This Is What Makes The New York City Marathon So Special

Running the New York City Marathon wasn't just the best race of my life, it was the best day of my life. I don't know if it was because the stars aligned and I ended up with a perfect race day or because it truly is a magical experience, but I am overwhelmed and excited going in to this year's marathon.

Last year, NYC was my second marathon and I remember how eerily calm I was the night before the race. t was a complete 180 from the year prior when I ran my first marathon. Before my first marathon, I was a mess. I almost didn't get out of bed I was so petrified and afraid but this time, I felt ready. I didn't have any trouble sleeping and the morning of the race, I sat with my Team for Kids charity teammates repeating over and over again, "I don't feel like I'm about to run a marathon."

I was calm as we sorted through the chaos of the corrals and it wasn't until I saw the start line and heard that beautiful song New York, New York, that I felt the wave of excitement wash over me. This was new, excitement instead of dread and fear? What changed? Why was I so at ease this go around? The difference between my first and second marathon was who I was and where I was in my life. I didn't believe in myself or my strength when I toed the line of my first marathon. A year and a half later, I was a completely different person. I had fully assumed my identity as a runner and I was looking forward to spending 4 hours with hundreds of thousands of New Yorker's, running through the five boroughs of the big scary beautiful city I call home.

The question I get asked most frequently (tied with what do you think about when you run) is why do you run? Why? My answer is always changing but right now it's because it just makes sense. I always felt so at ease with who I was and where I was going and the day I woke up and started second guessing myself completely derailed my "life plan." I'm a very passionate person and my passion and my art was my identity. I love affecting people -- making them laugh, giving them hope or a reason to believe in themselves. I wasn't used to being the one who needed the help. Feeling lost and out of touch with myself was foreign and terrifying. Running led me to my new identity. Something running has taught me is that it's OK to be scared and it's OK to try something that feels impossible and foreign.

When I run a marathon, that's when I do my best imagining. That's when I can feel closest to my brother and that's where I feel like I can effortlessly be myself. That's why you will rarely see pictures of me on my social media platforms looking serious or posed when I'm running. That's not me or my experience running. I'm not a model, I am trying to capture moments of my life to share with you. Running is tough and it will kick your ass but it will also open doors to infinite possibilities.

I remember during the last mile of the marathon last year, I was looking around because I truly felt like my brother was with me. I felt like I could reach out and touch him, hold his hand, that's how powerful his presence felt. It was the first time I'd felt like that since I hugged him goodbye the last time I saw him four years prior. It was kind of like the final missing piece of the puzzle, having him affirm this new life I'd created for myself. I have no doubt in my mind that he was there with me. I mean who knows, maybe I was so fogged out and fatigued that I was hallucinating but I really do think he was there with me heading into the Central Park to cross the finish line. And that's my favorite part about the marathon, you transcend time and space. It's unlike anything you'll ever experience in your life. Miracles happen.

New York is a magical marathon. I call it the Beyonce of marathons because for 26.2 milesstraight, the hundreds of thousands of spectators make you feel like Beyonce. New York can be one of the loneliest cities in the world. Here people don't look at you, they look directly through you. But on marathon Sunday, the entire city looks up and lines the streets to support one another.

So what is my goal this year? I want to enjoy the party. I spent the last 2 weeks going back and forth about whether or not I wanted to try to break 4 hours but I've decided that I don't want to waste this experience. I don't want to run by my friends and family along the course because I'm running for time. I want to be able to stop and share my experience with them. Running without stopping to hug the people I love who come out to support me just feels wrong. I don't want to look forward, I want to look around. So I hope to stay under 4:10 and who knows, maybe I'll get to kill two birds with one stone...but I doubt it. My personal best isn't defined by a time, it's last year's NYC Marathon experience. It's the sense of joy and limitlessness that I felt when I ran last year. If I can re-create half of what I experienced last year I will be over the moon.

I can't wait to bring you all with me. The day before the race I will be doing an Instagram takeover for Women's Running Magazine and, of course, I'll be blowing up your Instagram feed Sunday with all things Marathon. Is it Sunday yet? Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.