This morning, on my way to brunch, I ran a marathon. Or, ran with a marathon. Well, actually, walked. Ok, spent a lot of time standing on the shoulder of the sidewalk, in the mucky grass, listening to the marathon chug past me, all thundering feet and labored gasps. I labored just listening.
Google tells me that the marathon was an Amica Ensurance 10 K. As I walked the blocks around Seattle Center, I had no idea what had possessed these people to run, and I didn’t fully realize what was happening until I was caught up in a wave of them on Mercer and 6th Avenue. The tide of bodies swept me up and carried me along with it, up the hill and around the corner, where Metallica blasted from some speakers unseen. I was only walking, and felt totally undeserving of that “off to never never land” song.
Still, with runners on all sides, I found myself moving faster, with Kiva pulling and wagging her tail, eager for the race. At first I resisted. It was suddenly clear to me that I knew nothing of marathon etiquette. Was I supposed to find an alternate route so as to not be in the way? Was it okay to just waltz into the middle of the pack? I kept waiting for some official marathon person to tell me I was being a jerk, but everyone on the sidelines ignored me in favor of cheering on their runners, which suited me fine.
But, it didn’t stop one marathoner from gasping as she passed me, “Beautiful dog” and another, “Your purse is open.” By “purse” she meant BrailleNote, and it was open because I was using my GPS, but anyway. The point is, people are still people, even when running en masse.
Something else happened, too, as I tripped along with the surge of runners. For just a minute, I stopped thinking and just let myself be carried. I wasn’t considering where to go, how I’d get there, how I looked, or who was looking. Spending most of my life on alert, or pushing and pulling against societal ideals, or fighting for shreds of things I can control, I felt intense relief and peace to just be held up and supported, for a few blocks, for minutes that felt light and shimmery.
I needn’t heed traffic lights, because the streets were blocked. I needn’t think about where Kiva was going, because she went where the runners did, happily, freely. I felt out of my head, for just a while. Which was good. It was getting loud and stuffy and boring in there.
And then I went to brunch, because honestly, who can watch that many people running for their lives and not want to eat a whole pastry case?
But who knows, maybe someday I’ll run a marathon, to get that feeling of pack mentality again, for just a little while.