I was shattered on the day, and the day after both events. I even made the joke that I think I would have preferred to have run the marathon – Yes I know, I know – I have forgotten how tough marathons really are. (Chicago may be a bit of a shock!)
So what would a training block look like:
You would have to spend time reading maps and getting to know the route. I DIDN’T do this at Milton Keynes, and spent many hours cycling around lost! I didn’t even attempt to move around in London, I have done this in the past, and it is SO busy, and you end up walking a long way.
You will need to practice controlling your bladder. Milton Keynes I could at least stop, although I stupidly forgot to take a lock for my bike, so still had to wait until I got back to the car! London I was lucky that MNDA choose their cheer squad to be outside a pub, so I used the toilets prior to the race, but then I couldn’t take my eyes off the race; I feared losing my roadside spot, and missing the people I had come to cheer on. (Yep, I did exactly that, even thought I didn’t take a toilet break for SEVEN hours!)
Practising your clapping would have be on the plan. You need to harden up the skin, as 6+ hours can hurt! I thought I’d be smart and buy a cowbell after last years London Marathon. Obviously, my hands won’t hurt! Errmmm, my finger rubbed instead where I held the cowbell, my arms were aching from moving the cowbell and I’m still not sure if the ringing in my ears has cleared. Training could help you develop your photography skills! I’ve learnt the hard way in previous years, so extra battery charge was packed for both races. I also bought myself a Go Pro ready for London. Exciting I thought, well that was until I tried using it without really reading any instructions, plus trying to take a photo on my phone too, and ring the cowbell! It was a little more stressful than exciting! I know you are thinking, why would you use a Go Pro and a phone camera? Well, I wanted to post on my Instagram Stories, and knew how to do that from my phone! I am pleased to say that somehow by Milton Keynes, I managed to take a photo on my phone and video using my Go Pro at the same time. The cowbell just had to be silent, girl can only do SO much, and this photograph of Chris was worth the silence!
Actually, I have just remembered, I didn’t have it totally sorted, I remember calling sarah back to get this photograph!!
Packing – I was so glad that I had experience from previous years, as this year I made sure I had snacks! I didn’t quite need a fuelling strategy of gels, but cheering is tough works, so remember to fuel and hydrate too. As I said above, once you find your spot, you don’t really want to move, so then you have to choose, your spot or your rumbling tummy!
I think next year, I may have to take a Megaphone! I know that I am loud, but London is NOISEY, and on many occasions I screamed at people and they didn’t hear. The next day, my throat hurt ALOT, so if anyone knows where to get cheap Megaphones, please let me know.
Selective attention training is needed. Trying to pick out people on the busy London streets is crazy. Milton Keynes was easier, but make sure you know the kit colour of the person you are supporting, alternatively shout for everyone, and hope you don’t miss anyone! Whilst writing this, I have just thought about setting an alarm on your phone to buzz every 30 minutes for a stretch (yes, it’s getting serious now! haha) as my neck and shoulder ached lots. London from leaning out to try and spot people, MK from my cycling!
I am sure I have missed lots from this, so if you have any other ideas, please post below, so that I can keep checking back on this before I go to cheer at any other races.
If you see me at Parkrun with a map, snacks, megaphone and stretches, please tell me I’ve taken this cheering and supporting too seriously! hehe
If you want to see which races are am booked in for in the coming months, take a look here.
So, it’s now time to recap the New York Marathon day, Sunday 5th November 2017! If you haven’t yet my read my lead up to the New York Marathon day, you can here.
I had opted for the Staten Island Ferry transportation and for anyone who has a place next year, I would highly 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 decisions I made. I had never met Elaine in person, but the legend that is Neil had set up a WhatsApp group from Instagram, so we had all been chatting in the lead up to the New York Marathon. 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 WhatsApp 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 5:30 am on my walk down to Elaine, wasn’t so easy! Starbucks doesn’t open until 6 am!!! 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 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 of the New York Marathon. Going through security was pretty quick and efficient, which was lucky as I was in desperate need of a wee (maybe TMI!). 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 the New York Marathon.
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 area for the New York Marathon 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 sung and then as the cannon goes off, they play New York, New York. You can’t but help feel a little giddy and I will now 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 New York City too. The first mile is uphill 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 one of my teammates 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 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 into 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 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 increased, 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 was 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 much needed. 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 nation’s flags, and I just kept pushing and pushing.
As I crossed the line, Peter Ciaccia NYRR President, Events and Race organiser of 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. Now, here he was congratulating ME. The same man who had a few hours earlier congratulated both the Men’s and Women’s winners!
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, desperately trying 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, and sad that it was all over. I was pretty shocked that I had managed to tick off one of my life goals. My dad popped into my head. 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. I was in my own little space, reading all my messages. It never fails to overwhelm me how amazing the running community is. I had so many well wishes on Social Media.
I would have thought that having a hotel so close to the course would be easy to get back too, but there were lots of roadblocks and one way systems in place, with a huge volume of people trying to move around. I left Central Park at 3:16 pm 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. 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 8 am, 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. 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 8:50 am, 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 New York Marathon 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 New York 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 the New York Marathon, definitely do it!!
