Seventeen down, three to go
New York and I have a lot in common ….. it never sleeps, it’s busy, a little rough around the edges and it loves marathons ….. and oh man what a marathon.
I was so lucky to secure a ballot place at the first time of asking for the biggest road race in the world, and I’m so glad I did, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
I caught the train up to New Yoik a few days before the big day after having had such a good race and a lovely time in Washington at Marine Corps. Having come out of Marine Corps fairly unscathed and with the knee doing pretty well, I was looking forward to sharing this one with some of the BCRC.
Arriving into Penn Station in central Manhattan mid afternoon on Thursday left me plenty of time to drop my case at the hotel by south ferry and head up to the Expo on the metro.
I collected my race number and headed into the merchandise area to meet up with the lovely Karen and James. I emptied the store while they took a look at the more important stuff like course maps and race day information, ….. well as long as you get to the start line right ?! ….. and I guess the finish line.
2016 was to mark the 46th year of the New York Marathon, and the 40th year of the race weaving its way through all five boroughs of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan. Organised by the New York Road Runners and attracting around 50,000 runners, New York as I was soon to discover is quite possibly THE marathon.
Karen, James and I, now fully laden made our way out onto the streets of Manhattan to enjoy a little more carb loading in preparation for Sunday.
It turned out that my wonderful new friend that I’d met in Washington ‘knew people’ in New York !, and had kindly forewarned them of my impending arrival. It turned out New York knew I was coming to join them for, as they describe it, the biggest block party in the world.
Thank you Suzanne.
Having visited New York a couple of times with Sharon in the past, I tried to keep off of my feet as much as possible on Friday, but always feel compelled to pay my respects to those lost on that terrible day.
With reminders of previous visits with my girl on my mind ……
…. I made my way back uptown to meet Jim, a speedy BCRCer looking to run his 5th ‘major’, and to hook up with Karen and James again for yet more sustenance !
With Karen and James planning on some fine dining for the evening, Jim had to drag me kicking and screaming to a pub and something to eat !
We didn’t go for our planned run the next morning.
Instead we got a bit of sightseeing in, and obviously more carb loading was very much on the cards.
I know I’ve used a fair amount of space on this blog thanking people for their invaluable support this year for what I am trying to achieve, but I feel it’s worth re-emphasising the impact this has on my ability to complete this year.
I’m afraid I don’t feel so comfortable with the way people have described me this year, I certainly don’t recognise some of the descriptions in myself. After all I’m just trying to find a way that works for me to come to terms with my situation and make sure Sharon is remembered ….. I think I may have achieved that, and it probably means more than most will know.
I’ve met some amazing people along the way who I am sure will remain close forever, and am lucky to have the amazing support of existing friends and family. I am very conscious that others are trying to find their way of dealing with their own problems often in more difficult circumstances.
Sometimes even the smallest gesture picks me up when I need it most …..
So, thank you !
Right enough of the love in …… I’ll try not to repeat it too often, only three to go.
Race day –
Up at the normal ridiculous hour of the long distance runner, I met Jim and a friend Marco, in the lobby of the hotel and we made our way the short distance to The Staten Island Ferry for the 6.15am crossing to the starting area.
Manhattan was looking glorious from the ferry on a bright and relatively mild day for the time of year.
After a quick bus ride on Staten Island we arrived at the start with plenty of time to spare, so soaked up the atmosphere with a spot of tea !
The excitement in the air was palpable as first timers and veterans of New York exchanged stories of races past and races to come, and of course of what was to come this day.
Jim and I parted ways close to the starting time, as he made his way into the super speedy corral, and I made my way into the not so super speedy corral. I found some poor unsuspecting people to nervously chat to whilst we waited for the howitzer to go off signifying the start of the race.
Despite making my race photos look even stranger than they normally do, I was so glad to have recorded MCM and was doing the same today to try to help people get a feel of why I love doing this.
Shortly after starting on the amazing Verrazano Narrows bridge we dropped down into Brooklyn to this …..
It felt like everyone was there just for me ….. and high fives became the order of the day !
I ran well ….. but most of all I had a blast ! The crowds just lifted me along the whole course. The bridges were a little hard going, but honestly, I didn’t care as I knew something good would be on the other side ….. this race was special, so very special …..
I ended up getting so distracted by the amazing crowds, that I forgot I was supposed to be hitting a wall at some point ! ….. the tiredness from last weeks race never really kicked in and leaving The Bronx arriving onto Manhattan I approached 21 miles …..
Superlatives continued to elude me …. I just loved every minute of it ….
The crowds through central park were as good as anywhere with people hoping to meet up with loved ones. I finished pretty strong despite being in bits ! and paced the whole thing evenly to finish in 3 hours and 35 minutes, the atmosphere helping to take five minutes off of last weeks time.
I was interviewed by ABC7 Eyewitness news at the end …… I haven’t seen it, but rest assured as well as everything else and despite post-marathon brain …. I thanked you all.
I’ve run faster marathons, I’ve possibly run prettier marathons ….. but never have I run a marathon that made me feel like this one did. If you run and you haven’t run New York yet ……. just do it.
When I caught up with Jim and Karen later, they had pretty similar experiences and both ran brilliantly ….. we celebrated and we celebrated well !
Learning points –
- I love New York and it’s people
- Beer and Mexican food isn’t so bad to run a marathon on
- Getting up early can be a pain, but not when the reward is so great
- The world is a crazy place, but if you want to see all that is good with the world, go run or watch a big city marathon
- I have to be able to run
- It’s all about managing the niggles
- I’m afraid Kent won’t live up to this
As you know this year is for Sharon. Every race I’ve run so far I’ve run with her in my thoughts. I dedicate every race to the inspiring, courageous, beautiful person she is …… just a little bit of these last two ….they were for me.
“It’s not all about getting a good time, it’s about having a good time”