A marathon post about the Marathon of a lifetime…beware – reading this could take 26.2 miles!

We are home! We did it! We survived a month of whirlwind travel which included 2 major marathons – Chicago and New York and a trip to Arkansas.  What a month October was for me! It was a month of reflection and a month of thankfulness.  It all started with an amazing trip to Chicago with my running angels.  Chicago – Major #3 for me is in the books.  See previous blog for race report.  I will say one thing – I was running for time at Chicago – didn’t get it but learned A LOT.  The learning did not stop but continued in New York with a stopover in-between in Arkansas.

Why Arkansas? Well, let me first say the seed to run was planted many years ago when I watched my mom and dad run races.  I didn’t really start running until I was 30 but watching them in those early years made an impression.  Now back to the question – Why Arkansas?  My dad was inducted into the Ouachita Baptist University Athletic Hall of Fame.  Dad was the golf coach at OBU for many years and helped the program grow and win!  Dad was a difference maker.  His work ethic and care for his players was contagious.  He is a life changer.  His love for athletics of all kinds filtered down to all of us.

This was a perfect stopover between Chicago and New York.  It helped me remember where I started and helped me focus on what is really important in the game of life – relationships!  Running has helped me develop many relationships I would NEVER have had without it!  Thanks mom and dad for planting the seed that has forever changed my life for the better!

Proverbs 22.6 ~ Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

 

New York, New York – Frank Sinatra

Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York

I have so much in my head about this trip – a trip of a lifetime –  and don’t want to lose any of it or bore anyone. 🙂 So a photo journey it will be!  I will start from the beginning.

Day 1:

We are on our way! NYC we have arrived!!!  Welcome to New York!IMG_5130

The Expo – it is getting real!!!  I have never seen so many people in one place.  It was absolutely crazy.  The line to purchase official gear snaked around forever.  I know we had to have walked close to a half of a mile just in line to pay.  It was a mad house! We met a mother and daughter while making our way to the checkout line.  This would be the daughter’s second NYC Marathon.  She was local.  She gave me a great piece of advice – take cardboard to the starting village to sit on.  The cardboard kept me from sitting on wet ground or pavement! I was so thankful for this awesome advice.  🙂  Once we made it through the check out line we explored the expo itself.  This is always fun.  Once this very important step was over – we headed out to the streets of NY!

First stop – Empire State Building!  It was breathtaking to see NY from the top of the Empire State Building.  Mike and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the 360 degree views from what seemed to be the top of the world.  Mike chatted with a worker while I hit the restroom. Hydrating for a marathon was not fun in NY where there are NO public restrooms unless you pay for services.  Crazy! She told her story of working on 9/11 and how it affected her.  Story-telling at its best!

Second stop and third stop – Rockefeller Center and Times Square

Night was coming and so was the chill.  Perfect for watching the ice skaters in Rockefeller Center.  Times Square was nuts.  We were there about 10 minutes and were ready to move on.  We are glad we saw it but – WOW – sensory overload.  I know all of this was preparing me for the run of lifetime – the largest marathon in the world – 50,000 runner and over 1 million spectators – talk about sensory overload!

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Not only was New York hosting the largest marathon in the world but they were also hosting games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series! We got to enjoy the hoopla around this as well because we had to get off the train at Mets-Willets Point…the train stop for Citi Field – Home of the Mets.  This was fun all three nights.  We took in the sights and the crowds before heading back to our hotel.  We even picked up a free towel and sign that said BELIEVE! This was my first sign for the marathon – Believe!

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Day 2 – Subway rides, fall foliage, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, 9/11 Memorial – What a day! We packed it all in. We rode the subway, the bus, the ferry and a taxi.  We walked as well – across the Brooklyn Bridge and beyond.  The love locks on the Brooklyn Bridge were fun to see with the one I love! I am so thankful to be experiencing this city with him!  The One World Trade Center was very emotional for both of us.  It is hard to put into words the feelings that arose when looking at the memorial where the towers once stood.  There was a sense of sadness in the air and respect given by those visiting.  Then we went to the top of One World Trade Center.  This was one of the highlights of the trip.  New York has definitely done it right when it comes to remembering the victims, survivors and families of 9/11.  We were honored and humbled to be there reflecting on the loss of our nation.  We are proud to be Americans! This city is a melting pot. We heard so many languages spoken.  We saw so many nationalities.  While visiting these two sites we were reminded why we love our country so and the freedoms we have just by living here.

Now, to the TCS New York Marathon! Wow is really all I can say! What a day.  A day to let time goals go and enjoy being a part of the largest marathon in the world.  God had a plan for this day.  He knew I would struggle letting my time goal go, so He placed people along the way to remind me to let go and let HIM!  There is so much to this part of the story.  It started long before we hit the ground running in New York.

Proverbs 27.17 ~ As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.

