5am on Sunday morning and movement begins on the second floor of our apartment. It had hit me in the early hours of the morning that I would be running a marathon today, a slight scary but exciting thought. Before my alarm, I climbed out of bed, made my way downstairs to greet the girls, and gathered my breakfast, throwaway clothes and water. I opted to collect a race poncho, rather than do bag drop, as I figured it would be one less thing to have to collect/worry about at the end.
Our uber collected us at 6am, and we made our way to the ferry terminal, as the sun began to rise. The weather was due to be blue skies, sunny and 12oC – perfect running conditions! Chat was all about our nerves, in the car, and before we got out, we blasted “Welcome To New York” by Taylor Swift. This has became our theme tune for the weekend, and my now favorite song. I’m sure the driver considered us mad, as we then climbed out of the car wearing our old and very baggy clothes!
After using the loos we decided to board the slightly earlier ferry and I’m really glad we did. The queue from Staten Island Ferry port was so long, just to board the bus to the race village. Once on the bus, I was able to eat my breakfast, as the banana I had at 6am definitely hadn’t even hit the sides of my stomach! I found timing when to eat my breakfast really hard, as I’m so used to getting up, eating and going out after a certain time. Definitely something to practice and remember for my next marathon!
Once at the race village, we all split up. Anna and Steph ran on as their wave was due to go, leaving Elaine, Cortney and myself to use the loos again and get ourselves ready for our wave. We all thought we would have hours to wait around but I’m actually glad we didn’t. I was worried I’d be cold and find it hard to get going but it was the opposite. The buzz was incredible, everyone so helpful amongst the panic of finding the right corral to get into, and the good luck wishes from the volunteers were coming from every direction. Cortney and I started together, meaning I didn’t feel the loneliness that I had felt at the London start line. I was still nervous, scared that my legs had forgotten what to do and all my training over the last 4 months felt like a blur. Finally, when the gun sounded, Cortney and I said our goodbyes and wished each other good luck. We were ready and excited to witness the five boroughs and run New York City.
Starting off by running over the Verrazzano Bridge was incredible! The views were spectacular! I’ve never driven over this bridge, or been this far down to Staten Island, so to see the city from this angle was amazing. For those of you who don’t know, the course starts at Staten Island and takes you right up through New York, ending in Central Park. You run through the five boroughs and over the three main bridges. No one believed me when I told them that New York is hilly and when I started my training, Charlie warned me A LOT about them. Hence the hill work, combined with living in a pretty hilly part of the country, I felt pretty confident about them.
Miles 1-5 were great. I felt strong, happy and running at a comfortable/my race pace. The crowds were great, along with the many signs people had made.
At mile 6 I fueled up, continued to feel strong and comfortable. The crowds continued to be really supportive and there were a couple of bands out. I was told my cousin would be at mile 11, but it was so busy along the streets of Williamsburg, that I missed him. Even though I didn’t see him, mentally it helped me to get there, knowing I might.
At mile 13 I had to stop to pee. Something I was trying to forget about and not consider doing, but it was getting uncomfortable and I’m sure it’s why I got cramp. I got going again and munched a bit more of my cliff bar as I climbed the Pulaski Bridge. I had reached half way, and was excited to soon be seeing my mum and high school friend, Nina, at mile 16. Knowing also, that this would get me over the Queensboro Bridge.
As I reached mile 15, I paid no attention to my watch. As we began to climb, my quads turned into concrete and I was so desperate for there to be some form of release. I’d reached the top of the bridge, where another runner shouted out congratulating us all and cheered us on, before making my way down the other side. Hips forward, and as I got to the bottom, something released in my quads, and I ran towards my mum and Nina. I burst into tears and gave them the biggest hug. I was full of adrenaline and ready to experience 1st Avenue, which was like being at a party! From then until mile 18, the support continued to be great, lots of signs, bands and people shouting random runners names. I tried not to look up and ahead of me as all I saw was a swarm of runners. A pleasant surprise at mile 18 was the cold sponges the volunteers were handing out. I gladly took one and continued on my way.
