My first marathon was New York City in 2000. I had gained entry in 1999 but had to defer due to a stress fracture in my pelvis sustained two weeks before the start that year.
The actual idea to run a marathon came at a party after having had a few beers. I wanted to run 26.2 miles before turning 30 in January of 2000. I"m the very definition of spontaneous guy and I asked the host of the party if I could use his computer to sign up for New York on-line. Weeks later, I found out I was accepted in the lottery and the planning began.
I was an avid runner in high school with the two mile being my specialty. Ten miles was the furthest I had ever run and that was over ten years prior.
The most exciting part of training for New York was testing those limits with longer and longer training runs. Fourteen miles became sixteen and then eighteen. When I hit 20 miles I felt I could do anything.
On race weekend, I traveled to the city with my father and best friend. Buses from the hotel took us to the start amidst tens of thousands of other runners. It was an indescribable experience.
Due to the nature of the starting area at New York (and my artificially inflated projected finish time), I found myself VERY close to the front of the pack, litterally looking down the open stretch of the Verrazano Bridge. This was not a great place to be given the levels of adrenaline coursing through my system. I ran my first two miles at six thirty pace and had a hard time backing my pace down to something sustainable.
The race itself was a blur; runners, fans, helicopters, volunteers, endless noise. By Central Park I was hurting and it took everything I had to continue moving forward. I reached the finish in just over 3:34 and after a seemingly endless procession to get to the family re-union area, I met up with my dad and friend and swore I"d never do a marathon again. That was 9 marathons and 5 ultra-marathons ago.
Nothing makes me feel so alive as the experience of long distance running and the camaraderie of those who share the same passion.