After a training regimen on the couch that included less run miles than are in the actual race, I woke up at five thirty in the morning and drove Etta to my friend Meghan’s to pick her up for the marathon. We stayed at the back of the pack, literally the end of the line with the man who juggles and a man dressed up like bacon. In the beginning Meghan faced a long queue for the bathroom and the safety car at the very back with police escort passed us and we had to run to stay in it. We also ran the exact same pace as bacon man. So our day was filled with lots of shouts of support for bacon. Mostly, Meghan and I talked about food.
We talked about different restaurants as we passed them. I ate pretzels, caramel rice cakes, orange slices, bananas, jolly ranchers, gatorade energy chews. Meghan brought chomps energy chews, and we had these watermelon flavored caffeinated athletic jelly beans manufactured by JellyBelly that I brought for the run. I would have got something else- sweet goo that tastes like cake frosting, for example, that we were given by volunteers. But it was at the expo, and the runners circled the running snacks kiosk like sharks in blood. And athletic jelly beans were all I could reach.
“They don’t have to be out here,” said a fellow runner of the volunteers and folks cheering 5 hours into the run. She was an older woman, probably in her sixties. It was near the 24th mile. As we were coming up towards the final turns, I noticed several obese runners ahead of me and wondered how they do it. We reached the final stretch, and the announcer said, “Arthur Mullen” and I felt the honor, and then the announcer honored a seventy five year old man who had come all the way from Japan.