Up Close and Personal

claudiocaputoAfter the race

On Sunday morning, two days before the U.S. presidential election, runners from all over the world stormed the plaza of the Trump International Tower in New York City to celebrate a triumph: completing the New York City Marathon. They hugged their husbands and wives, and standing near the sign bearing Donald Trump’s name, kissed their children.

However, the election was far from the minds of these global runners after their finish in Central Park. As they brandished their medals, the election frenzy was hardly the topic of conversation. Their first order of business, almost uniformly, was far more basic.

“I just want to drink water and eat chocolate,” said Louis Puentes, 44, from Spain. This marathon marked Puentes’ tenth marathon, along with those he’s run in Paris, Rome, and Spain. At three hours and 15 minutes, this personal trainer achieved one of his best times yet.

Others had their minds on personal hygiene. “I need to take a bath–I smell so bad,” said Francisco Morales, a 34-year-old Mexican, as he bent his body down to his right ankle in a full body stretch. Morales said he is staying in New York for another week, and when asked how he was going to spend his time in the city during the election, he groaned and looked away. Today, the election was not on Morales’ mind and he made clear that it wasn’t going to be.marialuisamolina

Originally from Mexico, Maria Luisa Molina, 37, had  two things on her mind: hugging her children and drinking a protein shake. “I feel so good, so happy,” said Molina, who now lives in Westchester County and works at a Laundromat. She said her favorite part was the crowd cheering during the last few miles.

“There were a lot of Mexicans supporting me,” she said.

Meanwhile, Claudio Caputo, 45, from Italy, clutched his blanket tightly around his shoulders after finishing his fifth marathon. He said that he plans to take a walk, and yes, a shower too. However, he’s also got a few more plans.

“I think I will make a party,” he said. “I’m going to have fun.”    Eva Andersen

From Mumbai to New York

Wearing bib number 11291, Shubha Bhargava finished the New York Marathon Sunday morning with a personal best time of 3 hours 24 minutes and 40 seconds. Later, at a Pizzeria Uno near Central Park, wrapped in her insulated race blanket, Bhargava drank hot chicken soup and hot chocolate. “ I find it impossible to eat after a race,” said Bhargava. “ My body just craves liquids.”

Forty-five year old Bhargava began running in 2003, and the New York Marathon was her fifth one, after Mumbai, San Francisco and Boston. “ The NYC run reflected the spirit of New Yorkers,” said Bhargava. “ It was so humbling to see so many cheering us on and offering water and sugar candy.”shubha-bhargava-after-the-race

Back home in India, Bhargava runs an average of 10 miles every day and clocks a half marathon every month as practice. She increases the effort three months before a marathon, easing off in the weeks building up to the race with shorter distances. She runs without earphones or music because she does not like carrying additional weight and or worrying about music running out or becoming boring. “ I like the energy of thousands of runners and spectators,” said Bhargava. “ That is inspirational.”

The run across the five boroughs was spectacular for her, but she said the 59th Street Bridge stretch where spectators were not allowed, felt special. “The only sounds were those of people breathing and shoes pounding the road,” said Bhargava. “ It was so peaceful and serene.”

The last mile was the toughest for Bhargava. “When spectators encouragingly called out ‘You are almost there’,” said Bhargava, “ I thought, ‘thank you for the information but where is the end?’ My body was done.”

Bhargava’s target is to run the six major marathons. She ran in Boston last April and plans to participate in the Tokyo marathon in February 2017. The London, Berlin and Chicago races will come next.

“Each marathon takes me to a special place,” she said. “And teaches me a little more about me.”      Preeti Singh

Weeks of Preparation Pay Off

Twice a week, in the weeks leading up to the Marathon, a group of people in neon yellow shirts gathered at the Engineer’s Gate just inside Central Park at 90th Street and Fifth Avenue.  Runners, walkers and hand cyclists caught up while warming up and then they trained together to get ready for the race.

Since 2010, Sarah Heller, always with a smile on her face, comes out every Tuesday and Saturday, rain or shine, to train with Achilles International, an organization that helps disabled people train and join running events.  This was the fifth year that she ran the NYC Marathon.

“The marathon is a party, a big block party,” said Heller, 42, who has a slight speaking disability. “That’s what got me hooked, and of course the medals.”

Heller trained with Herb Pinder and Suzanne Lorio who are also her guides for this year’s marathon.  Pinder and Lorio act as ears, eyes, motivator and guide. Without them she cannot train or join the marathon, because Heller became disabled because of brain damage after being in a car crash when she was nine years old.  

“It was a bad accident,” said Heller, who has a slight speaking disability. “But I don’t feel anything now, I am ok.”

Under the guidance of Achilles, Heller has also taken part in the Boston and Philadelphia marathons.

On Sunday, Heller’s team joined the marathon where they employed the Jeff Galloway method of running, a run-walk training program to avoid injuries. For the marathon, the team’s game plan was run for three minutes and walk for a minute, it took them just over seven hours to finish the race.

“I don’t know how many more marathons I have left with these legs,” said Pinder. “But I’d love to just keep doing it with Achilles.”    Bernadette Young