As he drank deeply from a plastic bottle of water while wiping sweat from his face and neck in the brilliant sunshine Sunday, Ryan McGuire had only one thing on his mind: a shower.
"I've got to go. I have to take my fiancé to her bridal shower," McGuire, 32, said with a justifiably tired smile after winning the men's half-marathon portion of the 35th Long Island Marathon event that finished at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow. His time was 1 hour, 9 minutes, 7 seconds.
The bridal shower for Tara Beck, who will become Mrs. Ryan McGuire on June 6, was being thrown by Ryan's mother, Carolyne McGuire, in West Babylon. That's where McGuire grew up and ran for West Babylon High School. He and his fiancé now live in Middleburg, Pennsylvania.
"My mom was throwing a bridal shower for my fiancé and we were coming to Long Island; I saw the marathon was here and I needed a race. I thought, 'Yeah, I can squeeze in a race in the morning,' so I decided to sign up and give it a go."
McGuire, who was searching for his fiancé in the crowd after his victory, said Beck, who grew up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and is a cheerleading coach for Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, "was supportive. She drove me to the race. She's around here somewhere. I saw her when I was coming down the final stretch."
By then, McGuire, a kindergarten teacher and cross county coach -- what else? -- at Selinsgrove High School, had put some distance between himself and second-place finisher Andrew Coelho of Wantagh (1:09:50), who ran part of the race alongside McGuire.
"I'm trying to build up to run the full marathon," McGuire said. "My last full was last February in New Orleans. I took second there. I was gearing up for another full when I hurt my Achilles. That kept me out two months. I'm working on getting my speed back."
He made fast work of Sunday's jaunt before taking a shower and then attending one. "This is a day we won't forget, that's for sure."