I ran the NYC marathon for the first time in 2010. It was my second marathon, and I had trained extremely hard with the help of a coach to run a Boston Qualifying time. I remember waiting to start on a perfectly sunny, crisp day. The atmosphere was electric, and I was overcome by emotion as I crossed the start line and took in the amazing views from the Verrazano Bridge.
Brooklyn was a huge party – I got caught up in the excitement and reached mile 13 feeling unusually fatigued. It was way too early to be tired as I entered Queens, and yet every mile was a battle to stay on pace. Cheers from my friends, family and thousands of strangers carried me along 1st Avenue. I felt my goal slipping away as I made my way through the Bronx and up 5th Avenue (where did that hill come from?!), but then something happened when I entered Central Park.
I felt a renewed sense of determination and clawed my way back to my goal over the last two miles, unleashing this fury I didn’t know existed. I simply refused to accept defeat – I had worked too hard for that – and found another gear that catapulted me forward to finish in 3:39:36. I was in complete shock as I hobbled my way through the chute. I eventually found my Dad and whispered “I did it” as he gave me a huge hug, which unlocked a flood of tears and a huge smile.
That first NYC marathon was a pivotal experience. It inspired me to start a blog, become a certified running coach, and push myself harder to reach new running goals. It gave me the courage to go back to grad school at the age of 30 to begin the long, challenging road towards becoming a Registered Dietitian. It solidified my relatively new relationship with my now husband, who also ran that day (his first marathon). It motivated me to coach the Gilda’s Marathon Team in 2012 with Physical Equilibrium and to continue every year thereafter so that I could share this incredible NYC event with others while supporting a great charity. This marathon holds a very special place in my heart, and I had always wanted to run it again – not racing it all out, but at a pace that would allow me to be more present and enjoy every step. Last year I finally got to do just that.
My husband and I love to take on running challenges together, so in preparation for a 50-mile race, we joined the 2015 Gilda’s NYC Marathon Team to train and raise money in memory of our dear friend Noirin, a longtime runner and Gilda’s Club member who passed away in June 2015.
After finishing the marathon in 2013 as part of the Gilda’s team, Noirin started the 2014 race but wasn’t able to finish due to a painful side effect of her cancer treatment. Her DNF must have been very disappointing after training hard and finishing the previous year, but she remained cheerful as always and eager to hear about everyone else’s race. Last year, we celebrated her life and finished the marathon for her. As we crossed the start line, I pictured her smile, her laugh, her strength, her determination, and her positive spirit. It was an ongoing source of inspiration during our race and beyond.
This year I am not racing, but I am equally excited to coach my fifth Gilda’s Club NYC Marathon team alongside Coach Sara Dimmick! If you are considering running the marathon, please join our team – we offer an intimate group training environment with personalized coaching and nutrition advice in exchange for your support of an incredible organization. Take it from me – the NYC marathon is a life changing experience, and you won’t find the same energy and crowd support anywhere else in the world!
- Claire Shorenstein, MS, RDN, CDN – 2015 Gilda’s Club NYC Marathon Team