Total shock. Complete disbelief. I spell the word out in my head as I stare, dumbfounded, at the computer screen: A-C-C-E-P-T-E-D. An affirmative word. The opposite of “rejected,” “declined” or “sorry.” I blink my eyes a few times. Am I really seeing this? I feel like someone’s about to jump out of the closet and tell me I’ve been punk’d. I’m sure there’s some kind of mistake, so I log out of the website. Maybe there was a system-wide failure. Maybe I’ve inadvertently logged into someone else’s account. Am I hacking? I immediately log back in, carefully entering my user name and password. The word is still there.
Right below is my entrant number.
I’ve been accepted into the 2012 New York City Marathon, November 4, 2012.
Quite honestly, I have no desire to run 26.2 miles. I did it once. Twenty years ago. The New York City Marathon. I’ve said before that the only way I would run a marathon again is if I got into New York again, knowing that the chances were slim. I entered my name into the lottery-style drawing this year to commemorate this two-decade anniversary, thinking it would be cool to experience New York again. Running through all five boroughs. The finish line in Central Park. To see what training would be like for this forty-five-year-old body vs. the twenty-five-year-old one. I knew it was a long shot: there were 140,000 applicants in 2011.
The guidelines for entry include detailed application information, using words and lingo that remind me of high-school math (which made little sense then, and make even less sense now.) They speak of percentages of non-guaranteed entries (including NY-metro area, international and domestic applicants), random number selection and algorithms, including a link to random.org.
I submitted my entry a month or so ago and learned the news last night right before my 8-year-old’s first Little League Game. I confirmed the pending entry fee on my credit card. I’m in.
As I drove to the game, I rambled to my mother-in-law. The news was surreal, already changing the shape of our year. Ideas were swirling. The reality that we would be going to New York in the Fall and that my boys would get to meet and hang out with my cousins’ kids. The incredible family reunion that would take place.
I felt on top of the world, like I was walking on air – you name the happy sentiment, I was feeling it.
I excitedly told the news to the first friend I saw. She shared my joy, grinning from ear to ear. She clapped and hugged me twice. I expressed my disbelief.
“God wants you in New York,” she said.
I called my Aunt in New Jersey, my sister, my mom. We were all giddy.
When I got home I checked the website one more time. Just in case.
I thought of my friend’s words and a smile spread across my face again.
And He’s bigger than an algorithm.