The journey began about nine months ago when I found out that I was selected in the lottery to participate in the 2015 New York City Marathon. It has always been on my bucket list to run the NYC Marathon and when I received the news that I was selected, I was elated and felt like I won the real lottery!
In all my life I have never ran more than 5 miles so the thought of 26.2 mile journey seemed like a daunting task, but I was determined to accept the challenge. “Sometimes the moments that challenges us the most, define us” is a quote that I came across recently watching a documentary about marathons. There have been many moments in my life that defined who I am- as someone’s son, husband, father, teacher, and now as a high school principal; however, this moment was for me!
People run marathons for a variety of reasons, but for me it was for two reasons. First, I wanted to discover my own inner strengths and limits. The second reason was to raise money for Walter Panas High School. Through crowdfunding, I was able to raise $3,000 for the students and teachers. As high school principal of a public school, I am always thinking about how to support the activities of our students and teachers. This reason gave me added motivation to complete the marathon on Sunday.
The marathon Sunday started at 4:30 am with a breakfast then a ride to NYC Public Library on 5th Avenue where runners were picked up at 7:00am by buses that took us to the Verrazano Bridge. For elite world class runners, the race began at 9:50am, but for slower regular runners like me, the race didn’t start until 11:00am.
The race began with Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York playing in the background. The sight of the Verrazano Bridge with the view of lower Manhattan and 50,000 runners is a scene that will be etched in my memory forever. NYC Marathon boast itself as the world’s largest block party due to more than million people coming out to cheer on the runners as they make their 26.2 mile journey through Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan. As I struggled with a blister on my toes halfway into the race, seeing the Korean flag a few times provided a much needed boost and gave me strength to continue.
Fred Lebow, the founder of the NYC Marathon once said, “In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.” Reflecting on all the hard work and effort that I put in for the past nine months, the joy and feeling of accomplishment you get after the crossing the finish line is something that cannot be described in words.
Although I could barely walk on Monday morning I went to school and seeing the sign on my office door from students and teachers congratulating me for completing the 26.2 mile journey, it was all worth it!