Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lafayette: We Were There

Lafayette Avenue is, to my mind, the best part of the New York City Marathon. Other parts are more spectacular – running across the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, with New York harbor and lower Manhattan on your left hand, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean on your right. Other parts are more quaint – Williamsburg, with its Hasidic Jews and young people, and Greenpoint, which seems to be Polish and again young people. Other parts are more manic – the noisy battle up First Avenue in Manhattan, where the leaders usually sort themselves out and the rest of us grind it out on concrete pavement to the Willis Avenue Bridge, all to truly intense spectator support. And other parts speak to my childhood – Fifth Avenue and the jaunt through Central Park. But for me, the best is Lafayette Avenue, near Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn. It's about eight miles into the race, so you're still fresh, and the wide open spaces of Fourth Avenue squeeze down to two lanes of runners, surrounded – cradled – by autumnal trees, brownstones, and many happy spectators. It's where I got to hug and high-five family and friends – people who helped me get where I was and then came out to support me. I had a great race from start to finish, but Lafayette was special. It felt like home.