Monday, November 25, 2013

Exploring New York

On Monday, the day after the marathon, Mr B, CJ and I met up with KT (from Melbourne)and her hubby for a farewell breakfast as they were heading off to Vegas that afternoon. It had been lovely to catch up with them on the other side of the world and share experiences. Later Mr B and I packed our bags and headed off to a guest house on the East side of  NY. Our room was several floors up but fortunately our host met us and helped carry our bags. Our Canberra friends were on the floor below us which was great. That evening the five of us enjoyed a great middle Eastern meal together in our new local area.
We had another week in NY but as it was CJ's last night on Tuesday we decided to go to a show. We took the subway to Times Square that day and bought cheap tickets for Kinky Boots. The five of us went together and found it lots of fun. Later we finally had our celebratory drink at a pub nearby.
It was sad to say goodbye to CJ next day when she flew off to Paris. 
Over the next few days we explored New York City, Madison Square, took long walks in Central Park, browsed the shopping centres and enjoyed a beautiful meal at Brasserie Les Halles in Park Avenue, where famous chefs have trained, with our daughter Em and her fiancĂ© who arrived in NY a few days before we left. They had been celebrating her 30th in Vegas!
We had a great time exploring Greenwich, SoHo and the Chelsea Markets. We walked the High Line on a very cold day which required buying a beanie first! We had lots of lovely meals with our Canberra friends including one memorable one in Little Italy. We also had an opportunity to spend some time with Em & Court, shops, pubs and meals.

We spent a long time at the Guggenheim  Museum but our favourite visit was probably the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). (Thanks for the recommendation LL). Coffee has improved so much in the past four years when we were last in NY. I have enjoyed many great coffees in NY this time and some beautiful meals.
On our last full day in NY, a week after the marathon, I went for my first run - an 8km undulating run with Mr B, taking in some of the north side of Central Park and a few hilly detours. It was pretty and I felt happy although a little sad to know we were leaving this great city next day.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The New York Experience!

For some months I have been training for the New York marathon. This training has been encumbered somewhat by lower back pain caused by the sciatic nerve and recurring problems with my left hamstring. Early in my training I decided I would follow a walk running program and followed this for some weeks. I even downloaded Jeff Galloway's book on my iPad and read it with interest. However, after several visits to the physio, gradually I was able to run more than walk and eventually returned to speedygeese training and resumed running training for the forthcoming NY marathon.

The plan to run this marathon took place about 16 months ago, while we were in Turkey, when our friends emailed us to suggest that we go with Travelling Fit which meant making the decision way back then! It has been a big build up which has finally come to fruition.

We left Canberra for New York on 30 October arriving on the same day! It was great being able to fly in the company of several friends who were also taking part in the marathon, including CJ.

Next day we collected our race numbers and spent lots of time and money at the extensive expo, before heading for Times Square. This being Halloween we were treated with some fantastic costumes being worn everywhere that evening. It seemed that nearly everyone was dressed in the spirit of the occasion and there were lots of brightly cut out pumpkins and pumpkin lanterns in the shop windows or in market places.

On Friday we met up with the Travelling Fit crew and did a familiarisation run in Central Park and through the finish line of the marathon. Later after checking out local running stores CJ, Mr B and I went by boat to visit The Statue of Liberty and afterwards we visited the 9/11 memorial. It was a lot to cram in to one day, so much to think about. The memorial had not been built when we were last in NY in 2009.

Marathon Day turned out to be the coldest day in New York since April! We had to meet at 5.45am in the hotel foyer which meant our alarm was set at the ungodly hour of 4am to give CJ and I plenty of time to get organised. The buses set off for the venue at 6am. We met up with another Canberra friend on our bus and it was a great way to keep distracted on the journey. The roads closed at 7am which was why we had to leave so early. The start was from Staten Island and here we went to our various corales. Sadly I was in a different coloured group from my mates and thus filled in time by running up and down to keep warm and making several visits to the loo to relieve the nerves more than anything else! There was four hours of waiting involved! It was freezing and on top of my singlet and shorts I wore a long sleeved top, a jacket, trackie pants, beanie and gloves plus a plastic cape. Even with all that gear I still had to keep moving to keep warm.

Eventually my wave was called to the line to head for the start. However there was a bit of a language problem (not mine) and a large group of us were not allowed past the rope until the last wave was due to start. It was most frustrating! As I stood waiting in line a gentleman approached me and said, "hi there you sold me my shoes at The Runners Shop"! Yes he was an Aussie from Canberra and we were very pleased to see each other. What a small world! It was great to have company for the next ten minutes before we were finally herded to the start area.

The run started with the bridge from Staten Island to the mainland. I threw away my top layers but kept on one long sleeved top, gloves and beanie until we were over the bridge. As we approached the end of the bridge I could hear a low buzz which increased to a roar and then we were in the open and suddenly there were hundreds of screaming spectators. It was awesome. All along the way the spectator support was amazing. It just carried me along and the first 20km seemed to fly by. I would like to be able to say that the rest of the run felt like that but after all a marathon is still 42.2km no matter how much support there is and later in the run I started to feel the pain in my hamstring, stitch in my side which kept recurring and general niggles which are par for the course really. I managed to drop my jellybeans and gu chomps so I only had gu gels on the way. I sipped water at every second drink station but never felt too dehydrated until near the end.

We ran through the five boroughs and a lot of the run has since become a blur but I do clearly remember running through the Jewish community in Brooklyn where the men were dressed in their long black coats and tall top hats and were totally oblivious to what was happening around them.

There were bands and music all along the way except on the bridges where no spectators were allowed although on one bridge a Scottish piper led a band to keep us entertained. It truly was an amazing experience with nearly 50,000 finishers and thousands and thousands of spectators everywhere you looked, high fiving us, cheering us on by name, holding up signs and always encouraging us. As I finally reached the finish line I felt fantastic. I knew it was my slowest time ever for a marathon but I managed to raise my arms and smile for the camera. I had achieved a dream, I had held since our last visit to New York four years ago, ticked another box on my bucket list, yes I had run New York marathon and that was a great feeling!

I have to add that after crossing the line the cold set in again. A medal was placed around my neck, a photo was taken, we were shuffled on to collect a food bag, given a foil wrap for some warmth, and then we walked again for what seemed ages before being wrapped in a lovely warm bright orange cape. This didn't help the shivering bare legs but certainly helped the upper body. I drank the supplied sports drink, chewed on a protein bar and gradually started to feel a little more human.

I was so happy to see Mr B at the appointed meeting place. He walked me back to the hotel which was ages away before returning to meet CJ while I sunk into a blissful hot bath!

Marathon 14 done and the holiday begins!

Time taken: 4hours 39mins
Average pace per km: 6:36
Calories burned: 2460
Second half 7mins slower than first half!