The Promised Post-Marathon Post

Well, since you ask, I feel as if my lower limbs have been removed and replaced with someone else’s, but the unlicensed charlatan performing the operation has screwed them on the wrong way. My feet are pointing south while I am attempting to proceed northwards. Since you ask.

I have taken the day off work as I am also running a fever and have just finished watching How to Marry a Millionaire through streaming eyes in my pyjamas.

Oh, it's all smiles lacing up the sneakers at home but at mile 17, not so much.

Oh, it’s all smiles when she’s lacing up her sneakers at home but at mile 17, there wasn’t so much smiling….

But I completed the New York marathon. Yes.

Picture it, as Sofia says in The Golden Girls

It was quite a production just to get to the starting line: taxis, ferries, buses. The sight of a Coastguard boat helmed by a man in black pointing a machine gun escorting our ferry to the start didn’t even rouse my attention more than momentarily.

Fifty thousand people hopping from foot to foot at the starting corral and the body heat still no match for those biting winds coming in from  New York Bay. By then I knew I was getting sick. My eyes and legs felt heavy and I was sneezing. I wasn’t feeling remotely optimistic about what lay immediately ahead. I retied my shoe laces.

My thoughts were basic: Had I eaten enough? Had I eaten too much? Another half a bagel? Oh, what are these…vanilla protein bars? Why not? Hope the aspirin I took doesn’t lead to that fatal condition marathoners suffer from. What, Dunkin Donuts provides coffee, but no donuts? A trip to the PortaPotty? Can we get this show on the road. Maybe I should guzzle a kick of Gatorade. What if there’s no toilet roll in the PortaPotty? Best take this napkin… As I said, basic. Not exactly a glimpse into an elite athlete’s pre-race psyche.

For the first ten miles I enjoyed the buzz from the crowds (Park Slope and Williamsburg, in particular); I high-fived more babies than a politician; I laughed at the funny signs people had made (You’re running better than Obama’s healthcare! Go, random stranger, go!); and I thought how glorious that the city had dressed for the occasion in its sweeping autumnal tecnicolour dream coat.

Whose bright idea was this?

Hanging around at the start: Whose bright idea was this?

I thought of everyone enjoying the early days of Autumn under the shelter of their duvet

and I thought of everyone I knew enjoying the early days of Autumn from the shelter of their duvet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I understood what people meant when they described it as a special experience. That was until around Mile 17. Then what became truly special was the agony of it.  Roads seemed to extend forever and, as far as the eye could see, there were fluorescent dressed human beings. Or human beans, as my mother-in-law says. Which seems so much more appropriate as I felt like such a small entity and the task seemed suddenly overwhelming. We were a sea of small fluorescent entities. Running beans.

Everyone else bites it so I guess I will too...

Everyone else bites it so I guess I will too…

I thought about giving up numerous times. Or at least stopping and resting, but I knew if I did that I would seize up, and not get moving again. Before fever struck, I had hoped to complete it in 4 hours but every time I spotted the 4 hour pacesetter in the crowd, I became irritated. She was a teenager who bobbed along with her 4 hour placard held aloft, not a note of exertion showing on her face. I decided to steer clear of her from then on. My hopes of finishing in 4 hours were no longer realistic.

The last five miles were nothing short of hell. I believed the end of Fifth Avenue would never arrive. It seemed as if I was on a conveyor belt that kept dragging us backwards as we pushed our tired legs forward. By then I didn’t even see faces in the crowd. They couldn’t know what I was suffering so what did it matter what they were yelling? The trees could just as well have been coloured sky-blue-pink and I wouldn’t have noticed. I hated all the tunes on my play list, ready to throw my cumbersome iPhone down among the crumpled Gatorade paper cups.

We entered the last leg, Central Park, and thankfully, it was mostly downhill. I defied my body to pick up any iota of extra speed it had in reserve. It sputtered in disbelief. Try for under 4 hours, just try. I’ll never put you through this again, I promise.  Strangely enough, the finish line snuck up on me. It was almost anti-climactic. I didn’t believe it was the finish line–not because I was so delirious I thought it was a mirage–but because I convinced myself there was another finish line after, farther on into the park, like the one I saw on TV that morning, the real one. I lifted my heels and when I realized that, in fact, this was it, I had crossed it. I had finished. I remember making unhealthy gasping sounds.

