Monday, October 11, 2010

On Motivation and Cow Bells

Last week I received an email saying I had hit the minimum contribution line for my marathon fund-raising for the Union Settlement Association (there is still time to give). The email came with a big thank you and promises of a loud cheering section somewhere in between 116th and the Bronx on First Ave. Outside of the major accomplishment of raising the funds from extremely generous people, I was happy to hear that our Union Settlement Team would have an extended support section.

Over the past few months, I have logged over 300 miles and I now can attest to the power of the cheering section. A vast majority of these 300 miles have been covered solo. I had a few running buddies, which makes the time pass a bit faster, but the mythical wall still hits you when running with a friend or two. However, for the races I have run, the cheering sections along the path have helped me over that wall.

Let me tell you, there is something about a cow bell; they, surprisingly, have magical running powers so when you hear them you can keep going past that cramp, slight foot pain or complete and udder (sorry had to) exhaustion.

Yesterday, I clocked a PR (personal record for those of you who don’t punish yourselves distance run) on the Staten Island Half-Marathon. I was lucky enough to pace off a guy who was FLYING the entire time and only had to give up running with this guy after about 8.5 miles. The excitement of clocking 8 minute 40 second miles for about 8.5 miles was great, but the cow bells (and the people cheering) really did keep me going.

There was a stretch of totally deserted industrial park on the run that had a DJ spinning house music, which was a bit strange but I love a thumping beat every once in a while. There were a few bunches of people within ear shot of the DJ (so, about a mile in either direction) who were looking for family and friends. On the way back to the finish line the DJ was playing a remix of “Sweet Caroline” and I was able to get the cheering section to do the "so good" part with me. There is no doubt that this exchange got me to mile 10.

After I left my running buddy I was pretty sure my pace would be in the can, but thanks to my seemingly endless training I was able to keep my mile times well under 9:45. But what made the last 5 miles enjoyable and in truth nearly as fast as miles 1 through 8 (I lost my friend up a gross hill) were the cheering crowds.

During my first “race” my parents were sitting on the course at mile 3, 9 and 15 of the 18-mile Marathon Tune-Up. It was super helpful to hear the unmistakable cheer of my mom’s “GO dcc”* and the semi-Pavlovian whistle my dad used to get our attention as kids as I chugged my way through Central Park. Similarly to the DJ yesterday, people could hear them for a mile in either direction. I was honored to be a part of Charley’s Team during Grete’s Great Gallop and got support from team members I have never met and odds are won’t ever meet.

Yesterday’s last mile was capped with the final corner and a big smile from my lovely wife who was stationed at mile 13.05 to get me over the finish line. Believe it or not, seeing her was a major help to run at full speed to the end. It means so much to have this support along the race course. But the support I have received during this crazy trip has made my November 7th trip to Central Park a possibility.

With less than a month to go until my date with the Verrazano Bridge, I do hope you will be able to come out and cheer me on during the race. You will be able to track my progress via Athlete Alert, registration opens on Race Week or via an iProduct app which will be downloadable for free on November 1st. There will also be coverage on TV in NYC (NBC 4) and NBC Sports Chanel will cover parts of it nationally, check your local listings as they say. will also live stream this bad boy.

Whether you are there along the course (cow bell in hand) or tracking or simply thinking about me and the thousands of other runners, I thank you for your invaluable support. I really couldn’t have done it without you.

*She doesn’t call me that but for continuity on the blog, let’s just say she does.

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