, over the finish line.  But I never understood the magnitude of what he accomplished, from achieving a fantastic time to simply finishing the run of 26.2 miles!  Until now.

Back then I never felt a desire to run.  I never even dreamed of running the NYC Marathon. I just enjoyed being an observer, the daughter of someone who was a marathoner and a very driven runner.  My friends and neighbors all knew my Dad as a runner.  So many times someone would tell me, “I saw your Dad running near my house at 5:30am when I went out to grab the paper.  How does he do it?”  I would shrug and just say, “He does. He gets up and goes running.”

It wasn’t until I myself reached my 30’s, when I began very light running on the treadmill and outside (3-4 miles tops)  that I started watching the NY Marathon on TV and unravel a hidden desire to want to run this race myself.  My childhood memories of being surrounded, unconsciously, by the NY Marathon and the determination of a marathoner, came flooding back to me.  Yet I never mapped out a real goal.  Occasionally I would go for a short run with my Dad but I never considered properly training for races or making running a consistent part of my lifestyle.

Maybe it’s because I’m a mother and wife now and recognize the value of organizing time, staying healthy, and generally feeling balanced between work and life that running has become my center around everything else.

So here I am now at the start of 2012, turning 40yo in October, officially accepted into the NYC ING Marathon! I just wish I could find that poster I once had on my bedroom wall.  Only this time I’d put it on the wall in my girl’s bedroom.

Here are some more vintage pictures of my Dad running the NYC Marathon back when it wasn’t even 5 years old. Notice the light crowd of runners and the simple clothing.



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87 responses to “I’m IN to Finish 2012 ING NYC Marathon!!

  1. i so enjoyed this post. i loved how you were able to see your dad do something he thoroughly enjoyed, and be at the age to look up to him and feel pride in his accomplishments. Now you’re continuing on the legacy (in much different shorts, however). 🙂 Thanks for the thoughtful writing…

  2. NixieTale

    Congrats on being freshly pressed! And congrats on getting in to NYC! Your story is inspiring, and I love the pictures. To see the photos from the past, as well as the phone from the present with the magnitude of runners on the bridge is amazing. I’m signed up to run NYC 2012 as well (in the lotto, will find out on April 23rd). Hopefully I see you there! 🙂

  3. I loved this post, it’s so inspiring. It’s so crazy to think how small the NYCM used to be! Good luck to you and all of your running endeavors!

  4. good luck – it’s a great experience.

  5. Congratulations! The NYC Marathon is definitely one of the best days of the year for the city and I am sure you will have an incredible experience.

  6. Great vintage shots! I love these “Time Travel” posts!

  7. Good luck!! I look forward to reading about your progress!

  8. millodello

    What a lovely story. The warmth of the family running pedigree is a far cry from stories such as that of Rosie Ruiz’s quest to run for fame or another’s for supremacy at the office water cooler..

  9. Wow, a marathon is no easy feat.
    Good Luck and congrats on being FP! Great post

    How To Be A DJ

  10. all the very best for the marathon.. I too would be running my first this year.. not the full though, I still feel half would be good to start off with.. I am sure the poster in your girl’s bedroom would be awessoommee..

  11. shay13

    It is a goal of mine to run a marathon. I consider myself a beginner runner but I’m going to train to run a half-marathon this summer. I’m very impressed with what your dad accomplished!

  12. This was a fun read, thanks for posting! Best of luck in November.

  13. That was so heartwarming to read. I hope you do great in the NYC marathon in the years to come.

  14. uggclogs

    This post made me smile – the love for your dad just shines through.

  15. A great family story and lessons learnt from generation to generation – thank you for sharing the memories and the experience!

  16. Kristine

    Nice post:). Running NYC will be an incredible experience!~ I ran it in 2011 and I can say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

  17. Great post! Thank you for sharing!

    … following your blog.

  18. I am happy that you are in and that you saw your Dad run. I am also pleased to here that he ran one at 67. I run NYC every 25 years. My first was a few years before your Dad (77 or 78 don’t recall). When I ran it 25 years later the size of the field and the wait at Staten Island was hard to get used to. Being older, the smell of food running up 1st ave made me want to take a seat at a cafe. I wanted my son to watch me run that race as he never saw me run and I wanted him to understand following through no matter what the obstacles. I had ITB and hip tendonitis on both legs and for the first time in my life I had to walk part of the race. I knew approximately where he and his Mom would be in Central Park, so for a mile and a half in great pain I continued to run. He and his Mom thought I was injured because I was behind my projected time which is not usual for me. They went to find out if I had been reported injured and both missed me. They will hopefully have another chance in 15 years when I try again. The good news is that he learned the lesson without me, as he became All NYC PSAL in soccer. The other good news is that you saw your Dad. I am sure it means a lot to him.

