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JCF Blog

Year of the Philanthropic Journey Part 8 of 12: Love as Oxygen

Posted by: Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford on 4/25/2019
I never thought I would be a runner. I played team sports my whole life but I never actually liked running – it was essentially a punishment where all team sports were involved. We lost a softball game, do a few laps around the fields; we lost a basketball game, do some sprints at the end of practice; we lost a field hockey game, run a mile with your goalie pads and helmet on.

Fast forward, many miles and many years later, and… I am a runner! And on November 4, 2018 I ran the New York City Marathon – the biggest marathon in the world. I am incredibly lucky because I applied through the lottery and magically, I got in – over 105,000 people applied and only 15% of those people got in! It was happening! This was just a few months removed from running the Hartford Marathon, which was my first marathon, so I guess you could say I caught the marathon bug.

My experience running the New York City Marathon was truly unforgettable. The excitement started the day I applied through the lottery, continued the day I was accepted and still hasn’t ended. 

While I know that not everyone will run a marathon, the experience that I hope everyone gets to have is the feeling of deep support – true, loving support from friends, family, and the many citizens of New York who lined the streets of all five boroughs throughout the day. The amount of messages, calls, and texts I received leading up to the race, the day of and after were amazing. 

Friends tracking me throughout the race, yelling out to me on the course.
My sister and her boyfriend doing their own marathon across the city to see me three times during the race and hosting me for the entire weekend. 

Friends who volunteered at the finish line and waited hours for me to cross just so they could see me and congratulate me. 

My husband and kids who couldn’t be there for the race but made a digital photo cheer card that I saw on a giant screen as I entered Central Park. 

This kind of support and love is an experience I hope everyone gets to have. 

Any type of situation, large or small, will be exponentially more meaningful and fulfilling when buoyed by love. I pushed myself for months, trained with my running family, looked for advice from many resources, talked with friends who did the race before, but in the end, the marathon was up to me. Luckily, I was hardly alone. In the midst of 50,000 other runners I reached down deep to feel everyone’s good wishes when I felt tired, sore and slow and was having doubts along the course. Classically I ran the first 10 miles too fast and that meant the last 16 miles were hell. I truly needed the messages of love and support to keep me going.

And I’m so glad I did. To run up Fifth Avenue, into Central Park, through Columbus Circle and up to the finish line was amazing. But it wouldn’t have felt as good if I were on my own. To know that so many people were rooting for me was the thing that got me to the starting line and pushed me over the finish line too. This is something I hope everyone gets to experience. 

In my professional life in the Jewish community of Greater Hartford I have been blessed to have cheerleaders, collaborators and colleagues who have supported me. Together we have achieved our collective goals to serve the community. Through programs and events, large and small, together we were able to help people along on their Jewish journeys. Our Jewish community is filled with professional and volunteer leaders who are looking to do what is best for the community and the people in it. We are all benefactors of their love and support for the Jewish community of Greater Hartford. 

I can feel the love – and I hope you can too.

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Renee Goldberg
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Love your first blog. Congratulations. Mum
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