It was time! Bag dropped off, hand warmers sourced, I headed to my start corral. I was in the final wave (4) and right at the back (corral F) so I was quite nervous and wanted to get as close to the start of the corral as I could. By now it was coming up to 11am – the women elites were likely to have finished already!
Once we were in the start corrals and they closed up, the walk to the start line began. I threw my Primark jumper off way too early without realising there was still a long way to go and plenty of Goodwill bins. I got chatting to a few people including the founder (I think) of the Charity Miles app whose wife was also called Abby!
I’m not sure what the distance was but when we made it into the start zone, we could hear the American National Anthem across the speakers and then the canons marking the start of the party wave. As I headed through the start to New York, New York I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face! This was real life!
Through the start onto the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge was surreal – I couldn’t believe where I was. The first few miles flew by, met by the signs of Welcome to Brooklyn, I’ve never experienced crowds like it.
We spent around half the marathon in Brooklyn where you started a 101st street (maybe higher!) all the way down to 1st street. Once we’d reached 1st street it was on to names – who knew!
I sprinted (not a good idea) over to Mark and Sally from Children with Cancer UK at around the 10-mile mark. My hamstrings at this point were feeling a little tight but I was determined to enjoy every minute of the marathon. And so I did.
From then on, when it hurt I walked, when it didn’t I ran my heart out.
Over the bridge number two and into Queens. Though a little quieter the streets were still lined. A few miles in Queens and it was onto the bridge I’d read about and dreaded the most – Queensboro Bridge.
I thought I’d prepared myself by reading up on EVERYTHING to do with this bridge but sadly it wasn’t enough. I wouldn’t say I hit a wall, but I did hit a really low point between 14 and 16. All you can hear it feet pounding. It was hard and we knew it, from speaking to others who were also dreading the bridge.
Anyway, it didn’t stop me from absolutely LOVING the whole marathon and we’re always going to go through a low point, right?
Off the bridge and into Manhattan, this time making our way up the streets. I didn’t know where we were turning but I kept a method in mind to run five blocks, walk for one or two and then run another five. It seemed to work and before I knew it, I was at the end and on to bridge number four into The Bronx.
The Bronx was filled with more amazing crowds who really kept us going. Once we were through this bit, we faced probably the toughest, uphill part of the NYC Marathon but also the best. The final 10k and the Central Park finish.
It as time to countdown the streets again! Though like the last time I wasn’t sure what street would take us into Central Park. I was struggling, though knew I was onto a sub-5 if I pushed through the pain. Huge, huge crowds lined the streets – I can’t do it justice or put into context the amount of people supporting the event. I’d heard it was the best day ever in NY and it really lived up to itself.
Central Pak was a shuffle. My head said go, my legs so no. I knew I could come in under my five-hour goal so long as I kept it up. And I did. It hurt. It wasn’t pretty. But running past Columbus Circle I knew I had to give it my all up until the finish.
I could stop (almost).
My Big Apple medal around my neck, I still had a 20 block walk to exit!
Stumbling through the park, still in daylight, the emotion took over and I truly couldn’t believe the experience and what had happened.
On the way to heading back to my hotel after drinks, I spotted some NYRR volunteers on the corner of Columbus Circle. I headed over to find that there were still 8 runners out on the course. I ended up staying with them until the end cheering the final few though – though I didn’t see the final group it was really special knowing that there were still volunteers out there, waiting for each and every runner. Among the many things that made New York such a special marathon was that they make EVERY SINGLE runner feel like they should be there that day, no matter who they are or what their pace.
Children with Cancer UK
It was a pleasure to run NYC for Children with Cancer UK.
Children with Cancer UK is the leading national children’s charity dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer. Almost 4,500 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK. Their aims are to determine the causes, find cures and provide care for children with cancer, ensuring more children are able to ring the bell at the end of their treatment.
If you’d like to support Children with Cancer UK you can donate via their website: https://www.childrenwithcancer.org.uk/make-a-donation/