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It all worked out. I didn't realize that it would be so close. I finished in a weirdly perfect time of 3:56:00. My previous personal record was 3:56:55 in Kansas City in 2012 while NOT knitting. So I have now proven to myself in both half and full marathons I can complete a race faster while knitting than I can just running.
I actually like running and knitting without needles better. Instead of using a waist pack to hold yarn balls I crocheted some arm sleeves and unravelled a color from each arm as I went. I believe that I was knitting up through mile 18 when I completed my scarf. I successfully double-knit the words, "I'll remember for you!". I was feeling so good I added the exclamation point.
There were cheering spectators the whole route! This blew me away. Incredible crowd support. 2014 was also a cold and windy start. The wind on the Verazzano bridge tossed me around like a leaf. I started in the 4-hour goal corral and to keep to my time goal I had to constantly dodge and weave in and out of other runners. The race never really opened up. No lonely stretches here. My running app showed a crazy zig-zag path down the roads that added 8-tenths of a mile. I did have one minor collision with a spectator who decided to cross the road.
The cheering really helped and I think I dressed right and stayed warm. I tried to limit gatorade to the last half and used salt pills. At the end I was pretty wiped out. At some of the last drink stations I fully stopped to drink. I was able to run the whole way and had a little extra in me to pick up my speed into the finish. Post race put me down. I hadn't checked a bag and after finishing I went into the long cold march to the exit. I started feeling very emotional and decided by the time I got to the medical tent that I should check myself in. I was dehydrated and my body temp had dropped, shivering, not thinking straight, exhausted. I laid out on a cot and a blanket and soup helped me get back together. Exiting the med tent I was back in the cold and still had half the march to the exit left. Finally I made it to the warm ponchos before I could slip back into physical shutdown. That post-race 1 mile crowded march in the cold was the hardest part of the race. Once I had the poncho I just had to be patient with the crowd. I finally made it to the post race reception for Athletes to End Alzheimer's at Columbus Circle.
On my running gear I had my name both front and back so it was nice to hear another runner say, "I hate you David" as I passed her while knitting. Runner to runner it was a very nice compliment. Another runner near me had stopped and picked up a 5 dollar bill that he spotted on the road. He saw my Alzheimer's shirt and gave me the bill and told me to add it to my donations. I did. As with all of my races there were many spectators who would say to each other after I had just passed, "was that guy knitting?". I had finished my knitting early around mile 18, after which I wrapped the scarf around my waist. For the last mile of the race I draped it around my shoulders and held it tight in my hands. On the final run-in I held it up over my head, hopefully so that people could read it.
I wouldn't have been able to do the race without the generosity and support of Lion Brand Yarn Company. Special thanks to Danielle, Ilana, and David. In the days before the race they were awesome in helping to promote the fundraising. We were able to do a walking while finger-knitting workshop in Central Park, and a presentation and finger-knitting demo at the Lion Brand Studio on 15th Street. It was a great experience to partner with a company that is so connected and sincerely engaged with its family of customers. One of my favorite promotional things we did was an invitation for people to share their stories about knitting and Alzheimer's caregiving on Lion Brand's Blog for a chance to receive one of the scarves that I finger-knit while running during my training. Those stories moved me to tears and helped me focus on what Alzheimer's does to people and their families. I printed out all of the comments in tiny type and carried them with me on the run.Read a copy of the Alzheimer's Knitting stories here.
The Athletes to End Alzheimer's NYC team was a lot of fun. I am glad that I didn't do this alone and I wish I would have been able to train with them more. I did have an early visit to NYC in May where I ran with a training group in Central Park. It was great to feel part of a family. I was able to attend the Alzheimer's Association dinner before the race with Danielle and David Blumenthal the president of Lion Brand. By the end of November, together with Lion Brand, I successfully raised over $9,500 to end Alzheimer's and support people with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.The NYC Marathon 2014 Athletes to end Alzheimer's Team Blog
I teamed up with the NYC Athletes to end Alzheimer's charity fundraising group and was supported by Lion Brand Yarn company. And yes, I was knitting. But there is more to this story. NYC marathon is a huge race and security is even tighter than Boston. The NYRR (New York Road Runners) association and the NYPD (New York Police Department) do an awesome job keeping people organized and safe but it comes with some sacrifices for everyone.
I owe special thanks to David Blumenthal, CEO of Lion Brand, who was willing to go to the mat with the NYPD over whether a knitter's tools should be considered weapons. But it is okay, we are all familiar with sacrifices for security. If this was all about the easy or practical way we would sleep in and take a cab to the park instead of running there.
I am not (yet) a ninja warrior and my fingers are not considered weapons. You may have heard of finger knitting, but this will be different. Common finger knitting uses four fingers of one hand like a knitting loom. I will be using my fingers more like knitting needles with anywhere from 10 to 16 stitches across.
Yes, I can totally teach you how to do this. Check out this video tutorial playlist on my Youtube Channel. It works really well and, I believe, may be easier for those learning to knit as it provides a more tactile and direct, unmediated, interaction with what makes the knit stitches.
I'll wear all of the yarn that I use. The start of the NYC marathon is cold. A knit hat and scarf, of normal length, is a common sight. So I plan to knit up some warmness to wear at the start and then unravel them and pull the yarn from an existing knit item to make an entirely new knit item. I love the metaphor. What better way to draw attention to Alzheimer's than making something out of an unraveling hat.
My knit product will be smaller and more complex, relying on required dexterity and pattern rather than impressive scale. My current plan is to do a multi-colored piece with pattern or words. I know that I can knit and purl and have even done some tests with double knitting. Check out my blog to see some of my experiments and training.
This is going to be awesome. I really hope you can see it happen. It is a crowded race and I might be hard to spot. Look here for pictures of what I'll be wearing and what to watch for. Because I am not going for length I will be trying to keep my time quick. I am even hoping to knit and run while beating my non-knitting personal best of 3:56. I don't plan on applying for a Guinness World Record for this one due to the added complexity of running with a camera. You can also catch me doing a trial finger-knit run in Kansas City where I will do a half-marathon two weeks before.
I was leading a student tour in NYC in 2010 when we excited the subway to find people in running gear and space blankets hobbling down the stairs. I hadn't planned it but there we were at the end of the NYC marathon at Central Park. I took the students to the Met and then came back out to watch at mile 26. What I saw was amazing. It was the first marathon I had ever witnessed. I was moved to tears watching people of all kinds doing their best at something that looked to be very hard. Not only that, but the cheering crowd was amazing. It was like everyone knew every runner and cheered them by name as if they were all family; the NYC family. I'd decided then and there that I would eventually run a marathon. Two years later I did, and now, coming full circle, I look forward to the NYC family cheering my name as I run the NYC marathon.
For this race it is more likely that they will yell, "Go knitter!" rather than, "Go David!". I'll take what I can get.