Monday, November 22, 2010

I Like to Watch

Today was the Philadelphia Marathon, my favorite race that I never do. Philly was my first marathon in 2001 and I haven’t done it since. Haven’t even considered it and I am not sure why.

Because it starts three feet from my face though, I usually go watch and cheer until I sound like a couple of frogs have shacked up in my throat.

Best worst picture of me ever.
Danny is ignoring me.
I was up before the alarm went off this morning, quickly threw on the bike clothes I sat out the night before and pedaled to 19th and Chestnut to meet up with my friend April. Usually this part of the course is occupied by runners and the chirping of crickets, but this year it was sort of packed with screaming fans doing their best impression of 1st Avenue in New York. Good times!

Bill rolled along, and then his bro Danny. I was rocking the cowbell and rocking my big mouth like a pro.

After about 71 hours, none of the people we were expecting to see had gone by yet. We saw the usual people dressed like Mickey and Minnie Mouse, turkeys, a man running in only a flannel shirt and a “No Parking” cardboard sign. Philadelphia Marathon, when did you get so weird and fun?

We waited some more, and then – Claire! A familiar face! My sister-in-law seemed extra happy to see us and for a moment I thought she was actually going to hang out for a bit and grab a cup of coffee and a scone before continuing on her way in the half.

Danny went back to bed, Bill went to work and April and I rode over to the 14-mile mark. I was having a great time – mostly because I like playing cheerleader but also because I was glad I wasn’t running. Usually spectating makes me a bit jealous. This time I was thrilled to be on the sidelines with no marathon to train for any time soon.

April is good at clapping.
I made up a dance (bang cowbell against hand while jumping in circles around April) and gained a makeshift bullhorn. I yelled until I was dizzy.

Cones make good bullhorns. And I am upholding my vow
to wear a helmet even while standing still.
This morning, I don’t know who impressed me more – the winner who ran a 2:21 or the people who were plugging along at mile 14 four hours into the race.

The first time I ever watched a marathon it was by mistake. I was in college, visiting my parents who at the time lived in a land far, far away. We were going on a boat tour and didn’t know that there was a marathon that went near the docks. While we were waiting for the boat, the race leaders went by. I remember thinking that they looked like they were flying. “They must be running 8-minute miles,” I said to myself. I had no idea how fast people could actually go.

We got on the boat, went on a three-hour tour and, when we docked, I couldn’t believe that there were still people running.

I have to do that one day, I said to my mom. Four years later I ran my first marathon.

Anyway, April and I stuck around until the 5-hour pace group finished. We never saw anyone else we were stalking but sometimes cheering for rando strangers can be almost as fun.


No comments: