The Running Bug: New York Marathon 2015 race day report

The Running Bug: New York Marathon 2015 race report
Some 55,229 runners took part in yesterday's race Credit: Copyright (c) 2015 Rex Features. No use without permission./Erik Pendzich/REX Shutterstock

I did it! I ran my first marathon. And, so everyone tells me, the New York marathon is the best in the world - so a good one to start and end a marathon career on, I think.

I was one of more than 50,000 runners from 100 countries – including 1,746 Britons who ran in the 45th New York marathon. And although I didn’t set any course records, I have come away feeling incredibly proud that I kept running for 26.2 miles (and believe me that last 0.2 was a struggle). I finished in 4 hours 28 minutes, six minutes under the race average, and totally can’t fathom how the winner, Stanley Biwott of Kenya, managed to finish in 2 hours 10 minutes and 34 seconds - something the New York Times describes today as a ‘conservative pace hastened towards a decisive conclusion'.

It was an incredible day, from the early 5am start to get over to Staten Island (even though my wave didn’t start until 11am), to the American national anthem being sung before two blasts of a Howitzer to signal the start of our race, to the crowds, the pain of the unexpected hills (should have done more hill training in retrospect) and the final dash to the finish line.

I made mistakes - as well as lack of hill training, I ran the first half too fast. Buoyed by the crowds in Brooklyn (who were incredible; it was like being part of the world’s biggest street party), I raced along as people called my name, telling me "You got it". I really did. Until 13 miles, when my steam started to run out. At mile 15 I started over the mile-long Queensboro bridge, which felt like the greatest uphill slog I’d ever encountered; I remembered the advice I’d had from Joslyn Thompson-Rule about just putting one foot in front of the other and managed to power on up, but it was a slow mile. There were two more bridges to go, plus the final undulating stretch down Fifth Avenue where I just tried to make it to the next traffic light (it was a battle not to stop then). The final two miles leading into Central Park were also uphill - thanks New York!

Jessica and Nick on race day

But as well as the million-strong crowd who were out on the streets supporting us, I was running alongside some extraordinary people. I saw a blind man making his way around the course with a guide, a man hunched over a zimmerframe and two people missing limbs and on crutches. Their efforts put mine to shame. Then everyone who had a personal message on their backs, such as, "I’m running for dad", made me well up; every person who saw a supporter in the crowd and ran over to hug them gave me a lump in my throat too - especially near the end.

The best part was walking back to my hotel, through the streets of New York, with my medal around my neck and race poncho on, one of the 50,000 survivors trudging home through the streets of New York. Everyone we passed congratulated us, everyone seemed proud. And I am too.