It finally came. Over the last twelve months, my wife Sharon and I had been preparing to run and complete the New York City Marathon. The journey has been partly presented through our blog series here at Towards a Better You commencing with our first to the last.
The race lived up to our expectations plus. Through Travelling Fit, the company we arranged our entry through, we were able to connect with over 300 fellow Australians as well as meet Australian marathon legend, Robert de Castella and to hear about the great work being done with the Indigenous Marathon team, who we also got to meet and hear their inspiring stories. De Castella’s advice on how to track through the marathon was well-received and rung in my ears throughout the run.
We arrived at the Staten Island starting villages early for our 11am starting time. The starting villages themselves were an amazing vibe and the three hours passed quickly. Our feeling of anticipation was high and measures of nerves and trepidation were apparent. The vibe among all the different nationalities, was awesome and really set the scene for us. I was incredibly nervous due to knee and calf issues I was carrying into the race, with a real concern that I wouldn’t make it over the Verazano Bridge, with inflicting further damage to me.
Being called into the starting corrals was a major moment as the wave of finishers swarmed through the gates and progressed onto the bridge for the starting line. One of the starters sang the American anthem, a canon boomed out the start and to the strains of Frank Sinatra’s “New York”, we were off on our amazing journey.
Straight off the bridge and into Brooklyn where we stayed for over 12 miles. The streets of Brooklyn resembled party central, with crowds lining the streets, cheering and waving signs. At one stage in Brooklyn we had five bands on consecutive blocks. It was hard to believe we were running a marathon of 26.2, because the atmosphere made it feel like we were the guests at a celebrity party.
It was hard not to have a smile on your face running through Brooklyn. You are still fresh and the crowds are simply amazing. People yelled out our names, people yelled out our country, people shouted inspiration, people had amazingly funny signs, people wanted me to run to vote (midterms were on Tuesday). Smiles, laughter and a big thank you to the people of Brooklyn. It’s hard to describe the feeling of inspiration you get from the crowds and the Brooklyn crowds, in my eyes, won the day.
The miles ticked over in this incredible atmosphere, interspersed with quiet sections through the Hispanic Jewish sectors. Sunday is a working day and they appeared to look at the marathon as a bit of a novelty, especially the kids. I might add the weather was amazing for us on race day, and most runners were in lightweight running gear, a stark contrast to the winter coats worn throughout this sector.
Coming into Manhattan Avenue at Greenpoint, was a great milestone for us as we caught up with our family members who were cheering us on. Around the 12 mile mark, and the joy of our faces is clearly evident. Up to this stage we were travelling well, running conservatively as we had never pushed ourselves to the full 42.2km, and not quite sure what to expect when we passed our previous threshold
So Brooklyn was amazing and I could only imagine what it must have been like for the elite and faster runners. We were running with the last wave, many of whom were using the Gallawoy Method of the run and walk method. The courtesy of raising your arm when coming into a walk stage ensured no-one ran into the back of others. This method allows people of all fitness to take up running as a sport and be able to ease into it. Unfortunately injuries still happen as we discovered, but at this stage of the marathon we were feeling amazing. The run was progressing well, the crowds were keeping us entertained and motivated, we got a real kick out of seeing our loved ones on the course and we were approaching the half-way mark.
Things were looking good.