Thursday, November 11, 2010

OT: Everyday heroes

Your humble scribe is privileged to have made the acquaintance of so many fine people since this blog started in early 2008 and here comes an example. What follows is a mail received from "a runner from Canada". It's not something that will go down in the annals of humanity as a history-changing moment, nor is it written by somebody overly rich and famous; this is a rank and file human being who did an exceptional thing and wrote a modest but real and entertaining account of what he went through.

When fortunate enough to receive a mail like this, your author gets to remember just how lucky he is and  trusts you'll enjoy it too. Thanks to "a runner from Canada" for giving permission to share it here.

Dear Family and Friends,

What an incredible day Sunday November 7, 2010 turned out to be, probably one of the best days of my life!
I thought it might interest you to know how the day unfolded.
It started at 5:30am catching a bus at the NY Central Library and being transported to Staten Island for the start of the New York Marathon.
After what seemed to be a very long wait, huddled inside large tents chatting with some fellow runners in the cold, my race started at 9:40am.
The race starts with one of my favourite singers Frank Sinatra singing New York, New York and then the gun sounded and we were off for a 26.2 mile run through all five boroughs of New York.  It took me 8 minutes to get to the start line and we immediately started the one mile climb up the Verrazano Narrows bridge and then down the other side into Brooklyn.
Almost immediately upon entering Brooklyn we were met by a wave of people cheering and yelling encouragement, this continued almost without a break for all 26 miles, except for the five bridges we crossed.
Rock bands, jazz bands, gospel singers and other assorted musicians played on the side of the streets. People handed out Gatorade, water, bananas, oranges, candies, tissues and lots of encouragement throughout the race.  I passed Edison Pena (one of the 33 trapped Chilean miners, who spent 70 days underground) at Mile 7 and Miss Holland at Mile 10 (it almost took me 70 days to pass her)!  Chile, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, China, Australia, Holland, Germany, France, Britain, Iceland, Norway, South Africa, Israel, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Russia, Spain, Ecuador and Mexico were just some of the countries I saw that were represented at the race. It truly is a worldwide event.
While crossing the Queensboro Bridge you can look out over the beautiful skyline of Manhattan, 16 miles completed, only 10 left.
With approximately 300 yards to go before you exit the bridge, you start to hear the noise of the crowd, by the time you set foot in Manhattan it has built into a thunderous roar.
As you head north on First Avenue there are  people lined up 3-5 rows deep on both sides of the street screaming themselves hoarse, the excitement and adrenaline boost is unlike anything I have felt before!
A short 70 blocks north we entered the Bronx and the race is starting to take its toll on people as many are slowing down and starting to walk.
I overheard an Australian runner yell at his mate “this is the Bronx, no one walks though the Bronx...start running!”
From the Bronx, we crossed into Harlem and then back onto Fifth Avenue and the upper east side...the most diverse 3 miles of the race.
Only 3 ½ miles to go and now it becomes extremely difficult to keep running...everything hurts, you are so tired and all you want to do is walk.
The excitement of the crowds, the lure of the finish line and thoughts of your family pushes you forward.
At 24 miles I feel terrible and don’t think I can keep moving, let alone run, and then a double leg amputee passes me (at speed) and I know I have to run to the finish.
The last two miles are through gently rolling hills in Central Park (they felt like the Rockies) and then a last surge to the finish.
 I finished in 3:58:53 breaking the magical 4 hour mark and felt an enormous sense of accomplishment and pain all at the same time!
On the way back to the hotel I must have had 50 people stop and congratulate me on the race and in our hotel lobby a group broke into applause and congratulated me when they saw my medal for finishing.
Over 45,000 runners entered the race and there were over 2 million people cheering the runners on, this is definitely New York at its finest!
And now the important part.....
Because of you I was able to raise over $12,000 for the Livestrong Foundation.
Of the 283 people who raised money for Livestrong I was the 3rd top fundraiser and raised the most money of all the international runners, representing 20 different countries...thank you very much. I am very fortunate/lucky to have the support of many wonderful friends and family that made this all possible. I would also like to thank my wonderful wife who chased me around the course, cheered me on and supports me every day.
When the race got difficult, which it did on more than one occasion, I thought about my Dad and sister and all the people who have had cancer and how this was contributing in some small way to them.