At mile 20, I ran past Chris Evans and am SERIOUSLY regretting NOT getting a selfie with him! Haha! I saw my mum and Nina again at mile 22, I grabbed water off my mum and gave them a hug, which gave me an extra boost to get to the end. I continued to feel good, except very thirsty and eating did not appeal. I was taking water on at every mile and felt like I could drink a bottle, not a cup. I knew I was close to the finish and that there would be some waiting for me.
I was super gutted to miss Charlie and Anna at mile 24 as I was frantically looking for them. I was feeling very ready to be done now. Up the last hill, into and then out of Central Park was a bitch, then there it was, mile 26 shortly followed by the finish line. I looked up at the camera and smiled hard as I crossed the finish line! I was done, I couldn’t believe it. New York City marathon, a dream I’d had for years and my second major in 1 year, complete.
I was handed my medal and frantically made my way through the zombie like swarm of runners, to grab my finishers bag and some water!
Slowly after, I made my way to collect my poncho. This felt like miles, I was beginning to get very cold and everything started to seize up. When the lady finally wrapped one around me, I made my way to meet mum and Nina. I couldn’t wait for a hug, and when I saw her I burst into tears. Their support, has meant the world to me. When I told my mum I was running New York, she instantly said she’d come too and I’m beyond thankful to her for doing so. Even though we only had a few hours with each other, it was the best knowing she would be around the course and at the end, waiting for me. What she doesn’t realize, now, is that she WILL be required to attend more marathons with me, because I honestly don’t think I could do it without her!
I can’t think of a single negative to this race. The amount of water and gatorade (American version of Lucozade) supplied at every mile, was beyond my expectations, the crowds amazing and the constant congratulations after, from everyone on the streets, incredible.
After taking some pictures and putting on extra layers, we made our way to a juice/acai bowl cafe, to grab one to take back to the apartment. I was craving this and after being thrown out of our cab to walk the last 5 blocks to the apartment, it was the only thing keeping me going!
When we arrived back, I was greeted by the girls and a lovely hug from both Anna and Charlie, before finally planting myself on the dining room chair. It was so nice to be back together again, congratulate and chat about our experience/the run. After showering and dressing into comfy clothes, we made our way out to dinner, medals in tow. We devoured many bowls of guacamole and chips and delicious Mexican plates. After a lovely evening, I said goodbye to my mum and Nina then slowly climbing into a cab to get back to bed. We were all beyond ready to sleep!
The following morning, a few of us were up quite early, so we decided to slowly make our way to the local coffee shop, again!, to move our legs. I actually slept quite well but moving around was hard and I definitely felt a little sore. Once everyone had woken up, we sorted ourselves and left the flat to head to Penn Station where we had planned to leave our luggage for the day. Afterwards we headed to our brunch spot, in the pouring rain, ready to devour pancakes, eggs, coffee and much more!
A few hours had passed, spent chatting and taking photos, then it was time to say our final goodbyes to each other. Anna and I headed to a few shops and Chelsea Market, before starting our donut hunt, succeeding twice. We then headed to 5th Avenue, where we grabbed dinner to take to the airport with us, browsed in a few shops and visited Whole Foods. Feeling shattered we were both extremely excited to get on the plane to sit down and hopefully get some sleep.
Before I end this post, I just want to say a massive thank you again, to Charlie. Not only for training me for this race, but for always being there at the end of a text, putting up with my late evening (and demanding) texts asking for my weekly runs, offering support and advice and generally being a truly amazing friend.
To Anna, Elaine, Steph, Cortney, thank you for the best weekend. I’ve not smiled or laughed so hard in a long time. I’ve made four new friends, and am extremely grateful for you all. The weekend would not have been what it was without you all.
And finally to all my readers and followers. The good luck wishes, messages, support and congratulations during both my training, before and after both London and this marathon, has meant so much. You all inspire me, in very different ways. This year has been an amazing but also difficult one, for me, but without you all just offering a few words, its helped get me through.
Thank you again and much love always,