WILTON, Conn. -- Wilton’s Lisa Schneider hadn’t even run two miles in last year’s New York City Marathon when she decided to do it again. She just needed to figure out how.
On Nov. 2, Schneider will run for the Connecticut Challenge to raise money for its cancer survivorship programs. She’ll also be honoring her friend, Jenn Lewis, a Wilton resident, cancer survivor and fellow marathon participant. Readers can support Schneider through her online fundraising page.
“I don’t think I had even made it over the bridge when I decided I’m going to do this again,’’ Schneider said, recalling crossing the Verrazano-Narrows bridge on Staten Island at the start of the race. “I can’t even begin to describe the experience.”
Schneider did not know how she might get into the race, but Lewis told her bibs were available through the CT Challenge. “I didn’t hesitate,’’ Schneider said. “I knew how important it was for her. I could see the impact that it had on a person’s life. You don’t always get that when you’re running for a charity. She inspired me to help them. We’ve known each other for about 10 years, and she said I’m going to run New York. Running has brought us closer together.”
This year’s race will be Schneider’s third time running the distance. The first time she ran 26.2 miles, she journeyed through the streets of Fairfield County in remembrance of her mother.
In 2012, Schneider was trained, ready and eager to run her first marathon. Superstorm Sandy forced the cancellation of the New York race, much to the disappointment of Schneider.
“That was a very difficult time,’’ said Schneider, who wanted to run the race at age 46, the same age at which her mother died. “All the emotions of the training and honoring my mother, I was very conflicted. I felt I’m going to do whatever the New York Road Runners decide. I went to the expo on Friday, got my number and was walking in the door when I was told the marathon was canceled. I was devastated. I went upstairs and cried. I think it was the right thing to do, but it was still very upsetting.”
Schneider decided to hit the streets to run the distance on her own on marathon Sunday. She ran from Wilton to Darien, where she passed the house in which she grew up, and back to Wilton.
“I told my friends where I was running and headed out the door,’’ Schneider said. “I had people cheering me on, I had water and I had two friends advancing the run and telling people that this was my marathon and asking them to cheer me on.”
Even though it was not the official race, Schneider felt incredible rewards. “It was very emotional,’’ Schneider said. “Even though it wasn’t New York, there was an emotional feeling behind it because of the significance of the run. It was one of the best experiences because of where I was running and what my friends and family had done for me.”
Race officials granted a three-year window to try again for contestants who missed the race due to Sandy’s devastation. Schneider couldn’t wait for last year’s race.
“Even though I ran the marathon distance, it wasn’t the New York Marathon,’’ Schneider said. “I knew I was going to do it again. I find the training to be incredibly rewarding. I never resented one run, even on those days when I was out there for three or four hours.”
The race did not disappoint her. The energy, the fans and the excitement left her excited for more. “It’s such a party,’’ Schneider said. “It’s 26 miles of people cheering for you, supporting you, calling your name. It didn’t matter what socio-economic area we were in, everyone had the same enthusiasm. It was like an out of body experience.”
Schneider said she caught the marathon bug. She will run New York to support her friend, take some time off and find her next journey. It is unlikely she will find anything as memorable or rewarding as her first two times running the distance.
“I’m going to find a cool destination for my next one,’’ Schneider said, “something that’s right for me and make it a nice destination for my family. I have the bug and thankfully my body is fine. It’s not fighting back.”
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