God has blessed me with many close friends who know me well.  I had more than one remind me to relax and run on November 1.  They knew I had a battle going on inside because I didn’t meet my time goal in Chicago.  The battle was real and raging until Sunday morning at the starting village.  Though these friends continued to remind me of the real reason I was there….I kept wanting that Garmin time of 3:45.  But God placed two people in my life after arriving at the start village on marathon day that helped change that!

First, I had to load the bus by 5:30 a.m. to get to the starting village for a 10:40 start.  That’s 5 hours to kill – wow!  As you can see in several of the photos, I dressed warm for this occasion and it worked out well.  I took my cardboard from my Domino’s Pizza  pre-race dinner to sit on.  I found a spot next to a light pole and made myself comfortable.  I wrapped up in an old thermal blanket from a race I ran in Louisville last October and settled in.  As I was sitting and taking it all in I received several texts.  One was from a dear friend.  It was a prayer for the day.  I so needed it…it was the first of amazing encounters all day.  I thought of this prayer often as I ran that day.  The struggle was real and He is what got me through.

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After corresponding back and forth I just sat there and looked around at the people.  Two girls next to me were from another country. They spoke no English.  This is one of the things I loved the most.  There were so many nationalities running this race.  We were all there together to achieve one goal and that was to finish the world’s largest marathon.  Prejudice and hostilities pushed aside all working together toward a common end. Too bad we can’t get along like this everywhere and all the time!

As I was listening to the sounds around me I heard the word ‘y’all’ come from behind me.  I turned around and asked him where he was from.  Are you ready for this?  He was from Arkansas AND he runs with and does running groups with a friend of mine from college.  Can you believe that? YES! Because God is that good!!!  Out of 50,000 runners hanging out in the starting villages, I was able to run into someone from Arkansas – not only from my home state but someone who knows a friend of mine AND loves the Lord.  Can I say it again – God is that good!

Romans 8.28 ~ And we know that God causes everything to work together

for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

I call it a Godincidence – divine intervention by God! He was talking to another guy from Kentucky that is going to Arkadelphia, Arkansas(where I was born and spent the previous weekend with my family!) in a couple of weeks to do a race.  Small world! We discussed everything from running to our jobs and to our spouses jobs.  We talked about how running has been a great way for us to share our testimonies.  What a way to start my day! One of my friends who encouraged me to relax and have fun also said she knew the 5 hours of wait time would be special.  She was right!  Boy, was she right!

At 8:15 I was supposed to meet up with two of my Team Hoyt buddies.  We were all blessed to be in the blue corral.  There were three corrals – Blue, Green and Orange.  God is good yet again.  🙂  On the way to the meeting place – Blue Corral letter D – I passed the Interfaith Religious Service tent.  They were playing praise music.  I had time to kill so I sat down and let the words cover me.  They announced the service would start at 8:00.  I decided to stay for about 10 minutes and I am so glad I did.  We sang a praise song about God being our strength.  One paster prayed over the race and runners.  Then another pastor gave a short sermon.  He started with the words – ‘Let Go and Let God’.  I told my mom on Thursday before we left that I was changing my mantra for the race from ‘Let Go and Let God’ to ‘Let God and Go Have Fun!’  This was another way of God tell me to run and enjoy every step of the way.  Again, God is so good.  Next the pastor gave us three scripture references in a certain order – Psalm 22, 24 and 23.  He said for the OCD runners that order would drive them crazy but there was a purpose in the order.  It too gave me strength for the day.

Here is the short of it:  In Psalm 22 Jesus feels abandoned. He says,  “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  Then in Psalm 24 we see is not forsaken but He is lifted up to Heaven and seated on God’s throne.

Lift up your heads, O you gates!

And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!

And the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory?

The Lord strong and mighty,

The Lord mighty in battle.

Then back to Psalm 23. We see “ he represents Christians receiving the benefit of all the care and tenderness of that great and good shepherd.” The pastor was saying we could fill abandoned on this course of 26.2 miles but He is with us. He will carry us through and we will finish well for HIM!  Let Go and Let God! Oh, how I needed yet another confirmation.  I slipped out of the service as they were still sharing to meet 2 friends/family amongst the 50,000.

A Team Hoyt reunion was about to happen.  I found Wes first and shortly thereafter we met up with Dana.  We had a group hug and wished Wes well.  He was in the first wave because he is the fast one.   It would also be an understatement to say how grateful I am for Team Hoyt.  Team Hoyt is the reason the three of us from very different parts of the world could meet up, hug and share encouragement.  Wes is Canadian.  Dana lives in New York. And I am from Soddy Daisy, TN!  Again, how good is God???  Team Hoyt is my forever family that God introduced me to on my road to Boston several years ago.  They have been and will continue to be a blessing!

