The NYC Marathon changed my life. It is possibly the best decision I have ever made. I have changed as a person, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually as well. The outpouring of love and support has really been a testament to the kindness in humanity. Race day exceeded any expectations I had. I am still processing not only the race itself but everything that has happened around the race.
Throughout the training people would tell me time and again “it’s about the training.” I would nod and say “yes, yes I know.” But I never fully understood what they were saying. The week leading up to the race when I was speaking with reporters (more about this later) about this “journey” it dawned on me that yes, it was about the journey. I’m not sure if I wasn’t asked to talk about it and really reflect, if I would have appreciated how far I actually came. I have spoken to other CF patients about this and we have a tendency to ignore what we are really feeling like and just push on through and then before we know it we are sick and on IV. The deterioration and clogging of the lungs is so gradual that each day we just accept that this is how we are feeling. This is normal, nothing we can do about it so get on with it. There is not much reflecting going on. It is more about the moment and the future, however long that will be. So I was asked to think back to all the ups and downs, the struggles, the days I wanted to quit, the numerous times I questioned my ability to do it. But I pushed through, with the help and encouragement of my now fiancee, and I did it. From having to walk to finish a mile to running 26.2, I did it!
As I said in my very first post, oh so many months ago on February 23rd this blog was intended to be as candid as possible about my experience having CF while training for a marathon. I never thought that it would go beyond my circle of friends who would be interested in running. Somewhere along the way my story got out. It has gone way beyond anything I ever thought it would be. I have said it before but it really has taken on a life of its own. I am overwhelmed and humbled by the attention this has received. The last few days have been a whirlwind. The story has taken off on the internet. It seemed yesterday that every hour someone was emailing me with a new link to a picture or video or someone else’s blog that mentioned me. There was even a blog that was from the perspective of my mother! I have been getting emails and donations from strangers telling me that I have inspired them or have given them hope for their child who has CF. It has been an extremely emotional few days. I am trying to wrap my head around and make sense of it all.
So about the race itself. I will go through mile by mile with a recap so I hope you like to read. Just kidding, I’ll give you the ESPN highlights. It was an emotional day all around. The first of many times I cried was walking up to the start, turning the corner and seeing the massive Verazzano arches. I thought “I am actually about to run a marathon.” The bridge was so fun to run but tough. I started coughing right away on the 1 mile incline. We got passed by everyone and so many runners would pass and say words of encouragement. Lots of love right from the start. Brooklyn was amazing, mile 4 my doctor, Emily DiMango, who I have raved about on the blog, was waiting there to cheer me on. Now if that isn’t the most awesome doctor ever then I don’t know what an awesome doctor is. She not only keeps me healthy and alive she comes out on a Sunday afternoon to cheer me on in a marathon! Also at mile 4 we met up with my good friends Terry and Wendy. They are the couple responsible for inspiring us to run a marathon. Their passion and enthusiasm for our endeavor was infectious and pulled Katie and I through many times. Around mile 7 we took a detour into a friends house along the course and used his bathroom. Awesome! Don’t worry we didn’t cheat, this did not cut any distance off of our race it actually added some distance. Worth it. Mile 8 my family was there and much crying happened again, along with pictures. The rest of Brooklyn was incredible, friends who I had no idea were going to be out there were there cheering me on and pulling me through. Queens was where it started to get tough. Legs got tired, feet got sore, and coughing increased. Queensboro bridge was where I was able to tell Katie everything I wanted to say about how I felt. It was my proposal speech to her as we walked that dark lonely stretch. She had no idea what was about to come. More crying. Man I sound wimpy. That might be the last time I admit to crying for the rest of this blog. First avenue, so much love! So many friends along the avenue to cheer us on. Willis Avenue bridge is where I started to cough up serious blood. To the point where one runner got concerned and asked if I needed medical or water. I think I coughed on all of the inclines during the race but I pushed through. Had one more coughing fit as I entered the park and because of the severity was forced to stop for the first time. We turned the corner onto the final stretch and all aches and pains went away. I don’t remember feeling my feet hit the pavement. We saw so many friends on that stretch that before we knew it we were at the finish. There is a great video of me pulling Katie over to the side where I was going to propose. I will post when I get a copy. The rest is sort of a blur. I do know I got engaged, finished a marathon and got a medal.
When I started this blog, today was going to be my last post. I intended it to be about the marathon and my training from my perspective. I have to say that speaking publicly about my situation both to reporters and on my blog has been very therapeutic. Because of this I have done much soul searching and reflection and it has had only a positive affect. Since this has become something so much more I am not sure what to do now. I have officially become a runner so I will continue to run. But do I continue to write this blog even though I am not training for a marathon? Do I think about morphing it into some other platform about CF? Or do I just let it go and cherish the memories, the transformation and the journey?
There is still time to donate to the cause. By the way, can you believe I got engaged?!
To donate to Team Boomer, fight Cystic Fibrosis and help me reach my fundraising goal you can go to http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/kevindwyer/2011INGNYCMarathon
Thanks For Reading.