November 11, 2010

The most wonderful time of the year

Some people say it's Christmas, but if you know me, you know that to my mind, the most wonderful time of the year is the first Sunday in November, or as I call it: Marathon Sunday.  Even writing about it gives me chills.

The New York City Marathon is an amazing event, the largest marathon in the United States, possibly in the world. This year, more than 45,000 met in New York City to run, wheel or walk 26.2 miles in a single day and, incredibly, thousands of New Yorkers in all five boroughs turned out to cheer them on.

My love affair with the Marathon began 10 years ago, when a friend invited me to a boozy marathon brunch at her home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We ate bagels and lox and then ventured out to 1st Avenue to see the competitors in action. I was in tears within 10 minutes, no joke. Young people, old people, slim people, fat people, able bodied and disabled people. It was such an amazing sight, thousands and thousands of these people from all over the world doggedly working their way to that finish line.

So affected was I that the next year, my cousin Paula and I entered and ran the New York City Marathon together, which was even more fun than I'd imagined.  There's this tradition with the Marathon of putting your name on your shirt so that supporters can shout personal encouragements to you and damn if it wasn't unbelievably exciting to hear "Go Rebecca!  Looking good!" while we were running.  I could not stop waving and smiling, and it took my mind off of the long slog that lay ahead of us. 

Two years later, I moved in to an apartment that was right on the Marathon route, between miles 8 and 9. Right on, as in step out of my door and hit a runner on. I started hosting a brunch people who wanted to come to Brooklyn and watch the race.  It started small, but last year, at least 50 people passed through my door to enjoy Mimosas, coffee cake, strata and cheer for the racers. 
The true race enthusiasts would come early (8:30 a.m.) to cheer for the wheeled athletes, who are among the most inspirational.  They're followed in start times by other disabled athletes, the elite women, the elite men and then the masses. By 1 pm almost all of the atheletes have passed, but it's still hard to leave.  How can you turn your back on these people??? Especially when you know you;re leaving them to go stuff your face and have another drink.  Eventually the street cleaners would come by signaling the end of the race, but the eating and drinking would continue until the evening (last year's last guests left at 9 pm).  It was always a fun and exhausting day.

Since I moved two weeks ago, I no longer live right on the Marathon route and so, no big party.  I was a little sad about this for a bit, but I had something even better to get excited about: my friend, neighbor and sometimes running buddy, Dawn, was running the race for the first time. It's an amazing feat, but made even more so by the fact that she's a 40 year old mother who also has MS.  No getting her down.

You can see I wasn't her only fan.  Due to a wardrobe malfunction, we almost missed Dawn and Julie, but they were eagle eyed and spotted me bent down in the street trying to pick up a hat.  Squeals and jumps and cheers and waves, and then they were off to finish, and finish they did. Woot woot!

While they wound their way up to Queens, across the East River into Manhattan, up north to the Bronx and back to Manhattan towards the finish line, we kept on cheering and enjoyed some pumpkin doughnut muffins, inspired by my friend Little Bird, Big City.

No doubt about it


this certainly is the most wonderful time of the year.


littlebirdbigcity said... Best Blogger Tips

What a wonderful tribute to the race. I miss watching it, now that I no longer live in NYC. Looks like you had a fantastic time, and I'm so pleased you enjoyed the muffins as much as I did!

Meganne Fabrega said... Best Blogger Tips

I am so impressed that you ran a marathon! It really is such an emotional thing to witness all these racers giving it their all, I completely tear up. Next blog stop for me will be littlebirdbigcity to check out the donut recipe...

Oiyi said... Best Blogger Tips

I always enjoy reading your write up about the marathon. You make it sound so wonderful and exciting.

craftivore said... Best Blogger Tips

The few times I've watched the marathon I've always cried too. The Huz ran once and we caught him on 4th ave which caused the then toddler son to start crying when his dad kept running away from him. I love that the city more or less closes down for it.