Marathon-watching for lazy slobs
November 4, 2002
Yesterday was the 33rd NYC Marathon. Every year since I moved to New York, I've tried to get out there to support the runners, but watching the race this year was even more fun in the past. So I've compiled a list of ways that people who are lazy slobs like me can have as much fun as I did when watching the race.
How to Enjoy Watching the NYC Marathon
- Assemble a group of distance runners to accompany you while you are watching. I was fortunate enough to have two marathoners and a triathelete with me. Your inner skeptical defensiveness about the incredible act of athleticism that you are witnessing will be no match for their casual identification with the runners. Listen for, "Yeah, when I ran my last marathon...".
- Pay careful attention to the runners in novelty costumes. This year didn't just feature the usual parade of funny-colored wigs. There were people wearing capes, a couple of Santa suits, and at least three separate runners in full-body rhinocerous suits, complete with giant rhino heads. Remember, while you laugh at the guy in the pink tutu with the parasol, that he's running twenty-six goddamn miles today, you lazy slob.
- Yes, you're there to show support. That doesn't mean you can't think to yourself, "Oh, yeah? Well how fast can that sinewy bastard type?" as each person passes.
- Prep for the race. Training, and lots of it, is the key to being able to participate in an event of this magnitude. Try re-reading your junior high school yearbook, especially the comments that say, "your [sic] not so bad for a lazy slob". Then, for the four weeks prior to the Marathon, chant softly to yourself, "My worth as a human is determined by my ability to perform physical feats." Over and over. If it hurts deeeep inside, you're doing it right!
- That cowbell you got during a rush of Tomba Fever during the '92 Winter Games is just gathering dust, so you might as well dig it out and ring it for these people as they run by. Unlike when you were watching the Albertville Olympics on TV, they can actually hear you.
- They schedule the race for the first weekend of November for a reason: Because it's ass-numbingly cold. Dress appropriately. I chose a light turtleneck, thus assuring my appearance of wussiness when I had to go scamper away from my distance-running compatriots to get a warm drink to keep my teeth from chattering. ("Yeah, it's really grueling to watch other people run, isn't it?")
- Position yourself near the volunteers who staff the first-aid stations. Because they are Marathon Enthusiasts, they have boundless energy and endless interest in each runner who passes. We spent three hours listening to one small woman shout "You're the best! You're a champion! You're doing great! We're so proud of you!" in an endless loop, at the top of her lungs, to each participant, no matter how pathetically demoralized and demolished they appeared or how poorly they were performing. After the race, make sure to seek the Enthusiast out, so she can specifically say, "I didn't mean you. You're a lazy slob."
- Blame your parents for not being Kenyan. "If you guys were Kenyan, I'd be out there in that race right now!" If you are Kenyan, blame your parents for raising you to be a lazy slob.
- Take solace in the fact that poorly-prepared marathoners will have bleeding nipples, due to the chafing of their shirt against their chest. Not only does that indicate their membership in the group of People Who Are Poorly Prepared, they are participating in a hobby which causes their nipples to bleed. Chalk one up for the lazy slobs and their intact, unendangered nipples.
- Phidippides ran the first Marathon, according to mythology. And then he died. Healthy sport, my ass.
- A long race is won by thousands of small efforts. We were standing right near the 59th Street Bridge, where runners enter Manhattan for the first time, at roughly the 16th mile of the race. This meant that I could focus on the small effort of gleefully shouting at each exhausted, straining runner, "There's only another ten miles left!"
- Finally, resort to the tactic favored by demoralized baseball fans since time immemorial: "Marathon? Oh, yeah... I'm still in training for the next one. Next year's my year!"
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