“Cheers!” I exclaimed, just before pounding the liquid carbs handed to me around mile 24 of the 2015 New York City Marathon by a generous and jovial group of marathon onlookers. I think they were as thrilled that a runner finally accepted their offer as I was to accept. I am a lightweight, maxed out after a beer or two, but at that moment there was nothing better or more appropriate to consume.
I stopped “racing” just after the North Brooklyn Runner water station about mile 12 in Williamsburg, and cramping legs forced me to stop running altogether, several times throughout the rest of the race – and for this, I am thankful.
As opposed to worrying about “running the tangents” and mile splits, I savored the varied high energy musical acts and basked in the glow of the wildly supportive crowd. Hip-hop acts, metal bands, folk singers, a Japanese drum choir – they were all perfect compliments to which ever mile I found myself.
Every Chilean flag was a reason to veer across the street and shout “Chi Chi Chi Le Le Le, Viva Chile!” with my ‘gente.” I chatted with complete strangers who had come to watch and support, and high fived every one from babies to octogenarians. There was a fireman running in full gear and I backpedaled to take a selfie with this intrepid guy.
At my glacial pace I was able to read the hundreds of signs, one more morbidly humorous than the next, including my favorite, “If a marathon were easy, it would be called your mom.” Quintessential New York City attitude. Funny, sarcastic, but served with a side of wink wink – and a banana. I was laughing too hard and forgot to take a photo of the sign.
With a quarter-mile to go, I was feeling the beer, and resigned to limping to the finish. But then my friend, and 3:45:00 pace leader, De’Vang overtook me and refused to allow my walk of shame. My legs, which heretofore refused my orders to run, somehow responded to De’Vang’s positive vibes. I tucked in behind his lanky figure and held on for dear life, finishing with a gentle sprint, and happy, for so many reasons besides running.