On the road to New York

On the road to New York

It’s a long way to Tipperary, or so the song goes. During this past weekend’s Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle however, I was thinking, “it’s a long way to New York.”

I “shuffled” to the finish of Chicago running’s opening day at an 11:21 average pace and my slowest 8k finish ever. Although I had only run a total of 58 miles since the Bucks County Marathon on November 15 so the time was to be expected. Still it left me wondering how I get from here to there

2022 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. Chicago, Illinois. March 2022. Photo credit: Micaela Bernal.

“There” being the 2022 New York City Marathon on November 6. I claimed a guaranteed entry twelve days ago thanks to a qualifying time I achieved at the Surf City Marathon just before the pandemic in early 2020 – when I was really shooting for a Boston Qualifying Time. While I fell about 2.5 minutes short of that goal, I made the New York cutoff with about 2.5 minutes to spare!

This is pretty incredible because, first, I have had my sights on the 2022 New York City Marathon for a few years. I have only run New York twice and not since 2005. It was my first marathon in 1997. This year will be the 25th Anniversary of that feat! Second, I had a qualifying time which is almost 35 minutes faster than what I did at age 32. Not bad for an old runner. And when you factor in age grade time. Well, I’m pretty pleased with myself.

I still need to get from where I was this past weekend to the strong, endurance athlete I’d like to be toeing the starting line at the foot of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge on Staten Island come the first Sunday of November.  Today I sat down to map out a progression to get back up to 20 mile training weeks before formal marathon training will need to begin the week of June 27. Easy peasy, right?

In doing so, I thought back to where I was as a runner at this time in 1997. I was new to my job at United Way which was my first position in the non-profit sector. I was learning that running was also fueling my career in a positive way. I had gotten the bug to run a marathon in early 1995 over a year before I actually began running consistently.  I had watched the 1996 NYC Marathon thinking to myself, “Next year that will be me.” It honestly never occurred to me that I wouldn’t get in.

Not getting in didn’t occur to me this year either. This year, I knew if I had to I could run for charity, although I really wanted to run this marathon on my terms. I will still raise money for charity as I did for my first marathon, but again on my terms without the pressure of a minimum goal. 

In 1997, I had no running friends. All that I knew and was learning about running the NYC Marathon came from The New York Road Runner’s Complete Guide to Running, and mailings (yes, snail mail) from New York Road Runners. At least I had sense to join NYRR.  The process to apply for the marathon back then seems so archaic compared to the current process. 

One Saturday in the middle of May I stood in line in Central Park to receive a paper application (yes, paper!) which needed to be completed and mailed back with payment – and not postmarked before the following Monday. To increase my chances, I drove to the main branch of the post office on 8th Avenue to mail it at exactly midnight! I received a letter in the mail (I’m not sure how long after) notifying me that I had gotten in through the lottery.

Online registration for the 2022 NYC Marathon opened at noon on March 9th. For those with a guaranteed entry (qualifying time, legacy, 9+1, deferral, etc) satisfaction was immediate while the rest are waiting for the lottery drawing later this month (lottery entry closes tomorrow at 11:59pm by the way). One exception was those whose qualifying time was from a non-NYRR race – like mine. Our entries would be a on a first-come first served basis and would be delayed a bit while the qualifying time was verified. Thankfully, I was into the site and registered within a couple of minutes.

For the next 32 hours I checked my email for something from NYRR, my credit card app for the entry fee charge, and my NYRR membership profile for a a change in registration status from “pending” to “accepted.” Then at 8:06pm EST on March 10, I received an email from NYRR with the subject line ”You’ve been accepted to 2022 TCS New York City Marathon!”

My credit card was charged the $216 NYRR member rate for the entry fee. I don’t recall what it was in 1997, but was probably A LOT less while I remember thinking at that time it was a lot. I look forward to sharing another marathon journey with you and looking for all the things that have changed – and haven’t – in 25 years. 

Earlier today, I got the full-time job offer I had been waiting on (more on the specifics of that to come). I will be using this marathon to kick-off my fundraising for this “new” organization. I’m coming full circle…from my humble beginnings at Mercy Convent in Ballinasloe, County Galway, through my non-profit career and 25-years running marathons and fundraising.

1997 New York City Marathon. That’s me: F5056 with the big-ass walkman!