Emma Brown made a surprising decision to run a marathon in New York City when she couldn’t even run around the block. Here’s her story.

Around this time last year a friend of mine asked me to come to New York City and run the marathon for his and another friend’s milestone birthdays.

The opportunity to have a group of friends to party with in New York sounded great so I accepted even though I couldn’t run for more than 15 minutes due to a mysterious injury.

I used to be a keen runner and triathlete but for the last couple of years running was too painful. From my feet to my neck the whole right side of my body would tighten up and get really sore.


But I put those experiences aside and created a vision board with an image of a runner crossing the line and planned for a New York adventure.

I regularly started training Wednesday nights and Friday mornings with Moore Performance, doing speed running sessions which were great to run with the group, to have structured sets and get some tips from Danny, such as to walk the aid stations on the big day which really helped. Even though after one track session the next morning I was in so much pain I thought I’d put my back out just bending over to brush my teeth.

I also meet the bunch of friends who were doing the marathon at 6am on Saturday mornings for a long run with alternative Sunday runs with Glen.

One lunchtime I missed the morning training session so I went for a run at the Botanical Gardens at lunchtime and couldn’t even manage more than 15 minutes as the pain in my feet was so bad. I rang the Travelling Fit company which organises the race entries and travel package to back out, but unfortunately I’d lose my deposit so that wasn’t an option.

On the advice of Tony Golden I saw a Specialist Running Podiatrist Heidi Jones and my boss recommended a Chiropractor and A.R.T Specialist, Chris Vorillas as well as receiving treatments from Paula Luke.

They all advised me to build up strength with regular Pilates and yoga and Heidi gave me funny foot exercises, recommended buying Innovate running shoes and to stop wearing heels during the day.

I call the Innovates ‘magic shoes’ as overnight my speed increased at the Wednesday track sessions.

Though I still had my good and bad days with injuries I got up to 28 kilometres on my last long run and resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to do a lot of walking on the day as I couldn’t possibly manage 42 kilometres.


Finding inspiration to keep going

In NYC, I shared a hotel room with Jen a woman from Sydney, who I hadn’t met before but was a true inspiration. She was ‘Running for Premature Babies’ a charity which raises money for premature and critically ill babies born at the Royal Hospital for Women to give them a better chance at survival. As she had lost two children who arrived prematurely.

We realised that we were both about the same running speed so decided to do the race together, among the 50,000 other runners. My preparation was not ideal with a mixture of jet lag and motion sickness where I felt dizzy all the time and I didn’t get any sleep the night before the race from nerves. My legs were aching just walking to the start line.

Bang, went the starting gum, for the next ten kilometres I was in shock, I had heard the supporters were amazing, but nothing could prepare me for how supportive they were, for the next five and a half hours all you heard were people cheering and holding signs to help keep going.

The sights were amazing too, of Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan, from grand brownstones on leafy streets to the devout Jewish quarter, the public housing projects of the Bronx to the lush greenery of Central Park and the iconic architecture such as the Guggenheim Museum.

There was constant music too, buskers lined the whole route every few kilometres who were all super talented singers and musicians.

At about the 26 kilometre mark when we got to First Avenue ‘my puppies were really barking’ (my feet were killing me) but my friend Jen kept waiting for me as I slowed down. When we got to the Bronx at 30 kilometres there’s a large sign saying ‘welcome to the wall’ and I had hit it and felt like I couldn’t keep going.

One of the spectators had a card table covered in food and drink he’d bought from his own pocket, the whole way people gave out food and treats of their own as well as the official aid stations.

He said in his strong Bronx accent: ‘What do you need, I’ve got coconut water, coke, chips and pretzels’. I took a glass of coke from him and it did me the world of good. All my pain went away and I felt great, no it wasn’t an illegal substance.

For the rest of the race I felt great, the ‘runners high’ had kicked in, I put my head phones in and kept encouraging my friend. It was the best feeling to run into beautiful Central Park knowing I finished and had run just about the whole 42 kilometres and to finish the race with a friend too.

I absolutely loved it and would recommend to anyone.


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