2:46:45 – 3:56 pace – 444th place (3 November 2019)
So, 2 marathons in just over a week? It’s Monday night the day after New York City Marathon. I’m a bit broken. My head, throath, nose and legs all hurt. My system is a bit worn down and empty, but my mind is so happy. I’m delighted, I was so lucky to take part in such a special event, in a big city with millions of fans out to watch.
The alarm goes at 4:30 AM, my gear all nicely prepped on the bed. Lots of layers for the cold, waiting for hours at the start. Race number 2610 in wave 1, corral 1, so right up front. Just the elites and pros ahead.
I got the subway to Fitzpatricks Grand Central, to take the bus at 6:00 AM with the Team Crumlin gang. Lots of repeat runners sharing tips with the first timers. Traffic jams with race buses meant we only get to Staten Island by 8:00 AM. That’s fine as we stay warm on the bus. Into the TCS VIP tent with DJ, food, drinks and a free copy of the New York Times. How liberal!
It’s a beautiful crisp, clear, calm morning. Views for of miles the Atlantic to my left and New York Harbour to my right. 53,000 runners – split into 3 separate start routes over 4 start waves. Police, army, paramedics everywhere. Helicopters darting overhead. The Star-Spangled Banner is sung, and the enormity of this event hits me. Then the boom of the cannon to signal the start.
Climbing immediately for one kilometer to crest the Verrazzano Straights bridge. Helicopters hovering like hummingbirds, within touching distance. Beyond the Manhattan skyline – stunning and special. Into Brooklyn, I’m feeling great.
My target was 2:45, with the proviso I wasn’t under pressure and if my legs or body weren’t able, I’d slow. I really didn’t know how my heart, legs or body would cope. The roaring crowds are 2 to 3 deep through Brooklyn. Some amazing banners posters and signs:
- Run, random stranger, run
- Run like Trump’s behind you
- Insert motivational quote
- Michelle Obama loves you
- You are so NOT nearly there
Music belts out every mile – Prince, Madonna, Boomtown Rats, Jackson Five, Frank Sinatra. The biggest group was Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School – at least 50 kids in a full brass band playing Rocky for 4hrs straight! The ticking along nicely at target 3:54 pace. It feels good. Water stations every mile are busy but frequent.
Things go quiet as we pass through the Hasidic Jewish neighborhood in Williamsburg. Just another working day for them. Strange to not have crowds, so just quiet streets. Into Queens the crowds grow. The halfway point comes, and I’m bang on target. I feel good. Then onto the long climb across the Queensboro Bridge. I love this climb as it’s quiet again – no crowds on the bridge. Crossing the East River, I look left to see the Manhattan skyscrapers within reach. It’s so special.
We hit a wall of noise onto 1st Ave. Throngs of 3 to 4 people deep on both sides. Screaming, bells, horns, music. I’m buzzing. Five miles north to the Bronx. The pace is getting harder now. Manhattan isn’t flat – gradual ups and downs tire the legs. Another climb across the bridge into the Bronx.
Working harder now. I’ve munched through 4 gels by now, sipping water regularly. I started taking a bit of Gatorade – awful stuff but needed, I think. Runners starting to slow and suffer now after mile 20. Not long, but yet so far to the end.
The climb up 5th Ave is daunting. I know I’m working hard now, and my pace is dropping. Crowds are electric. I keep going. Positive thoughts “at least I’m not that guy,” I think as I pass walking, cramped or injured runners. Mile 24 comes, “now just get through this bloody hill up to the park.”
So many ups, downs and corners. Mile 25 come slowly. Then onto 59th Street, working really hard now. Everyone is. The crowd pushes you on. Over 700 meters to the finish. I’m smiling and push on. “Enjoy this moment” I think. It’s a killer uphill finish. I storm past many tired runners. Hands a loft over the line. Yes!!
Delighted. Sore. Tired. Then the VIP treatment starts. Through my sponsors entry with TCS, I got some extra perks. An easy walk to the bag collection area, versus the one-mile slow trip for most people. All the volunteers offering congratulations, as I smile at my big apple golden medal.
The nicest part was getting into Tavern on the Green after. The best of food laid on, a free bar and lovely seating to mingle. Plus, access to the finishing line area. I meet some nice people: Ryan from Ohio. A few phone calls and messages from home. It’s amazing how easy live tracking has become – people could see my progress from afar.
My time? 2:46:45. I was on track for 20 miles and then lost about 95 seconds in those final 6 miles. Not to worry. I’m glad I did both marathons. But I’m also glad I fundraised for Crumlin. Over €1,350 has been raised by your generous support. Thank you sincerely.
That evening I met one of John’s friends Patrick McCabe in Brooklyn. It’s nice to keep the connection to someone my brother knew well and lived with in college in Dublin.
The Next Day
I felt sick last night – my stomach wasn’t good. Alcohol, gels, food aren’t a nice mix. This morning I had a 4:30 AM start again, to catch my flight from JFK to Salt Lake City and onto Reno. 6 hours of flying time was not fun. People are nice though as I proudly wore my medal on the plane.
Reading the New York Times, with great photos and seeing my name printed in the mammoth “agate” was nice too. A memento to keep. My head hurts, I’ve a cold, swollen glands and painful leg muscles, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s been a privilege to race these past 2 weekends. I hope many more await in the years to come.