November 4, 2009

Marathon Sunday

For close to 10 years now, I've been carrying on a love affair with New York City Marathon. It started when I was invited to a marathon party on the Upper East Side. Promised bagels and Bloody Marys, I showed up that Sunday morning a bit skeptical and unsure of what to expect. How exciting could it be to watch strangers run past me?

Very exciting, as it turns out. It was the fit and the fat, the old and the young, families and friends and firefighters and folks in costumes. Then I saw the man with one leg. Cue the waterworks. What I learned that day is that the New York City Marathon is not about watching people run past me; rather, it is about watching what a single person can do when he puts his mind to it. And it's not just what a person can do, it's what ANY of us can do, if we commit ourselves. Not "athletes", not professionals, not the genetically gifted. Any of us

A year after watching my first marathon, I ran one. It wouldn't have occurred to me to sign up on my own, but my cousin Paula, who's always been more athletic than I suggested it. I promised to think it over, and then, during Christmas dinner that year, she announced our intention to run the marathon to our entire family. So, over the next six months, separated by more than 1,000 miles, we trained and trained. And then, in June, we got the good word: both of us had made it into the marathon by way of the lottery. Five months later, we crossed the finish line, in front of Tavern on the Green, together. It was an amazing day.

A couple of years later, I moved to an apartment in Brooklyn that happens to be on the marathon route
and started hosting an annual marathon party, for friends to come and eat, drink and cheer for the racers. Around 50 people come to the open house; some early to watch the wheel chair and hand cycle athletes.

And some come a bit later, nursing hangovers with coffee and mimosas.

It's a very family friendly event.
We line up on the sidewalk waiting, WAITING for the police cars and official time truck to come by and signal the arrival of the day's first racers.

And when they arrive, we clap and jump and scream and cheer.

It's always a bit slow at first.

But in no time, there are throngs of racers.

One of the most exciting things about hosting the party is having guests who are cheering for a particuler runner. This year, Laura and Don were cheering for Don's husband, also named Don, who came down from Toronto to run.
They saw him! People ALWAYS spot their runners from my place. It's got good juju.

Because guests start arriving around 8:30 in the morning, I've got to get my ass organized, so I spend Friday night and all day Saturday cooking and baking. I usually wake up in a panic, worried that there won't be enough food, and so bake one more loaf of this, or another pan of that.

This year's menu included Green Chili and Chorizo Breakfast Strata, vegetarian Chili and Cheese Strata, homemade Oreos , Cook's Illustrated's Dreamy Cream Scones (recipes compliments of Smitten Kitchen), Brooke's Grandma Smith's Banana Bread, pumpkin muffins, pecan muffins, lemon bundt cake, oatmeal blueberry breakfast bars and a spinach chickpea curry. It's important to have a mix of sweet and savory at a morning event, don't you agree?

Of everything I made this year, the scones were my favorite. They were ridiculously good, creamy almost. I baked some of them as written and served jam* on the side but with the rest, I did my thing, by which I mean I baked jam into the scones. Holy Mary, is that delicious. Trust me and try it sometime. Your loved ones will freak out.

Although the racers are pretty much gone by 1:00, the party doesn't usually end until 7:30 or 8, which makes it a mini-marathon of our own, I suppose.

Good times.

*Jam made by Brooke and Marisa.


Oiyi said... Best Blogger Tips

That sounded like a fantastic time! And all that yummy food. You are an awesome hostess.
I am sorry I missed this.

littlebirdbigcity said... Best Blogger Tips

What a beautiful post. Sad I missed it. And hooray for my gma's banana bread and some home made jam. xoxo

Lissa said... Best Blogger Tips

Glad you had such a great time!