jolie laide

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


I volunteered to work at the Manhattan Half-Marathon. I wanted to be one of those smiling faces at the end of the race, the one that cheers, hands you a towel, water, your medal, whatever. The race does not fit into my own training schedule, but I thought it was a nice way to participate anyway.

So they say to get there at 5AM and I do. I roll out of bed at 4.30, pull on a pair of holey jeans, my cowboy boots, layers of t-shirts, and head out. There are not a whole lot of us there as they are doling out assignments and when they ask for three women to escort the top female atheletes, well, there are only three of us. So, I think this is kind of cool, I get to make sure the winners get to their press conference, the award ceremony, TV interviews, OK!

No. That's not quite it. We are assisting US Anti-Doping Agency. Our job is to maintain visual contact with the atheletes from the second they cross the finish line to dropping them off at the testing station. We are to tag along, keep behind them at photo ops, watch what people give them, monitor their behavior. Even though as a civilian I find this a little odd, I get assigned to the winner of the women's race, and I am a sort of geeked.

So here she comes, over the finish line, "Catherine the Great" the woman who is running 13.1 miles in just over one hour. I flash my pass at her, she nods her head, and I start shadowing her. She does an immediate live TV interview, and then needs to go to the media room for more photos and print reporters. She gets her clean track suit with her sponsors' logo on it, the media room is a half-mile away, through the park.

Then, it starts to rain. No, it starts to pour. So what does she do? You know. She takes off running! And because I am charged with keeping her in eyesight at all times, I take off running after her. Holy crap! I am running with a world class athelete, an Olympian, a woman I have seen go right past me at the NYC Marathon, and here I am right at her heels. It is beyond any crazy fantasy I have ever had that I would be running with this champion and part of me is so thrilled to be near her incredible physical prowess and part of me is laughing my ass off, because here I am, sprinting half a mile with the fastest woman in New York, with a clipboard and in cowboy boots!

(and there is more to this story, more for later)


Blogger slickaphonic said...

yea! I'm excited to read part II...

4:34 PM  
Blogger michel said...

there has to be more to it than endorphines...i remember running alongside world class runners, olympians even. i loved it. ;) i can't help but smile at that thought. it is very exciting. i wonder if pamplona is the same kind of experience...although long distant runners weigh a bit less.

patiently waiting for part deux

2:56 PM  

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