When I got on the plane at Heathrow on Thursday morning I was a bit shocked . It appeared to be full of people wearing shell suits who were clearly from Essex. ‘Crikey British Airways has gone downhill since the last time I flew with them’ I muttered to Husband. ‘Bean’ he said sternly, ‘they are runners in proper running kit.’ Ooops…
New York was everything I had hope it would be; big, brash and brilliant. I was in total awe of the vast skyscrapers, the huge neon signs and even the size of the trucks. The first two days were spent sightseeing and it was clear that Husband was trying to keep me as far away from any interesting shops as he could. He thought that walking tours of Greenwich and Soho would be far more informative. Mmmm but not exactly what I had in mind, particularly the day before running 26 .2 miles. I did eventually get him into Macys but he followed me around like an FBI agent grimacing every time I picked up something more than $2. ‘Why don’t you go to Starbucks and I will meet you later?’ I suggested. ‘Ok fine’ he said, ‘I will meet you in 15 minutes.’ ’15 minutes! I was thinking more of tomorrow…’ To be honest the shopping was not very successful for other reasons. I had an awful nagging feeling in my mind, a bit like the day before an exam at school. I wanted tomorrow to be over but not to come at all.
On Sunday the alarm went off at 4.50am. Not that this bothered me as I had been awake worrying since 1am. We got dressed in our running kit and headed off with a further 40,000 runners to the coaches lined up outside Grand Central Station. It was still dark and freezing cold as we spent 1 hour 20 minutes negotiating the highways and freeways of the New York suburbs. We went on and on for miles until the city was just a twinkle of lights in the distance. ‘Christ’ I thought ‘How far away is this bloody start line?’ I grew more and more depressed with every mile, particularly as I was surrounded by overly excited runners who giggled and made awful jokes like kids on a school outing. Finally we arrived at Fort Wandsworth, Staten Island. After massive security checks were in the ‘Village’ and with only 3.5 hours to go until my start time. There was no shelter, no seats, no drinks apart from water and it was icy cold. After 2.5 hours huddled together I said goodbye to Husband as he headed to the start line. I felt so alone and nervous. I decided to kill time by heading off to my starting area and there my spirits lifted. The ‘over 5.5 hour predicted finishers’ were a much more jovial bunch. They hadn’t got the demeanour of those who ran too much and ate too little. They were tucking into Dunkin Donuts and laughing about the fear of falling over at Mile 2. I felt so much more at home. As it was so cold we had been advised to wear old clothes to start the run which we could jettison after a few miles. I was dressed in a shrunken hoodie and a pair of Hairy Male Teenager’s tracksuit bottoms. Others were in tiger onesies, check pyjamas, fur coats, and Macs. In fact we looked more like we had just raided Oxfam than trained for a marathon. Bang! the starting gun went and off I trotted over a mile long concrete bridge high above the Hudson River with a strong side wind. Once again the words ‘insane’ and ‘Jayne’ jangled in my head. When we finally got to the other side and into Brooklyn I was suddenly faced with the biggest street party in the world. Everyone in this borough was out on the streets shouting and cheering and wanting High Fives. It was truly amazing. ‘Go Jayne go’ they shouted for mile after mile. ‘Looking good Jayne, looking good.’ As I felt it was rude not to acknowledge this encouragement I ended up with my right arm constantly raised in Royal wave fashion. ‘Nice one, Girl! You got this one Jayne!’ On and on it went. I ran faster and faster, loving every minute. ‘Aaah this is what marathons are all about.’ One old man screamed ‘Go Jayne Macmillan! I love Scotland!’ Clearly not realising where my name ended and the charity name began on my vest. I ran one of my fastest ever half marathons through the crowds in Brooklyn then Queens. Reggae and Jazz bands were playing and we were offered cakes, fruit and Snickers bars as we ran. ‘Crikey this is easy’ I thought then a voice inside me said ‘just wait until you hit the WALL’. So I slowed down and slowed down, deciding it was far better to walk a bit and run a bit than burn out too soon through vanity, particularly when I had £3000 of sponsorship resting on my head. At Mile 16 it happened. I suddenly felt sick, light headed and struggling to focus. ‘Oh no, here we go’ I thought, ‘the WALL!’ I had taken 40 Nurofen in the 5 days leading up to the race, I had eaten gargantuan-sized pizzas and I had drunk enough water to sink a ship so I had every confidence in my pre-race preparations. Just then, a god-like Harvard student, slim, blonde and with gorgeous blue eyes (sorry I digress) said ‘Hey Jayne u wanna banana?’ as he held a bunch out across the barrier. I certainly did. Yummy Preppie from Harvard saved the day. Within 5 minutes of eating this delectable fruit I was back on track with only 10 miles to go. I would be lying if I said this was an easy 10 miles, everything hurt and it was freezing cold and very dark. Well that was until I realised I was still wearing my sunglasses at 4.30pm in New York in November. When I came into Central Park and saw the Finish I felt elated. I astounded myself by managing to do my Usain-style sprint to the line, ignoring the fact that the elite runners had crossed it 5 hours before. ‘I did it! I bloody well did it!’ I screamed, as an orange poncho-wearing lady put a huge medal round my neck. ‘Jayne Webb you have run the New York Marathon in 6 hours 4 minutes!’ I yelled. I then did what all good daughters do. I phoned my Mum…
This is the end of my Runner Bean blog which I have become very attached to. Before I sign off though I have to say a ‘Special Thanks’ to the following people:
Little Trevor for not falling over backwards when I told him I was running the New York Marathon, admittedly he would not have had a long way to fall…. He has encouraged me and believed in me so much.
Husband for supporting me tirelessly whilst training and for putting up with all the stick I have given him on these pages. Many people have emailed me to complain, including my Mum. Husband’s Mum would have also complained but she thought she needed a ‘blog machine’ to read my blogs and I certainly wasn’t going to tell her otherwise. By the way, Husband finished in 3 hours 59 minutes, a personal best for him. Well done Darling!
Thanks to my friend Victoria in Devon who has sent me a ‘Runner Bean’ motivation card every 3 weeks for 6 months. You are amazing.
My great friend Johnny who laughed at my first tentative draft blog and encouraged me to publish it.
My best friend PK who has run my life whilst I have been out running on numerous occasions this summer and who agreed to look after 2 extra teenagers and 2 extra dogs this week with only one disaster; Hairy Male Teenager dyed his hair ginger in our absence. Big hug PK.
So that’s it. The ‘Oscar Acceptance’ speech is over. Thank you to everyone who has run with me, read my blogs and most importantly donated to Macmillan Cancer Support. I’m off to search for another marathon on the Runner’s World website…