I know you’re all wondering what it’s like to watch someone run a marathon.
To begin with, you get up at 4:30 a.m., just like the runner does. Mr. Sandwich and I had prepared the night before; although we didn’t get to bed as early as we said we would, we did pack bags with every conceivable item that a runner might need, and put them by the door.
So in the wee hours of the morning, we headed for downtown L.A. (noting, since we are not usually up quite that early, that the sprinklers need to be adjusted, because the sidewalk does not really need water to thrive). There we met his parents and sister, as well as the afore-photographed Glenn, who was also running. After walking the runners in the general direction of the start, Mr. Sandwich’s mother and sister and I headed back to the car and drove off to a point near Mile 9.
We passed quite a bit of time at the McDonald’s at the corner of La Brea and Rodeo. (This is “Rodeo” like the competition with bucking broncos, not like the street where Julia Roberts did a lot of shopping in “Pretty Woman.” But I digress.) Clearly, this is the local hangout. The patrons all seemed to know each other, whether they were eating on their own or in large groups of older men. One man stopped periodically at different tables to ask for food; I bought him a large coffee as he requested, but did not give him 75 cents when he came back 15 minutes later.
After a while we walked down to Rodeo and West MLK, where the race takes a hard right turn to head east before heading north. We cheered on Mr. Sandwich and his father, but neither of them had any idea where Glenn had gotten to. Since we had no way of knowing where Glenn was or what his pace might be, we headed back to the car to find another spot.
This involves a lot of driving, because the Marathon closes off any number of major streets throughout the western half of L.A. Although we wanted to head northeast, we had to go quite far west to avoid road closures. Eventually (with only one instance of drastically overshooting our turn), we wound up between Miles 19 and 20–in a small-world moment, across the street from my boss and her family, who were waiting to see a friend of their own. Again, we saw Mr. Sandwich and his father, but not Glenn, and this time one of our many items of gear was actually needed–the SalonPas spray that we’d purchased at the expo. Mr. Sandwich took the spray with him, in case his dad needed another application, and the three of us headed back to the car and then back downtown.
[Aside: In some parts of Europe, spectators at bicycle races will clang cowbells at the racers, apparently as an alternative to cheering. We have a small cowbell-esque bell, but between the water and the gear and the camera and the looking for my favorite competitor, I can’t also ring a cowbell. So if you’re ever at a race and you hear someone yell “COWBELL!”, come say hello. It’s probably me.]
It’s impossible to get to the real finish line, so we waited in the “reunion area” which is marked by banners with giant letters, so that you can hang out with people whose last names start with the same letter as yours. The music is deafening and cacaphonous, and the food from the various vendors is very enticing. Eventually Mr. Sandwich and his father made their way over to the curb where we were perched, and shortly after that we managed to find Glenn. So all were reunited, and then we went our separate ways.
And then there were cheeseburgers.