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Back To Where It Began: 1997 New York City Marathon

Relics from the 1997 NYC Marathon I had no memory of saving. The "Job, Dim" was short for "Please yell, Good job, Dimity!" I think I pinned that beauty to my back. I'm so glad I saved my medal—no idea I did that—and Sarah would be thrilled I saved the New York Times special section from the day. I'm pretty glad I have it.
Relics from the 1997 NYC Marathon I had no memory of saving. The "Job, Dim" was short for "Please yell, Good job, Dimity!" (My friend, who I nicknamed Spaz, had "Job, Spaz" on her shirt...so that was even harder to decode.) The brilliance continued when I pinned that beauty to my back...because people always cheer for you after you passed them. I'm so glad I saved my medal—no idea I did that—and Sarah would be thrilled I saved the New York Times special section from the day. I'm pretty glad I have it too.

So back during my recent staycation, I found my race report from the 1997 New York City Marathon (the first one ever to hit the Internets back then? Maybe I should've trademarked it...). I emailed it to about 15 pals, including Sarah, and thought I'd share the gem with you on Marathon Morning in NYC; this very special race was where I found my running legs—and identity.

*****

Since I know you all were waiting for this: My official 1997 Marathon report.

Two words: wet and AWESOME!

What a rush coming over the Verranzano Bridge. Wind in my face, water below my feet, 29,000 of my closest friends running along side me. Amazing feeling.

Old school photo images that came in the mail. Wearing my Flashdance bandana and hanging with an interesting crowd of runners.
One of two old school photo images that came in the mail. Wearing my Flashdance bandana, a Nike shirt I cut at the waist (why? I can't remember) and my favorite Moving Comfort shorts that I bought at Lady Foot Locker around 1995. Better yet, I'm hanging with what looks like a pack of wrestlers.

Brooklyn was pretty cool too. Tons of people on the streets (the flood hadn't begun yet) cheering at the top of their lungs; bands, including a cool steel drum band at the Brooklyn Academy of Music; people handing out candy like it was Halloween. (Wish I would've had a trick or treat bag.) Slapped about 10 million little kids' hands, except in Williamsburg, where a lot of Hasidic Jewish people live. They stood there, watching but no cheering. Very quiet.

Queens basically sucks; the rain started coming. Coming across the 59th Street Bridge into Manhattan was another Kodak moment though. It's a long bridge (1+ mile), and with about a third of it left ot cover, I could start to hear the crowd roar in Manhattan. As I was running up First Avenue, it was thundering and lightning and down-pouring. I was going to change my socks, because my feet added another ten pounds, but it was pointless: they would've been sopped again in a few steps.

The Bronx sucked too, except that there was a gospel choir out, and the rain had subsided for a second. As soon as the choir sang the lyrics, "A storm will come down," the heavens literally opened and it POURED. Ironic. We, the drowned rats, just cheered and kept cruising.

Miles 19+ were mind games. "15 more minutes." "One more water stop." "Two more blocks." Whatever I could do to get through it.

Coming into Central Park, there was about a six-inch deep puddle we had to run through--the gutters weren't draining fast enough. As I reached Central Park South, I yelled, "God Bless Central Park South!" really loud. Nobody--the crowd or fellow runners--reacted, which was weird. I think they thought I was a freak show. I definitely looked like one. Regardless, I did get through it: 4:23 or 4:32 on the official watch, but I prefer my own timing. (Editor's note: Chip timing didn't exist then.) About 10-minute miles, which is ok. I wish I could've gone faster, but considering the weather and my pit stop, I can't complain.

My only finish line pic. Yay for orange arms and a wide wingspabn.
My only finish line pic. Yay for orange arms and a wide wingspan. I look like I'm about to face plant.

Today I feel ok. I kept waking up last night with achy legs, so this morning, I took a bath, four Advil, and a shot of brandy, and feel significantly better, thanks.

And, no, I'm not doing it again next year. I Know Nike, my shoe sponsor, will be disappointed, considering my sonic speed, but they'll just have to understand.

*****

Glad to know the Central Park South story didn't just grow with time like a big fish story...and glad to know I still had the same perspective with regard to running—have fun and set big goals, but don't take yourself too seriously—then as I do now.

Even though 26.2 isn't my best distance, I'm truly envious of the runners who will cross all the boroughs and bridges of NYC today. Enjoy every step--and God Bless Central Park South!

Do you save race relics like this? Anybody else have old school proofs?

12 responses to “Back To Where It Began: 1997 New York City Marathon

  1. It’s been a rough weekend here – I think my body is completely out of any kind of endorphins from any kind of activity (7+ more weeks of walking only….thank you very much surgery recovery). The Scholastic Book Fair last week and a 5th grade girl sleepover on Halloween has taken it all out of me. Thank you so much for sharing and making me laugh for the first time in quite a few days! If I ever run NY, I’ll have to yell “God Bless Central Park South” in your honor :).

  2. You really should add, “[take] a bath, four Advil, and a shot of brandy, and feel significantly better, thanks.” to all future discussions of how to recover after a race!

  3. I do! Did my first (and only) marathon in 1996 and saved everything. No race report, but I’m sure I have an extensive journal entry somewhere. I was obsessed with running that year – with the 100th running of Boston and the Olympics in Atlanta and all. I’m new to AMR and have been binge listening to your podcasts to get inspiration for attempting another marathon next fall!!! Thank you!!

  4. I loved your race report, Dimity. A nice flash from the past. I was going to say how much things had changed in a short amount of time (time chips, photos, etc) then did the math…was 1997 really that long ago?!?

  5. Wow, no chip timing is a crazy idea to think about! I guess I never thought about what they did before the chips. The big time difference between your time and the official time would drive me crazy! Type-A runner here! Great report, it was a fun read.

  6. Great race report, Dimity! I have one old-school print, from my very first organized race, the Advil Mini-Marathon 10K in Central Park in 1995. I am actually wearing only a running bra, something I’d never contemplate today. My first marathon, from which I no longer have even the t-shirt, was also in 1997, in Houston, in freezing rain. I wore a trash bag and it took me five hours. I didn’t run another one for 8 years.

  7. I’m way past my marathon days, but I will never forget being granted the honor of running NYC 2001. Not even sure it would be run, but the people refused to cancel and bow down to evil. Rudy Guliani singing “NY, NY” at the start, the wide hole still smoking over the Verezzano, and so many, many of the runners sporting signs running in memory of “X” missing since 9/11. I don’t remember my time but I remember a city coming together in the face of tragedy and standing as one.

  8. Expecting lots of wind but no rain today… You’re with me today. TLAM plan got me here… Now I’m ready to make it happen!!

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