I went to see the New York Marathon today (and, boy, are my eyes tired).
It’s not really a big deal. I just had to walk to the end of our block and the runners actually came to me. We live right by Mile 7.
When I told Julie I wanted to go check it out, she said, “Why?”
And I had no answer. I guess I wanted some second-hand fitness.
(By the way: second-hand smoke comes from second-hand cigarettes.)
Or I want to watch guys live out their mid-life crisis the inexpensive way. In other words, they’re too cheap for new car payments. Or alimony.
Really, it’s more fun to watch the audience than the race itself. It’s as if the audience is intentionally taunting the runners. We all stand around, hugging our coffee cups for warmth, maybe snacking on a bagel or some fruit (the farmer’s market is nearby) and complain about the hardship of not being able to see clearly, or being too cold or being inconvenienced because we’re there before noon. It's a miracle the runners don't stop occasionally to slap complaining bystanders. But I guess they have someplace to be. Urgently.
Meanwhile, the first runners zoom by. At the 7 mile mark, the time read 35 minutes (more or less). Yikes! I’ve only ever run so fast for about three minutes, or however long it takes for “The Theme from The Magnificent Seven” to finish playing on my iPod.
At this point, I feel I ought to commit to being a couch potato and just enjoying my cookies, hot chocolate, and extra winter padding, or I really ought to get to the gym more often. I’ve found a great new bakery, too. Guess which way my belly is going?
My favorite part of watching is watching the families of runners. “Look. There’s daddy.” “Daddy doesn’t look so good.”
And that, I guess, is Julie’s second point. (The first is that runners never look happy.) This sport developed from a guy delivering a message from Marathon to Athens (if I remember correctly – well, Marathon to someplace else in Greece – I’m pretty sure I have the Marathon part right). So far, so good. But I think he did it naked because his armor weighed too much. And when he got to Athens (or wherever he was going) he died.
Where, along the way of hearing this story, does the human mind go, “Oh, that sounds like something I’d like to do every year”?
What’s next? The Montblanc free-fall? The Tucson stirrup-drag? The Caribbean keel-haul?
I think I'll reenact the essence of Marathon. Instead of running 26.2 miles, I'll keep circling the block until my cellphone finds strong enough signal to place a call. With any luck I'll be able to do it in less than three hours.
Now. Here’s why I’m no good as a stand-up (yet). I wrote all these “jokes” today. I remembered the one about the iPod and the one about second-hand fitness. (Not the one about second-hand cigarettes, which I still find funny.) I also said something about watching the Marathon in SF and seeing runners on their cell-phones. I’m also still waiting for a joke to come to me about the audience taunting the runners.
I really ought to rehearse more.