Jason Lanzilotti of the Cresskill Police Department was minutes into running the 2016 New York City Marathon when his headphones died.
The plan was to let the music carry him through the 26.2-mile race. But he knows, things don't always go according to plan.
"I had nothing to go on but myself," the detective sergeant and Bergenfield firefighter said.
It was Lanzilotti's second marathon -- the first time he would be running alone.
He remembered the advice his uncle gave him when he ran his first with his brother-in-law in 2011: Focus, focus, focus.
With nothing but the voice in his head and cheers from the crowds, Lanzilotti went on to shave 14 minutes off of his time, finishing in 3:53:26.
"Getting to that line and seeing the time up there was definitely an awesome feeling," said Lanzilotti, 38.
"But you don't have to be a marathon runner, bench 400 pounds or be a black belt. As long as you're doing something that's bettering yourself, that's what's most important."
Lanzilotti says fitness has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. It wasn't until he became a dad that he found distance running.
"It's a nice release," the father of three said. "There's no better therapy."
Lanzilotti averages anywhere between five and 13 miles on an average run and also lifts weights for balance.
When he's training, Lanzilotti sticks to a 12-week program, taking to local streets knocking off one mile at a time.
It isn't quite as leisurely as running just for the exercise, he said.
"It's a lot of work," Lanzilotti said. "Running up to 20 miles and then 26 isn't something you always enjoy."
The days leading up to the race are the most nerve wracking and overwhelming, knowing anything could go wrong.
"You think about the weather and hope you feel okay that day," Lanzilotti said. "And then the moments before the race, you're sitting in the corals just trying to go over everything, trying to stay focused."
Soon as he takes his first few steps on the New York City streets, everything makes sense.
All of the training. All of the pain. All of the hard work.
That's why Lanzilotti is planning on running his third New York City Marathon this year.
While running might be Lanzilotti's passion, he strives to be a well-rounded athlete and first-responder.
"There's a perception that people are calling for your help," he said. "And you want to live up to their expectations."
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