Nov 2, 2014 (6am)

Thanks Tanya C. for the picture 

From the hotel we where brought to the Starting Line at Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. I already got endless emails beforehand from the organizers informing us that this will be the coldest NYC marathon in history with temp hitting 5c (with a real feel of 0c) and extreme high winds blowing from the east. So windy in fact that when our bus briefly stopped on the bridge you can feel the pressure of the wind shaking the bus. Hard to imagine  what the blustery winds would do to the thousands of runners who would be crossing the bridge in a matter of hours. Needless to say the weather condition was extremely daunting. 

Alighting from the bus, the cold was EXCRUCIATING. It didn't matter that I was already  bundled from top to bottom with 4 layers of clothing  and a couple of trash bags over me with the hope of keeping warm, but to no avail.  I was shivering non-stop and my butt and feet were literally numb. Hard part is that we still had 2 hours of the bitter cold to endure until our wave officially starts.  I tried to pass the time by talking to this very pretty black lady beside me who was shivering just as much as me.

When my corral number was called through the PA system, I went to form my line and got ready.  The boom of the cannon sent the wave of runners hurdling forward over the bridge to the tune of "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra playing in the background.  If it wasn't freezing cold, I swear I could feel goosebumps forming with the sheer excitement of it all.

The marathon route was incredible with a course that makes it's way from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge passing through the 5 boroughs up to the finish line at Central Park.  The first hurdle to surpass was the bridge - spanning approximately 2 miles that connects Staten Island to Brooklyn. As expected, the cross-wind crossing the bridge was so severe that I found it difficult to keep my balance in several areas. The view, however, looking over from the bridge to the city was fantastic.

As we entered Brooklyn, the vibe changed immediately.  The entire city must have been out on the streets in full support cheering for the runners.  The crowds greeted us with wave upon wave of sound and positive energy, extending Hi-fives and Low-fives while others shouted your name or bib number.  At that moment I seriously felt like a rock star!

Almost every block had blaring music or a local band playing on the street and cheering zones.  I especially liked passing through Harlem where African Americans played rap music.  At one particular corner they played the song, "Living on a Prayer" by Bon Jovi where I found myself singing along together with some fellow runners.  It was pure excitement and energy all the way. As usual,  tears flowed as I crossed the finish line.  Though we had planned to meet at the finish area with my brother Ton and cousin-in-law Marilen, I just had to beg off and get away from the cold and head for the warm confines of my hotel room.  It seems they too were thinking the same thing.  Although we were extremely tired with achy legs and sore feet, we were all on a high taking comfort in the fact that we just completed one of the bests marathons in the world.

Ton and Marilen Concepcion

To sum up, it was an AWESOME race. Marathons are never just about running after all. It's the additional festivities and fanfare that can truly define the experience among other things and the NYC Marathon delivered all that.

As I head back home to Manila, I am already thinking where to run my next marathon in 2015.  This time I'm definitely aiming for some place warmer .... for a change.