STAMFORD, Conn. – The journey to run the ING New York City Marathon for Stamford’s Lindsay Allain started in 2009. After three years of trying, she’ll finally step on the starting line Sunday morning in Staten Island.
Allain will run the race with her friend Laura Zima of Schenectady, N.Y. The women tried to enter via the lottery for three straight years without success. Under marathon rules, runners who have been denied three successive times are automatically qualified on their fourth attempt.
“It was persistence, really,’’ Allain said. “It finally paid off. We just kept entering until they can’t tell you no any more. We knew if we kept trying, we’d eventually get in.”
The marathon will be the third for Allain, who previously ran the distance in Philadelphia and San Francisco. She and Zima had hoped to be joined by another friend, Genevieve Walters.
But Walters, Allain’s best friend from high school, recently delivered a baby. Zima was Walters’ college roommate. The three have remained close and frequently inspire each other with their training even though they are separated by distance. Walters lives in Clarence, N.Y.
“It’s motivating to have someone say in a text or an email ‘I got my miles in. Did you?’’’ Allain said. “We run races together and cheer for each other. We’re at different life stages, but we are all very close. We meet in Buffalo every Memorial Day and have run a race there for the last five or six years.”
Allain’s running journey is nearly as unusual as her remote training partners. A cheerleader and gymnast in high school, she was invited to run a 5-kilometer Thanksgiving Day race in 2006.
“I thought the 5k was 2.8 miles, and I had done a little training,’’ Allain said. “It was snowing and cold and wet. On the way to the race, my friend said it’s just 3.1 miles. I didn’t think I could finish 3.1 miles. Looking back, it seems silly. But it was pure panic. I was so concerned I couldn’t make it.”
Not only did she make it, Allain also fell in love with it. She transitioned swiftly up to longer distances and frequently runs 10Ks and half marathons.
“Those first few miles, you think to yourself you can’t possibly be a runner,’’ Allain said. “I remember pounding through a 14-minute mile and feeling like I was going to die. I love the feeling of accomplishment when you push yourself toward a goal. It’s almost like I have a relationship with my running. I can put it down and come back to it at any time. I’ve become a real advocate for it. I encourage everyone to have that same kind of love for it.”
During her training runs, Allain has pictured her final mile in Central Park. It is an image that has been long in the making.
“I’m actually getting choked up thinking about it,’’ she said. “I’m so looking forward to the experience and have people out there cheering for me. I can’t believe it’s just a few days away. I haven’t picked out my running outfit yet, but I know it will have my name on it.”
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