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It’s Monday, November 2, 2015, New York City.
I am staying in one of my most favorite cities in the world for the next few days. It’s the peak of Autumn. The weather is a perfect 70 degrees Fahrenheit. I want to walk the whole city in one long adventurous embrace…
…and I have blisters on my feet.
The irony is killing me.
The morning light plays off the poorly painted wall in our room rental, casting a soft sweet baby blue glow into the room. I lay in bed, still coming to my senses after running 26.2 miles across this fine city just the day before.
I can still see flashbacks of faces in the crowd, street after street, borough after borough, cheering all of us on like we were superstars. I remember the turn off the Varanzano Bridge, that long avenue in Brooklyn that went on for miles, being welcomed by the residents of Queens. There was that stretch of pavement in Manhattan when the sun first peaked out from behind the clouds, maybe mile 15? The miles and the route fuse together in my memory. In my head, I am still pounding the pavement.
It was my first marathon, an event I had been training a whole year for. I was on track to break 4 hours time. But early on, around mile 5, the blisters that had plagued me in the last few weeks of my training crept back.
By mile 13, I was officially in pain.
By mile 19, my feet and legs were screaming.
The last 5 miles of the race I had to resort to walking at times, something that I swore I would never do. Not wanting to walk over the finish line, I summoned up enough strength to cross over in a shuffling trot. I completed the race in what for me was an embarrassing 4 hours and 47 minutes.
Within seconds, my cheerleader friend and running buddy from back home posted something on Facebook about my run. He was tracking my journey. I was overcome with shame.
Even as I lay here in bed, my mobile phone keeps pinging with messages from friends and family congratulating me on my accomplishment.
“Congrats. What an amazing accomplishment!”
“Phenomenal job, Cat. I am so proud of you!”
“You are incredible.”
“I saw a picture of you and you looked fresh as a daisy!”
It’s been like this for nearly 12 hours now. And yet, my heart wells up with a mix of emotions so strong that I can’t help but cry a little.
I think again of my feet pounding the pavement, mile after mile. The lyrics from a Jane Siberry/K.D. Lang song come to mind and begin to echo the beauty and sadness that whirl around me:
Then it’s one foot, then the other
As you step out on the road of hope
Step out on the road
How much weight? How much?
Then it’s how long? And how far?
And how many times
Oh, before it’s too late?
Yes, one foot, then the other, I stepped out on the road of hope. It was a magical weekend. It was a confluence of events that I could have never imagined: Halloween, All Saints Day, autumn in New York, the Mets in the World Series, turning back the clocks from Daylight Savings time (giving me that one precious extra hour of sleep) and a weather forecast that was simply perfect. There was that amazing brunch with Alan and Susan on Saturday, dinner at Lil’ Frankie’s on Saturday night. And who could forget the special VIP treatment I was given by virtue of the secret friend who was able to get me registered for the marathon in the first place.
There will never be another New York Marathon experience like this ever again. And with all this bittersweet perfection, I am feeling worn out like a soldier, saddened by my race performance, my feet wrought with painful blisters that will make the next few days challenging to get around in this wonderful city.
Ah, but if you could
Do you think you would
Trade in all, all the pain and suffering?
Ah, but then you’d miss
The beauty of the light upon this earth
And, and the sweetness of believing…
I draw no conclusions. The finish line is only a mile marker on a longer journey. I am here for a few more days to soak in all that New York has to offer. The blisters will heal. My pride will heal. All I know is that these moments of bittersweet are like the sad strings of a cello plucked in one’s heart, illuminating a mystery about life, a mystery whose code I may never crack.
[audioplayer mp3=”https://colorthisworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/02-Calling-All-Angels.mp3″ m4a=”” oga=”” title=”Calling All Angels”]
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November 6, 2015