Saturday, November 03, 2012

The Marathon Diaries, Part 11: Jordana

Tonight would have been the eve before my first marathon. I would have been home eating macaroni, planning every last thing I need for the morning, setting 4 alarms and getting to bed early, hoping I'd get some sleep despite my excitement.

Instead I spent it very differently than I expected. I was gathering supplies - toiletries, first aid items and cleaning supplies - to give to my friend Jordana. This was a weird turn of events, but it felt right to be helping her.

Jordana, if you read enough of my blog and have a great reading retention, is my "friend who ran the NYC Marathon". She was the first runner I ever knew (in my life) and the first person I ever knew who ran a marathon. A feat that was beyond my comprehension just 4 years ago.

I remember once during the summer of 2008, being out on my bike and crossing paths with Jordana when she was out for a training run. I asked her how many miles she was doing that day. "Ten", she replied. Ten miles?! TEN?! I marveled at the idea of that. How does anyone run ten miles I wondered...

On Marathon Sunday that year, I remember watching the elite women on TV as they ran through south Brooklyn while I prepared my sign for my friend. I knew I'd be on McGuinness Blvd waiting for her. Since that's close to the half way point, I wrote something like "You're almost half way there!" and "Greenpoint loves Jordana!", or something to that effect.

I left the apartment to catch the elite women fly through north Brooklyn. I had never seen anyone run so fast in my life. It was unbelievable! Inhuman. Incredible. Inspiring.

Paula Radcliffe leads the elite women through Greenpoint...

After seeing those world class athletes run past, even though I knew Jordana wouldn't be through for a while, I stayed out there. I watched thousands of other runners come through. Ordinary people of all colors, races, ages, shapes and abilities. It seemed like the stream of runners would never end. It was powerful, moving and beautiful.

Eventually our friend Jordana came by and we screamed and cheered like crazy.

Jordana & Davida spot us in the crowd!

And a moment later, she was gone.

Get back in the race, Jordana!!!

She was on her way to tackle the Pulaski Bridge and the second half of the marathon. And I couldn't have been more proud.

Later that evening, a bunch of us met her at a bar in Williamsburg. I marveled at her medal and tried to get an understanding of what it was like. I'm pretty sure she said she would never do it again (which I still find hilarious for some reason)

Jordana - with her medal - and Me

I remember that night, after celebrating with my friend, leaving the bar, which is just over a mile from my apartment. I was in a dress and walking home. But it occurred to me to run -- something I would have never considered. I ran a little bit. I would run 100 steps (I like to count things) and then walk for a while because I felt like I was going to die from that short sprint. Then when I caught my breath I ran another 100 steps. I did that the whole way home, inspired by my friend's remarkable accomplishment.

It wasn't until nearly a year later, August 2009, that I got on a treadmill and ran for 10 minutes over the course of 35 minutes. That was the longest I had ever run in my life. And if it hadn't been for Jordana, I might not have done that.

Cut to tonight, I was giving her supplies to deliver to Staten Island, her hometown, which was incredibly ravaged by the storm. She's not only from there but she works there - she's a social worker at a high school and her kids need help. She sent out an email yesterday asking for what they needed. It was the least I could do and I was happy to do it.

I brought her as much as I could. She remembered I was running this year and apologized that the marathon was canceled. I thanked her for that, and told her I understood why and wished her the best. As I was leaving, I turned and added "You know, if it wasn't for you -- I was going to say 'I don't think I'd be running tomorrow', but I'm not running tomorrow. My point is you were the one that first inspired me to run the NYC Marathon. Thank you." And with that, because you know that kind of stuff makes me crazy emotional, I turned and left.

That brings me to where I am now. In a bar. Drinking beer and writing this post. Instead of being at home getting ready for my first marathon like I expected to be doing tonight.

Thank you Jordana, thank you for making me realize something that previously seemed so huge and impossible was completely possible. You are such a big part of why I'm a runner today and you will of course be in my thoughts when I get to run the NYC Marathon. No matter how long I have to wait for the opportunity.

