So, it’s now time to recap the actual day, Sunday 5th November 2017! If you haven’t yet my read my lead up to race day, you can here.
I had opted for the Staten Island Ferry transportation, and for anyone who has a place next year, I would recommend the ferry. A word of warning; the email comes through asking you to opt for your transportation before you even know what time you are starting the race. NYRR know what they are doing, so they only offer you transportation that will ensure that you get to the start on time. I didn’t know this at the time, and had to turn to Twitter to find this out!
I had agreed to walk to meet Elaine on the morning of the marathon, so we could get the subway together. It was one of the BEST decision I made. I had never met Elaine in person, but the legend that is Neil had set up a Whats App group from Instagram, so we had all been chatting in the lead up to NYC. Having someone to share the build up with and to navigate the subway was awesome. Completely by chance when we were on the subway we met up with Abbie, who was also part of our Whats App group, so the three of us shared the journey to the start together.
So, I have to just say for the ‘city that never sleeps’, trying to get a cup of tea at 5:30am on my walk down to Elaine, wasn’t so easy! Starbucks doesn’t open until 6am!!! Luckily for me, the coffee shop was open at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal! So British, but I do love my sweet cup of tea before a run.
Queuing to get on the ferry was packed, but the atmosphere was buzzing and the butterflies were going. I was so excited that I was soon going to pass the Statue of Liberty, and get to the start of the TCS New York City Marathon.
There was a little bit of a wait once we were off the ferry, as there were lots of people and we all had to get on to buses. Once we were on the bus, we had about a 20 minute journey to get to the start. We went through security pretty quickly and efficiently, which was lucky as I was in desperate need for a wee. I was worrying, as race starts are renowned for having huge queues. Well not here. I was amazed by how many toilets there were, and how little the queues were, if any at all. I have NEVER been to a race like this, it was amazing!
There were three different coloured starts, but I never actually made it to my coloured pen, as we met up with some of our instafamily and sat chilling soaking up the atmosphere . When the first cannon went off, the whole area erupted with whoops and cheers, excitedly knowing it wouldn’t be too long before we all got to start.
Through the amazing Run Mummy Run community, I had agreed to meet up with a lady called Rosie, as we were the same corral and start time. We had hoped to run a similar pace too, so 30 minutes prior to the start of our race, I headed to find Rosie. It was pretty easy to find each other, considering we had no idea what each other looked like, and there were lots of people around. The start is a huge area, so even with the thousands of people, it never felt too crowded.
The start was so emotive, and exciting. The American National Anthem was sang, and then as the cannon goes off, they play New York, New York. You can’t but help feel a little giddy, and love this song FOREVER.
I started on the lower part of the bridge, which was fine. It was a really misty and drizzly day, so the views were not all that spectacular, but had the weather been clear, we would have been able to see the views of NYC too. The first mile is up hill as you go across the Verazzano Bridge, but the incline wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. My only concern was my watch didn’t seem to be registering pace that well, and I really didn’t want to get too carried away and run the first mile too quickly.
Three of us running together did mean, that we all kept each other in check and pulled ourselves back when we got too excited. It’s a very quiet start, unlike London, as you don’t really see any spectators until around mile 3 when you run through a housing area. Fourth Avenue, is the longest straightest road. Runners were running on both sides of the road, and the central reservation was lined with the NYPD cheering everyone on and some giving high fives. It was such a party atmosphere – the Americans know how to cheer!
I separated from Rosie around mile 5, as she had been unwell prior to the race, and wanted to slow down and see her family. I was feeling quite comfortable with the pace, although my legs did feel heavy.
Around mile 10, I heard the shout of ‘Rula’ which was bizarre as I had Ruth written on my top, and I had heard this plenty of times, but ‘Rula’ meant it was someone who knew me. I turned to see on of my team mates from my basketball days. Flo, was in NYC for the weekend, and through thousands of people she had managed to spot me! The buzz I got from seeing someone I knew was special.
There were sections around mile 11 that were very quiet. There were people watching, just not cheering so loudly. I remember going through halfway thinking this is Tower Bridge, as that’s where you would be in London. I was concerned because my legs felt heavy and quads ached from the start, but I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
I had been warned about the Queensboro bridge, and I thought that it was at mile 16, so I was a little surprised at 15, when it went quiet and the incline just kept on coming! This bridge did feel like forever, and at times on the way up I thought, should I walk, but it just didn’t happen. My legs just kept ticking over. The quiet is eery, as there are no spectators on the bridge, but as you near the end, you can hear the crowd noise, and it just hits you as you turn on to First Avenue. The noise, the signs, the support are phenomenal. First Avenue is another long straight road, although this one has the added bonus of including an inclines too.
I took my first walk break at 17 miles. I didn’t really want too, but the drinks were being given out in cups, and having tried to take on water for the first 17 miles, by literally throwing it at my face, I decided to walk the water station at mile 17, so I could actually take down some water.
