New York City Marathon (Some thoughts and photos)–Updated for Zoe Koplowitz

Bear with me as I deviate from the law, as I did the other day, at least until the end where I hit you with the answer to this lawyer-marathoner trivia question: Who is the most important lawyer in the country to run a marathon?

Now on to the race…

Want to know one of the best parts of running the New York City Marathon? For one day you get to compete, head-to-head, against the very best in the world. Same race track. Same weather conditions.

Needless to say, I got crushed. But this a sport where, if you get crushed by the best in the world, strangers approach you on the street to offer congratulations. And you’ll feel good about it.  So long as you don’t think about the muscle soreness.

Will I ever get to play against the best baseball players in the world, in a real game? Will I play in the National Football League? NBA? NHL? Nope, nope, nope and nope.

But the NYC Marathon is both open to the public and draws the best in the world.  They get over 100,000 applicants, and yesterday over 45,000 people ran. Most get in (or lose out) based on a pure lottery system.

And the wonder of it all is that the crowds are out there cheering for the middle of the pack runners. Sweet.

We had crisp, cold weather in the 40s. That’s as good as it gets. Huge crowds. A gazillion signs. And me determined not just to run the event, but to race it as hard as I could. Today, I feel the effects of pushing myself hard, particularly in the closing miles.

My son seems to have a good eye as a photographer. Or he got lucky.

To all who came out to cheer or volunteer for the single greatest sporting event on the planet, this runner thanks you.

And the answer to the trivia question: Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 1980 in a time of 3:11. Thomas, it seems, had some pretty good wheels back in the day. From the linked ABC news article:

He wrote that he began to see it as a metaphor for his life: “You paid the price and suffered or you didn’t.” He wrote that when he ran the race, he hit “the wall,” and believed his legs would give way. He whispered over and over to himself, ‘never quit, never quit, never quit’ and barely made it to a water stop staffed by a young Marine.

“God, this is hard,” Thomas told him.

“That’s what you asked for,” the Marine replied, without a trace of sympathy.

Updated: Zoe Koplowitz has now finished the marathon, 35 hours, 27 minutes after it started. She came in dead last. Again. In 22 marathons, she always comes in dead last. She runs with multiple sclerosis. Using crutches. Accompanied by Guardian Angels through the night. Something to think about the next time you face a challenge. Of any kind.

Some other NYC Marathon links/photos:

20 Funny Costumes From the NYC Marathon

NYC Marathon Conquered

NYC Marathon 2010: Faces at the Finish

New York Road Runners Slide Show

NY Post video story on YouTube

Marathon Inspirational Video

Marathon Course Video

She Got Her Gold. More Important, She Earned Her Gold

Time lapse photography of the runners streaming over the Verrazano (YouTube video)


14 Responses Leave a comment

  • Lawn Guyland Lawyer 2010.11.8 at 17:03 | Quote

    Congrats and thanks for the inspiration! But what was your time?

  • Eric Turkewitz 2010.11.8 at 17:05 | Quote


  • Grumpy Dissenter 2010.11.8 at 19:14 | Quote

    As usual, I am a contrarian. I find nothing laudable in this annual festival of self-flagellation. Just as in religious self-flagellation, the runners get satisfaction from suffering: it is no secret that participants enjoy the pain, discomfort and injuries they incur during the run. Besides, during World War II, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians were forced by the Japanese and Germans on ‘death marchs’ in which they covered far more mileage than the 26 mile Marathon. Not being a fan of either sadism or masochism, the Marathon does nothing for me.

  • Eric Turkewitz 2010.11.9 at 07:28 | Quote

    Let me see if I have this straight. You’re comparing the biggest party of the year, in which well-trained, well-fed, appropriately-dressed, medically-supervised athletes galavant through the streets of New York, at the risk of a couple days of muscle soreness…. to a Nazi death march?

    I’ve seen a lot of weird comparisons made over the years on the Internet, but I can’t think of one quite as outlandish at that.

  • Grumpy Dissenter 2010.11.9 at 13:10 | Quote

    @Eric Turkewitz – I’m just saying that the victims of the death marches covered far greater distances, without training, without adequate food or water, and with no medical care. Compared to what they managed to endure, the marathon runners don’t even come close. And what the death march victims endured as torture, the marathon runners do for masochistic pleasure. It’s just my point of view.

  • Eric Turkewitz 2010.11.9 at 13:59 | Quote

    @Grumpy Dissenter
    Compared to what they managed to endure, the marathon runners don’t even come close.

    I’ve been running marathons since 1994, and I can tell you that I’ve never heard anybody try to compare themselves to being the victim of a Nazi death march.

    It is one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard.

  • Grumpy Dissenter 2010.11.9 at 15:00 | Quote

    @Eric Turkewitz – Well of course the marathoners wouldn’t make that comparison. They choose this activity and derive pleasure from it. In Elie Wiesel’s award-winning book “Night,” he describes the death marches he endured, and tells how after some distance, he eventually lost his sense of pain, and even connection with his body. In one passage he says that the psychological effect of these prolonged marches was something seldom experienced by human beings except in extreme mystical experiences. People I know who run marathons tell me the same thing — except that they enjoy it. Just a detached observation.

  • Eric Turkewitz 2010.11.9 at 16:41 | Quote

    @Grumpy Dissenter
    In Elie Wiesel’s award-winning book “Night,” he describes the death marches he endured…

    I’ve read it. And there isn’t anything in it that in any way even remotely resembles the NYC Marathon. Not in anyone’s wildest imagination.

    In fact, I find it somewhat offensive when people try to use anything related to the Holocaust in order to make a point, unless that point has to do with genocide.

    I think such attempts at comparison are disrespectful to the memories and the families of those that went through it, and diminishes the horrors of those years.

  • Grumpy Dissenter 2010.11.9 at 16:57 | Quote

    I’m not fond of frivolous Holocaust comparisons, like when someone compares some minor infringement of their rights to Nazi Germany. But you’re adding an unnecessary political dimension to my points, which are (1) that the victims of the death marches ran longer, under much worse conditions, than the marathoners (and so I say, what’s the big deal); and (2) I don’t understand why anyone would voluntarily subject themselves to that kind of discomfort and suffering — hence my original reference to self-flagellation, the ritual self-infliction of pain as some kind of expiation of guilty feelings.

  • Lawn Guyland Lawyer 2010.11.10 at 15:43 | Quote

    Eric. Don’t feed the trolls.

    ; )

  • Grumpy Dissenter 2010.11.10 at 15:55 | Quote

    @Lawn Guyland Lawyer – I agree with Lawn Guyland Lawyer. There is only one valid point of view on any topic — the majority view. My opinions are inherently invalid. I just express them to reinforce the collective sense of solidarity of the majority.

  • JP 2010.11.15 at 22:22 | Quote


    You are a champ!! Great job! I still have to beat the 4:00 mark.


    Jesus Perez

  • Eric Turkewitz 2010.11.15 at 22:47 | Quote

    I still have to beat the 4:00 mark.

    As long as you enjoy it, keep plugging away. I set a PR at the age of 50, so anything is possible.

  • JP 2010.11.16 at 12:09 | Quote

    @Eric Turkewitz – Admirable!! I’m 40, so I guess there is hope! lol! I take my hat off! Good job!

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