| By Patrick McEnroe



This has been the hardest year of my life.

My brothers, John and Mark, and I lost both of our parents this year, including my mom, Katherine, to cancer less than a month ago.

I’ve turned to running as a coping mechanism, which has proven to be very healthy for my mind. It gives me time to meditate on life and think about how lucky I am, and how lucky I was to have two great parents who gave me the opportunity to compete in sports as a kid and make a career out of it.

Call me old-school, but I never use headphones when I run. Instead, I use the time to think.

Whatever age you are, running is a nice way for you to just be with yourself and take that one moment–or several moments–to think about where you are in your life.

Over the last several months, the longer I’ve run, the more I’ve thought about all those people around the world who have pondered their lives for 26.2 miles. I’d like to congratulate all those people. They’re all champions in my book.

Running a marathon is always something I’ve wanted to do, but I’ve never had the guts to put in the effort.

But this year, as you know, has been different for me. It’s been a roller-coaster ride awaiting an upswing.

And so I’ve decided the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon will be my upswing.

I’ll be running on November 5 on behalf of my older brother John’s charity, the Johnny Mac Tennis Project, which introduces tennis as a life-long health, fitness, and social activity for thousands of under-resourced New York City area kids, specifically those in East Harlem and the South Bronx. 

Ok. So that’s public knowledge now.

I’m running 26.2 miles.

Gulp.

I’m still swallowing this news myself, but I’m fully committed and have been training with New York Road Runners coach Roberto Mandje, who represented Equatorial Guinea at the 2004 Olympics.

I’m very much into nature, and my favorite thing is to go on a run through a beautiful forest. I love running in the woods. I love running in the hills. I love running on hiking paths.

But I do not consider myself a runner at all.

At least not yet.

Growing up in Queens, the New York City Marathon was an iconic event I looked forward to every year. It’s one of the great things about New York City, as it brings together people of all different shapes, sizes, physiques, and colors. It’s an amazing gathering, and I love that New Yorkers come out and support the 50,000 runners across all 26.2 miles.

I’ve witnessed it as a fan in the street. I’ve had friends participate in it. I’ve stood in Central Park and watched people cross the finish line, both in jubilance and in exasperation.

Anybody can do it, they say. You just have to put the time in. 

I’m certainly not the first tennis player to run the New York City Marathon–there’s a mighty long list of them who have crossed the finish line in impressive times: Mats Wilander, Yannick Noah, Justin Gimelstob, Amelie Mauresmo, Amer Delic, Caroline Wozniacki, James Blake, Marion Bartoli.

Like them, I’m going to give it my best shot at finishing in a respectable time, too.

Tennis players are drawn to marathons because both have such a solitary nature. You’re on your own. You’re challenging yourself. You’re with your own thoughts.

The physical training is different, but the mindset is the same.

I enjoyed team sports, like baseball and basketball, growing up, but what I really thrived on was spending hours and hours hitting a tennis ball against the wall by myself. Perhaps that was my way of meditating on my life as a kid.

Juggling multiple jobs, a wife, and three daughters means the biggest obstacle for me will be finding the time to train.

But I’m also doing it for my kids–my 11-year-old Victoria and my 8-year-old twins, Juliette and Diana–just as my parents did so much to inspire me growing up.

Letting them see Daddy go for a run on a consistent basis is a nice message to send in so many ways, as it relays the importance of living an active and healthy lifestyle–which New York Road Runners fully embodies–as well as the concept of commitment.

I’ve certainly envisioned myself crossing the TCS New York City Marathon finish line and being handed a medal. That would be a huge accomplishment, without a doubt among the top three in my career, and maybe even higher.

I’d hang my medal on top of the mantle in my living room, right above my French Open doubles trophy and Davis Cup.

It’d probably tilt one way, swinging upwards.