On Sunday, Kate and I went to cheer on our friend Meg in the Philadelphia Marathon. When I was a kid, my mom and I used to cheer my dad on in the Boston Marathon; I particularly remember waiting at the top of Heartbreak Hill, watching runners come staggering over the crest looking grim as death. I also remember lots of men in mesh tank tops with Band-aids over their nipples; Kate’s theory is that non-chafing sports-bra technology hadn’t crossed over to men’s athletic clothes yet.
Meg had (very intelligently) spaced her supporters out over the course, giving each team an assigned spot. Since the course is a loop, our spot was mile 17 going one way, and mile 23 going the other. Kate and I were surprised to see how calm and happy everyone looked. Only about every tenth person looked like a Long Distance Android: everyone else looked pretty normal. There were even some guys there with my build, which was pretty insiprational, since guys with my build are more usually seen wearing a toga in 70s movies. We did see some pained expressions, and some steely-eyed limpers hobbling by, determining to crawl the last three miles if they had to. On the whole, however, everyone seemed to be having a good time. Except for the 12-year old kid assigned to rake up the drifts of empty plastic cups from the water station.
Meg (on the right) and her friends had (again, very intelligently) dressed all in pink, so they were easy to spot. And they had “Pink Ladies” written across their backs, so they were big crowd favorites. Meg said that some of the best cheering came from the toughest sections of Manayunk, where the coffee bars haven’t penetrated yet. One lady with two teeth and a flowery mumu was their biggest fan: “Go, Pink Ladies! Go, GO, GO!!! YEAH!!!”
Meg’s chip time was 5:19, which was a 12-minute pace. Her goal was to run between 5:00 and 5:30 for her first marathon, and she did it! Congratulations!