concrete jungles where dreams are made of

Wow.

Where to begin?

On November 4th, 2018 I beat my previous marathon goal by 23 minutes. I ran through the city I grew up in and more importantly was cheered on by family, friends, and the wonderful strangers of NYC.

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I want to talk about that for a minute…one of my mantras for this marathon was "You have GRIT. You can get through this.” Now grit is a word I would use to describe the people of NYC. NYC is the city where anything can change in a minute, where I think the definition of the “hustle” comes from; a city that has overcome so much adversity. But beyond their grit, the people of the five boroughs know how to show up. Whether it was the 13 mile block party in Brooklyn, the roar of the crowd on 1st ave coming through the Upper East Side, the amazing music and tunes in the Bronx, or the energy of crowds in the most beautiful park in the world, Central Park, the support, energy, and love I felt from the people of NYC (and guests I’m sure) was unparalleled. Thank you for helping me to stick to my grit and perseverance every time you cheered my name (it was on my shirt!), gave me a high five, or just sent the love. I am so grateful.

I want to talk a little bit about though the best part of this marathon.

At mile 23 (or so…who knows), my watch died.

Now….at the time I freaked out a little bit. And any runner reading this is probably wondering, “WHERE IS SHE GOING WITH THIS? THAT SOUNDS TERRIBLE.” However, when my watch died, I told myself now more than ever was the time to get present with my mind, my body, and my surroundings.

My watch dying was the best thing that could have happened to me.

I had no idea my pace, I just knew I had to keep going. My watch died around the time I was entering Central Park, which to me is one of the reasons you run the NYC Marathon in the fall. As I was running, truly listening to my body, breathing, and not constantly checking times, I heard a familiar voice yell my name; it was my best friend since middle school Julie! She surprised me in the park at a moment I needed her the most. There were tears and that memory is one I will have for the rest of my life.

It was then that I knew it was on. I had to finish this race. Before my watch died I knew I was on track to a PR, however towards the end of the race I had some pretty bad knee pain and started to slow down some so I knew I also had to pick it up some. I found that when I was so insanely present in this moment I felt like I was at my personal best…something most people can’t say during the last 2.5 miles of a marathon.

It was at this moment that, “New York State of Mind” came on my Spotify and I just told myself, “Soak this in Gabbie. You may never get to do this again.” And I did. I looked up at the trees and at the leaves changing, which if you’ve never been to Central Park in fall you need to go. I high fived strangers cheering me on. I thanked them. I was overcome with gratitude and I almost felt like I was in a euphoric state. I cried…a lot. I was (and still am) just so insanely proud. And so happy with how far I have come. I was so grateful to have an opportunity to be in the “greatest city in the world” running the biggest marathon in the world. I was able to reflect on the previous 20 something odd miles and the wonderful things I saw. From being inspired by athletes with disabilities being guided by a volunteer to seeing other members of the #BadassLadyGang on the course to seeing my whole family waiting for me in Harlem, I just seriously was so inspired and thankful.

We runners (and humans!) are so inclined to look at a watch for our time, but we don’t listen to our bodies or we don’t soak in the wonderfulness of what is happening around us! I, too, am so guilty of this.

When I approached the finish line, I knew I had PR’ed (gotten a personal record) based off the time on the clock. However, to my surprise, when I crossed the finish line and looked at the results on the app, not only did I realize I had a bigger PR then what the clock showed, but that those last three miles I had negative splits, meaning my miles got a little bit faster each mile, something that is really hard to do during a marathon. That is one thing I am most proud of.

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The NYC Marathon has a pulse unlike any other. I can’t describe it. But from their own tagline, “It will move you”. And it did. I am so moved. It was one of the BEST days in my life. I am so thankful for everyone who was there for me, everyone who texted me, called me, etc. Thank you for showing up for me.

I will leave you with two things. I just read Olympian Deena Kastor’s book “Let Your Mind Run” and a quote stuck out to me.

Resiliency opens doors, and compassion and gratitude can dissolve tension, and enrich any moment
— "Let Your Mind Run" - Deena Kastor

This quote is the essence of what makes running so wonderful.

Below see a “One Second Everyday” video I took from my a chunk of my training. I think it encapsulates the experience perfectly.