New York Marathon and November running update

I started November injured and feeling rather fed up. I missed running, I wanted to run but didn't want to ruin the chance of running New York. We had a Disney cruise booked for the week before the marathon, a chance to relax and unwind and generally prepare myself mentally for the race ahead. The Disney cruise had the opportunity to run the castaway cay 5km. I hadn't experienced any major pain or discomfort in my ankle for over a week and thought it might be a good tune up run before the marathon.

The second I set off my ankle flared up again. The pain went through my leg and I instantly regretted my decision. The course is flat but incredibly warm and the heat does get to you almost immediately. I finished and the pain intensified. Too late now.

I was now struggling to walk. My ankle had swollen and I was now very worried. I spent the day on Castaway Cay stood in the salty sea water, somehow hoping the sea salt might soothe any muscle injury, it made sense in my head at the time. 

We had a mad dash to catch out flight from Orlando to New York. Actually though everything went really smoothly. One of the first off the ship, straight onto the Disney coach our bags had been checked into our flight from the ship so we didn't need to worry about those. We arrived at the airport with 3 hours to spare. Security was really quick and we were sat looking for breakfast in the airport. 

Our flight took off on time and arrived into New York early. It took us 15 mins from leaving the plane to leaving the airport with our bags. Luckily our car I had booked was sat waiting for us, it did take some finding but we were still earlier than predicted which actually gave me plenty of time to get to the convention center and collect my number. 

I had worried I would not make number collection so to make it with plenty of time to spare was a shock. The process was really straight forward. I decided not to spend time at the expo as I wanted to get back to the hotel and my family. It had been a long day travelling and I had a very early start in the morning.

I can't remember what time my alarm went, I feel I was on the subway for 5.40am. I had laid out all my clothes the night before and scrambled in the dark to get ready without waking anyone. The subway system would not accept my credit card, as it is registered to a UK address and therefore it would not recognise my post code which you have to enter to get the machine to work. I luckily had some cash on me but not wanting to have change making noise as I ran had to buy a full day pass rather than a single ticket which annoyed me slightly.

After the messing with the ticket system I was now tired and stressed. The station I was at was one of those you see in all the horror films, dim lighting and a few kids on the bench at the other end of the station all wearing hoodies. I had an internal panic that I had got the day wrong, there were no other runners. After what felt like forever a runner sat down and so I started talking to him.

It really helped ease the nerves, we chatted all the way to the ferry terminal where he went to join the queue for a drink and I tried to make some sort of sense of the chaos of people. It really was chaos. I figured I would just stand and watch and see what was happening but sort of got swept with the crowd and ended up on the ferry. No one was checking times we were simply herded on to the ferry to make our way to the start.

The ferry journey was quite peaceful and I got to watch the sun rise over the water and New York. After leaving the ferry it was simply a case of follow the other runners. The chaos then started again. Coaches would arrive and people would just push to try and get on them. I started walking down the street and discovered the long queue of buses. My advise is to keep walking as the front few seemed to have some order to them and we stood and waited.

The coach journey wasn't too long and once off we were straight into security. The waiting game now began. I followed a sea of people towards the pens. There was no where to sit so instead I just wandered around. They had run out of the free bagels and hot chocolate by the time I arrived. I stumbled across therapy dogs and it was here I stayed for around an hour.

Therapy dogs are trained dogs and their purpose was to calm down the nerves of the runners. Well I sat there at the side of the tent and just talked to the dogs owners and generally forgot about the pain in my ankle and the fact I was about to run a marathon. 

For future reference take cardboard to sit on and some warm clothes that you can discard at the start line. I had just about begun to warm up and was stood on the start line in my charity vest. Unsure how this would go but I was here now. The start is on the bridge, and we were going to be going over, some ran under the bridge.

The mood on the start line was good. Everyone seemed happy and chatting away. I was with runners aiming for 5-6 hours so automatically in a pen a lot slower than I was now comfortable with. We set off up and over the bridge. The views were something else but the pace was not comfortable at all and I was struggling to get into a stride. I am not sure if it was this uncomfortable pace, the fact we start on a hill or perhaps a combination but my ankle just went no. I hadn't even covered the .2 of the 26.2 miles and I was in agony and feeling rather sick from pain. No where to stop, we are on a bridge so I pushed on. The pain was getting to me.

I don't really remember the last time I started a race knowing full well I really should not be doing this and 2 hoping I didn't make whatever was hurting worse and finally if I was going to actual make it round. Experience tells me when you don't respect the distance it will rip you to pieces and that is what happened. I decided to run and walk and stop and take lots of photos. 

I kept looking for markers, signs and interesting things to take photos of. Trying all the time to just distract myself from the pain I was in. I knew I had no chance of any of the times I had been working towards and this was a matter of survival rather than a run. I was disappointed in myself and feeling frustrated, this does not make for good mental preparation for a marathon. I was beginning to walk a lot more than I would like and the frustration in me was growing. I was now just angry.

Half way could not have come soon enough. My fear of bridges was really been tested and I had this anxiety to deal with on top of everything else. Running was simply uncomfortable and I was hoping the next half was going to pass by quicker.

I bumped into a lady at half way from Ireland who had recently lost her husband. She was running for a charity and was in tears. I talked to her for about a mile before she slowed down further and it hurt me too much to keep up with her pace. I felt really guilty for leaving her but the pain I was in was simply not sustainable at the pace she was going at and I had to get round.

More and More bridges. I recognised this bridge from the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel and so now had a rough idea where we were heading. I also knew how long this bridge was but hadn't realised quite how up hill it was!

My temperature would not stabilise and I was going through removing long sleeved tops [Which were under my vest top] to attempting to put it back on whilst continuing forward. There was simply too much going off and I know my focus should just have been on getting round. Manhattan approached.

The support throughout the course was amazing. Simply first class. Had I been in the right frame of mind and running they would have given me a real boost and provided the support needed to complete the marathon. As it was the pain was just getting to me and I was loosing focus. Just when I needed it I spotted a runner I recognised and a good friend of mine went zipping past me. I did my best to catch her up and for a few miles we stuck together. I couldn't keep up and knew I was slowing her down. The Bronx was approaching and mentally I knew the final stretch was coming.

The race weaves around the Bronx with some fantastic support. On the map it looked only to be a mile or two and whilst it probably is the pain I was in made it feel a lot longer. The final bridge of the race was here and now I knew it was a straight run down to Central Park and the finish line. Not long to go.

It was beginning to get dark. I was getting cold and I felt like I had been running along the road for forever. I was mentally expecting to run through the park and not alongside it, not sure why but this got to me. I had to push on. Eventually it came the turn into the park. I knew I was almost there now and started to hear the crowds getting louder. I must be nearly there. The finish sort of came out of no where. My face says it all.

Relief it was finally over. Shocked I had actually got round but the pain was intense and I knew I was in serious trouble. The second I got home I would be going to hospital to get it looked at. Now began the very, very long walk back to the hotel.

I would love to go back and run New York again, as marathons go it is a great course with plenty of support and I do not feel like I have done the course any justice. I feel grateful that I managed to get round but unfortunately the injury sustained means it will be next year before I can even think about running again. It turns out running a marathon on a fractured ankle is not a good idea. I am now waiting for further hospital tests and results to find out just how much damage I really did cause. The fracture I sustained prior to the race, no wonder it hurt!

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