Side note: I found this amusing - In the post I linked to above, dated August 31, 2009, I wrote:

I am still so impressed by my amazing friend Jordana, who I mentioned ran the NYC marathon last year. While I have no intention of ever doing that, I am motivated by her accomplishment.
And yet I find myself sitting in bar, in Greenpoint, writing this post, and though I feel selfish, I'm crying about the fact that I'm not running the NYC Marathon tomorrow. When I walked into the bar tonight, I was wearing a pink marathon shirt, pink marathon running sleeves and pink marathon gloves. The bartender, only noticing the abundance of pink, asked "What are you all dressed up for?" My reply "The New York City Marathon". Funny how much can change in just a few years.

(2008 Marathon photo set is here)


  1. You are my hero. And you are inspiring ME to think of a marathon I might do... haven't ruled out... someday. I'm so sorry that things turned out this way but it does not rule out your utter and absolute amazingness and the distance you have traveled to come to today. oxoxoxo

  2. You WILL run Sheryl. And when you do we will all be cheering for you -you'll hear us from all the way up in Canada. Good things come to those who wait - never forget that!

  3. That's right you ar paying that inspiration forward, and the people you inspire, like me, will hopefully inspire others too.

  4. Sheryl, Enjoy that beer (and maybe another one or two) It's been an emotional roller coaster of a week. And the marathon is something you've worked toward for a long time... so adjusting to it not happening takes time to process.
    Stay strong, stay focused and one day at a time, your opportunity will arrive!

  5. You are amazing and your marathon will come. I love you and could not be more proud of you.

  6. you should be so proud of yourself! it's totally understandable to feel upset about not being able to prove yourself out there, but just know you are so kick ass and such an inspiration to so many! you'll run that marathon some day and it'll feel so awesome!

  7. you are such an inspiration to so many people!!

    in Ok.

  8. So funny that you found that line about saying that you had no intention of ever doing that. I always said that. I've done a half but that was over two years ago. I just started running again after an injury and I've been pretty into it and already registered for another half. Then I saw pictures from my auntie running the NYCM and thought it looked amazing. Then I saw that video, The Road to the Finish. I told my aunt I've moved from "no way am I doing that" to "undecided". Hehe - she told me she'd go with me and pay for my hotel when I decided to do it. I'm thinking 2012 looks good and would make a great 40 year-old thing to do. :)

    You're so amazing Sheryl and you have every right to be sad. You're sad it's not happening and you understand why it's not happening. So happy you're not viewing all your training as wasted. Proud of you!

  9. i hope you do run today anyway! there's a group on fb that are going to run it! i know it's not the same but your time will come! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  10. I have a bunch of jackets and sweaters and well clothes that I was planning to donate to Goodwill for my quarterly cleanout, but I would like to send them up north. Do you know if we can send to her to help out? Otherwise, I would send to the address provided by Red Cross...I think I saw it somewhere.

    And yes, you are doing something you didn't expect, but that's life. If you expected it, then it would just be boring. LOL! You will get to run the marathon soon and we will all be cheering for you online or there. I can't wait.

    1. that's very thoughtful and generous! I don't know any offhand, so if they have one, use it. Thank you on behalf of the NYers that need it!

  11. Well, this post made me cry. I'm so looking forward to reading about your first marathon one day. I'm sorry--for everyone affected--that Sandy came and ruined what supposed to be the first time.

    1. Thanks. And I really do understand the cancelation and feel like a selfish asshole for being upset, but I can't help that I'm sad it didn't happen. But I'm thankful that this is the only thing I "lost" because so many others lost so much more.

  12. I'm happy that your friend Jordana inspired you. You are wonderful! Now you have a chance to inspire even more persons!

  13. FWIW, the Philadelphia Marathon has opened up a bunch of slots for runners who are unable to get into NY. One train ride south, and there's another Marathon waiting to welcome you. I'm from Phila, it's a great city. Go run through it. :-)

  14. Very inspiring. I also love marathons. Me and my husband are planning to join one.

  15. This is an amazing story! Don't worry, there are plenty of other marathons out there. And wouldn't it be the achievement if you organized your very own marathon? Maybe together with Jordana!

  16. Hi, I've not commented on your blog before but I wanted to say that I was disappointed for you when the NYC marathon was cancelled. It must have been gutting. It was the right decision by the authorities - I'm amazed they didn't cancel it sooner actually. I was just over in NYC for a week, returned back to London yesterday so saw a bit of the storm damage. I looked out for you, just in case you were cycling around the place! Congrats on your blog, I've found it so interesting, inspiring, funny and honest. Thank you for writing it.

  17. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

    Miami Chrysler


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