I made a conscious decision at the start of this year to become even more active than I already was. I had stopped travelling with work and wanted to focus on being in one location for as long as possible to see what I could achieve.
So from January 1st I started recording every activity I did. At the end of the month I had only rested on 2 days but felt fitter and stronger than I ever had before. By the end of February I knew I had to put all this effort to good use. Now I am not one to plan strict sessions and my activities are as varied as can be. Running to gymnastics, golf to football, cross-fit to yoga you get the idea. The focus has always been on it being fun but having a defined goal in mind…improvement. Improvement to be better then I was the last time out but ultimately it’s the enchantment that its a never ending process that spurs me on, even elite athletes never stop trying to improve.
With all that in mind I did miss competing, I missed the training towards a collective goal so I decide to sign up for a full Tough Mudder, the London Super Sprint Triathlon and finally the NYC marathon which was incidentally on my bucket list.
Flash forward to November 4th and after months of training I woke on the morning of the race at 4:30am to catch the bus from midtown at 6am along with 52’000 other runners. After a solid 90minutes journey down to the statin island start and seeing the sun rise to a beautifully clear and crisp day. You are met by more queues to get in to want can only be described as a refugee camp for runners. Gazebos erected for runners with start times that span over two hours, groups of people huddled together keeping warm with blankets and drinking hot coffee and eating bagels. Some are stretching, some are looking lost, others have been here before and know what they are about to experience. I was classically running late and after a cheeky bagel, some Caffeine and Moringa energy pills and a quick toilet break I was ushered in to my coral and begun walking towards the start line.
Trying to jog on the spot and do some quick stretches on route the others runners were disposing of cheap tops and trousers they had purchased to keep warm before the race and which were then collected to give out the homeless. As we walked out the camp towards the Staten Island bridge a warmth of air met my face and the excitement began to run through me. We were soon stood on the starting line near the south side of the bridge, not a cloud in the sky. As soon as the US national anthem was sung the emotion of the day got to me, all the hours of training and commitment had all come down to this. Just before the race begun I finally understood what marathon running was all about, not only for myself but for every single person that I lined up with. It's about an individuals personal journey to get to this moment, whether they are running for a cause, the experience, therapy or because they are just dam good at running, I got it.
The starter cannons went off and out blew Frank Sinatra’s “New York New York” what a way to start the race! So off we went across Statin Island Bridge and the next 3h26min can only be described as the best experience of my life. I was on a high from all the energy of every athlete running towards a collective goal to finish and the unbelievable support that the 5 boroughs of NYC had to offer. The highlight without doubt is the sheer pain and solitude of crossing the Manhattan bridge, a long stretch uphill with no supporters only to be greeted by half of Manhattan when you swing back down of the bridge and round on to 1st Avenue, never have I experienced anything like that.
Even though I got swept away with occasion, all through the painful last 10k I just kept smiling to the finish line in Central Park. I crossed the line, stopped and gave my body a moment to realise I don't have to move anymore and laughed that I totally did not stick to my race plan. Looking to my right I saw two guys thinking exactly the same, I then burst in to tears of happiness, joy, exhaustion and felt the adrenaline wearing off so hugged whoever was closest to me. It was as if my brain had resorted to that of a 5 year old child unable to control or establish exactly what I was feeling.
As I gingerly walked towards the volunteers handing out the shimmering silver foil ponchos and recovery bags I instantly started thinking that I wanted to do all the worlds best marathons. I pushed that idea quickly a side as I wanted to savour this moment as I wrapped up warm in my poncho, sipped on my water and shuffled out of central park with the rest of the runners. I could still feel the heat of the fall sunshine beaming down on my face through the sparkling trees in the park, I took a glance up to feel the sunlight directly in my face and take in the scenes of the runners being greeted by friends, family and loved ones at the end of this epic journey we had all been on. I could not however help but think it was only just the beginning of mine. Would I ever do this marathon again? I will never say never, but sometimes first experiences can never be touched.
Thank you New York. You Never Disappoint.
Race Time: 3h26min
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