P. Diddy and Me – A Marathon Story

This article appeared in the 10/29/09 issue of The Queens Courier

It was the first Monday in November. I had just run the New York City Marathon the previous day and in this particular year the rap artist, P. Diddy was among the finishers. Celebrities habitually train for high profile athletic events such as the New York City Marathon and this was his year. Lance Armstrong was among the finishers in subsequent years.

I had run eleven marathons previous to this one and on the mornings after, I always looked forward to The New York Times special “Marathon” section listing the finishers and their times. Usually I was the only one my students knew who ran the race, so I was in the limelight at Richmond Hill High School as they rifled through the pages seeking out my name. Once they found it, thank goodness their inquiring minds never thought to ask the meaning of “F53” or “F54” next to it (female age 54). All they cared about was my official time and my place in the race. Often I was asked, “So, Miss Ehrlich, if you know you’re not going to win, why run it?”

In other words, why do I bother? My post-race war story descriptions, however, and my shiny gold medals, rendered them a captive audience each and every year.

But on this particular Monday morning, my competition was P. Diddy and his time was a bit faster than mine. (He’s also 20 years my junior.) Naturally, the students were gleeful when they found his name, Sean Combs, among the finishers. Now here’s where timing is everything.

The classroom door opened and a bouquet of flowers was brought into the room. It was gift wrapped and shipped from FTD. I certainly wasn’t expecting flowers but I figured my husband was congratulating me. The class watched with bated breath as I tore off the paper, opened the ribbons and then the cellophane. I found the card and read it to myself.  It really said, “Dear Mel, Thanks for running with me. You were great. Love, P. Droppy” (It was from my good friend Phil Dropkin who cleverly punned with “P. Droppy.”) I smiled and announced to the class,

“Oh my God, P. Diddy sent me flowers!”

“Get outta here! For real?” The class was as surprised as I was.

“Here,” I said, passing the card out to them, “Read the card.” They did, and in their frenzy, obviously ignoring their newly acquired proofreading skills, they saw what they wanted to see – flowers from P. Diddy! Were they impressed and was I amused! Just a few letters that they chose to ignore and I too was even more of a celebrity that day.

All throughout that Monday, kids in my other classes would ask me, “Did you see P. Diddy at the marathon?” and I would proclaim, “Not only did I SEE him but he sent me flowers!”

Philly, you made my day!


By running the New York City Marathon, Sean Combs raised $2,000,000 to benefit New York City’s schoolchildren. I ran as a member of Fred’s Team and raised $2500 for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in the fight against pediatric cancer.

{Melinda Ehrlich recently celebrated her sixtieth birthday ran her fifteenth 26.2 mile marathon on November 1, 2009. This is an excerpt from her memoir, Take Off Your Hatand Spit Out Your Gum – What I Learned in 33 ½ Years as a NYC English Teacher.}

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4 Responses to P. Diddy and Me – A Marathon Story

  1. Sande Sherr says:

    I had read this when you sent me the piece from your book, but I found myself smiling all over again as I reread it here!

  2. varfdrago says:

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  3. lol, Diddy is so wild! I love him.

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