Less than 24 hours left and I was sitting in a café, trying to distract myself from the fact that tomorrow morning I will be running 13.1 miles around New York City. For some, this is a warm up. For me, this is a large leap out of my comfort zone—I have never run 13 miles prior to the New York City Half Marathon. I began running about six years ago, rarely exceeding a casual 4 or 5 mile run. I ran to enjoy my surroundings, clear my head, and maintain a healthy lifestyle that I never really paid mind to as a child. I never ran for a cause.
As a former intern and now co-founder of the Junior Board, I admire OBCP’s ability to delve into the human side of conflict. I have a personal attachment to OBCP’s mission. I grew up viewing only one side of conflict, but always curious about the “other”. By working with the staff and meeting program alumni, I have seen how these programs can impact politicians, religious leaders, business leaders, and entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Through OBCP, I have challenged my own perceptions of the “other”, and saw hope amidst my obstinate pessimism about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I thought that running the New York City Half Marathon would be a time for me to think about OBCP’s impact, reflect on conflict, wherever it may be in the world, and the people affected by it. I thought this frame of mind would distract me from any physical pain I would start to feel around mile 10.
I was completely wrong. The half was an over-stimulating experience to say the very least. With over 14,000 people running, supporters cheering along the way, and lively bands carefully spaced out along the course, I completely forgot about the 30 degree weather and just soaked in my surroundings. I started distracting myself in various ways, giving high fives and reading signs along the way:
“KEEP ON RUNNING. I JUST FARTED”
“RUN NOW, BEER LATER”
“YOUR LEGS ARE HURTING BECAUSE YOU’RE KICKING SO MUCH A**”
I was overwhelmed by the diversity of people running from all over the world and the causes they were supporting through this run. I was a part of something larger than myself and OBCP. I had my cause, but that was not to belittle the thousands of people who were out there raising awareness and money for cancer, youth programs, and so much more. At one point I found myself behind two girls in lime green shirts with the phrase “IN MEMORY OF MY DAD” imprinted on the back. I wondered about their story, and how their father inspired them to run this race.
I was under the impression that the last three miles would be easy. I thought “Well, this is usually a quick run for me, so what’s the big deal?” It turned out to be the most physically and mentally taxing, as my legs started to scream for me to stop and the miles felt longer and longer. After finally passing the 13 mile mark, I turned the corner and forgot about the tenth of a mile I had left. “Damnit,” I thought. “This feels much further than it actually is.” With that, I pushed past the finish line with the ounce of energy I had left inside of me.
I greeted my dad and boyfriend in a state of complete delirium. I can’t recall any conversation that I had with them post-run. All I wanted was to not stand anymore. After finding the nearest curb, I sat down, let my legs throb, and thought “Who knew my body could do that? And how the hell do people run full marathons?”
I guess there’s only one way to find out…
Elana’s fundraising home page (Hey, you know I made it to the finish line, don’t you feel a little better donating?)