Saturday, 4 November 2006

New York, men and me!

After a great night's kip and brekkie of bagal, smoked salmon and cream cheese in a 'typical' New Yorkan deli, I decided to face my fear of heights and head to the Empire State building. Everything - as you would expect in America - was extremely well organised,the queues moved and for $53 I bought a City Pass which gives you access to all the main tourist attractions for 9 days.

The views from the top were amazing. I could just about see the longest suspension bridge in the world on the horizon - the distance was slightly disturbing as the bridge is the start point for the marathon eeeek! What I didn't realise is that the Empire State Building is only a measly 80m taller than the Eiffel Tower - for some reason it felt much higher!

Whilst taking photos of the vista, I was asked by an Italian if I would take a photos of him at the top. He returned the favour, and that's how I met Mauro - a slightly short, Italian captain in the Italian paras. We got chatting and it turned out he was pretty friendly so we ended up spending the rest of the day sightseeing together. First up, we headed down to the famous Flatiron building seen in practically every film or TV show featuring NY. We then walked almost the entire length of 5th Ave taking in the Rockerfeller Centre, St Patrick's Cathedral and ending up at the Museum of Modern Art. St Patrick's Cathedral is gothic in style and resembles Notre Dame but looks rather lost tucked in amongst the skyscrapers that surround it. The museum was fab with the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Dali and Van Gogh on show.

Some of the more unusual sights I saw were a skyscraper with trees growing on it and THE most bizarre shop I've ever come across. It was a grotto filled with fairies, clowns and all sorts of other magical creations in every shape and size - we got chased out by an extremely gay 'artiste'when we took a photo of it!

In the avo we trekked to eastside Manhatten through some of the seedier districts of NY to the marathon expo where I had to register and collect my number and timing chip. Something that does differ from the movies is the ease of getting a taxi - unlike Sex in the City no amount of elegant waving and shouting of 'taxi' will get one to stop. Hence we ended up trekking all the way back to Times Square.

I said my goodbyes to Mauro (although I may catch up with him today) then contacted Raf and went out for a dinner of - guess what? - pasta. Considering i'm travelling on my own, I haven't actually spent any real time on my own. Has been great!

Today, I'm going for a 2 hour boat cruise to see the Statue of Liberty, heading to Ground Zero, meeting up with my fiend Rob's friends for lunch, meeting Mauro to go to the Guggenheim Museum and probably meeting Raf for dinner.

Tomorrow, I've got an early morning awakening at 5am to get ready for the marathon. Tis all very nerve wracking! I've realised that with the time difference I'll actually be running between 3pm and 8pm UK time. I will have my phone on me so any texts of support during that time would be absolutely fab. My biggest worry is not having people watching to keep me running - If I stop even once it's all over!

Watch this space for my results! Fingers crossed!

Friday, 3 November 2006

New York New York!

I'm addicted to Virgin Atlantic! Their entertainment system is second to none. Everyone has their own handset and can choose the films they want to watch from a choice of 50. Watched more films yesterday than I have in years! Had a pretty uneventful trip although the plane was filled to the brim with marathon runners and their supporters so there was a pretty good 'camaraderie' atmos going on.

It took me three hours to get from JFK airport to my hostel though. After navigating customs which took about an hour, I then spent an hour in New York traffic. I met a guy called Raf who's also running on Sunday and we shared a taxi which made the laborious journey, less so! Our taxi got stopped by a miniature policewoman with attitude who gave our taxi driver a fine for turning badly - I didn't even notice that he'd done anything wrong!

Next up, I somehow managed to walk 6 blocks in the wrong direction from where I got out of the taxi. I didn't realised that there was a West and East 45th Street ooops! Anyhoo I made it to the hostel and it's fab. Bit tatty as hostels tend to be but immaculately clean.

Last night I met Raf at Times Square and we went for dinner in a small Japanese place. It's always great to find someone to hook up with when you're travelling on your own.

First impressions of New York are that people are super-friendly - even the customs officer had a laugh and a joke with me. And there are yellow cabs and steaming sewers everywhere just like in the movies!

Today I'm off to wait in more queues to go to the Empire State Building / cruise - I haven't decided which yet - will decide over brekkie!

Best dash.

Thursday, 2 November 2006

3d 3hrs 46m 21s

The trainers are packed. I have warm gear, wet gear, shorts, trackies, sweaters, silver-lined socks, hats, gloves, 2 litres of Lucosade and half a kilo of pasta - what more could a girl want? Forget elegant eveningwear - this trip is all about the comfiest, warmest clothing I can get my hands on.

Those of you who've been around me recently will know that running hasn't been at the forefront of my mind these last few weeks. This trip has creeped eerily upon me and I don't feel psyched at all. Fingers crossed the nerves will kick in on Sunday!

I am pleased to say that I've patched things up with my dad. Three days in Jersey last week was one of my better decisions in life. Facing dad made things far easier to deal with. Better than sat in my room stewing over events a few hundred miles away for sure!

Unfortunately, as most of you know, my dad was diagnosed with cancer this week. Thankfully the prognosis is excellent so we can just keep our fingers crossed that after a few months of upset things will get back to normal. Running for Cancer Research UK is now all the more poignant. It'll be tough and i'll have to focus on not getting upset when I see people with 'in memory of' t-shirts run past - it's always at the back of your mind despite a great prognosis!

Well here's to what I hope will be a good weekend. Cheers guys (you know who you are) for all your support these last few weeks - you've been great!

P.S. For anyone who hasn't quite got round to sponsoring me it's not too late :