Friday, November 26, 2010

Queens: Highway to Hell.

Yesterday morning Jay and I and the kids, Kathryn and her son James and Aunt Tiz all headed out to Barclay Downs to cheer for the runners in the Turkey Trot. We tried to register but were too late, much to Cameron's chagrin, so decided to have our own "Tot Trot" out to the race.

The runners in this Thanksgiving Day 8k were such a happy bunch and really seemed to appreciate our cheering; many people thanked us, many gave the kids high fives, and many yelled back at us. I love supporting folks during a race, and I specifically remember thinking somewhere around mile 14 in Queens how much I would love to be a spectator in the race that I was currently running. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves on the sidewalk, holding up signs, ringing cowbells, not running. This thought occured to me later as well on 1st Avenue, as bands lined the streets and people poured out of bars and restaurants.

Queens provided a nice, short 2 mile interlude between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and what kept me moving was looking for Brandon, an old friend from my days at Clemson who now lives in Queens. And whereas Brooklyn primarily followed a straight course up 4th Avenue, the course through Queens saw more turns, and though this offered a nice change mentally, it was starting to wear on the legs.

After thankfully seeing Brandon on Vernon, I moved more to the middle of the course to stay on the blue line; the race at this point, mile 14, was still crammed runner to runner, and I was still elbowing people as I passed them. I did this for what seemed like the hundredth time, said sorry-again-and heard someone say "Kelley!"

I had literally run into my neighbor, Carrie. Out of 45,000 other runners, what are the odds? She started explaining who I was to her running partner, and as much as I would have loved to have stayed and talked, I was in the middle of a fierce mind/body conflict. My mind was saying Stay focused. Relax. My body was saying WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING HERE? I gave her a thumbs up and moved on.

Shortly thereafter I saw a kid with a sign that read "You're almost there!" I think I yelled at him. Again...right on the edge.

The crowds in Queens, though exuberant, weren't quite as thick as elsewhere, and for this reason the flavor of this burrough was more evident, much like the miles in Brooklyn that went through neighborhoods. The Hassidic Jews here acted as if nothing was happening, as though it were any other day, and the sweaty mass of humanity rolling through their streets was completely normal. Two men tried to cross the street with difficulty right in front of me, nearly getting crushed. Others stood quietly on the sidewalk, chatting with each other, watching idly.

I envied them and their nonchalance as I turned onto Queens Boulevard, crossed over mile 15, and saw the Queensboro Bridge looming in the very, very near future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I say we stage a revolt - no more standing idly by. We get others around us to cheer for all! You come out to cheer for one or come upon an organized race when driving to an early morning kids soccer or basketball game - you cheer!!! Roll that window down and yell it out. I have always been so surprised how much joy it brings to see others accomplishing their goals. Thanks for a fun morning. It was much more fun to cheer this day and though no marathons are in my future, getting me back in to the spirit of running. - Kathryn