Speaker by Various Artists

You can run but you can't hide (Part 2)

by Justine

It’s July. In the space of six months I have begun training for my first ever marathon -- the New York City Marathon -- and have found an apartment to buy. Over the next weeks, things get even crazier. Just a few highlights:

  • Mortgage commitment letter takes weeks to arrive. Reading it through - at approximately 1 a.m. on the second continuous through-the-night at work to sign up a mergers and acquisitions transaction – I discover that the bank has screwed up and approved me for $100,000 less than I applied for.

  • The mortgage broker (Why a mortgage broker? This is New York) screws up some information on my mortgage application. Bank inserts a condition to my financing that I provide a satisfactory explanation of the discrepancies in my paperwork. Mortgage broker’s cunning plan for dealing with this is to lie to the bank. (Being wary of committing crimes that could lose me my attorney practising certificate, I don’t.)

  • I submit my co-op board application. (Why does one need the approval of a building’s board to complete an apartment purchase transaction? This is New York.) Level of detail needed makes applying for grad school or submitting to a CIA security check – or even the long and arduous mortgage application - look easy. Takes weeks and weeks to get the interview with the board – which delays my purchase no end and plays havoc with my blood pressure as I dwell on the possibility of getting turned down by the board. In the end, board interview itself lasts all of 5 minutes. (“We were satisfied with your papers. We just had to get you in to set eyes on you.”)

And I am in the high mileage part of marathon training – including the occasional 18 and 20 mile training run. After three planned half marathons are thwarted by injury, I finally do a half marathon – in Central Park, in 78 degrees (25 C) and high humidity. And by now I have a running coach. (Why a running coach? Because, well, you get the idea by now. And to think that back home people prepare just by running a few extra laps of the cow paddock every now and again.) I manage to keep training through the tortuous New York summer by holding onto the thought “At least it will be a nice, cool 45 degrees (7 C) on Marathon Day.”

My physiotherapist is unimpressed that I haven’t cut back on the running. She tells me that “Runners are a sick bunch and you’re the sickest I’ve seen”, “You would run with a broken leg, wouldn’t you?” and “I just don’t get it. You’re a smart woman and you didn’t exactly go to Nassau Community College.” [New Zealand readers: think Greymouth Polytech.]

I come to realize that my life consists of only three activities: work, running and dealing with apartment matters. I hope that a few months down the track my friends will still remember who I am and that I can recall where the movie theatres etc. are.

Late September. On my running coach’s advice, I travel to Philadelphia for the Philadelphia half marathon. Far too warm for me – in the early 70s even at the 8am start – but again I hold onto the thought of 45 degrees in November. I wonder if organizing my weekends away around running events is taking things a bit too far.

Now, a note about food for non-running readers: food is important when you’re marathon training. Not just the powergels, honey packs, sports bars and Gatorade you scoff on long runs. Everyday diet – especially close to a significant run or race – also counts. Doubly so if you’re a food-sensitive almost-vegetarian like yours truly.

The Friday before my last 20 mile training run, four weeks out from Marathon Day. I set off to my one tried and tested pasta-loading restaurant - appropriately located at the foot of the 59th St. bridge (yes, that’s right, Simon and Garfunkel fans) where runners enter Manhattan during the marathon. From over the road it looks closed. Unfortunately, my favorite Italian place is not observing Yom Kippur; rather, it’s closed for good. Dammit. What to do now? Friday and Saturday nights I experiment with untried and untested Italian restaurants. 20 miler Sunday morning goes brilliantly – until mile 17 when I suddenly have to stop from a bad food reaction. Ditto last mile. Mental note: don’t eat at last night’s place again.