Yesterday marked one of New York’s most famous annual events, an event of which I will never be a part: the New York City Marathon.
The route goes through each borough, from Staten Island, through Williamsburg, Brooklyn, into Long Island City, Queens, into Harlem, touching the Bronx, and finally finishing in Central Park. A good way to tour the city, I suppose. Though watching the faces of those running, I’m not sure they were really able to take in the sights.
I went to watch for the first time, having two good friends running the race. We watched from the Queensboro bridge and from mile 24 in Central Park. The runners ranged from fit 25-year-olds to 80-year-olds. Some people were on wheel-chairs, wheeling alongside the runners. I saw a couple running together, the woman nearly sobbing from exhaustion or pain, and her partner helping her, holding her hand, urging her on. The site of all these people, of all capabilities and types, taking this major challenge together really did bring tears to my eys.
Supporters crowded the sidelines, some family members, some just come to watch. Some folks joined friends or family in the race, running alongside them for several miles. Some runners stopped to give their spouses kisses, their child a squeeze, or their dog a pat.
My friend’s headphones had unfortunately gone missing that morning, unbeknownst to me. So when he ran by me, as I loudly cheered for him, he said, “Do you have headphones?” I, confused, said no. He responded, “You’re dead to me!” and continued running. I knew that if he was able to joke and deride others, he must be holding up well.
Many runners had their names written on their shirts and, knowing how much the cheering helps them, I screamed for everyone whose name I could pronounce. My voice was sore at the end of the race. And my feet were a bit tired from standing for so long. I felt a surge of pride for my friends, alongside a reaffirmation of the knowledge that I will never do what they did.