you know that scene from raiders of the lost ark--indy disappears from the ship and free-styles it over to the german submarine, the crew gives a big rally cry when they spot him, and he, soaked and stumbling a bit, does that little salute before running off to kick some more ass?
well, that's sort of what it felt like as i was finishing the last leg of the urbanathlon. i'd run about 3 miles, “stutter-stepped” a muddy tire field, climbed the steps to the promenade of arthur ashe stadium and then navigated a much longer maze of steps through citi field, crawled under a few jeeps, jumped over a couple of taxis, scaled a bus...i was cold and wet from the rain and the puddles, and a little off balance because of the crazy scene happening all around me, but still pushing toward the final obstacle, the impossible one, the rope-climb over the wall. then i heard a cheer from my other team mates (anitaaaa!) and i had just enough of my mind left to look over and wave a little and laugh--but that's it because, well, there was that wall in front of me that i need to get over. (and: no ass-kicking, as i need a boost to get up there). but i did make it over, in one piece and our team finished the urb.
i think i'm ready for more in 2012.
post-race recovery: beer and a sausage biscuit
what a relief.
i'd been nervous the whole week--hands-sweaty, can't-sleep nervous--worried i wouldn't be strong enough on race day to finish, and that the wintry weather would be unbearable.
it was actually almost unbearable to wait in the cold without a coat. but it was also, in a funny way, a situation ripe for bonding with strangers. i didn't know anyone else who was there to start leg 3, and i didn't have friends (like some smarties, with umbrellas) hanging out there with me to make the hour pass more pleasantly, but there was a loony camaraderie as we readied ourselves to hit the course in weather that was at once "fucked up-- and awesome."
i got to start my part of the race--and finally warm-up--just before the cold became too much.
there were the other unexpected pleasures of the race: my quiet, solo jog to the starting point, from the mets-willets point subway station, down the long boardwalk toward the tennis center and around it to the south gate. the leaves had turned, but the row of trees still formed a pretty canopy in the rain. i could see the "new" court 17--a couple of months ago i was there, maxing out my tan, while making photos of one of my favorite subjects: alexandr dolgopolov. i discovered that in the off-season they rip out the seats at that court (not sure why. it seems like a lot of effort).
the unisphere glistened only from the rain drops.
i ran through an empty ashe stadium -- it was almost as empty as the last morning i was there, as francesca schiavone started her 4th round match against anastasia pavlyuchenkova.
i ran down and out again and past the deserted media center around the back toward citi field. i'm not sure if that path stays open (i don't know why it would).
i wish i'd had a camera for the view of queens and the city from the upper decks in citi field. after finally descending the stairs, we jogged right onto the field--to a maria carey tune, if you can believe it. i won't soon forget that.
we stayed off the pristine grass, and took the path from right field to first to home. i'm pretty sure i'll never do that again.
the "blue moon" girls, get their medals...
i had anticipated that it would be fun to run these venues, but didn't imagine how it would feel to experience them that way-- empty, but still alive with my own memories and imagination. the race was worth it just for that.
but it was even more worth it to be there with my friends, the ones who ran it as my teammates, and the hard core ones who took it on themselves, and others who work behind the scenes to put that whole urbanathlon together. i loved being in the VIP tent, with the free beer and the bagels and the biscuits-- but i would have been anywhere my friends were. maybe its a silly thing to infuse a crazy event like that with so much sentiment -- most people run the race with a goal to test their strength and endurance. i thought it would be a good (HARD) test for me in that way, too. but the race turned out to be secondary. the experience of it was supreme.
photos from before sun-up and after the snowfall, if you are so inclined.