We’re hitting the home stretch of regular season hockey games, especially for the Rangers as it seems they are playing a game every other day. Originally, I had two games to go to: Sunday, March 11, and Friday, March 23. Also odd because I rarely do two games in a month, much less miss a month of live games. That’s what happened this year. I had tickets to the Rangers/Devils game in February at home, but I sold my tickets for a hefty ransom. Hey, if I can make some money off the supply/demand issue at those games, I’ll take advantage of it.
But then I had a friend who came into town this weekend. Our story is kind of funny, like many in this world. We went to school together. We had a lot of the same friends, but I don’t remember hanging out with her solely. (If I did, I apologize, ha ha). I didn’t know she was a Rangers fan till a few years ago, when we reconnected on Facebook, as many are wont to do, especially due to our mutual friends. Another layer that added to our friendship was that we were long distance runners; I’m still a novice, she’s definitely more experienced (not to mention, faster!) than I am. She gets the intensity that goes into both the fan perspective and being an accidental athlete.
This is my friend Aimee. When she found out she was chosen in the NYC Half lottery, like I was, she needed a place to stay. ***HI!!!*** But it’s all good. I love having guests and if I can help them save some money and stay in a cool neighborhood, that works for me (they also need to like cats though but that’s no problem for Aimee – she has three).
Anyway, a few weeks before the half, Aimee realized that the Rangers were playing a home game the night before the race. She decided that though we like to keep things low key the night before a race, she rarely makes visits to the city anymore for games, and she couldn’t give up an opportunity to go to a game when she happened to be in town.
So then, there were three. Three games, for me, in the month of March now.
Originally I had planned on writing about this recap after the game on he 23rd. Yet, the two games had such differentials that I felt the need to go over it now. The first game was a dramatic overtime win with the help of the RUN-BMC line (Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Carl Hagelin) and most specifically an almost literal last second goal in sudden death by Gaborik.
The game on Saturday was almost a killjoy. Former Washington Capital goalie now on the Colorado Avalanche, Semyon Varlamov, absolutely stupified Rangers goal scorers. I forget the exact amount, but it was like 41 shots-on-goal to the Avalanche’s like 20. I am not joking. Henrik Lundqvist had a bad game, by giving up two goals. The Rangers offensive unit was worse and couldn’t help their goalie. Turns out this wasn’t the first time Varlamov has done this to the Blueshirts. During the game Aimee had asked that question, whether he had given us trouble in the past. Well, the answer was yes. And the worst part was that Mats Zuccarello’s first goal was almost forgotten because of the unprecedented performance.
We didn’t let that bad news get us down for our race Sunday morning. We had to be at Central Park before 7 am, so for runners with rituals, we need to be up earlier than THAT. By 5 am, we were up and at ‘em, George McFaddam. And you know, the Rangers loss didn’t translate into a grumpy run for me. My friend Chuck always says that he likes when I run angry. I don’t know if I’m necessarily an “angry” runner. I know when people piss me off on the course, I get that way.
The corral took over 40 minutes to even get to the starting line. By 8:15 I was heading to the first mile.
Roughly, the first half of the course takes place in Central Park, killer hills and all. I train there, though, so I feel like I have an advantage to some who don’t train there. Of course, if you’re a good runner and fast, then you have all the advantage in the world!
The course brings you through the heart of Manhattan – Times Square, then runs downtown to South Street Seaport. I admit to dragging but I knew my husband would be meeting me at designated places on the course, with some words of encouragement and photos. Mostly, with bears.
If you don’t follow my husband on Twitter, or on his blog, you should be. He’s one of the most generous and creative people I’ve ever known. I often say that he serves as my personal assistant, water boy and photographer for my races. If the shoe was on the other foot, I’m not sure I’d do the same thing. But he brought along three bears to cheer me on — Angel, a Mets bear; Nicky, the running bear; and Gabby, the Ranger bear.
Gabby greeted me at Mile 12 with this sign.
I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw it (hence the picture next to it). Needless to say I had a big smile on my face, and I knew even though I was dragging, getting to Mile 13 would be a piece of cake because I had the back wind and momentum to power me forward.
I run to a music mix of Paul McCartney’s greatest hits, Abbey Road, Sgt. Peppers, and usually it brings me to Paul McCartney and the Wings’ Band on the Run. The second song of my music mix is Jet, and the second song on the Band on the Run album is the same. So I hear some of the same songs twice. Not to worry though, as these songs are welcome and I don’t get sick of them. But I was being guided into the finish line by Jet once again.
When I saw my husband and my friend snapping my pics at the end, I was inspired. I was inspired by the song, by the runners, by my sports affiliations. Before each Jets game, some of the players go out, looking like planes and zooming onto the field. So I do that.
Sometimes my teams disappoint me. Yet I believe in momentum and that power that carries you forward into the finish line for every season, every day, in every part of our lives. The Jets gave me a bit of inspiration, the Mets have shaped my life, and the Rangers have made it possible for me to be thankful that I am a sports fan at this point in my life.
There are things in life that give you momentum. For me, the running has given me a distraction from the daily stuff in life that could keep me down, like rejection. Other times, sports have given me the opportunity to connect with people I never would have, or reconnect with people I’ve known for a long time but on a different level.
These pictures represent the fact that sports has brought to me some of the most special people I’ve ever met, or brought me to another level with others. Both of the women in the pics with me were brought together, on some level, from sports. Sharon for baseball, Aimee for hockey. Then all three of us are runners, and we are each others own support network!
Thank you New York, and thank you sports!