The only way I have been able to explain the New York Marathon is by saying it was incredible. I have used this word so much that I feel like I have worn it out, but it was simply just that.
It seems so impossible that 50,000 runners representing 125 countries across the globe congregate to NYC to take on one of the worlds greatest marathon runs. It is also so extraordinary that apparently 1.2 million people line the streets of the 5 boroughs cheering, supporting and celebrating each runners NYC marathon dream.
To run this marathon, was like an out of body experience. From the start line where I lined shoulders with fellow runners listening to the American anthem, to the cannon exploding for us to start and then to the playful, indulgent sounds of Frank Sintra singing New York, New York - it truly was a pinch myself moment.
This feeling consumed me for at least the first half of the run where I am sure I was running purely on adrenaline. Through peoples cheers, high fives and music I remember coming back into my body and realising that my legs were moving so quick that I did not feel like I was the one moving them. A smile beamed on my face the entire time I was running, I even cheered and yelled out "This is so amazing, I am running the New York Marathon!!" Little smiles shot back to me from those running beside me, I probably looked like a total lunatic but sheer emotion was oozing out of me while I was living out this dream. I just couldn't believe the atmosphere, the people. the run, the elation! People had told me about how great it was, but what they couldn't convey was just how incredible it truly was.
My run started without a hitch. After having to wait 3 hours before my wave started, I was nervous leading into the run that I wouldn't be focused or I wouldn't find my rhythm. But once at the start my nerves turned to sheer determination and excitement. I striped off the layers and revealed my running attire with my race bib pinned proudly to my top. I'm as ready as I'll ever be. We stood waiting at the start,. Before I new it I was off. I couldn't wait to see what awaited me. This first few kilometres were a sure sign that my timings were not going to be consistent and my ambitious goal of 3:40 hours would be difficult. My first km was 7:44 min p/km and my second was 4:45 min p/km. I instantly thought to myself that any thoughts of chasing a PB needs to be put aside there are so many obstacles with this run that any added pressure is not needed. So at that moment, I thought of only to run my best race and whatever that came to at the end, was to be.
I continued over the Verrazano bridge. Despite the nearly 2km climb I felt great. On the decent it was into Brooklyn and the real race was to begin. Running through Brooklyn was a indication for what was to come with the crowds but it showcased an excited borough of New York. Music, Church Choirs, locals all out having the time of their lives watching runners having the time of their lives. I recall the first 10km going so quick and before I knew it I found myself reaching the half way mark in Queens. My pace was as I had expected all over the place. One km would be 5:15 min p/km and then the next would be 6:30 min p/km. I wondered on my run if being in the last wave was to my detriment also, but it didn't bother me. I was able to weave in and out of people and I felt like I made some good ground. I remember running past fellow Aussies and giving them a cheer. I was just so swept up in the entire moment.
My focus was about getting to the Queensborough bridge and around the 25km mark, because I knew Adrian and Amber would be there waiting for me. The bridge climbs were difficult at times, I felt strong and knew that I could get up the inclines comfortably but finding pace was difficult due to the amount of people. The bridges always come into a bit of a bottleneck and as the incline got steeper people ahead would slow down and at times I found myself trapped with no where to go. But again I just went with it and knew eventually I could free myself and find my pace again. It was over Queensborough bridge and then into the explosive roar of the Manhattan crowds on First Avenue and to my delight there were my loves front and centre waiting patiently for my arrival. I called out to them as loud as I could, waving my arms so vigorously and then I caught their attention. It was total bliss and love right there, because here they were on the other side of the world cheering me on. I couldn't hide the smile or the feeling, I waved and fist pumped the air as I ran away from them. My husband later told me that my daughter said after she saw me "that's my mum" (tears still fill my eyes as I think about this).
The crowds on First Avenue were mind blowing. As I headed into the 30km mark, I desperately needed a toilet. I toyed with the idea of stopping to go or not, but I thought if I don't my bladder may explode as I near the finish. So I made a quick deter and then was back on my way. I'm not sure if the pit stop worked against me but this where I started to feel the soreness creep in and I was a little concerned that I may have run my race with all of the emotion and build up. Weirdly someone had run past me and bumped my watch which set off the lap key so my km laps were completely off from this point which played on my mind a bit. But I kept moving and kept running with my sights set on the finish. I made sure at each drink station that I would get a cup of water whether I needed it or not. After my marathon in Sydney, I ended up a bit ill so I wanted to make sure I was in good form when this one was done and keeping fluids in was key.
The run continued onto fifth avenue which led us to Central Park. I knew the finish in Central Park would be undulating and it was no lie. I was really feeling this soreness in my legs now and I grimaced at times but I was still pushing a good pace. I also knew my loves were near the finish line and this spurred me on. The crowds and cheers never wavered. Fifth avenue was 5-6 rows of people deep. It was incredible! (there's that word again). I remember telling myself that once I get near my hotel that the finish line wasn't far and when I did a new wind came over me. I pushed hard to the start of the finishing chute and to my delight was Adrian and Amber at the 800m to go mark, cheering me on. That huge smile came across my face and I knew that I was going to finish this marathon.
That last few hundred metres hurt and it was difficult again with runners everywhere but I pushed until I crossed that finish line and it was so great! I remembered the advise of don't look at your watch. Cross the finish line strong and excited for your finish line photo. Unfortunately, a big guy in a red T-shirt is taking my lime light and I probably won't purchase that photo but its not about that. With arms stretched high I crossed that line with a smile from ear to ear. Hurt, elation, relief, fatigue and happiness filling my mind, body and soul. My medal was placed firmly over my neck and the tears followed.
I knew in that moment what it truly felt like to achieve a goal that was once only a thought. I can't say that this was a life long dream, because it wasn't. It was a purely a thought from the moment I ran my first marathon four years ago. The New York Marathon exceeded all expectations and then some. The feeling of fulfilment I have is immense. I feel energised to continue chasing goals and I feel so empowered to motivate and inspire others to do the same.