Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ryan Shay 5.5 Mile Memorial Run

Today I ran 5.5 strong at Central Park to honor the memory of Ryan Shay, who ran Central Park at the end of his life the day before I finished my first marathon there. The Ryan Shay 5.5 Mile Memorial Run was a virtual tribute by runners around the world, to salute the athlete who was competing Nov. 3 in the U.S. Olympic Men's Marathon Trials for a chance to represent us next year in Beijing.

I appreciate my friend Carrie posting a bulletin this week mentioning this website that had all the details about the Run for Ryan. I had run 5 miles at Central Park on Wednesday and my inner-rear area of the right knee was locking up so badly that I had to take a taxi home. I believe it is "muscle insertion." Between that and the plantar fasciitis in my right foot, it was obvious that my right leg requires some sports medicine work before I resume serious running. So I was not planning to run today, and maybe not at the Race to Deliver 4M run at Central Park Sunday. But I was looking at past bulletins and found that post by Carrie and without hesitation at 11:30 a.m. I put on my gear, gulped down some water, and found a magic marker to write what you see on the back of my TFK shirt above.

Ryan collapsed at the 5.5 mile mark of the marathon trials. It was at the Boathouse, which is near where I live, just on the other side of the 72nd Street Transverse from where I enter the park at Strawberry Fields. I measured my distance so that I would finish there, at the Boathouse. I started on a clockwise path, and after 2 1/2 miles I realized that I was running against the grain of the NY Road Runners' Knickerbocker 60K race. Those were ultramarathoners who had used the NYC Marathon merely as a warmup for this one.

I continued on, up East Drive past the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, to the 102nd Street Transverse and turned left. Halfway across that road, I turned back, then followed my tracks that took me down Cat Hill and to the Boathouse. It was the 5.5 mile mark for me. I stopped, and I walked over to a big rock and sat on it. I was overcome by a lot of emotion thinking of Ryan having collapsed right there, at the peak of his sport. As other runners and tourists passed me there at the Boathouse, I wrote in my head this poem for him while I prayed.

"Run Your Heart Out"

Run your heart out, Ryan,
And let your spirit soar
Reach for something higher
We'll see you once more

Run your heart out
Give everything you've got
Never try but simply do
Here at this very spot

Run your heart out
Lead so they can see
Push yourself past every limit
A world of opportunity

Run your heart out, Ryan,
Run because you want to
Never stop running,
For we'll remember you.

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