    One pointer if you don’t mind. Along the route you will see some child with his hand up to be high fived. Unfortunately, he or she will have been missed and will look disappointed. If you can, make your way over and give a high five- the smile is worth the trip.

    • Thank you for sharing your story with me and especially for that wonderful tip about high-fiving the child! It brought tears to my eyes. I too remember being that child hoping someone would grab an orange from me or give me a high-five. Good luck to you too!

  19. I couldn’t make it to the finish so snaps to anyone who does!

  20. Awesome post….I was also accepted for this year. I’ll see you out there!

  21. CJ

    Having just started running at the age of 37 and planning to run my first half marathon this year, I LOVE this post. Very inspiring and makes me think that one day my kids will be inspired to run because of memories of me. Thanks for sharing this!

  22. Great post! Good luck with the training and prep!!

  23. How beautiful and nostalgic! Please think about making this into a novel or autobiography! It would fly off of the shelves!

  24. Congratulations on getting accepted, especially with such a lovely legacy your dad has started. I did my first marathon back in November and it was an incredible experience. You can do it!!!

  25. As a father I found this to be such a wonderful piece. Thank you and all the best. Enjoy your race.

  26. this pagee is very good very nice…..!!!

  27. Very touching story. Best of luck in the coming year.

  28. Nice story and good luck in the race!

  29. I loved this post, it’s so inspiring. good luck

  30. kyrunnergirl

    Great story! Thanks for sharing. I put my application is and after reading your post, it makes me want to run it even more. Best of luck to you!!

  31. mairzeebp

    My dad is my best friend and this story struck a nerve with me. I loved seeing the pictures and the part about the oranges made me smile. Good luck to you!!! You can do it and I’ll bet your dad will be so proud not to mention how I imagine it will feel to cross over the finish line that your dad has done so many times before.

  32. glioblastomarunner

    Best of luck in your running career…The more you get into it the better..I started getting better when I began to study all the college cross country teams from NAIA to Division 1 NCAA.
    When it was just a “saturday thing” like most weekend runners, the running wasn’t nearly as satisfying.
    I was never a good marathoner, but wasn’t bad at the road “middle distances” and when I began to search around and find open cross country meets held on college and high school courses, my love the sport grew exponentially.
    READ! about the sport as much as you can and that will be the shine on the blade of your training..and most of all GOOD LUCK!

  33. A marathon is not an easy race but training for a marathon is even harder. Good luck!

  34. What a wonderful and inspirational story! 🙂

  35. I came over from the UK to run the NYC Marathon in 2006, and i will be back again at some point to do it again. It was the best day of my life, and I still hold it up there! Nothing else has come close yet – and I met my partner thanks to that race. I hope you have a great time there – enjoy every minute!

  36. Thanks for this post. I love the pictures, escpecially on the bridge. It’s incredible how many people participate in this event! I wonder what it will be like in 20 years…
    Sara from http://www.losingtogether.com

  37. I love this post. I’ve just started running in races and of all things I started off my racing career with the Delhi Half Marathon. I became hooked after that though and am holding myself accountable to race at least one race every month. Your photos are awesome in this post. As silly as it is the best advice I’ve gotten for running is “Just never stop, don’t let your legs slow down”.

    I wrote about the Delhi half marathon on my blog and how I learned about mental strength. You should take a look: http://marycjantsch.wordpress.com/2011/12/17/india-chello/

  38. What a great post! First — congrats on getting accepted to run the NY marathon. Second — congrats to you dad on his accomplishments. I just ran my first marathon this past October (wanted to run one before I turned 30). Best of luck on all your training runs!

  39. Congrats! Such inspiration. My husband and I are runners hoping the kids will catch the fever too. In my opinion, there is no greater feeling than finishing a big run and no greater community than runners!

  40. onthewayhome

    Awesome post and some amazing pictures! I especially like the aerial shot of the bridge. Running is such a wonderful thing, I would like to run a marathon some day as well!

    Like baseball? Come and visit my MLB blog at http://on-the-way-home.org

  41. Fred

    Great post and pics! Have you and your father seen “Run for Your Life”? It tells the remarkable story of Fred Lebow and the NYC Marathon… http://fredlebowmovie.com

  42. Great post. I am just getting back into running, and this was a great extra piece of motivation. I have 3 kids, and I hope they get to see me enjoying my progress and my races, and perhaps find a desire to be more mobile. Congrats on being freshly pressed, and I will certainly be following along with your journey.

