Did you ever know that you’re my hero?
You’re everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.
Sunday, November 5, 2017 has come and gone. I’m still smiling about all that happened on that cold, rainy day. The lead up the New York City Marathon included advertisements that stated, “The New York City Marathon, it will move you.” This is perhaps an understatement to the experience this race represents for so many runners and spectators alike. Me, I didn’t get to run my race, but I did get to experience the race and it most definitely moved me.
When I received the news of the femoral stress fracture, I texted my childhood friend and running partner on this marathon journey, who was also injured and out of the race. I said, “Hey, how about we walk the darn thing.” She was excited about that and said sure. Then I went on the NYC Marathon group page on Facebook and posted, “Hey, any injured people on here want to have a beer in every borough and walk it?” Amazingly, so many people started jumping on and posting. Enter my friend Nancy Nowak, a born organizer, who created a separate group for us injured warriors to plan, commiserate and support each other on this road to the New York Marathon.
Over 100 strong, we were out in force on November 5th, with many making it to the start line, some walking and many running. Among these strong women, all of who finished, I’ve met some true heroes. Women who refused to not finish what they started, despite many obstacles and challenges. For me, the race was not to be, but I fully experienced the marathon emotions through their journeys. When you are part of a team, it is larger than just you and your journey. You don’t get to stay home and sulk because you can’t play, or in this case run. Your team is still out there with unfinished business and they need and deserve your support. How truly selfish it would be to walk away from them in their moment of glory because you were unfortunate in luck that day.
At 8:00 AM, we got up and had a nice breakfast and got ready to go to the starting line. I was now the designated driver of race day. I dropped my friend Helen off at the starting line and headed into Brooklyn to watch the race. It took me a train, a ferry, and then two more trains to reach my destination, but with my team starting in the 11:00 wave, I knew I had time to get there to see them at the halfway point. When I stepped off the train at Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, I could hear the cheers of the crowd and feel the energy from inside the station. When I got upstairs, I suddenly felt the electric pull of the crowd. I knew then that I had made the best decision ever to be there. My daughter Cathy sent me a text that said, “I’m here, look up.” Looking up, there was my beautiful girl right across the street from me. I wondered how in the world she would ever get to my side of the avenue. We stood there in the cold, rainy mist for hours, screaming, yelling and supporting 50k runners.
There were so many stories out on the course that day and it really put my experience in perspective. Every runner out there had a story. From Shalane Flannagan, who has been dreaming of winning this race since she was a little girl, to the man I saw in a wheelchair and so many others, everyone out there had many obstacles on their path to this marathon. Shalane winning was so special for many runners for so many reasons, including that like many of us she suffered an injury that crushed her dream of running the Boston Marathon. I remembered her having to pull out at the last minute. I remembered how devastated she was and fully know her pain, despite the fact that I am not an elite runner. Seeing her cross that line emotionally drained, yet satisfied that she never gave up on her dream was so moving.
Shalane is a true warrior who worked harder than most to accomplish that win, but she was not the biggest hero of the day for me. A member of my running team takes top hero status for me. Erika Hauer, a nurse from New Jersey, who I met through my running group. Erika had deferred last year and really wanted to get to the starting line, but she was unsure and perhaps a bit afraid of not being able to complete the race. You see, Erika deferred last year, so this was her last chance to use the guaranteed entry she had obtained by deferring. On top of that, shortly after deferring last year, Erika was diagnosed with cancer and started undergoing chemotherapy. She had recently finished her chemotherapy and was not sure she was strong enough to run the marathon distance. Additionally, she was scheduled for surgery four days after the marathon. I spoke to Erika the day before the marathon when I told her I was out. She was heading to the Expo to pick up her packet and was going to give this race her best effort. I’m happy to say that Erika not only finished, she finished strong! Watching her dot on the tracker cross that finish line, I could only imagine the wave of emotions she felt. Erika represents everything that is the New York City Marathon experience. Cancer does not get to win, not on this day – November 5, 2017. On this day, a warrior named Erika Hauer, kicked cancer’s ass to the curb and stomped on it for 26.2 miles through our beautiful city. I, for one, couldn’t be happier for her. Fly high, Erika and I hope we run it together in 2018 so start training.
Best Moments of the 2017 NYC Marathon
ERIKA finishing strong
Helen and I at mile 12
Nancy & I at mile 12
Congratulations to the marathon class of 2017. I hope you’ll join me on the journey to 2018 NYCM.
Are you injured, recovering from injury or looking to prevent one? Connect with us on Facebook and be a part of our running group. You are not alone on this journey and we’d love to hear your story.
NYC Injured Runners Facebook Group
Prevention is key to remaining injury free. Looking for a free consultation from a functional movement specialist? Mention my name – Laura Hess Kump – to receive a free consultation with my personal coach and trainer Jessica Leggio at Run Pain Free. She will get you back on the road to running.
If you were out there on November 5th, or plan to be out there in 2018, drop me a line. I’d love to hear your story. I will feature your story on this blog if you wish to share.