Wednesday, November 9, 2022
By: Josh Levinson, Owner/Founder of Charm City Run
Since my son was in middle school, I dreamt of whether I would be young enough and he would be old enough and interested enough to run a marathon together. Running has meant so much to me. It is my mental health, my fitness, my business, and my hobby. One could argue to have so much vested in one activity is unhealthy but at 51 I cannot change it and wouldn’t change it. I believe running is the cure for most things.
Eleven months ago, we were in a meeting with our New Balance partners and as it was closing, they made an offer. If anyone on our team wanted to run New York City in 2022 to let them know. I was in the midst of thanking them, when Will Murdoch who heads up Charm City Run Events said, “We are all doing it.” At least this is the way I remember it.
Will is not an avid marathoner and with three young kids and an always busy fall season, his response shocked me. Although he has been known to let the spirit move him at surprising times. Furthermore, the Charm City Run heads around the room nodded up and down. I have the competitiveness, lack of will power and FOMO to make bypassing this EPIC opportunity impossible. I made a quick phone call to DC to my son and asked him to join our team. Ben was in.
This was to be my 15th marathon and my fourth in New York City. New York City is special. There are 3 million fans. It is a logistical masterpiece, and it is a holiday. Nothing happens in New York City on the first Sunday of November every year except for the marathon. On every street corner, you see someone that is in New York for the marathon. In every hotel elevator there is someone visiting America to run the marathon. A friend once commented to me that the experience, was the closest he would ever get to being an Olympian. Do you remember the last time a total stranger was jumping up and down cheering for you at the top of their lungs wanting only the best for you…wishing you could find the power to put one leg in front of the other as you ascend 5th Avenue?
I was going to share my favorite marathon in one of my favorite cities with my son and my Charm City Run Family. My wife Kara, co-founder of CCR and mother of Ben also wanted to come. She is a veteran and accomplished “cheerer”. Our youngest Sam agreed to come, and my middle daughter Lucy is a freshman at NYU so we would see her too. Also, my folks used to celebrate their wedding anniversary in New York City on the first weekend in November. They had watched my sister and I run NYC, and they wanted to see their grandson do the same. This weekend was going to be EPIC if only I could get to the starting line.
I had had two very hard marathons in a row at Wineglass and LA. I had right knee surgery in high school and while it had been an amazing result for most of my life, I felt it catching up with me. It hurt on long runs and Peloton rides. I was fearful of getting injured in training or making it through training and not finishing the run. Either result would have made the excitement and opportunity of NYC 2022 with my Lev and work families a huge disappointment.
The cost of not getting to the starting line was too large to not invest in myself. I joined the C2 (Chad Christin) group in Timonium. I did Physical Therapy. I continued with personal training and even kept up with massage therapy. I did every workout C2 laid out. I rarely did the post workout suggestions and my warm-ups lacked diligence and consistency, but I did the runs, the walks, and the strength training. For years Kara had pleaded with me to do more to stay healthy. It seemed like a lot of work and a lot of time, and I am a little stubborn, but I knew it was time to listen. At the end of 4 months, I would get to the starting line.
Furthermore, all Charm City Run commits except for three would be healthy enough to get there as well. We had rookies going, salty veterans, some who had experienced ultra-marathons and almost none that had experienced New York City. Not all of them had had the best training season but they had all done enough to get there.
I wondered how much to tell Ben about the mental grind of the last miles. If I told him nothing, was I a good parent? If I told him too much, would I psyche him out? I told him he would struggle and that everyone else was too. I shared my nutrition plan with him and then I tried to be quiet.
The week before the marathon the weather turned on us. It would be one of the hottest New York’s ever. No one complained. We were just thrilled to have the opportunity to share NYC together. I had spoken with Coach Chad before the race because not only was I going to start I was considering having a goal time. He encouraged me to run to effort and not look at my watch. I had never employed this strategy. Even when I held on to my Timex for too long, I still recorded my splits. I would try this and take twice the nutrition that I had taken in my other races.
The team got to hang out in the dark before the boarding the bus. Then we got to hangout in the New Balance tent together and soon we headed to the corrals. I joined Ben in his corral and got to share 45 minutes together just us before the start. He was fired up. I was excited and nervous for him, and a bit nervous myself.
The race was amazing. We all finished. We all tried to ride that fine line of taking enough calories and fluids to keep us going without getting sick. It seems that the heat makes that path very narrow. If you take too much you feel sick. If you take too little you risk your body shutting down. Some of us felt better than others in the end and we did not avoid sickness completely, but we shared a once in a lifetime experience. Ben finished his first wanting to do another one and I put 15 in the books. New York was amazing as always and I will always treasure this experience and be grateful for sharing it with the people I love. Thanks New York City and thanks New Balance. Be EPIC.