Marathon finishers; Like packages on a conveyor belt

Marathon finishers; like packages on a conveyor belt

Radioactive orange ponchos to keep warm

Radioactive orange ponchos to keep warm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Officials kept herding us forward, telling us if we stopped we would cramp up. We were wrapped in neon orange ponchos and as we trudged silently through New York City’s streets, we resembled quarantined specimens cordoned off from society in some post-apocalyptic sic-fi or zombie TV show. There was no joy or elation; everyone seemed broken, incapable of reaction. Total silence. I still didn’t know my finishing time.

And then I did:

I did it!

I did it!

The next morning, I crawled out into the still-glorious autumnal streets to pick up my New York TImes. While I wait for my novel to hit the New York Times Bestseller list, this will keep me going: my name in small print among the list of finishers in their special annual Marathon edition.  You need a magnifying glass to see it but it’s there. I placed 13, 849.

My name about halfway down

My name about halfway down

But not only that. According to the website, at a pace of 9 minutes 2 seconds per mile, I was the 2,910th woman to place. But still, never mind that, here’s the crowning glory: I beat Christy Turlington’s time and she’s a supermodel!

That must make me a super something. Oh yes, a super soggy mess sitting on a sofa still in her sleepwear.

Incidentally folks, reaching the New York TImes Bestsellers list would really speed up my recovery. You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.

20 comments

  1. Congratulations. 🙂 Kind of mirrors the publishing marathon…

  2. It’s a toss up which is tougher but you can’t drink when training for the marathon 🙂

  3. But…the burning question is…did you have a biscuit when you finished? 🙂

  4. Brilliant! Amazing! Well done! I’d be dead!

  5. Mat

    A small part of me thought one day I’d run a marathon, that small part just got smaller…. Well done Jacks x

    • Just tuck that small part away out of sight Mat (oo-er missus). I now realize my mistake. No one should voluntarily undertake such a thing unless they are in the military and protecting a country or something…

  6. I am never going to do that, and I am in awe of those mad folk who do. It seems one is never enough- where’s next 😉
    Congratulations- you beat a supermodel and an annoying teen!

  7. And you did it in UNDER 4 hours! That’s such a wow factor in running a marathon…congratulations Miss 2910, you did it for the rest of us women sitting here in our pj’s. (Yes, I have a cold, too. Or whatever that is that’s going around.) Although I have never for one second considered running a marathon I am always fascinated by the crazy people – no offense – who do it. Enjoy your biscuits! You deserve them.

    • No offense taken. A very wise outlook you have there. Laura. Why didn’t we get into this earlier? Currently my only challenge is deciding between milk chocolate or dark, caramel flavored or coconut sprinkled milk chocolate. Oh, a jammy dodger! (I just crammed two biscuits in my mouth at once, don’t tell anyone)

  8. Congratulations Jackie, and a moving account too. Makes my three mile jog around the forest seem like a walk in the park.

  9. Thanks Donald. Makes me long to get back to those three mile jogs around the forest 🙂

  10. Yay for you! I’m doing couch/5k and I have two more workouts left. I haven’t yet found that “this is fun” spot in my workout. Can you tell me when that comes into play? No marathons for me. 😦 Seriously, You did great! 🙂 Be proud.

  11. You are my hero. Well done. There are some fabulous chicks bucket listing the Marathon this time next year in Cambodia… Fancy a jog around Angkor Wat?

    • Angkor WHAT?! Never again I say! I wish those ladies well and will even hand them Gatorade and slices of banana along the way but that will be the height of my involvement…Cambodia indeed…madness…migraine coming on… (retires muttering to darkened room)

  12. It HAS to be a jammy dodger..coated in GOLD!! So impressed! Huge congrats to you..awesome time, awesome achievement!! xxxxxxx

  13. Novels, marathons — you do like the long hauls. Congrats!

  14. Late…but WELL DONE! Used to live at the SW corner of the Park and was able to offer immediate showers for friends and family who finished (after they had a beer). XO

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