Yesterday I went to watch my son Anthony run in the Chicago marathon. My other son and his fiance picked me up bright and early to catch a glimpse of the running Ponce and we picked a spot on the North Side, near mile 8. According to reports, there were about 40,000 runners. At first there’s just a trickle of elite runners, then the crowd gets thicker and thicker. By the time marathoners of Anthony’s caliber got to our spot, it was pretty much wall-to-wall runners.
The three of us furiously scanned the crowd–eyes darting over the sea of singlets and running caps. My eyes would sweep a group, then quickly focus on a person who looked like Anthony. I repeated that process hundreds of times. Groups would go by with someone carrying a sign indicating the finish time that group was aiming for in hours and minutes. There were signs for groups aiming to finish in 3:00, 3:10, 3:15 and so on. We knew Anthony’s goal was 3:10. But when that group went by, we didn’t see him.
Finally a group went by carrying a sign that said 3:45. In that group was a guy running inside an unwieldy, 5-foot-tall scale model of the Eiffel Tower. That’s when we knew we had simply missed Anthony in the crowd earlier. It was frustrating.
So we left the race course exhausted from the eye strain and concentration — and with an odd sideways kind of vertigo from the repetitive eye movement. As for Anthony — he wound up finishing with a good, solid time–well ahead of the group with the Eiffel Tower. Anthony may not be an elite runner, but he can outrun the dang Eiffel Tower, for crying out loud. No offense to the French.