When I first started running, I never thought of running a full marathon distance in my lifetime. Well, after I enjoyed running a long distance, I did make a goal that maybe, I will do a full marathon once, before I turn 40 years old!
Turns out, I accomplished that much earlier.. and not only once but twice in a YEAR!
Earlier this year, I completed my first marathon in Hongkong StanChart Marathon. It was a lovely experience as I was running with my bestfriend all the way from start to finish. After it was over, I made a promise that I’ll only do this once a year. I think that should be enough. In the meantime, I want to go back to running for fun. The training plan that I have to adhere before the race was just really taxing, at some point, it kinda takes the fun out running for me.
So i switched my focus to do yoga. I do still run about 2-3 times a week, but only short distance and really.. for fun! No need to keep up with pace or training plans. Then sometimes at the last week of March, I received an email that guaranteed me a spot to run New York City Marathon!
I was having mixed feelings as I received that email. I’m happy if I can run NYC, which also means that I’m going back to my “second home” after a decade. But that also means… I have to go back in training! Acckk…
I put off the training until Ramadhan was over. Then work comes along, because that also happens to be my busiest time at the office. So between work, family and among other things, I was having a hard time to keep up with my training program. But I have to if I want to finish the race pain-free. In the meantime, I also have prepared the flight and accommodation arrangement. I think I’m more excited about coming back to New York City, more than running the marathon itself
So the D-day arrives. My husband came with me while the kids were sent back home to stay with my parents in Jakarta. We arrived in NYC on Friday afternoon, went straight to my friend’s apartment and rested. Still having a jetlag, we went out for dinner and roamed around West Village area to watch the famous Halloween Day Parade.
The next day, I went to the expo and picked up my race pack and bib. Had huge lunch in Times Square then went back to rest and prepare for the next day .. the race day!
I was put among the runners in the last wave, so the run actually started at 10.55am. Quite late really but the weather forecast for that day was not looking good. It said to be very windy with the temperature felt like it’s below zero degree Celcius. I had to come out all bundled with my old jacket and training pants over my running gears. I actually had my running pullover and a jacket over it. I threw my old Zara coat and Adidas training pants for goodwill as soon as I went inside the start pen.
The run was good. I started out nicely, with a good pace. Even though it’s cold, the cheers and the spectators along the way was really a booster. I felt giddy as we started in Verrazano Bridge in Staten Island. The view of Manhattan was on our right and it was magnificent. For me, it’s a homecoming run! Nothing beats my homecoming trip by actually running in all five boroughs, right?
As soon as I entered Brookly, there is a band next to the spectators who were playing Metallica’s Enter Sandman. My adrenalin was pumped, my favorite song was playing and the energy from the people along the streets was just awesome. I ran my pace, not too slow but not too fast and it was enjoyable. I’m enjoying every minute of it, to have that feeling being able to run in the Major World Race, it’s just different. There is no shortage of people cheering from the start to finish. The cute signs, family waiting on the streets with big signs to support their runners, sometimes even handing out fruits and food or drinks to all the runners. They call out our names and shouted “You can do it!” or “You’re awesome.. Go! Go!“. Nothing can beat that!
Bands or singers were entertaining the runners and the spectators at around every five blocks, runners literally do not need to listen to iPod because they would also hear music playing from the streets. Different genre at different locations too!
Just as I was leaving Queens and continue to cross over the Queensboro bridge, I saw my husband calling me out. I went over to hug him, he took my pic then I continued to go up the bridge. This is the only area where no spectators are allowed to cheer the runners. And boy, that was one tough track! Not just because of the lack of spectators, but that’s when we can really feel the wind blowing us hard. And because it’s on the lower part of the bridge, we didn’t get direct sun, eventhough it’s probably at close to 2PM already. So it was cold!! I can feel that the freezing temp wrapped my body and I got colder and colder. As we arrived at the end of the bridge and run uptown to the Bronx area, the wind blew from the East river also made it worse. I can feel my whole body was freezing, and I couldn’t run. But walk is also not an option cuz it would feel even colder. So all the way up to the Bronx, I was struggling with the weather and keeping my body temp up. I can feel the freeze in my toes, my fingers and all over my body. I walked, I run, but my body also tired. I tried as many I can to keep running. By this time, I already clocked in at least 30km of running.
As soon as we reached the Bronx, I can hear the energetic music played along. I was pumped, though my body was tired. But at least the route is now going downtown in Fifth Avenue area, which means the wind from the East river are blocked by the buildings. Though still cold, my temp was a bit better. So I tried to keep running. At this point, every one who were standing on the streets would have something on their hands to offer to the runners. Tissues, sweets, bananas, apples, anything! I took 2 Hershey kisses from the hands of a sweet kid who were offering them to the runners. I chew them down and I felt my body was warmer and I started to run with 6′ to 7′ pace. I was back to my normal self and got second wind.
I just kept going, Central Park was in front of me and I just want to get this over with. I ran and ran and ran… until I reached Lincoln Centre and I heard my name was being called! My husband was there to cheer me to the finish line. I hugged him again and ran as fast as I can to the finish line. I have been running for more than 5 hours and the sun is about to come down soon. I just want to cross the finish line before the sun sets.
I did it!
Despite of the challenges of the sub-zero weather, it was really a good race. I enjoyed the race so much even though I was running alone the whole time. I didn’t finish with a PB, but considering that I wasn’t well prepared as my first marathon, I’m happy to finish without having any pain. In fact, the next day I was already roaming around Manhattan, going to places I used to hang out with. I probably walked more than 10K everyday after that race day until I return back to Singapore a week later.
For me, it’s a home sweet home trip
This post was also published in The Urban Mama website with the same title under Founders’ Corner page.