"This was definitely not something on my bucket list," Amber Sabathia said. "I have never run in my life. Even when I worked out, I would never get on the treadmill. I've totally transformed into something that I never thought I could be, which is amazing."
The Sabathias' PitCCh In Foundation is fielding a 15-member team for the marathon, raising funds for signature programs in the tri-state area that include youth backpacks and a holiday caravan. Former NFL star Tiki Barber and Alexis Stoudemire, the wife of Knicks standout Amar'e Stoudemire, are also on the roster.
The PitCCh In Foundation backed a five-runner team for last year's marathon, and while tracking their progress over the 26.2-mile course, Amber told foundation program director Candy Crary that she was feeling inspired to lace up her sneakers.
"I turned to Candy and said, 'I'm doing it next year,'" Amber recalled. "She said, 'No, Amber, you can't. This takes a lot of time.' I said, 'If they can run for our foundation and they're fundraising, then I'm going to do it, too.'"
The baseball family has lent its support. Amber's CrowdRise page has raised more than $70,000 in donations, with contributors including the families of Carlos Beltran, Prince Fielder, Joe Girardi, Cliff Lee, Brandon McCarthy and David Robertson.
"They're so tired of me sending them e-mails for support. They can't wait for it to be over," Amber said, with a laugh. "I've been getting so much support from the wives and the baseball world. There are so many players that have sent out and are supporting."
Amber said that her marathon preparations started 16 weeks ago, walking four miles on the first day of training. She could hardly walk the next day, an important lesson on the importance of recovery; CC has been able to help with some of his baseball gear, like an ice machine and compression pants.
"As athletes, they know what goes into it," Amber said. "Even eating -- I'm so hungry all the time. I didn't know that by running, you can be burning 2,500 calories. You've got to replenish, because that helps the recovery."
Training has been a common theme in the household; CC is recovering from right knee surgery with expectations of being ready for Spring Training, recently saying that he expects to pitch 200 innings in 2015. The offseason has allowed him to be available to help in other ways.
"He's very supportive," Amber said. "The next day after I do a long run, he'll always get the kids up and take them to school for me. I told him, 'Monday and Tuesday, I'm out. I'm not here, I'm not available after this marathon.'
"One question he did ask me, which was really funny, he said, 'You know, we would be in the World Series right now. Which one would be more important?' I said, after these 16 weeks of training, it would be the marathon."
Amber said that her goal on Sunday is to finish in under five hours, and she has been picking up bits and pieces of advice along the way -- removing her earbuds along Manhattan's First Avenue, for example, to absorb the roar of the crowd. She also plans to use landmarks to count down the miles to the finish line.
"I'm excited about the bridges, and being able to run on those to really get a push," Amber said. "I just looked at the map right now and counted the bridges, so in my mind once I get out of the Bronx after that fourth bridge, it's six miles. Mentally, I'll know that and be ready."