  43. As a 35 year old distance runner looking to get back into the marathon distance I can only hope that my daughter has memories as fond as yours of freezing her tail off while watching her daddy run marathons!
    You will do great in your first marathon, just enjoy your training and enjoy yourself during the race.

  44. backlinkspoint

    Remember that old is gold


  45. Nice job! I can’t even imagine doing a marathon. Good luck with it and congrats on FP. Happy running!

  46. The picture about the bridge is stunning!

    Wish you good luck with the marathon. I know a guy who’s firefighter that will run this as well 🙂

  47. Great post. Did NYC in 2000 with my now wife. Doing Edinburgh marathon in Scotland this spring. Not nearly as glamorous but still looking forward to it and telling the story on my own pages.

  48. Hilary

    My own dad has inspired me to start running, and we will be doing a 1/2 marathon together in April. Best of luck to you as you train and cross the finish line.

  49. Cool, I live in Atlanta and I want to run the Peachtree Road Race this year. Good Luck to you

  50. I got misty-eyed reading this. What an awesome, lovely, heartfelt post. And those 70’s pics of your dad are SUCH a treasure.

    I come from swimming stock. My dad swam, so I swam. And I’ve always been pretty okay at it. Good enough to get onto the teams I needed and place a little bit, but never awesome.

    In my early 20’s I messed around with triathlons for a bit. I tried training for a marathon while I was in great shape, and I broke my leg – well, stress fracture, anyways.

    Years later… lots of excuses, health issues, etc. I’ve found myself so gravitated to the simplicity of running. All I *need* is my sneaks, and I can go. No pool to drive to, no bike maintenance. Just feet on the pavement.

    I live in Hawaii and it’s AMAZING to go outdoor running everyday. I live on a military base, and the commitment to healthy living is so cool. Everyone runs.

    I take my dog, and we do 3-4 miles, on a variety of hills, mountains, beach paths, and roads. It’s enough to make me sweat, to clear my head, and to make my legs gets so swollen with quad muscles that my jeans are too tight.

    This post is SO INSPIRING to take it up a notch. To really train.

  51. My Dad always says “Putrat Ikshayati Parajayam”. It is a sanskrit script which means that a father always wants his son or daughter to surpass him. After reading your perspective, I am sure you will very soon outshine your Dad and make him proud 🙂

  52. Always a fan of people testing their limits. We wish the best to all who do!

  53. Gema

    What an amazing story!! So inspiring and makes me want to jump out of my office desk and hit the pavement!!

  54. Pingback: my sneaks eat miles | happyhippierose

  55. Best of luck to you! I ran my first marathon in October and while I was running I knew I’d do it again. Would love to do the NYC one. Some day! Until then I’ve signed up for the Loch Ness one again.

  56. That is cool that you will be able to see so many of the sites along the route that he saw years ago…but it’ll be a bit different! I am doing the half in March, running in NYC will be quite a trip!! good luck!

  57. You know, I am so glad I found your blog today. Last week or two weeks ago, not sure I read a post in Stride&Joy about committing to run 52 organized races this year. That inspired me to try a humbler goal of just going out to jog every Saturday. Tomorrow is Saturday for me. In my mind I was hearing the usual “I’m too tired”, “maybe I should skip it”, “I’ve drank coffee, I will probably not sleep well and will be tired or wake up late tomorrow”, etc. Now I find your post. I will keep my jogging commitment for this Saturday. Thank you so much!


  58. njami254

    That too reminds me of my dad!

  59. Pingback: she’s going the distance… | happyhippierose

  60. great post! love the way you put words for the experience and memories you had , I’m preparing for my first marathon aswell in 2012. best of luck to you.:)

  61. Very motivational ! I hope to finish my first marathon this year. Marathon of Brussels.

  62. Also had ambitions for the longest time, but…..

    Well when you have reached your goal, may I suggest that you then finish and seal your accomplishments by running the MOTHER OF ALL MARATHONS.

    I have just blogged about it, you can take a look and see if you think you could make that the final goal.

    Here is the shortlink to my blog: http://wp.me/p1LWhS-aI

    Otherwise you can view it here: http://thisthatandthenextthing.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/the-mother-of-all-marathons

    • thnx for sharing. sounds pretty amazing! however, if i were to ever kick things up to that level, i would never view it as a final goal…just another goal. i mean, after a race of such extreme endurance, how could one not want more and more and more?

  63. What a great post! A wonderful read, not to mention the race photos …. Too cool. Best of luck in your upcoming race and hope training goes well! 🙂

  64. wallstreetconfidential

    I will be joining you there!

  65. Pingback: From Runner to Marathoner: I Have Only Just Begun | smileacrossthefinish

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