Pre-race email

The following is an email sent Friday, October 27, 2000.

People have asked if I am doing the NYC Marathon, which is on November 5. My left foot is weak and I can not run. I last ran sometime in the spring. However, I’ve been cycling a good deal and my legs are are in good shape. I’ve considered racewalking the event since racewalking is much easier on the feet. Over the past weeks I’ve done several racewalking work outs.

Yesterday morning I set out to racewalk the distance of a half marathon. The idea is that if I can can comfortably cover at least that distance then the marathon is doable.

I train by doing laps around Astoria Park which is right under the Triboro and Hellgate bridges on the East River. It is 1-1/3 miles to the park, then 1-1/3 miles each lap around it. A half marathon (13.1 miles) is eight laps plus the distance getting to and returning from the park: ten times 1-1/3.

Before setting out I knew it would be a problem keeping track of the laps. In order to keep track I wore a small elastic hair band on little finger over the glove on my right hand. Each time I completed a 1-1/3 mile segment I would move the band to the next finger.

When I hit the street at 5:15 it was dark and a bit foggy. At the park the fog was quite thick and the familiarity of my route was heavily veiled. Often it was hard to make out where I was. With each lap the band moved from finger to finger on my right hand. When I shifted it from the right-hand thumb to the left-hand thumb, which was the midway point, I turned around and did the remaining laps in the other direction. It was growing lighter with daybreak. When the band was on the left ring finger it was the last lap and on the pinky it was the route home.

Near my apartment it was finally daylight, the fog had lifted and school children were traipsing down the street giving the racewalker weird looks. I then noticed that the band was missing—had fallen off—and in the loss and dismay of that moment some part of me questioned had I actually done a half marathon? It felt like I was coming back from my regular 5 mile workout. No, no, of course it was a half marathon—that’s certain. I'd done it on ten fingers.

I will collect my NYC Marathon number on Wednesday and ride the Staten Island ferry to the start on Sunday.