Most of you know that Shane and I met training for our first marathon. We were part of the "Dream Team," raising money for UCP and running a marathon in Monaco, a first of many for me. My longest run before signing up for this was a 5k, and I had never been to Europe. We had the fabulous coaches from Racelab training us and met some of the most amazing people, most of which are still some of our closest friends.
We ran the marathon in November of 2001, just a few months after 9/11. It was the experience of a lifetime. Shane & I started dating just a few days after we returned from the trip and well, here we are 9 years later.
While on a bus ride to our "victory" party in Monaco, a few in the group may have taken advantage of our slightly intoxicated and post race highs because the next thing I knew I was back at home online registering for my second marathon, The San Diego RnR. The race was only 7 months after Monaco and I was pushing pretty hard to build some speed. I had gotten sick just days before we left for Europe and was on steroids and antibiotics for the race. I didn't get to run what I wanted, or even close so I was really trying to reach a 4hr marathon goal at RnR.
Unfortunately things didn't work out that way, as this is the race where all of my IT Band injuries started.
Shane & I had also signed up for the NYC Marathon Lottery with hopes of running it that November. One of us got in and the other didn't so we postponed the entrance for the following year so we could both try to go. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as my IT Band injury wasn't getting any better. I was doing PT 3 days a week, but honestly I was never letting it rest or heal. We also had already made plans to visit NYC so we got to go and watch the marathon and I got to experience the City for the first time. I was excited, to say the least, to get back there and run the marathon.
The following June we found out both of us had entrances into the marathon so we started training. I'm not sure how I made it through. My IT Band was about as random as could be. I could go one day with a 18miler and the next week barely make it through a few miles. Fortunately I ended on a good note with a very good final 20mile run.
We had a pretty large group heading to the NYC for the marathon, including my training partner Sara. Most of us were in the same hotel which made it great! The taper always messes with my mind and system so once we were in NYC I was starting to feel like I was getting sick. I had packed some echinacea tea inside Shane's backpack so I went to get it out and he about bit my head off. He's never ever thought twice about me getting into "his stuff," so I was shocked at his reaction. I let him get the tea for me, and he actually headed out to meet up with an old friend of his from his childhood.
Late that day we were watching TV in bed - The Friends episode where Rachel (I think) gets the absolutely UGLY engagement ring? All I know is I was laughing at it and Shane started asking all these crazy questions about what was wrong with it, why was it so bad, blah blah. I had no idea why he was so annoyed. We had never talked about rings and I didn't wear much jewelry so it was all just kind of weird.
The night before the race we headed to a group dinner. Everyone was nervous and none of us felt very confident about the race. Did I also mention that Shane had been diagnosed with a hernia just a few weeks before the race, but decided he had trained the whole way, we missed the race the year before so he was doing it anyway. Little did I know why.
We were such babies....
That night we didn't get much sleep. Shane was tossing and turning and driving me absolutely insane. If we had another bed in the room I most certainly would have moved over to it. We had a car service taking our group to the start line so we didn't have to ride the buses. NYC marathon start is a little later than most so you are usually sitting in the freezing cold before the race for hours. We were prepared with lots of layers, but this time we got lucky and it was a crazy hot year for the race.
Somewhere close to the start Shane reached into a bag and said he had a present for me and handed me a plastic wrapped running shirt. I thought it was sweet he got me something special to run in, but then I started looking at it and it wasn't just any old shirt....
Somewhere in my complete and total shock Shane had gotten on 1 knee and started saying all sorts of sweet things to me. None of which I actually heard, or remember because I was still staring at the shirt. The shirt had a picture of a ring that said, "He asked and all I got was this crummy T shirt!" and on the back it said, "Go Krista Go! The ring is at the Finish!"
If you hear Shane tell the story he will say I stood there with no response and he just stopped talking and asked me to marry him. I do remember him going on and on about how it (the ring)wasn't like the picture, it wasn't gold like the ring on the Friend's episode. It was platinum and so pretty but if I didn't like it I could pick out whatever I wanted and blah blah blah....I can honestly say I have never been so surprised or shocked in my entire life. My friends were SCREAMING and I think that is what finally made me realize what had happened. I finally answered him, obviously saying yes, and we were off for one of the longest marathons EVER.
With all the excitement we had missed the start of the race. We couldn't find the bag drops and were scrambling. There were two starts to the race, one on each side of the bridge and we were assigned colored bibs to match. Shane was in a faster paced group than Sara & I so we went our separate ways. Sara and I had the most clustered start ever, hopping over railings from side to side and even running about a half a mile backwards on one side after we were told we missed the timing chip.
We were going WAY too fast for the first 2 miles of the race trying to catch up. The temps were creeping up in the high 80s and we were stopping at every aid station. Somewhere along mile 4 Sara and I lost each other and I was left on my own. My IT band was already tugging, getting worse no matter what I did. By mile 6 I was stopped in some of the worst pain I had ever experienced in my knee wondering how in the hell I was going to survive the next 20miles.
I had taken advil that morning, but the race was sponsored by Tylenol 8hr so there was no advil to be found. I was asking, no begging everyone that I ran by if they had any. I started day dreaming about a cortisone injection, pain pills... ANYTHING to take away the pain. I could run, or more like sprint for about a quarter mile then I would have to stop and stretch and adjust the IT band strap I was wearing. At one point I had the thing so tight, it actually caused chafing so bad I was bleeding down my leg.
With the support of the endless crowds and constant cheering I somehow made it through the most painful 20miles of my life. I hobbled to the finish just one minute faster than my first marathon when I was sick. I just wanted to find Shane, my new FIANCE'!!!
Unfortunately I had no idea where I was, couldn't remember where I was supposed to go and ended up wandering around for an hour trying to find everyone. After what seemed like a lifetime Shane & I were finally back together. He was in as much pain as me, running just a bit faster than me in agony from the hernia.
In the end it was all worth it. We both made it to the finish line, and he had his friend waiting there with my ring.
The New York City Marathon is this weekend, which inspired this post. It also just so happens that Sara had found these old pictures and recently sent them to us so I just had to share our story.
While we have finished countless races together since (well, Shane always finishing first), this was our last stand alone marathon together. We have both run a couple each, but at different times. Shane got the chance to go back to New York a couple years ago, but I wasn't able to go or run.
To this day the race is my absolute favorite. It's crowded and noisy, but the culture, the support and the beautiful scenery can not be beat. I would love for us to go back there someday, maybe to honor a special anniversary....
If you haven't done this race yet, Do it. You won't regret the experience of a lifetime!