Just one foot in front of the other is how Francine Silver eventually found herself to be the last finisher of the 2023 TCS New York City Marathon, walking across the finish line at 11:10 p.m. on Sunday night in front of Tavern on the Green.
“I wanted to quit,” Silver said. The mother of two teenage boys from Rahway, NJ, said she got lost at mile 11 in Brooklyn while walking as her husband, Michael, met her to refill her drink. They took a wrong turn somehow, missed mile 12 and looked for mile 13, she said. And it was at that point that she turned it around for herself.
“I don’t want to fail,” Silver told her husband. “And we went back and we somehow found the 12th mile marker, then the 13th. And then we just kept going and kept going until my husband was just saying to me, ‘Franny: one foot again, one foot after another. You could do it, one foot after another,’” Silver told us.
Yet as the Silvers walked the course, Francine said she was concerned about the race staff.
“I was like…they’re going to wait so long for us, and maybe it’s more polite to, you know, to not finish,” the first-time marathoner shared. But, she said her husband kept cheering her on. “So he really pushed me. And I’m happy now. I’m proud.” As Francine reached the finish line, NYC Marathon staff rang cow bells, cheered loudly, and news reporters were there to greet her.
Francine was presented with flowers—and a medal bestowed upon her by her mother-in-law—before being escorted from the finish line in a courtesy wheelchair to a Central Park bench at the West 67th Street entrance. There, Silver shared that she was in a lot of pain from the race. She also said she ran the marathon to combat the daily migraines she’s had for the past 15 years.
“Sometimes I feel like I have to do something crazy just because, otherwise, I would just be kind of miserable. I have a wonderful husband, 17- and 18-year old, wonderful boys, but you know, the pain is every day. And I just said, ‘Sometimes you just got to do something crazy.’ And I did something crazy,” Silver said.
While waiting for her husband to get the car to return to NJ, Silver had some tips for future marathoners regarding preparation and mindset.
“I’d just say make sure your training is really up to par. You know, I was probably just slightly under what the recommended training mileage is, just a little bit under…Just even when you’re so determined to quit, there could be something inside you that forces you to turn around and find that place in the world you’re supposed to be,” Silver said.
Surprisingly, she added, her migraine was gone. “I think the other pain just overshadowed it.”
And Silver’s final piece of advice for runners who want to quit before the finish?
“Listen to what my husband said: ‘One foot in front of the other, one foot in front of the other.’ That’s all you have to do.”
More than 51,000 runners participated in this year’s NYC Marathon, including those with wheelchairs (52) and handcycles (55), according to the New York Road Runners race results website.