When something is so epic, writing a blog post about it, is SO hard. I will never be able to do this race justice! This race report is also written in parts, so I am going to show the different sections, so hopefully the time frame makes sense! If you want to read about my training for the New York Marathon 2017, please click here.
So, I am currently sitting waiting for the arrival of my family and friends, to start the final celebration of my 40th birthday, and oh boy what a birthday it has been!
For many years, when anyone spoke about me approaching my 40th birthday, I always told them that I was going to run the TCS New York Marathon for my birthday. I have never been to New York, and the marathon date is always so close to my actual birthday, it seemed it would be rude not too. What a way to celebrate life beginning at 40, than to visit the city that never sleeps (that isn’t actually true!) and run another one of the World Marathon Majors. Some people, mostly non-runners thought I was made, but it just seemed perfect to me.
As 2017 got closer and closer, I decided I needed to make this dream a plan. On January 1st 2017, I contact 2:09 events, and then had the shock of how much the whole adventure would cost. At this point, I wondered if my NYC dream, would be just that, a dream that never materialised.
When the lottery/draw (ballot) opened for the marathon, I decided to enter it, just in case. I remember saying to my husband that I would leave it to fate. If I got a place, then it was meant to be, if I didn’t, I would have to have a big think as to whether I would go with a tour company. To be honest, I think I had pretty much made up my mind, I was running, it was more how I was going to find the money to afford it!
Then on the 3rd of March, I got the email that said I was in!!!!
When the £300 (ish) was taken out of my bank, I knew there was no going back.
I had decided at Christmas to buy a tin money-box – one that I couldn’t open without a can opener – and then added £1 for every mile that I ran.
I had originally planned to open it just before going to NYC, but then the new pound coin was issued, and I wouldn’t be able to use the old ones after October. So, when I booked my flights in April, I opened the money-box, to put the money towards my flight. Surprisingly, I had managed to save £350 and that was exactly what I needed for the flight! I booked my hotel through booking.com, and not knowing NYC choosing a hotel was difficult. The choice was huge and the range in prices were huge. I ended thinking it’s a birthday treat, so went VERY expensive and stayed at Park Lane, which was directly opposite Central Park.
Lets get on to the weekend and the race. I flew on the Friday morning from London Heathrow Airport, with Delta. Ideally I would have loved to go out a few days earlier, but teaching means you can’t have time off, and when you school are as kind as mine, it all has to be unpaid leave! Lucky to get the time off, but loosing pay makes the trip even more expensive, so I had to do the quickest turn around possible.
We arrived at JFK around mid afternoon, and it was SO warm! We navigated our way to the hotel, the subway was easy to use and it was relatively cheap. By the time we got to the hotel, checked in, it was time to get the United Airlines Parade of Nations. I didn’t know what this was, but I had been chatting to people via Instagram, and they were in it, so I rushed out to see it. Luckily, being in a hotel 2 minutes walk from Central Park, meant we just made it in time.
The atmosphere was crazy and so exciting, and after the parade NYRR put on the most spectacular firework display over Central Park. I had planned to go to the expo on the Friday evening, but by the time the fireworks finished and we got something to eat, we decided to head there Saturday morning.
On the Saturday Morning, I was awake early (time difference joy!) but I was quite glad of this, as it meant I could go for a shake out run in Central Park early, before heading to the expo. Running in Central Park should be on every runners bucket list. There were SO many runners out, the skyline was amazing, and I got so emotional on that run.
I joined with a Japanese man running, and I asked if he was there for the marathon. He said that he was only there for one day, but if he lived in New York, he would run the Central Park every day. There is just something special about the park, I felt like I was running through a film set, and the buzz around the place was indescribable.
My only wish that morning, was that I was with people. I thought about my friends from my run club. I wished I had been able to share that run with them. They would have felt that magic too!
We got the subway over to the expo. Knowing that the Saturday was likely to be crazy busy, we got to the expo at 9am, and there was NO ONE in my line to collect my race number! WOW. It was simple, show my idea, and receive my number and good luck wishes from the guy handing me my number. From there, we had to go pick up our free runners top, and they had the genius idea to have samples to try on, so you knew exactly what size to collect. Nothing worse than having race shirts that are too small or big – I know I have lots!
Ok, warning coming, New Balance are the new kit sponsor for Virgin London Marathon, and they were for TCS New York Marathon too! They know how to produce kit, that you just can’t say no too! I don’t know if this really was the case, or just that I was away and spending money on holiday is different, but I wanted it all! It’ll be interesting to see what the London Marathon kit at the expo will be like.
I obviously didn’t want to do lots of walking for the rest of the day, so we hopped on an open top bus, and toured some of the sights on New York.
I feel like this post is going on and on, so I am going to sign off now, get this one live on the blog, and start on my actual race report!
Marathon training is hard! If it wasn’t, everyone would be doing it. To make things tougher for me, I have been ill, I have started a new job, I am in the process of moving house, and this week my mother-in-law passed away. I can handle all of this, and training, but I am writing it down here, to remind myself to stop beating myself when life gets in the way of training.
