So what can I say about New York City Marathon? It was whoopbloodytastic!!!
I spent just under a week in that fabulous city, sight seeing, as well as running the marathon with my friend Amelia who also ran. It was wonderful to be able to share this amazing experience with her and her family.
We spent the days leading up to the race carb-loading, exploring New York (wasting far too much energy), and getting sick of the sight of pasta and porridge.
After eating yet another bowl of porridge at 5am on the Sunday, we took the subway downtown to catch the ferry to Staten Island where the start line was. Considering there were 39,000 runners, the organisation was fantastic. There were 3 different starting points, all providing coffee, bagels, energy bars and drinks. Before I knew it, it was gone 9am and time to move to the start line - the race was about to begin. This is the first time I have run in fancy dress and was wearing a hot pink tutu, leg warmers, wrist band and hair band, all kindly lent to me by my friend Clare.
Within each of the 3 starts there were 3 waves and I was in the middle wave starting at 10am. As many of you know I'm not an emotional person. I cry in films but not in real life. But as I set off I was filled with emotion and wanted to cry. Perhaps it was because I was achieving my dream of running the New York City Marathon. Or perhaps it was because I was doing this for Gavin, the first person I truly loved. Or perhaps it was a bit of both. Whatever the reason, I could hardly believe that I was now starting my 2nd marathon.
Similar to the London Marathon earlier this year, the first half of the race flew by as excitment took over. I took in all the sights and sounds as I crossed Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and ran through Brooklyn. It was thrilling hearing so many people shouting my name, calling out 'Go Lara', 'Looking Foxy Girl', 'Dance down that street girl', 'Love ya tutu Lara'. I was overcome when I heard a little girl, about my daughter's age, say 'Mummy, Mummy look at the Ballerina, she is so beautiful'. It made me think of Tamzin and this helped and inspired me to run. It was also so encouraging to have Amelia's family, who were dotted around the course, cheering us both on. They kept saying it was harder spectating than running, but I didn't believe them. By the end of the race, I think that they agreed with me!
I decided before I flew out that I wouldn't be running for speed as I wanted to enjoy the race but knew that if I could beat my time of 4:17 at London I'd be pleased. I ran through 5 different boroughs, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan - miles 13, 14, 15, and I was going strong, despite having to stop for over 5 minutes to queue for the loo at the 6 mile mark - but when you've got to go you've got to go!
Then just before mile 16, while crossing The Queensboro Bridge, I felt something in my knee go and then intense pain. Tensing my feet to try and shake off the pain, I was starting to worry. Luckily I had a sachet of pain relief gel in my running belt so I stopped and covered my knee with the whole packet, determined to keep going. I had not travelled half way across the world not to complete the marathon! I persevered and passing the Cystic Fibrosis Trust Team encouraged me and made me smile. Energy drinks and gels helped me through the final miles. For the very first time I looked at the Red Cross with the thought that I might need their help but knew that if I stopped I wouldn't be able to start again. So I kept going - miles 18, 19, 20, towards The Bronx and it fascinated me how different the people were in the various boroughs. After running in and out of The Bronx I was heading for Manhattan and now all I had to do was to run the 5 miles round Central Park. I could keep hearing people shouting my name, 'Go Lara, nearly there girl'!
For a moment I needed some Lara time and took myself to the middle of the race in order to take a few moments to meditate and collect my thoughts before dealing with the crowd once again. It takes a lot of energy to run a marathon let alone taking time to talk, smile, thank everyone as well as high fiving kids - it's incredibly draining. Once I hit Central Park, the atmosphere grew giving me the extra strength I needed to finish. When I read a sign saying 'Hello Central Park, Goodbye Weakness', I wanted to cry as the pain was so bad and my body was screaming at me to walk - but I didn't. I kept going proving that my mental strength is stronger than my physical strength!! Only 800 meters to go, then 600 and I began to sprint, putting all my energy into the finish, so much so, that I almost forgot to breath. I overtook everyone at the end and finished the New York City Marathon 2009 in 4:30:05.
I spent the rest of the day celebrating with Amelia (who completed the marathon in 3:56:21) and her family, and meeting the Cystic Fibrosis Trust Team in Times Square.
After the London Marathon, I was asked if I would do it again, and my reply was a definite YES. Now I have completed 2 marathons this year, in spite of being told I wouldn't be able to run one!
I can't begin to tell you how encouraging it has been receiving so many emails, letting me know how I have inspired people to run and enter races, and how my Mum brought tears to so many with the article she wrote for the Exeter Express & Echo. If I can touch so many lives simply by being me and my running, imagine what you can do by letting people watch you achieve your dreams. Together, step by step, we can all make the world a happier place, after all we only get one shot at life and this is it!
Now I have completed the New York City Marathon, would you all please be so kind to have one less beer or glass of wine this week and donate a few pounds to help me reach my target of £1200 (no donation is too big or too small). Not everyone is as lucky as we are, having our health and I thank you in advance. You're all Fabulous!! Simply click the following link www.justgiving.com/larawadeynym
If you would like to sponsor my friend Amelia who ran in aid of Brain Injuries, then please click the following link www.justgiving.com/Amelia-Derbyshire
So what's next? It's the Virgin London Marathon 2010!!