Race matters

Sunday morning, I awoke at the ungodly hour of 5am (after a shaky four hours of sleep interrupted by several outbursts from a cantankerous downstairs neighbor whose nasal whine would make Fran Drescher sound lilting) to join the 38,368 ING NYC Marathon runners at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island. Gazing over the crowds clad in togs touting various causes, I regretted not having adopted a charity for the event, and even considered tactically placing my race number over the top of my Time Out New York Kids shirt, in hopes that the word Kids would suggest I was running for some wonderfully noble children's charity. For me, the most enjoyable part of the route was the trek through Brooklyn, partly because of the hand-slapping encouragement from cheering tykes in Bay Ridge (I reached out to enough toddlers to simulate a political campaign), but mostly because until the tenth mile I could still feel my legs. Somewhere near TONY's Best Block in Fort Greene, my iPod froze, forcing me to endure the remaining 16 or so miles without the aural motivation of the playlist I had spent most of the morning's bus ride composing. In the end, however, I was glad that I didn't have the temptation to tune out the atmosphere of the many neighborhoods the marathon passes through. Upon finishing the course, I was particularly amused by the change in attitude undergone by the once-giddy runners when the chips were returned. One guy, reprimanded by a volunteer for trying to avoid the exit line, snapped, "I just ran 26 miles." Um, as opposed to the rest of us who sneaked into the finishing area for a free Poland Spring? When I reached out to grab my ING Marathon cape, I was almost trampled underfoot by a mass of plastic-seeking vultures. Anyway, having completed my first 26.2-mile race (my official time was 4:41), I have a newfound respect for the tradition—despite certain claims that marathoners don't deserve athlete status—and am psyched to run again. When I regain the ability to walk, that is.