I chose a very strong finish time, 3:30, and was assigned to the first wave. This was a wise decision since I did not experience the clogged and slow race start that friends who ran New York Marathon previously went through. At the sound of the canyon, we were off. It was the most amazing start as we were welcomed by the magnificent vista from the Verrazano-Narrows bridge. It was also very cold with real feel temperature of 0 degrees celsius combined with headwinds of around 48kph. But I had such a strong and fast start despite this.
I was so pumped up and energized. I decided not to look at my Garmin for the entire duration of the race but I felt that I was going very fast. I felt extra confidence when I passed the 3:35 pacer several times and for a fleeting moment I considered that this might be my Boston Qualifier. I sustained this pace until mile 16 as we crossed the Queensboro Bridge. Then both my ankles and calves started to tighten. I told myself that this was just a passing pain and will eventually go away. It didn’t.
I slowed down but I never stopped. I just focused my attention on the generosity of the volunteers as they handed over drinks and food. I absorbed the energy of the crowd as they cheered on and held up funny signs. I sang along with the bands as they played Eye of the Tiger. I gave high five to little kids, ignoring the pain that started to creep up all the way to my hips. I refused to stop because I knew that if i did, my legs would harden and I wouldn’t be able to move it anymore. Then I heard people shouting my name at mile 23. It was Gabby and JC cheering me on. Renewed energy surged through me and I just set my sights on finishing the race as I revelled in the cheers of the growing crowd leading to the finish line. I felt my knees locking at mile 25 and it was such a relief to see my best friend Neri and her husband Richard at this point. Their cheers gave me the extra push to plod on. Then I entered Central Park, the last stretch to the finish. I was just glad that I ran this route before the race so everything seemed familiar and comforting despite the pain. I felt my tears welling up and my emotions building up as I approached the finish line. I still cry at the end of every major race.
The finish was extra sweet because I knew that I ran this race with all my heart, refusing to give in to the pain and the urge to stop. It felt great receiving the finishers medal and then getting wrapped in an insulated blanket then a poncho. I felt warm inside out. Just happy to be here, blessed to be part of the world’s greatest marathon.