In 2011, I started running at the age of 42, to lose weight and to get fit. During that year my running partner Catherine Potter and I made a list of race goals including the New York Marathon.

After doing some research on how we go about entering this massive marathon, we come across Travelling Fit. So in December 2012 we joined their priority emailing list for the New York Marathon.

So now fast forward to 2015, Catherine and I are now in New York, the night before one of the biggest marathons in the world, laying out all our running gear for the morning.

This is a short story about what it is like to run this amazing marathon.

Sunday 1 November 2015, New York Marathon Day – started at 4.45am, I had a pretty good night sleep but poor Catherine Potter got no sleep. All dressed and my plastic clear village bag packed (these hold everything you want to take with you and are left the village before you start) we head down to the hotel foyer. There are about 50 buses leaving our hotel this morning, carrying runners not just from Australia but from counties all around the world. Mari-Mar and Craig from Travelling Fit have it all in hand though, all the Aussies are on our buses in no time and by 6.15am, Catherine and I are off to the start line at Staten Island, arriving at about 8am. The weather is windy and cold but nothing too bad for us Canberran’s. The day turns out to be a warm one.

Once at the Staten Island it is time to go through security and finally into the start village. This place is huge, now we just have to find the Blue area. Everyone is allocated a colour (blue, orange or green) and wave (1,2,3 or 4) depending on your estimated time at application. We find the blue area and grab a bagel, a cup of tea and find a spot on the grass to settle down till Wave 4 is called. Porta loos are everywhere.

10.20am time to head to our corral. Strip off the old clothes that kept us warm and we are off. Once through the corral entrance there are more loos, so a final quick stop before the long run. I think this was a great idea, because I had a full bladder. It is now about 10.45am and we are the last wave to go. Our corral starts to move towards the start line. the corral is fenced in by all the buses that carried all the runners to Staten Island. As with all the other waves, the American national anthem is sung, cannon goes off and Frank Sinatra’s New York is played.

11am and time to go, over the start line onto the top of the Verrazano Narrow Bridge. This is a steady incline but nothing too bad and the view is amazing. Catherine gets out her phone and takes a few snaps while running. Mile 1 is crossed half way across the bridge. Mile 2 off the bridge and we enter Brooklyn. First thing I hear are drums and then I finally see the first lot of crowds. Through and around some streets and onto Fourth Ave.

Mile 3 first of the drink stations. Drink stations (and porta loos) are at every mile, they are long and on both sides – first tables are the Gatorade and then water. I grab a water and keep going. This part is long, straight, flat and streets very wide. The crowds are on both side just cheering you on. Mile 4, 5, 6, (10km, look up at the camera and smile) 7 and 8 are all ticked off along Fourth Ave. Finally, we turn at the Mile 9 mark, Catherine needs a pit stop, (there are porta loos at every drink station). I keep going and I know she will catch up. The streets are now a bit narrower and drinks stations can be a bit crowded, 15km done. Catherine catches up a few kms later.

Still in Brooklyn and still the crowds are out cheering. Mile 10, 11, 12, 13 down, nearly half way. Up and over the Pulaski Bridge, a short inline and the half way point 21.1km is hit.  ‘Welcome to Queens’ I hear from someone in the crowd and I hit Mile 14. Catherine and I are now keeping an eye out for the Travelling Fit team and the Aussie cheer squad and just after the 14 mile mark we see the kangaroo. We smile for the camera and keep going.

Heading up and over the Queensboro Bridge, this for me was the hardest part of the course. This bridge incline was long and tough. Some runners stopped to take selfies of the view, I just kept moving and this was also where I lost Catherine (she does hills better than me). Mile 15 (25km) hit going up the bridge and Mile 16 coming off.

Welcome to the first part of Manhattan. First Ave is wide, long and has a slight incline but not too bad and the crowds amazing. Mile 17 and it is a sea of sponges are all over the ground, Mile 18 (30km) I grab a Chocolate Powergel, this gives me an energy hit and I don’t hit the wall and Mile 19 are all done on this long stretch. Up and over the pretty flat Willis Ave Bridge and I am now in the Bronx’s. Mile 20 and 21 done, only 5 miles to go.

Over 138th Bridge and back onto Manhattan Island. The legs are really starting to burn now. Mile 22 and 23 are a killer along Fifth Ave, the incline that just keeps going, you think you are nearly at the top but no. This is where my head was telling just stop and rest, but I just keep going and have to run around everyone that are now walking. Finally, at the top and into Central Park as I hit the 24 Mile. This part is not too bad, a few up and downs. 40km hit just before the Mile 25 mark (look up and smile at the camera).

Only 2kms to go. Out of Central Park, onto Fifth Ave again and along Central Park South, heaps of people walking at this stage, so I keep to the right and I have a clear path around them. I see a sign 800 metres to go, yes I can do this. I pick up the pace, around Columbus Circle and back into Central Park for the run home. Mile 26 now for the last little incline just before the finish line and there it is.
I cross the finish line in 5.07hrs (7 minutes faster than my previous marathon time in Canberra).

First stop, the medal I have worked so hard for. Catherine finds me, hey we did it and we have a big hug. Catherine’s time 5.02hrs. Next stop photo with my medal. Everyone is wrapped in a space blanket and given a goodie bag containing water, Gatorade, apple, energy bar, pretzel’s etc. this comes in handy during the long walk out. Because we choose the postrace poncho we had to stick to our left and just keep walking. Legs and feet are feeling very sore now. Finally, out of Central Park and we are given our postrace ponchos, fleece lined and warm. It is now about 5pm, starting to get dark and the walk back to the hotel continues.

Back in our room and time to run a bath and soak. I did it, all the training has paid off. So proud of myself, that I never stopped running, even when my brain we telling me too.

The New Yorkers make this marathon, I don’t think I would have made it, without them. They are along the whole course, calling out your name, and telling you got this, you can do it. For any runner, the New York Marathon is a must for your bucket list, it is like no other race in the world.

It was a long but rewarding day and the most amazing experience, one that I will never forget.

Now I just want to say a big Thank You to the all my family and friends that have supported me throughout this journey and especially my wonderful husband Mark.

Lil Broomby – 2015 New York Marathon Finisher

PS- Thank you to the TravellingFit Team, where everything so well organised and provided me with unforgettable experience.

Now looking for my next big marathon somewhere in the world organised by the Travelling Fit Team.  Highly recommended organisation and job well done.