Well, a few reasons:
- Downhill! For one thing, a great portion of it is downhill, and that's always good for a little speed.
- Aromas! With so many restaurants on that stretch, there's one delightfully sweet or savory food smell after another.
- Strategizing! The sidewalks are crowded with people and other obstacles that I find it fun to navigate around.
- Music! Bands play randomly on the sidewalks and drivers play music way too loud.
- Urban Art! There's often good graffiti or interesting ads I like to photograph.
- Animals! I get to see many dogs out for a walk (yay, dogs!)
- Friends & Acquaintances! I often run past people I know.
But the last time I ran down that stretch, I thought of a new reason to love it - it occurred to me that I was running a marathon mile.
Part of the NYC Marathon route is this exact spot on Bedford Ave, from even further south of the Williamsburg Bridge all the way up to the north end of Bedford Ave where it terminates at Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint. That stretch is Mile 11. And that's exactly where I was running on this night.
After having that thought, I ran up that stretch with a little extra spring in my step as I let my mind wander. I thought about how different that mile will be on marathon day compared to the same mile on this night..
I tried to imagine how I'll feel on marathon day - running up a very familiar Bedford Ave, but ready for an entirely different experience. Instead of maneuvering through crowds of pedestrians, I'll be running down the center of the street with thousands of other runners from all over the globe. I imagine smells of fresh coffee and baked goods along the way but will only stop to grab a cup of water from the fluid station that's always set up around South 3rd Street. I envisioned myself scanning the crowds of onlookers, hoping to recognize at least a few people. For entertainment, there will be live music along the way as well as funny and supportive signs to read. I imagined looking up to see the marathon route flags lining Bedford Ave overhead and looking down to see all the dogs who were there to watch, along with their owners. I thought about the marathons I came out to watch in recent years and places I stood along Bedford Ave as I cheered for the runners and took photos. I remembered being so moved, inspired and proud of every one of them, watching them make their way north. And I thought about how this November 4th, strangers would be cheering for us and sharing a brief and magical moment with me on this incredibly special day in my life.
I smiled all the way up to Manhattan Ave towards Greenpoint thinking about all of that.
The thing is, as great as it felt to think about it that night, I know it can't compare to how great it will be to actually live it on November 4th. That stretch of Bedford Ave is sure to be one of my favorite miles along the route, and Bedford Ave will forever be an anchor as a result.
(some photos I've taken along Bedford Ave, during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 NYC Marathons)
|Love the wedding dress!!!|
|Mile 11, just slightly north of the Williamsburg Bridge|
|dogs like to watch, too!|
|NBR! My running gang! And a funny sign.|
|people watch from the Williamsburg Bridge bike path|
|There's Rob! (red shirt)|
|Elite women in 2009|
|Mile 12 - just feet from Manhattan Ave and on my way into my own neighborhood of Greenpoint...|