Heading in to the Bronx was exciting. The signs and chants were hilarious. ‘Welcome to the Bronx, where we only let motherf#*cking badasses in, so come on in,’ said in a deep American accent was particularly amusing. The chant of ‘Last Damn Bridge’, was also highly amusing as we tackled yet another incline. The Bronx seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, I was in Harlem on Fifth Avenue.
My open top bus tour the previous day had come along this route, so I was well aware that there was another incline to tackle around mile 23, and I was starting to feel tired. I kept running as much as I could, and I knew that the turn into the Central Park was not too far ahead, but somehow I found myself walking. I probably walked for 1 minute, and then thought, you’ve worked too damn hard to be walking, so off I went again. The electronic display boards were on show as you turn into Central Park. I kept my eye on them, as I knew friends had sent me some cheer cards. I didn’t manage to see any of them, but it was a nice focus.
I had run in Central Park the previous day, and I knew that it was undulating too, so I decided to just run as fast as I could, when I could, and walk if I needed too. I knew my speed had increase, but I had 2 miles left and I was on for a PB.
One of the inclines, did bring me to a walk again, but the crowd were immense and the cheers and shouts definitely got me going again. I didn’t actually realise that the route took me on the road outside my hotel, and as I approached, I could see my husband. I high-fived him as I went past, and the boost that gave me was immense. The last turn back into Central Park, had a stage and music blaring out, I just thought this is the final push. The road was lined with all the nations flags, and I just kept pushing and pushing.
As I crossed the line, Peter Ciaccia NYRR President, Events and Race organisers the marathon high-fived me and said well done. I felt kind of star struck as I follow him on instagram, and I had been watching all the photos and videos in the lead up to the marathon, and here he was congratulating me. The same man who had a few hours earlier congratulated both the Men’s and Women’s winner!
I am naturally an emotional person, and had always imagined that when I crossed the finish line of the marathon I would cry. I was so totally shocked when this didn’t happen in London, so I never expected it in NYC. But it happens when you least expect it, and I put my head in my hands, and desperately tried to fight back the tears.
I got out my phone to distract myself, and the messages on there made me well up again. I was exhausted, elated, relieved, sad that it was all over, and pretty shocked that I had managed to tick off one of my life goals. My dad popped into my head, and oh how I wished he had been there, or just still alive for me to tell him all about it! MND sucks!
After finishing, you collect your medal and a heat blanket. Then there is a quiet walk to collect your poncho. It was very quiet, and I desperately looked around for some to talk too, but it just didn’t happen.
When the poncho was collected I put my hood up, and it was so quiet, and I was in my only little space, reading all my messages. It never fails to overwhelm me how amazing the running community is, and I had so many well wishes on Social Media.
I would had thought that having a hotel so close to the course would be easy to get back too, but there were lots of road blocks, and one way systems in place, with a huge volume of people trying to move around. I left Central Park at 3:16pm, and my hotel was probably less than half a mile, but after all the diversions, I didn’t get back to my hotel until 5:30ish.
That night we headed to a local Irish Bar to eat, and so many people were sat there wearing their medal. I had visions of drinking and celebrating, but the reality was, after I had eaten my food and drank my shandy, I was shattered! So we headed back to the hotel!
The next day, I had planned to go to ground zero, but when I woke up I felt an emotional wreck. I watched clips of the race on TV and cried. I read Shalane Flanagan’s post on Instagram and cried. I just could believe that something I had been planning for so long, and thought about for even longer was all over.
After tearing up for about the 4th time before 8am, we decided that ground zero might not be a good choice. One of the benefits of the time difference, was that we were always up so early, and on Marathon Monday this was a huge bonus.
We headed to the Pavilion in Central Park early, as I knew that it would be busy. In the pavilion, they sell all the finishers gear. The queue was mahoosive when we arrived at 8:50am, and my husband was already to turn around and go back to the hotel, until I noticed that the queue was actually for engraving your medal and not just going into the pavilion! I hadn’t actually made it to the pavilion, so I was excited to find my name on the wall!
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, New Balance know how to make kit, and I wanted to purchase it all! I restrained myself and just bought a finishers t-shirt. Obviously, now I’m home, I wish I had bought it all!
We headed to an American diner for breakfast, and that’s where I spotted my name in the NY Times.
Everyone who ran the marathon under 5 hours had their name printed in the NY Times, just another little touch, that makes this marathon so special!
The day after a marathon lots of people rest, not me. I was in New York for such a short amount of time, so I ended up walking 10 miles! But it was all worth it, for this picture!
This adventure was everything that I wanted it to be and more. If you are a runner, and you ever have the chance to run a marathon, do it. And if you have the chance to run New York, definitely do it!!