|Against all odds, these four Norristown natives beat the Kenyans!|
1. A Juggler. Not just some random dude juggling occasionally in the crowd, a runner who ran the marathon while juggling.
2. Allen Iverson standing outside of DiNardo's Famous Crabs cheering on runners. OK, maybe it wasn't actually Allen Iverson, maybe it was just some dude who looked like the Philadelphia icon. OK, maybe the person was so bundled up there's a chance it wasn't even a guy. In my fevered state, however, I transformed the man/woman outside of AI's favorite Philly eatery into the recent NBA Hall of Famer and visualized him cheering for me.
3. Homemade gummy bears. At around mile 20, some strange woman handed me the type of cup they used for patient meds in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. "Homemade Gummy Bears," she said with a strange smile. I've not sure if it was the bears or plain exhaustion, but I did mildly hallucinate during the last mile.
4. A giant cardboard cutout of a cat's head. I saw dozens of people holding up giant blown up photos of the runners' faces they came to support, but just one lone feline head. I hope the sight of his head amongst the sea of human faces was enough inspiration to help the cat it was made for reach the finish line.
5. Adam Joseph's ass. Granted, the posterior of the beloved weatherman was well ahead of me both times I caught a glimpse, but I'm 63% sure it was Joseph and his toned rear. One thing I'm 100% sure of: It wasn't Hurricane Schwartz's saggy ass.
6. Hippie drum circles. If the over/under on hippie drum circles was two, I would've taken the under -- and lost big. For some reason, I spotted at least a handful of these "musicians" banging away gleefully on their bongos like a bunch of toddlers at a day care. The sight of the members in these drum circles on served to strengthen one of my most steadfast beliefs: White people should NEVER, EVER, EVER where dreadlocks.
7. A man shooting NO-XPLODE next to a man smoking crack. Prior to the race, I saw a man shoot (dump one or more scoops directly into your mouth) the popular pre-workout supplement right in the same general area of a man who appeared to be smoking crack (disclaimer: it could've been meth). Everybody prepares for big races differently.
8. Nelson Agholor's lucky gloves. When I passed the troubled receivers' unmistakable lucky gloves right around the Delaware Ave. section of the course, I knew it foreshadowed something bad, but I didn't actually think it would lead to a performance against the Seahawks that got him benched and could ultimately cost him his career in Philadelphia.
9. A Philadelphia sunrise. I still believe the sight of the sun rising up above the horizon and illuminating the famous Norristown skyline is the most beautiful juxtaposition of mother nature and human progress on the entire planet. But a Philly sunrise is nice, too.
10. The worst/best sign ever. On a single sheet of white typing paper, a sign in thin, black pen ink simply read: "Grace." I'm still not sure if the owner was a spectator supporting a runner, an artist making a point or an incompetent limo driver trying to locate a customer.
11. Milton Street and his famous hot dog cart. Granted, it was a man impersonating the former mayor's tax-averse brother and his beloved hot dog cart, but both the man and the cart bore an uncanny resemblance to the originals.
12. A daughter's heartfelt plea. One girl had a sign that read "Please Don't Die Dad" accompanied by a photo of an older gentleman who looked like he very well could die during the course of a 26-mile run. I checked both the news and the obituaries for three days following the race, and I'm pretty sure the girl's father made it.
13. The remains of "The Laff House." It was the first time I'd seen the building where I took in my first comedy show (TuRae) in years, and it was sad to see the place where stars like Kevin Hart got started in such a sad state.
14. Urine. On most days, the overwhelming smell of urine (Philly was ranked the second most "Piss-filled" city in the U.S. by "Public Urination Monthly") you get from many pockets of the city is an inconvenience. But during a marathon, the stench acts like ammonia smelling salts, giving you a huge burst when you need it most.
15. A weave chunk. I thought it was the remains of a small, dead animal. That's why I screamed in a high-pitched, effeminate manner when I almost stepped on it. People sacrifice a lot to complete a marathon, but perhaps no runner sacrificed more than the owner of this weave chunk.
16. A proposal. It could've just been a girl waiting for her running partner while he bent down to tie his shoe, but I'm 36% positive it was an earnest marriage proposal. Of course, the tears could've just been the result of sore feet.
17. "Great work! The Kenyans just passed here!" A spectator yelled that to me about three hours into the race as a means of encouragement or sarcasm. Obviously, the Kenyans hadn't just passed unless they finished the marathon and decided to do the whole course in reverse.
18. A lot of anti-Trump signs. It seemed a little strange for people to hold up political signs at such a non-political event. My guess is they made the signs to protest, but decided the marathon would be a lot more fun. They didn't want their efforts to go to waste so they brought their signs to the marathon. Also, one sign's stray apostrophe highlighted the importance of proofreading your protest sign: "Love Trump's Hate." Based on the other sign the dude was holding -- "Not My President!" -- I'm guessing the creator didn't mean to express his affinity for the President-elect's vitriol, but that's exactly how it came off.
19. My wife, daughter, mother-in-law, Boston Terrier, cousin and cousin's Finance. Yeah, I knew they were going to be there, but I didn't expect to actually see them -- and the kiss from my Boston Terrier, Judith, gave me just the second wind I needed at mile 18.
20. A pile of horse shit. Almost exactly at the halfway point (13.1 miles in), I had to change my course to avoid the pile of horse shit in my path. It foreshadowed how my feet would feel from that point onward.
21. A close-up of the tail end of a herpes breakout. Let your friends know: If they're going to blow up a picture to make a custom cardboard cutout of your actual face, make sure they don't use a picture showing you at the end stages of a painful and embarrassing herpes breakout. Those sores look even more disgusting when they're magnified.
22. Free beer. At around the 19th and the 22nd miles, some kind soles (running pun!) were giving out tiny cups of beer. If you put on a fake bib and went back and forth between the two stations, you could probably wind up with a decent buzz before anyone caught on.
23. One Gentle Leader®. I'm specifically pointing out that I only saw one dog wearing the safe, effective headcollar by Petsafe because I saw at least 10 of them during the half marathon I ran a few years ago. Either the Gentle Leader® company is having some problems or more dogs in the Philadelphia area are going to obedience school.
24. Early morning frat parties. The Marathon's course take you right through Drexel's fraternity house section (My uncle's Alma Mater!), and at 8:30 in the morning, there were quite a few full-on parties taking place. I'm not talking about a few drunk dudes sitting on a porch and using the marathon as an excuse to drink in the morning. I'm talking about crowded co-ed parties with multiple kegs and loud music blaring. Whether the hosts kept everything from the previous night going or woke up early specifically for a marathon party, it definitely took dedication -- and probably some cocaine. OK, definitely some cocaine.
25. Some industrious Good Samaritans. Most runners dress warmly to start and then shed clothing once they get moving. To capitalize on the clothing, a number of local charities stationed themselves in beginning of the course, identified their various charities with signage and encouraged runners to donate their extra jackets, sweatshirts, hats and gloves to a worthy cause. Some lucky unlucky person got my lined, zip-up black hoodie (Retail price $17.99, Wal-Mart).
26. The Finish. There was no giant banner letting you know you'd just completed the Philadelphia Marathon. Instead, there was just a bunch of volunteers who stopped you, draped a weird, aluminum-foil-like blanket over your shoulders and directed you to a tent filled with fruits and pretzels and chili to help you get back some of the thousands of calories you lost during the race. I honestly wasn't sure I'd ever make it to the finish/calorie-replenishment station because I had a dream the night before the race that I had a heart attack and died at some point early on in the marathon.