So off Wes went and off we went to gather our Dunkin Donuts coffee and beanie hats. 🙂 I can’t put into words how awesome it was to spend the rest of my morning and the start with Dana. Her spirit is contagious.  I really don’t think she has ever met a stranger. We lined up to get in our corral and watched Wave 2 move to the start line.  Then it was our turn! We moved in and finally moved up.  As we towed the start line I removed my warm clothing and deposited it for Goodwill of New York.  It felt so good to let go of one piece of clothing that represented part of the past for Mike and me.

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.”
― Bil Keane

As we waited for the canons to go off and Frank Sinatra to sing we met Hugo.  Hugo was starting and hoping to finish his 100th marathon.  100! Wow! I can’t imagine 100 marathons!!! It was a true honor to meet him. (and he did finish!) Yay HUGO!  Then what we were all waiting for…the canons and the serenade!  As we started running the excitement was electrifying.  The announcer yelled my name and go Team Hoyt. Dana and I were happy! I took one last selfie with Dana and off I went…to run my race. 🙂

I figured out early on I was really going to enjoy the race and take it all in.  It was freeing.  I stopped looking at my watch and started looking around. My Garmin was not going to control the run. I was going to Let God and Go Have Fun!  I ran on feel and for the first half did pretty well. The sights were amazing.  At times I was thinking – am I really doing this? Is this real?  And, of course it was.

Mike had a plan to meet me and encourage me on the course.  His first stop was the 5k.  He met me there joyfully with a kiss. I was feeling great here! Mike was and always is an uplifting sight! So very thankful for him and his never-ending support!!!  He was able to meet me two more times on the course. He walked a marathon of his own.  I am one blessed wife! 🙂

In days leading to the race I read a story about the Quinn brothers from Ireland.  35 years ago they ran the NYC Marathon together and they returned to do it again in 2015.  I ran up on two of them early on.  Frank and I had a great conversation and took a selfie.  🙂 Then further down the course I met another gentleman.  He tried to take a photo of me running but to no avail. So, we took a selfie.  He encouraged me to keep moving! And I did!

I felt pretty good until around mile 15 as we approached the Queensboro Bridge.  It is about 1.5 miles with a steady incline.  There were a lot of walkers and I joined in because the pain started here. I knew I was in to finish so this is when the camera really started to come out…hence the windy selfie on the bridge. 🙂  Upon leaving the bridge the crowds were deafening! It was so encouraging!!! It gave me a little pep in my step.  But, I was hurting.  Though, I knew at this point Mike would be a mile 19.  I kept pushing through knowing I would see him there and he would lift my spirits.

As I approached mile 19 I was looking for my tall handsome husband with the Tennessee hat on.  I found him and the tears started flowing.  He reached out and embraced me with a hug and a kiss.  I was honest with him and told him I was struggling…I was hurting.  He said you can do this! You have this! He knew I could dig deep even though at that point I didn’t believe it.  He gave me the lift I needed. I told him I would probably walk a lot the last 10k.  Thankfully, I had the strength to keep running.  Though it was slow – it was not a walk unless I was getting water at a water station.  I am so glad because Mike surprised me again at mile 22.  I knew then I would make it…running…to the end! And I did!

Mile 24, 25, and 26 couldn’t have come any sooner.  The finish line was magical.  I did it! I was a New York Marathon Finisher! I had just finished my 4th world major.  Wow! Can I say again, GOD is so good!

God provided so many people and things along the way…

  • The gospel choir serenading us on the course.
  • The smells of great food.
  • The cheers of random strangers yelling ‘Go Trish!’ or Go RUN..because of the big RUN on my tank.
  • Encouraging words like “You’ve got a good pace!”
  • Another runner saying “Hey, Trish…how are ya?”
  • Congratulations from all the volunteers.
  • The friendly NYC Police and Fire personnel.
  • The amazing crowds….over 1 million of them….truly electrifying!
  • The helpful strangers!!!!
  • The prayers felt when the struggle got real – I felt every one of them.

Philippians 4.13

 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

 

 

As the Taylor family verse states: IMG_3049This is the card dad pulled out while doing our family devotion the morning we were all in Arkansas.  It has long been the verse we live by.  For dad to pull it out of the daily bread box that day was as mom likes to call it ‘a God wink.’  God was with us that day in Arkansas as He was with me on Marathon Day.  I am so very thankful, blessed, humbled and undeserving of and for His love and mercy.  God has been good to our family and He has been good to Mike and me.  He has been to me with running and He has given me a testimony for Him – saying God is so good all the time and all the time God is good.  God allowed me to run my race – which was His race on November 1, 2015!

Thanks for making it to the end of what was supposed to be a short post! I had too many God winks and just had to share.  😉

Running blessed!

4 World Majors down…2 to go! Tokyo and Berlin…here we come!

Oh, and I made the New York Times….

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