Well, the marathon is over, can you believe it?? I can’t. So not to bore you, but here are the details…read as much or as little as interests you.
We got up at 4:40am to get ready, and walk to Grand Central to catch a bus to Staten Island. Daylight savings time started that night, so technically we should have gotten an extra hour’s sleep, except some genius didn’t reset his watch (unlike moi), and used his watch as one of our alarms. So in addition to waking up every two hours anyway, an alarm then went off at 3:45am. And I didn’t get back to sleep again.
The buses to get to Staten Island were lined up along 5th Ave just about as far as you could see. We passed a few people still getting home from Halloween (which is fantastic here, it’s like one big fancy dress party). It was really ordered and basically they just piled people on to buses and off we all went. It was really exciting to see all the buses with “marathon” on their fronts.
We arrived at Staten Island (still in the dark) and found our way to our coloured section. They split you in to three colours (blue, orange and green) and you go hang in that coloured section. Then within that colour they call up three waves and within that, seven corrals. So that way runners start in three waves, from three different points, and then all converge once off the first bridge. It’s about 14,000 runners per wave. In the ‘village’ there was hot tea, coffee and bagels. It was bloody cold on the island and it was raining, and we still had four hours until we were going to start. We’d bought some cheap tracksuits, food, plastic bags and rain ponchos, so we found a curb, put down our plastic and tried to keep warm with hot drinks. We ate our brekkie (banana, bagel, white roll and honey) over a couple of hours and chatted to the other runners around us. We met a couple of ladies from South Africa who were really sweet and had done about 40 marathons (OMG). Another couple of Dutch women were doing their first marathon like us. Some people were so organised, they brought sleeping bags, one guy had a tent. Then there were other hardcore people who were in their running shorts just with a jumper. Brrrr. My toes went numb it was so cold. Finally after a few hours hanging around we checked our bags in to the UPS trucks (they brought bags to the finish line) and we moved into our corral area. We took off our trackies just before the start (all the ditched clothing was dontated to charity), and moved down on to the Verrazano bridge. And then we were off – heading out across the bridge was amazing. Everyone said how steep it was but I didn’t even notice – it was wild to be out there with all the other runners, watching the Manhattan skyline across the water.
As we headed into Brooklyn we saw the first of the supporters – it was so awesome to have people yelling “welcome to Brooklyn!” as we ran off the bridge and on to the streets. We basically ran the length of Brooklyn and it was fantastic. The people everywhere were yelling and cheering, there were bands and people handing out lollies. We had Em and Muz on our shirts so people called out our names too. Everyone called Muz “Mooz” though, which was hilarious. We really tried to take it easy and go slow in the start, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. We went past one guy leaning out of his apartment – he’d put speakers in the window and was playing Madonna’s “Borderline”. People were running and singing, someone else was playing the Rocky theme which was just so cool, and it kept rolling on. The first 10kms didn’t even feel like you were running, it was just an easy cruise and such a pleasure. I felt really emotional about how great the support was, I couldn’t believe strangers would come out and cheer for you like that. My ITB was crap though – I couldn’t believe it. It started almost straight away. I thought the cortisone shot had worked given we’d done two runs before the race and I didn’t feel anything, not even a little niggle. Then less than two kms in to the race, it started giving me grief. I decided I wasn’t going to stop so I’d just ignore it as best I could.
When we finally hit Manhattan for the first time (you run off again later and then back on again), going up 1st Ave was tough. It was long and wide and uphill. It felt a bit souless. My ITB was really pulling and I didn’t have great range in my legs. So I sort of stopped taking in my surroundings – Muz was good, waving and cheering to his fans, but I just concentrated on keeping my hips as stable as I could, and kept lifting my knees and heels even though my ITB didn’t want me to. I actually can’t remember a lot of that part now.
By 16 miles (about 26km) I was really sore – we walked all the drink stations (the ones we took drinks from anyway) but had decided to run everything else. So I was looking forward to the drink stations! Even though it was cold I was getting pretty thirsty. We took gels every 45min or so, and that actually seemed to rock around pretty quickly. I tried not to get excited about getting closer to the 30km mark because I knew if I started thinking we were nearly there then it would just take even longer (because 12kms still takes a while to run, especially when you’re getting tired).
By 20 miles (32km) I was just thinking about keeping my legs going. Muz was sore too but had more in him than I did – but he waited for me like he said he would. When we stopped for drinks we found it increasingly hard to get going again (Muz’s odd knee injury had also raised its head during the run), so in a way we tried to limit the number of drink stops we took. Getting closer to Central Park we were counting down – knowing we only had a few miles to go was great. We’d walked in the park the day before and had seen the end of the route so we knew what was coming for the last 2-3 miles – a nice downhill, then a great long uphill to the end of the race. When I knew we only had a couple of kms to go I tried to run a bit faster – whether I did or not, I have no idea! We finally crossed the line together, hand in hand.
It was a gruelling race, but a wonderful experience as well. I felt like crying at times during the race, and I felt like crying at the end too. It was overwhelming how much support the public gives the runners – I really think the Americans are great like that. They really get enthusiastic, and don’t care what people think if they’re out there cheering and yelling. It’s just a love for life really, and they’re so proud of their city they just want to welcome you and support you.
At the end of the race I couldn’t even talk for a while – they gave everyone those silver thermal blankets which was a god send, even with the blanket I started shivering after a while (as we slowly slowly made our way through the crowd to pick up our baggage).
We met our friend Kevin (who also ran) and his friends and family after – all I could stomach was chips (they all were eating steak) and some celebratory bubbles (and water). We finally got back to the hotel around 5pm. It took about two hours just to get our stuff and get out of the park!
I could barely bend my left knee, and Muz was struggling too. We had hot showers (best thing ever), got in our trackies and ordered room service (burgers!!). It’s Tuesday night now and we’re still limping. My leg feels totally buggered but it’s getting better, and Muz’s sore bits are getting there too.
Even though we’d love to have run under 4:30 (we did 4:38), I didn’t actually think we’d be able to run the whole way, which we did (aside from the drink stops like I said before). So I’m stoked about that. It’s weird though, I can’t remember huge parts of the race. I think it’s a coping mechanism! It was so, so tough. But already I know what I’d do differently in training next time…and I’ve entered the ballot for 2010!
We’ve also moved hotels now and are staying at The Standard in the Meat Packing district. Ash and Ben recommended it to us and it’s awesome. We have the most amazing view of the Hudson river and we can see the Statue of Liberty too. And Diane von Furstenburg is next door, Pastis is around the corner and you can walk to the village. It’s awesome.
Tonight we’re off to Babbo (exciiitiiing – Mario Batali’s original NY restaurant) and Thursday night we’re going to Gramercy Tavern. Friday night we’re checking out Tracy Morgan as part of the New York Comedy Festival at Carnegie Hall. New York is amazing, I’m having a love affair with it (and with my lovely husband too, natch).
I still can’t believe we’ve run a marathon…it’s totally surreal. I’ve seen heaps of people wearing their medals around town, hilarious. Oh also, yesterday we went up the Empire State and checked out where we ran from – it was so freaking far. Like SO FAR.
Eek battery about to go, so will post!
love you all. xxx