There’s nothing like the New York City Marathon and I set my sights on the 26.2 mile trek before I showed up for my prostate cancer surgery on July 1, 2022. I asked my doctor whether I could put the surgery off until after the race and received a quick, definitive “absolutely not.”
Ok, then. “When can I run?”
The answer was 8 weeks and while I walked every day following the surgery – more than 100 miles in July alone – I was astounded at how quickly my fitness vanished as I got back on the road. My post-surgery recovery took much longer than I anticipated and running, especially at first, was uncomfortable. Not painful, just uncomfortable.
With almost every race I set a time goal and the temptation was there this time around since I had more than a dozen marathons under my belt. But the goal on Sunday was just to finish safely.
Training went ok. It wasn’t perfect and my distances were short, so I knew I wouldn’t set any personal records and that was fine. Again, simply finishing a marathon just a few months after a life-changing diagnosis and invasive surgery would be a victory.
I also used the marathon – my comeback race – as a way to raise much-needed funds for FCA and when all was said and done, my friends, family and colleagues kicked in more than $10,000. That money will be well spent on services for needy families across Long Island, especially as we had into a recession that will impact tens of thousands of kids and families.
Getting to the NYC Marathon is always an ordeal and this year was no different. The Staten Island Ferry affords beautiful sunrise views of the Statue of Liberty, but the 60-minute wait and mosh pit in front of the buses traveling through Staten Island to Fort Wadsworth wasn’t fun.
The record-breaking temperatures hit 78 degrees and the high humidity made for a swampy day for runners and spectators alike. Still, the spectators didn’t disappoint and there’s a reason that many call the iconic race “the world’s largest block party.”
The crowds make a huge difference when fatigue sets in. I high-fived more than 100 kids along the route, stopped to kiss Jillian at mile 14 where the Selden Hills crew was stationed and then saw my friends Noah and Irene Lam at about mile 20.
My pace slowed as the race went on and while this wasn’t my fastest marathon finish ever, it was my most meaningful. I savored the finish line so much so that I returned to Central Park the next day as staff and volunteers took it down.
I felt vindicated, grateful and have to admit, I said “F*ck cancer” more than once during the race, as I crossed the finish line and will continue to repeat it as I gear up for a full schedule of races in 2023.