Thursday, 8 January 2009

New York, New York

The current weather is not helping my training. While the minus 6 degrees inevitably makes it harder to summon the enthusiasm to run 7 miles at 9pm, slipping and sliding on ice covered pavements is the real issue. Although it won’t make me miss a training session, it is making me look forward to sunnier days in Barcelona and San Francisco. It was even 25 degrees in November 2004, when I ran the New York Marathon.

I’m a big fan of the New York Marathon. There’s so much to see and the crowd is so enthusiastic. In The Bronx, one chap was standing shaking hands with as many runners as he could, thanking them for coming! It’s also fascinating to see how the five boroughs of New York fit together. You run through areas which have a character all of their own – neighbourhoods which are distinctly Italian, Russian, Jewish – there’s so much diversity within just 26 miles. The route planners for the London Marathon could learn a lot from New York. Most of the first half of the London Marathon is south of the river, in areas where you’d be running anyway – as fast as you possibly could. There’s also not a great deal to see until Tower Bridge at about 13 miles. Before that, there’s just the Greenwich Observatory, and what’s left of the Cutty Sark.

Even the journey to New York in 2004 was a great experience. As we landed at JFK, the Captain of the British Airways flight announced his best wishes and congratulations to all of the marathon runners onboard, which was met with a spontaneous round of applause from the other passengers. Now that’s something which doesn’t happen every day, not to me anyway. Talking of which, the day before the race, I was invited to a reception at the United Nations for the international athletes, followed by a gentle jog from the UN to Central Park, with the runners carrying the flags of their countries.

For the rest of the day before the race, I just wanted to relax and not tire my legs. My friend suggested a film, and chose “Birth” with Nicole Kidman. The opening scene features a man jogging in Central Park, who collapses with a massive heart attack, dead before he hits the ground. That was a real crowd pleaser, not to mention a confidence boost. 24 hours later, I ran into Central Park thinking “any second now….”. The same friend repeated the same feat a month later, when I was about to set off for the Andes to climb Aconcagua. This time she chose a film called “Touching the Void”, with remarkably similar effect. Preparing for, and running, the New York Marathon was a big part of my preparation for the high altitude climb up Aconcagua. The other element was a season ticket at Goodison Park, where I got used to an environment with a depleted atmosphere.

Touching the Void, Aconcagua, December 2004

The New York Marathon starts on Staten Island, straight onto the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and over to Brooklyn, then Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and back to Central Park on Manhattan. The bridge is closed for the start of the race and the runners have it all to themselves. The celebrations start straightaway, with tugboats facing the bridge firing water cannons into the air, with plumes of water dyed blue, white and orange (the colours of ING Bank, the marathon’s principal sponsor). From 1964 until 1981, the bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, a title it took from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which I’ll be running across on 26 July. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge relinquished its title in 1981 when our very own Humber Bridge was completed. Tempted as I was to run across the Humber Bridge and complete a neat treble, the Hull Marathon just didn’t have the right ring to it. Barcelona, London, San Francisco, Berlin, New York, Hull. Spot the odd one out.

This week’s training schedule:

Moday, 12 January 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 2 miles easy, then 3 miles brisk, then 1 mile jog
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 10 mins warm up, then 10 x 40 secs fast uphill, jogging back down, 10 mins warm down
Thursday, 15 January 2009 6 miles easy
Friday, 16 January 2009 Rest
Saturday, 17 January 2009 20 mins easy
Sunday, 18 January 2009 18 miles training run (easy, 3 hours)

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009

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  1. Impressive training schedule once again. Must admit to not knowing what a fartlek was in last week's blog. In case any other readers had the same question I can confirm this is a run where the terrain and pace are varied. My OED tells me it came into English 60 years ago from the Swedish 'fart' (meaning speed) and 'lek' meaning play. So it is really just a play on farts.

  2. Thanks Downtown - your definition is spot-on. Well, maybe not the last sentence!

    Best regards,



NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004