Today L and I trekked over to 125th & 5th to cheer on one of her friends who was running the New York City Marathon. It was a beautiful day for it -- open blue skies, a biting chill in the air tempered by a strong sun. As we approached 5th Avenue we could see the constant stream of runners moving through. The nice thing about the uptown phase of the marathon is that it's fairly empty; we could easily take our place on the sidelines -- or more accurately, in the street, somewhat crowding the runners as they proceeded -- to cheer and clap and yell their names. The crowd was thin but exuberant; everyone yelling out the names of people who had identified themselves, or their country, or their cause on their shirts. "Go Amy! Viva Mexico! NYPD! Go barefoot guy! Go France! Go Barthelona! Go juggler!"
People would respond with a thumbs up, or a wave, or a smile. At the time we were cheering, a lot of people were looking pretty rough. We were near mile 21 or 22, a real low point in the marathon experience. You're running farther than you ever have before, and you're back in Manhattan, but you're far from Central Park and the euphoria of those last turns in the road. We saw a lot of grimaces, people limping. When L's friend came around, she looked great -- strong and steady. She received her hugs and kept on moving with a big grin on her face. When I ran it, those brief encounters with loved ones gave me such fuel; I would anticipate them and then, afterwards, replay them, waiting for the next rendezvous, the next moment of sustenance. Today one lady on the sidelines saw her friend running up, shrieked, gave her a wild hug, then started running alongside her, in leather boots.
We saw old people, young people, blind people, people with walkers, foreign people, fit people, sexy people, chunky people, people running, walking, limping. I felt really excited for them and really proud. This afternoon before we left I spent a few scrambled minutes trying to find my old marathon stuff, maybe wear my medal out of solidarity. I couldn't find it of course, so instead I just stood on the sidelines with Alice on my chest, clapping and yelling the name of every person I could identify. It made me miss it, and think about possibilities for next year. I had never been a marathon spectator before, and it was more enjoyable than I expected.
It was three years ago that I ran it. Not too long ago, but not yesterday, either. Feeling those old rumblings rising up again...