Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Windy, Wild NYC Marathon

With more than 50,000 NYC Marathon finishers, there are as many stories. Here is mine. A long and tedious path from a half marathon qualifier in 2012, cancellation of NY 2012, 2013 tumble down a ski hill, defer to 2014. The wait was worth it.

Any marathon the size and reputation of NY has a before and after the main event. That will wait. Today, its the main event. The decision early on was do a tourist run, enjoy the sites and finish time be damned.

View from the Staten Island Ferry. Photo Credit: Carol Varano

View from the Staten Island Ferry. Photo Credit: Carol Varano

Race day we’re off – subway to Staten Island Ferry, buses to athletes villages, most runners carrying bags of throw-away clothing for warmth in the 40mph winds at the start.

Hugs and goodbye, good luck to my faster friends Carol and Becky off to their starts. I keep walking to the green village where my corral will begin the gauntlet of wind on the Verrazano Bridge, first mile uphill – second mile downhill.IMG_0988

High over the Hudson River, I tried my best to stay in the middle of a group of runners. Instead, those runners were being buffeted about while I was blown to the right into the barricades, then bouncing back into the group, hopping across layers of clothing abandoned as runners exit the wind swirls on the bridge and enter Brooklyn.

The relentless wind moves from broadside to a headwind. I search the crowd for a bigger person running my pace, fall in behind a young man clicking along at about a 9:40, slightly taller and wider than me. I give him a couple of feet of space and soon a small woman cuts in at his heels. How unfair, slipping in and stealing my windshield. Off to find a replacement.

And there he is, about 6’6″ with a wide torso, wearing either halloween devil horns or a Viking helmet, not sure which. I draft behind him for a full mile before he stops to talk to his cheerleaders. I take solace and energy in James Brown’s music blasting from the sideline.

IMG_0981I miss the sign coming into Queens (subbing a photo from the Expo, featuring Senior Runners from Queens – my kind of people).

Around Mile 20, we enter the Bronx for a mile or two. An enthusiastic group of live musicians welcomes us. IMG_0990No lip-synching here as they perform on a raw morning. The wind is again straight on as we enter Manhattan. Anything for survival, I see runners scooping down to pick up outerwear abandoned by earlier runners, protecting their chest and thighs. The city skyscrapers have caused my GPS to go wacky. As I pass the Mile 24 sign, my watch is reading Mile 25, a cruel trick. Up the last hill in Central Park and crossing the finish line into a slow, slow craziness, photo ops, bite of the apple from the finisher bag, man with a German accent attempts to chat with me but my mouth is too frozen to respond, move through the barriers to exit the park, and receive the lined marathon cloak. Thank you, NYC Marathon.

Two block walk and the warmth of the subway is welcome.

Walk of the Marathon finisher zombies. Photo credit: Rebecca Cover

Walk of the Marathon finisher zombies. Photo credit: Rebecca Cover

Time? 4:28 and change. What does it say that I do nearly as well goofing my way through a marathon as I do in all-out efforts? I’ll end with a cheer for my fellow senior women runners in F65-69 AG – 121 of us still runners and NYC Marathon finishers.



  Janice- The Fitness Cheerleader wrote @

Wow! Great marathon congrats! I’m not into “BIG” marathons but your race report certainly has me reconsidering that. Congrats again!

  Still a Runner wrote @

My preference is for small marathons as well, avoiding the hassle of transportation and time logistics that come with major events. But, once in a while its good to get into a bigger crowd.

  Single-Tracked Mind wrote @

Great job! The conditions sounded brutal this year. I hope to race NYC one day!

  Still a Runner wrote @

Yes, tough conditions but I’ve run worse. Look forward to reading about your experience when you race NYC.

  Patty wrote @

Mary Lou
Cudo’s to you. I just hope some day I will be able to do the NY City Marathon.
Congrats to a great time!
See you soon.

  Still a Runner wrote @

Thanks. Give me a heads-up if you decide to train for NY. I’d love to do it again. Will be cheering for the HARRC Senior relay team Sunday at the Harriburg Marathon.

  Cliff Emery wrote @

Great review of a special day. Congrats Mary!

Sent from my iPhone


  Still a Runner wrote @

Thanks, Cliff.

  cordell.affeldt wrote @

Congrats!  VERY impressive!   Admire your focus & discipline! 

Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

  Still a Runner wrote @

Thanks, Cordell. For me, the focus and discipline developed late – but better late than never.

  trueindigo wrote @

Well done Mary Lou! It was a day to remember, a special race indeed.

  Still a Runner wrote @

Thanks. For all the weather craziness and logistics needed, I had a great time. Look forward to reading more of your reports.

  Jim Brennan wrote @

I think “time be damned” has something to do with your good time. You were running for fun and enjoying every step. Very impressive with the 1/2 qualifier. Congrats, Mary Lou.

  Still a Runner wrote @

I believe you are right, relaxing and enjoying the marathon seems to destress the body.
Rather than waste all those months of distance training on one marathon, I’m thinking of adding another in the next month or so. I peeked at the BucksRun in your area, but it may be to a week too soon for another 26.

  Tina@GottaRunNow wrote @

Can’t imagine how windy and cold that would have been! Congrats on a great finishing time!

  Still a Runner wrote @

Thanks. It was brisk, Tina. Finisher photos were funny, since it was too chilly to part with the final layer of throw-away clothing.

  In Praise of the Small Marathon | Still a Runner wrote @

[…] two marathons were at opposite ends of the marathon experience. Earlier, I posted a blog on the New York City (NYC) Marathon, the largest marathon in the world. Let me tell you about a follow-up to the New York Marathon, a […]

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