Last year, I amped up my running training for the Boston Marathon. I hooked up with this great group of experienced runners and during one long run they started talking about the New York Marathon. The way they spoke about it left me wondering, “is it better than Boston?” So I asked. “Well,” one guy replied, “it’s harder to get in.” I looked into it and sure enough, the qualifying times for guaranteed entry into the New York City Marathon were tougher than Boston. I qualified for Boston with a 3:20 for my age group but I would need to shave 10 minutes off my time since New York required a 3:10 marathon or a 1:30 half marathon. While most people went to the New York Marathon via lottery I decided to try to qualify. Later that summer I ran a 1:27 half in Oakville and made it into the 2011 New York City Marathon.
I arrived with my wife a few days prior to the race. We took in the sites and shopped enough to jumpstart the local economy. I kept putting off getting my race kit because the runner’s expo was out of the way at a convention centre on the upper west side. Finally, late Friday afternoon (two days before the race) we made the trek to the expo.
The expo was located at a convention center five big blocks west of Central Park. We took the subway to Penn Station and walked half an hour through heavy rush hour traffic. The expo was as big as one would expect for the NYC Marathon and complete with the same big expo disappointments – retail prices from the big name sponsor and limited offerings from the big name companies. “Do you have any new colours, do you have the new style I read about, do you have this in a 9,” were all met with the same weak,”sorry… no.”
On the positive side, there were a ton of volunteers and I was able to get my race number (even without the appropriate documentation) in less than 5 minutes. As we were leaving, we passed by the Sketchers booth where they were introducing a new minimalist running shoe in a special edition NYC Marathon orange for 80 bucks. The same one Meb was wearing for the race on Sunday. This came with his and hers t-shirts and a nylon knapsack. Score.
We wanted to hit the washrooms before we left but there was at least a hundred young women waiting in lineso I offered to find a less traveled alternative. My job takes me to more than a dozen conferences per year so I know convention centers. I was able to find a washroom on the way out in an unused but accessible area in the basement of the convention centre. After freshening up we trekked back to the subway to meet our friends for dinner. The walk back was right through the middle of rush hour – slightly before 5:00. It took a little longer to get back but we were not in a hurry and doddled a bit since we still had two hours until dinner. We got to the subway just as the doors were closing. We ran on, sat down with a “humph.” My wife looked at me with this dazed expression like she was looking right through me. “Oh my God,” she whispered, “I left my wedding ring back in the washroom at the expo.”
Over the “stand clear of the doors,” announcement I blurted, “c’mon, let’s go back,”
“Forget it,” my wife said almost in tears. “It’s gone… some one’s taken it by now.”
“Runners are nice people,” I said as I stood up, grabbed her arm and swung her around the rail and out the door just as they closed.
“Just forget it,” she said again. “It’s gone. I left it on the counter in the washroom when I washed my hands at the expo.”
I looked at her and wanted to scream, “what do you mean you lost it, why did you take it off, how could you do that,” but I didn’t. I put my hand around her waist and started ushering her toward the exit. “Don’t worry,” I said quietly, “we’ll find it.”
We started walking back to the Expo and we were still in full on Friday afternoon rush hour. I looked at hailing a cab but decided we could walk faster. “Look,” I offered with an idea,” let me sprint down there and start looking for it, you can catch up.”
“No,” she replied, “I don’t want to you lose you in the middle of New York City.”
As we walked I tried consoling her but it only made her more anxious so we walk/jogged in silence back to the expo. The whole time I was wondering if my insurance would cover it. My wife has taken the liberty of “upgrading” her ring every few years and since this trip was in honour of our twentieth wedding anniversary I know the ring had just come back from another hefty upgrade. I wondered about our deductable, our jewelry limit and how I could know so little about our insurance policy. We trekked on, both lost in our own thoughts.
Typical runner, I checked my watch every few seconds and realized as we approached the expo that we had left the subway 27 minutes ago and my wife had left the ring in the washroom for more than an hour. We bounded down the stairs to the washroom and she rushed right in. There was no one around as I waited what seemed to be forever. After an inappropriate amount of time waiting I had visions of my wife crying in the washroom as she was checking the most absurd places for her ring. She came out with this look on her face that could have gone either way. Then she held out what looked like a Post It note. “Someone found it and turned it in to security,” she said showing me the note. The note read:
To the women who lost her ring. Check with NYRR security.
After checking with half a dozen security guards we finally located the New York Road Runners Security station. My wife rushed up to the counter and showed the women the note. “Oh,” she said with a thick Brooklyn accent, “I hird about jou.” She went back into her office and came back a few seconds later with one hand behind her back. “Can jou descipe da rings please. Caus’ deez are nice rings and if der not jous den I’m goin’ to Miami. Boys o’ boys.” A few seconds of translation later, my wife described the rings and the security guard swung around her hand and presented the rings.
“See,” I said to my wife, “runners are nice people.”
To the women out there who want to know why my wife took off her ring and left it on the counter in a in a public washroom… Well, I said nothing for two days and finally at Sunday dinner after the race with just the two of us in an incredibly romantic restaurant overlooking the Manhattan Skyline (google liberty house restaurant jersey city) I asked, “So… what happened with your ring?”
“I know,” she said, “it was weird, but the only stall available was the handicapped one and I had my own sink and counter inside the stall. I always take my rings off to wash my hands at home so I guess I just got too comfortable.”
Note to self: check your crazy wife’s fingers after she goes to the washroom in a public place.
Regarding the race: I ran a 3:17 marathon with was not bad except I wanted to run a 3:10. My new Nike watch did not work (Do you hear that Nike? Your watch sucks!) but mostly I blame my legs; too much time off from a recent injury. I will get it next year.
Wow – great story. Helps us remember that there are some good people out there still, and yes – runners are nice people.
Reminds me of the time I lost my wallet in Paris. After cancelling all credit cards immediately and replacing all important ID cards when I returned home, a package arrived one day in the mail. The package was from Paris and had no return address. I opened the package and inside was my wallet – all contents included. Someone in Paris found it and went to the trouble to mail it back to me in Canada. They were probably a runner!
What a story, Darren!
Imagine all the people in this world are runners and everyone is nice to each others….
What a great anecdote for first thing in the morning.
I so enjoyed your story Darren. Runners are definitely great people! Another reason to be proud to be one! Thanks for sharing!
Your wife is one lucky woman, not just because she`s a runner, not just because she got her rings back…no, she`s a lucky woman because she has a loving, supportive husband like you. I love how you `kept in` what you really wanted to say and you guided her toward the exit. Just think, what if you didn`t have that remarkable quality, hope? You wouldn`t have gone back and the story would have ended very differently. This is the kind of story we need to hear on the news to lift everyone`s spirits and remember what`s important in life; modelling for the younger generation (and sometimes the older generation too). I wish you and your wife many more years of satisfying running and of happiness in your marriage.
Michele P.S. Perhaps you should submit your story to Chicken Soup for the Runner`s Soul. It`s such a great story!