I’m well & truly home now, slowly getting through the Stuff Which Awaits A Runner When She Has the Audacity To Go On An Indulgent Overseas Jaunt & Leaves The Family To Their Own Devices…sigh…far too tedious to recount in detail, so I’ll save the time and just get on with it, instead.

New York was One Helluva Run – an amazing event!
Now I get the Big Deal about the ING NYC marathon.
It really is a big deal. The “New York Times” reports that a record 47,438 runners started this year.
Three African runners broke the course record. The poor buggers had to share the prize money – seems
unfair on them, after running 2:05:06, 2:06:28 and 2:07:14!

The Start

While we were all in our start corrals, just before 9:40 am (for runners in Wave 1 of 3 Wave starts), on a totally glorious morning in Staten Island, the “Star-Spangled Banner” was sung in absolutely superb fashion by a female black member of the NYPD. Americans immediately stood proud and placed their hands on their hearts. No matter what one thinks of them or their imperialism, it is hard not to be affected by their patriotism. The start cannon (yes, a cannon!) was fired by Mary Wittenberg, President & CEO of NY Road Runners Club. As the human throng poured through the start gates, the very, very, very well-known first notes of “New York, New York” filtered through the loudspeakers and a Frank Sinatra look-alike (dressed, naturally, in black shirt, black tie, black pants, white hat with black band) began crooning “Start spreadin’ the news….” , we all shrieked (OMG, OMG!), jumped up & down on the spot and sang along with Old Blue Eyes. And so, with the hairs on the backs of our 47,438 necks standing at 90 degrees to our skin, we began our 26.2 mile run across the almost 2 mile long Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, then onto Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and back down 5th Avenue into Central Park for the finish…

There were approximately 130 live bands along the course and the crowd support was totally awesome. Such mad, zany, noisy, raucous and earthy to the point of – appropriate – vulgarity, screaming support. I think it would be really hard to replicate it outside of NYC.

I don’t need to tell you that it is my advice to anyone who thinks of running a marathon, definitely, definitely, for 100% certain put it on your list, but you need to know that it is one hard act to follow! The race support, in terms of infrastructure, available medical aid (happily, I did not need it), registration, the Expo, everything, was superb!

I regularly thanked the many, many, many sterling volunteers along the course, especially those who handed out cups of Gatorade & water (available at each mile after mile 3), even when I indvertently poured a cupful over my head, confident it was water, alas….Gatorade in one’s eyes is not, I now know, good strategy in a marathon.

The Comments

Here’s just one example (and there are many!) of the coolness of it – my very own personal experience of arriving in the Bronx,
was that of being greeted by an Enormous Black Guy with a Totally Booming Voice, who yelled out:

“Man, look at those white girls run!
And one of ’em’s from Australia – holy shit!
She is the s**t!!”

The last “s**t” is pronounced as if it were spelt “sh-ee-at” and must be very emphatically emphasized in order to get the feeling for it. You may have heard expressions along similar lines watching movies set in NY (we don’t get much of that in Mosman).

Another sign in the Bronx proclaimed “Run faster or you’ll be MUGGED in the Bronx!”.

And then there was the uber-cool dude and his friends behind the barricades in Central Park. At just under 2 miles to go, at which point runners look like they’d just been to hell and back (and some are still in the hell part), these dudes are yelling & screaming the message on a sign which read:

“F**K THE WALL!”. At that point, the crowd is about 6 people deep on both sides of the road through the park and this guy & his mates are – very loudly – full of really, really encouraging stuff along these lines:

“You think you’ve hit the wall?
Well, you just F**K that wall – don’t let it fuck up your run – you hear me??
You go, go, go!!!”

They were absolutely, totally 100% sober and so, so, so earnest & full of the urgency of it all. It was seriously fantastic…

I would run out of room in cyberspace if I were to relate in this email, all of the messages, but there were – literally – thousands along the lines of:

“We’re so proud of you, Mommy!”
“NY Fire Dept Truck #45, Ladder #16 – Go, Ryan!”
“Who needs toenails?”
“Chafed nipples turn me on!”
“NYPD is behind you, Bill!”
“I love black toenails!”
“World’s Worst Parade”
“Go, Daddy, Go!”…and so on.

The Run

As for the actual run, the weather made it a ‘no excuses’ day. Totally perfect. I had no injuries, no broken bits, no blisters, no cramps, no nothing. My training had gone pretty weIl although I always feel as if I could have done a bit more speed work or more intervals, or just one more long run or whatever. The elevation of the NY course was, for me (a girl who does not like hills and who does not do them well), perfect! Just enough undulation to engage different muscle groups over 3-4 hours. I was ahead of the 3:30 pacer until mile 16 when it just got hard and, although I tried to make 3:45, it didn’t quite happen.

The Queensboro Bridge is so bloody long – and it didn’t help that I had forgotten that it goes over Roosevelt Island and then over water again, just before that seriously heady moment when one turns right into and hits 1st Ave in Manhattan. I thought I was delusional when, looking around, I saw water, then land, then water again… Never mind, I am very, very thrilled with 3:46:18 – my second fastest time ever, after Boston 2010 (3:36). I further console myself with the fact that Boston is not on the radar for world records as it is a net downhill course and the start & finish are not within the regulation distance apart – so, as Boston is a point-to-point run, that (um….sort of) makes NY my best time! Yay!!

New York is one great, great city. My travelling & running pal, Lyndall & I had a ball. We travelled exceptionally well together. On reflection, there is no reason that I should find this at all remarkable. We did not have a single syllable of disagreement and we had heaps of fun together.

Shopping, culture, good food, running in Central Park, visiting iconic spots & shops, people-watching…I was especially glad to have Lyndall there when, for one heart-stopping moment, it looked as if I had lost my passport at New York’s Kennedy airport.

The Ending

The cut-off time under which you had to run in order to get your name in Monday’s “New York Times”, was 5:00 hours.
Lyndall did it in 4:59:10.
She is thrilled.
Love that efficiency.

Plenty more tales to tell, little time right now but will do my best to write more of it down so I don’t forget.
….because it was really amazing…

I nearly didn’t come home. Why would I, when on Sunday, 6 November 2011 alone, at least 50 random strangers told me I was awesome?

And, of course, shopping on Marathon Monday is the latest and best form of recovery, especially wearing your engraved ING NYC 2011 marathon medal on your neck!


New York marathon bib no 19-162