So, last year I think I was a little intimidated and so we didn’t go out to watch the marathon (and let’s be honest, I was still bummed that I wouldn’t be running my own half) but I was not going to let that get me this year. I’ve been following a lot of runners on twitter/blogosphere and hearing about how amazing the INGNYCM is in person. Saturday our festivities began with a walk through Central Park and a peak at the finish line. We approached the finish line from the North and came upon the finisher areas before we reached the actual finish line. I noticed that the post marathon trek was kinda long. I tried to imagine how I’d feel about walking that post-race distance after the 26.2 miles not to mention how long the racers might have had to walk pre-race. Maybe instead of 26.2 it should be considered 26.2 + a 5k? Anyway, there were lots of people in the park sharing the excitement of the marathon. Runners were posting in front of the finisher area and taking the opportunity to snatch up overpriced gear with the marathon logo plastered all over it. Make no mistake, if this were my marathon I’d likely be a billboard everyday for weeks.
In Austin I could walk 5 minutes from my apartment and stand along one of the main routes used by most races in town so I’ve gone out to watch a few in the past. I’d never seen a finish line like the INGNYCM where spectators could pay for the opportunity to gaze upon the athletes. When you think about it those bleachers likely could be replaced with twice as many people standing so it’s kinda selfish but whatever, I’m not here to judge.
Sunday, we’d planned to make our way over to the Queensboro Bridge and see where the best spot would be to watch. In my head I’d be able to go down there find a spot to spectate and even be able to wander around a little and choose another spot as I saw fit. We passed a Dunkin Donuts and a few other eateries and decided we’d be able to grab something later. As it turned out there were already a ton of people on the route at about 10:15. I managed to squeeze in and there was no moving after that. We were in a shady spot and the far side of the street had much more openings and some sun. We debated going to the other side a few times but ultimately we stayed. I figured we could change our minds later if need be. There were plenty of people moving back and forth from side to side during the wheelchair race and even after the first elites passed us by.
We were perched on Crescent street just before the runners made the turn onto the Queensboro bridge and had the perfect view of the first female elite to swoosh by us. Mary Keiteny came by entirely alone. I kept craning my neck out but there were no followers for at least two minutes. Finally we saw other female runners rounding the corner and reaching Crescent. The pack was in hot pursuit but from our vantage point, Mary’s lead was pretty darn commanding. I was in awe of their intensity all the same. It is hard to believe she missed out on 1st place by a matter of 3 seconds but in my book she won the 1/2.
The men on the other hand flew by us in a super tight pack with no clear standout yet. They were running so closely I was afraid they’d kick one another but as it turns out this racing thing is old hat to them and no one collided. I don’t think the elites were even the tiniest bit cognizant of the crowds cheers and waves of excitement, they were too focused on the task at hand: win.
Not too long after the elites were well into Manhattan was when we started to see crowds of everyday runners. Maybe I should call them pre-elites or something, they are certainly not average people. I feel like if you are putting this much time and effort and training and commitment toward something you should get more than just a medal but a title too. I suppose that’s what the word marathoner is for? Anyway, at first it was a trickle and then suddenly it seemed like there was a log-jam of runners on us. The cops that patrolled our stretch of the “police tape do not cross” looked like they might get run over, literally and they were suddenly pushing us back further than before. I kept looking into various marathoners eyes and wondered what they were thinking and if I’d be reading their race recap later. I called out names of those who had printed them on their clothes and surprisingly several actually heard me and smiled. Oh and on a side note, it a was a good thing we didn’t try to grab a spot on the sunny side of the street! Once the full force of the INGNYCM was on us there was absolutely no hope of crossing that street.
It was fun and I was totally in love with everyone that passed us by. There were a lot of runners who looked like they were in the zone or were mentally preparing for the climb up the Queensboro bridge (which I can tell you from my 5 Boro Bike Tour is no easy task) and some looked like they’d hardly broken a sweat at all. One man jogged pretty swiftly backwards looking for his team mates and another few doubled back to where their friends were and exchanged old water and Gu for new stuff. There were several who tried pumping up the crown with arms raised and smiles for all.
And no race would be complete without costumed runners right? Well, we saw more than I expected. Forrest Gump might have been my favorite but there was also minnie mouse, and super man. Iron Man & Captain America looked like the most uncomfortable costumes since they ran with a mask on! There was a male and female runner who ran with a video camera and stopped on the side of the route to do an interview with each other? Oh and I saw Amy Freeze but was too start-struck to snap her photo. She’s my current weather-runner-bff.
Some people ran with flags…
Others wore flags…
Oh & if you are still reading, after standing at my spot for a couple of hours and cheering my throat was a bit hoarse and my legs were stiff. Imagine if I’d actually run the thing!
Also my husband, who loves sports and going to sporting events was so not into it. I kept checking on him beside me during the excitement and he was dutifully still standing with me but that was about it. He said he didn’t know anyone running personally and there was no one to cheer for. I said we’re here to cheer for everyone! We’ll go to a hockey game or something soon and he’ll be totally enthralled and I’ll wonder who we’re there to root for, I’m sure. The way I see it every person out there was racing against themselves. They might have been trying to PR in their 10th marathon or just trying to finish their first, it didn’t really matter because they were out there putting not just a few hours of one day into something but hundreds of miles and hours and personal growth and prioritizing into it. I was inspired by each runner out there.