There are great marathons in the world and as to which one is the greatest, that will only ever be decided by the person who has run everyone in the world and since the chances of meeting that runner is about the same as me breaking the world record, then as marathoners we will always have something to talk about on long runs.
Having said that only New York is magical, where else in the world can you effectively close down major parts of one of the largest cities in the world and have more than a million people cheer you and actually enjoy the sight of us mortals running badly.
First up lets get Lance out of the picture, yes I did see him at the start. We managed to get to the edge of the blue corral on the bridge and saw him warming up and then at the start. No matter what anyone says, he like me ran the marathon every step of it and for that we as runners should be proud of what he stands for in our running community. It was very cool to be standing there as a runner and yell “Go Lance” and then turn and begin the race just like him.
I was running with my great friend Chaim aka Captain Caveman from the local hash running group having seen him achieve his goal of completing his first half marathon earlier in the year at the Three Borders Half Marathon here in Israel, now we were towing the line at one of biggest running events in the world the NYC Marathon.
Having had such an interrupted year of training with war, I know war really changes your training program, hard to run long when people are going to kidnap or kill you, so in some sense I was glad at the starting line that I felt confident and ready and in all honesty knowing that I was going to do a good time as long as Chaim was going I would be there with him.
One of my favorite sights at the start of marathons is the endless urination that happens around you, women who would normally not even use a public toilet are happy to squat in front of thousands and pee. A funny story actually happened here, listening to a podcast about running a marathon I remembered a great idea and that is take a Gatorade bottle with you , as you get to the mass start drink the remains of the drink and you have in your hand a ready made toilet with wide mouth access if you know what I mean, then simply put the bottle down by the curb.
Anyway in the corral when we were getting our stuff together Judith just grabbed this bottle of Gatorade out of my hand and took a swig. Just as the bottle got to her mouth I mentioned its purpose , the look on her face was one of had I used it already, never grab anything out of my running bag without asking is the moral of this story.
I liked the feeling of knowing that the run was going to be fun and that I had no pressure on myself physically or mentally and the ability to suck up the atmosphere made a big difference.
One good thing about NYC is that with the majority of streets being wide and the race starting from three waves it is easy to get into a pace and not have many other runners blocking you. The start over the bridge is fantastic and I had time to look back and see the incredible mass of runners hurtling down and onto the streets.
One hard thing though is that I only know how to run metric, I honestly have no idea of how far a mile is and the pacing and timing is much harder as you try to calculate out splits, luckily they have 5km splits and 26 markers is less than 42 but further apart.
Last year I remember bonking as I crossed the 59th street bridge into Manhatten and feeling drained as I tried to keep up with my pacing team of 3:50, this time when I crossed the bridge I actually started sing out for everyone “ If your happy and you know it clap your hands” which got a great response from other runners around me. Chaim was starting to hurt at this point and I knew from past experience this pain sucks when you are only around 16 miles into the marathon. The big problem I was having at this stage was that I was getting very very cold the wind was so bitter and I had to take my running hat off all the time as it was freezing my head and giving me chills right to the end of the marathon it was on and off .
The run up 1st Avenue is an awesome experience it feels like the whole city is out cheering you and you feel like a champion. The Sponge Bob sponge stop is another souvenir to treasure from NYC, after taking it I stuck it down the back of my pants I wanted my Sponge Bob.
The next challenge was just up the road at Mile 19, this is where last year I made the stupid mistake of taking a Powerbar gel having never used then on any training run and it hit my stomach and I had started to feel the urge to be violently sick and rather than give me the boost it finished me off and I hit the wall then.
This year I had trained using these gels and for me too get thru this point in the race was critical I felt fine and as we crossed into the Bronx we slowed to walk for a few hundred yards as Chaim was carrying a 400lb gorilla at this point and suffering badly. I urged him on with the promise of another walk as we crossed back into Manhatten.
My legs were tiring as we pushed through those low twenty miles and whilst I did not hit any wall I was tiring. Luckily Chaim’s family were by the side of the road and this gave him a fantastic burst of energy and got the gorilla off his back.
That trek down 5th Avenue was a blur as I tired knowing that it was so close and yet so far as we still had the Central Park ahead of us, turning into the Park is hard as you know that is almost over and all the joys and anguish of 6 months of training is going to end, if I was not hurting so much you almost want the marathon to be longer so you can enjoy the experience.
Columbus Circle beckoned and I felt a complete re surge of energy as you turn and the finish line is just up that small hill and the crowds lift you as you give everything left. Lifting Chaims hand up we crossed the line in 4:27:27 like champions, friends and people whose lives will never be the same because we had run a marathon together.
The medal is draped around you and all of a sudden the cold hits you and the scramble to get the space blanket was imperative. Shuffling along in our tin foils Chaim went into a hypothermic shock and we actually ended up in the medical tent for fifteen minutes, with four space blankets on Chaim and a wool blanket to boot. Having never been in a Medical tent at the end of a marathon it was almost funny to see people in such pain, I know cruel but sadistic in my own way.
Chaim was shaking so badly that the cup of tea we were given almost shook out of his cup. Fifteen minutes later he was fine cold but ok and we walked out of the park laughing with our heads held up high we walked the streets proudly wearing our medals like champions we were. There is a magic to finishing a marathon that no drug in the world will ever duplicate, as you know that you a member of the point one of one percent of the worlds population that has run a marathon.