Mile 14 to 26
I had to stop a couple of times through The Bronx to stretch my calf, which also gave me the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere a little more.
I think it was at around 22 miles I found my calf muscle and heart rate issues were causing me grief and it was time to make a decision: push on to make my time goal and risk injury, or back off the pace, soak up the atmosphere, and finish with a smile on my face.
The crowd made this an easy choice. The next 4 miles was spent running, walking, singing and high-fiving kids that lined the streets with their parents. I arrived at the Columbus Circle entrance to Central Park with mixed emotions.
I was happy to have run a pretty good race, but a little disappointed that it was about to come to an end.
Once you reach the 26-mile sign of the course you know the next 200 yards are going to be the most emotional of the race. I had a sign made up to walk across the finish line with: COPD – A Marathon for Life!
This sign is the title of our documentary, but also describes what it’s like to have COPD. I walked slowly down to the finish line enjoying every step I took and lapping up the cheers from the crowds in the grandstand.
6 hours and 5 minutes after starting the New York marathon it was all over and I was satisfied that six months of hard work had paid off. Doug and Tracey had crossed the line more than an hour before me — but where was Leanne?
After planning to end her race early due to injuries, I had no idea where Leanne was. I contacted our camera man to find out if he knew where she was, and he told me Leanne was still on the course at the 22-mile marker and was determined to finish.
I sent Leanne a message telling her I would wait for her at the start of the finishing chute. I waited patiently for quite a while, not really sure of when I would see her, then in the distance I spotted a lady limping.
As she came closer I realized it was Leanne. She spotted me behind the fence and came over to me in tears. She was in a lot of pain, but very happy to be in reach of the finish line. We had never finished a race together, so we decided to cross the line together.
I jumped over the barriers, held her hand, and escorted Leanne to the finish line — it was something we’ll cherish forever.
Four started and four finished — we couldn’t be happier. Our time in New York had raised plenty of awareness about COPD through articles and interviews before and after the race.
We were able to film some great footage for our documentary, which will also focus on COPD and other respiratory diseases. Now it’s time for a well-earned rest, but then I’ll be looking for the next race so I can keep showing fellow patients that COPD doesn’t have to be a death sentence.