I have missed a few sessions, and I missed last weeks training post, so here goes:
I really enjoyed my long run this week, I felt strong for the first time this marathon cycle. Getting back in to a routine with work will help with training, and I am trying to make sure that I eat and drink when working. Sounds silly, but school are so hectic, it is easy to miss lunch time and then not be fuelled for club sessions.
So, half way point, NYC Marathon is in 8 weeks, the runs get long and this is the tough end of the training, but it’s fine, I’ve got this! (I hope :-))
My concerns now are turning to my marathon outfit! (Yes, I know SO girly!) I will be wearing my Team MND vest, but I fancy some running capris that either have some link to England/Great Britain or blue and orange. I’ve searched and searched but haven’t found anything, so if anyone has any suggestions/links, please leave a comment below.
I know that marathon training is difficult, but this cycle seems to be challenging me no end. So, I finally got antibiotics and my sinusitis is clearing up, but training still hasn’t been easy or too enjoyable this week. I have really struggled to recover from my long run last week. My quads are really sore and calves tight, so Monday I had a sports massage and changed my 400’s on the plan to a recovery run. It was really, really slow and so hard!!
Wednesday is my tempo run day, I am always apprehensive about this run! I found it tough from the off. My legs were heavy and every step was hard. After my mile warm up, I tried to pick up the pace, as I am supposed to run these at 9:15 min/mile. I struggled to get to that pace and felt like I was at full sprint! I felt SO disappointed, I had to give myself a talking too, as I just wanted to abandon the whole run. I managed to convince myself to clock the miles, although I did cut it a mile short!
Thursday I managed to go to run club, and oh how I love those people! I was feeling pretty rubbish about my tempo run and generally how I was finding running so hard. They were all so supportive and gave me great advice. We did 200’s, 400’s and 600’s, all with a massive hill in them, and I ran steady. After all the advice, I didn’t even really look at my watch during the run, and when I checked after, my pace wasn’t too bad. A few people suggested I cut back my long run at the weekend, or even take a week off training and recover fully. My body is trying to fight an infection so is struggling to help me recover too! Even though I knew this, when others were telling me, I felt like a huge pressure was lifted. Only pressure I was putting on myself, but this weeks 16 miler was probably not going to happen and that had to be ok!
With the pressure off, I optimistically prepared myself for my long run on Saturday morning, just incase by miracle, once I started running, I felt amazing, then I would run the whole 16 miles. So my hydration pack and gels were loaded, I avoided the alcohol and Indian takeaway the family had Friday night, and set off early Saturday morning. I knew pretty quickly 16 miles wasn’t going to miraculous happen, so decided to enjoy the sights, the lovely weather and complete a 5 mile loop. I walked when I needed and ran when I wanted. I was disappointed not to complete my long run, but at the same time, I really needed to enjoy the run.
So, that’s my week. Again, not my best, but some miles are banked, I’ve now finished my antibiotics and I hoping for a return to form. Training plans are good, but they have to be flexible to suit you.
I think I would benefit from having a better recovery strategy after runs.
If anyone has any tips, please leave me a comment below.
In New York, you’ve got to have all the luck, Chuck Bukowski
This year I will turn 40! How the hell did that happen? – I still feel like a kid, and when I was a kid 40 was old!!!
It will happen in November, so what better way to celebrate than run the New York Marathon – ok I know that only runners will understand that thought – Non runners will think ‘why not have a party!!!,
Since turning 39, I had this idea that I would run the New York Marathon in 2017, as it is being run the weekend before my birthday! Also, I have only ever been through New York and have always wanted to go. Perfect plan I thought. I told everyone my plans, and then forgot about it for a while. At Christmas, my husband gave me a card with money in, saying this is for New York! 2017 started and I realised I should start looking into how I can make this happen.
I had assumed that I would go with a Sports Tour company, as it would be hassle free and you get guaranteed entry into the race . When I started looking in to it all, the realisation of costs soon made me doubt if this was just going to be a dream. I have the added complication of being a teacher, so getting time off isn’t as easy as just booking holiday time!
The more I looked into it, the more I thought that it was going to be a no-go. I grumped about this for a while, and then decided to stick my name in the ballot, and leave it to fate! If I got a place, I would have to find a way of going, if I didn’t I wouldn’t (that probably isn’t true, I’d probably grumped some more, and looked at organised trips again!)
So, March 2nd and I knew the ballot draw was going to take place – it’s quite nice that you don’t have to wait as long to find out if you have a place as London. I frantically checked my phone and bank account all day, but nothing. I went off to run club in the evening, and on our rest breaks I checked my phone. Still nothing. Training didn’t go quite to plan, as my hamstring was very sore and I was full of cold. I missed the last hill set, and went home feeling totally fed up.
Waking up Friday morning, I still don’t feel great, but I opened my email, and got this!
As you can imagine, I was buzzing! I still am! Slightly scared too, as now I have to make this happen! Somehow, I need to get time off work, I need to book flights, accommodation and all the other stuff, and pay for it all!!!
So, if anyone has ANY advice as to how to make this happen, I sure would appreciate it. Tips on; where to stay, how to get around New York, how to keep the costs down, and so on. Any experiences you think would be worth passing on, please post them below in the comments.