Gretchen G. Randall Completes the 2022 New York City Marathon

November 9, 2022
Gretchen Randall 2022 New York City Marathon
Gretchen G. Randall

Gretchen G. Randall recently completed the 2022 New York City Marathon, together with more than 47,000 runners from all 50 states and 131 countries. This was an exciting year to participate in the iconic race, as it returned to full capacity for the first time since 2019.

Gretchen has enjoyed recreational running for years but began training seriously during the pandemic. With fitness classes cancelled and gyms closed, lacing up her sneakers and jogging a few miles around the neighborhood quickly became a routine. Time passed and the habit persisted. She began running longer and faster and was eager to test her fitness.

Most organized road races were cancelled or converted to virtual participation through 2020; however, one creative organization based in New Hampshire, Millennium Running, was committed to hosting safe in-person races, which they pulled off seamlessly. With individual start times spaced at fifteen-second intervals and limited spectators, they hosted socially distanced races for up to 1,000 athletes per race. Gretchen participated in several of Millennium’s events before in-person road races resumed in Connecticut.

Gretchen soon set her sights on the marathon distance. She thrived on the structured training schedule that included a long run (14 to 22 miles) every Sunday morning. She has not missed a single Sunday run since beginning this effort in 2020 and now runs about fifty miles per week. She finds the training rewarding in the sense that there’s a direct correlation between the expended effort and performance gains.  Her race times have improved with faster pacing, and she hopes to continue that trend.  Gretchen’s persistent training led her to successful finishes in the Hartford Marathon in October 2021, the Vermont City Marathon in May 2022, and just this past week, the New York City Marathon.

In recounting her recent experience in NYC, Gretchen states, “Regardless of who you are, where you’re from, your age or gender, or your level of training, talent, race experience, or any number of other variables, the thousands who gathered before sunrise on Staten Island, nervous, bibs optimistically displayed, were all driven to take on this challenging feat.  It’s challenging for the elite athletes and recreational runners alike. It’s challenging for those who have mastered the distance and for those who are attempting it for the first time.  Without a doubt, it’s challenging whether the runner completes the race in two hours or six hours.  We may have different goals and different motivators.  Still, we are all united in this drive to push our limits and do something remarkable, and we’re cheering one another on because of a true common denominator: we all appreciate how hard the effort will be. We encourage strangers around us to have a great race, and we genuinely mean it. It’s a powerful and energizing union – a common bond in the test of willpower that drives you through the tough parts (I’m talking to you, Queensboro Bridge) and eventually propels you toward the victory that awaits at the finish line in Central Park.”

Gretchen notes several favorite memories of the New York City Marathon. Masses of spectators lined First Avenue around miles 17 and 18, right where a runner’s energy often starts to lag. She described the crowds as up to ten people deep, wildly waving and clapping, screaming support through bullhorns, signs of encouragement held aloft. Gretchen’s family was among the throng, holding a huge bouquet of colorful balloons which she could spot from blocks away. “There’s no substitute for that kind of support. I see my balloons. Those are my people up there among a sea of thousands. It kept me going when I really wanted to stop,” said Gretchen.

She also found a needed boost in an established NYC tradition – the personalized race bib. Many runners print their first names on their bibs, and spectators enthusiastically yell out their names. “It sounds so simple, but you wouldn’t believe how impactful it is to hear total strangers yelling at the top of their lungs, ‘go, Gretchen!’ and ‘keep it up, Gretchen!’”

Now having completed her first World Major, Gretchen has set a goal to finish all six World Majors, including Chicago in 2023, followed by Boston, Berlin, Tokyo, and London. In the meantime, she will continue to train (keeping up her Sunday streak) and participate in local races. Gretchen is grateful for the valuable guidance, mentoring, and support of more experienced marathoners in her community, including many of her law partners. She is always looking for opportunities to pay it forward and encourage runners at any level to tackle distance running. “It’s a time investment and it’s a lot of work, but hard things are worth doing.”

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