Sunday, November 28, 2010

Everyday Epic

On this last Thanksgiving Day, Spouse and I were talking about that word "epic," and how our have-it-all culture (moi included in said culture) glorifies only those things epic.  Outstanding accomplishments, achievements, and overcomings are celebrated and talked about everywhere -- they're even called "epic."  This is good, yes?  This celebrating of our demanding, industrious, and impressive efforts?  Sure.  But while we boast and converse and celebrate the ginormous doings of ourselves and fellow humans, the little mundane every-day ho-hum is rarely looked at twice.  Moreover, each and every version of epic must be topped by a new version of epic.  Bigger!  Faster!  Stronger!  Stranger!  Crazier!  Braver! Epicer! Epicker?

This is very sad to me.  My life is mostly every-day ho-hum.  I do regular, non-epic this-'n-thats every day.  Epic events rarely transpire.  And when these epic events finally occur, it either requires thousands of dollars, or a two day nap.  Or both.

Whenever I do something epic, like the New York Marathon for example, I find that I require a grandiose amount of epicness on a daily basis once the post-epic buzz wears off.  I want Bigger!  Faster!  Stronger!  Stranger!  Crazier!  Braver! Epicer! Epicker?  every day!  Every!  Day!  Complete with annoying exclamation points!!!!!!!!!

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Well we all know that having epic on a regular basis is just another one of my crack-pot dreams.  But, what if, instead of waiting for the epic to come to normal, I took the epic to the normal, and made the mundane epic?  What if?  There's no harm in that, right?  So that's what today's post is about:  My Everyday Epic day.

- Epic Endowment:  It snowed today, enough that the walks needed shoveling.  So Spouse and I sent the Yahoos out to clear the walks with the shovels Santa gave 'em for Christmas last year.  Santa is super smart.  Epic, even.

- Epic Expedition: The next door neighbor purchased a Subaru Outback earlier in the year.  Since it had snowed several inches, the neighbor took his Outback around the hood for its maiden snow-voyage.  He returned from this voyage with a giant grin about his glower -- looked just like a kid who had been gifted an entire toy store.  If you must drive on snow to do your normal duties, whatever they may be, get yourself an Outback.  You won't be disappointed.  (I should seriously sell some significantly state-of-the-art snow-steamrolling Subarus.  Holy alliteration Batman!)

- Epic Eye-Zayah:  I'm going to read the entire Book of Isiaiah, front to back, start to finish.  I've always had a fondness for this Isaiah fellah, what with is incessant use of metaphors.  Reading (and understanding) this book is quite an undertaking, but so far it's going well.  I've finished chapter five.

- Epic Eyeshadow:  I'm due for a hair coloring on my "do," which usually means I've got a head full of grays.  When this happens I wear lots of gray eyeshadow, in the hopes that folks will notice my gray eyelids and not my gray hairs.

- Epic Endorsers: I got my second follower on Twitter today!

- Epic Encounters Of The Marital Kind:  We went to church to discover that the Filthy Nelsons were speaking.  Their expressions were epic.  Each and every one of 'em.  (I'm not lying about it either.  Quite a family, those Filthy Nelsons.)  In fact, Father Filthy (the oldest man of the house), admitted to having a marital strife every now and again.  Gasp!  Epic Encounters of the marital kind!

- Epic Egghead:  I wore my favorite shirt today.  Check it out.

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- Epic Eating:  Had the Filthy Nelsons over for dinner today in the which I served the Obama Family Chili, which has made its way into our winter dining assemblage.  The secret is the red wine vinegar.  Lots of red wine vinegar.  And it hasta be red wine, so no cheating with that yicky apple cider vitriol.  Rookie exposed us to this recipe at inauguration time, I even stirred it up for inauguration day.  I think I'll leave a comment on that recipe every time I make it.  Starting now.

- Epic Escapade:  The American Fork High School Boy's Cross Country team just qualified for Nationals and they are ranked number 1!  In the entire nation!  I see those boys running EVERY DAY!  (Give or take.) They meet 100 yards from my house! (Give or take.) Nationals will be held this Saturday in Portland.  Spouse and I might draw upon our unused spontaneity, drop everything, and go.  The AF boys will win and I want to be there when they do.  I spent some time at church today mapping out the drive and figuring the cost.  (One of the qualifiers is in my ward so it counts as appropriate church activity, right?)

- Epic Ending:  It was a fine day.  Nothing extraordinary happened, but it was a fine day none-the-less.  If only every day could be as epic as today.

Here's to Everyday Epic.

P.S. Had a great Thanksgiving, but being as this post is about finding the epic in everyday, I cannot tell you about Thanksgiving because, like, duh, Thanksgiving doesn't happen everyday therefore it isn't everyday epic.  It's once a year epic and not an alliteration so it must wait.


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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Tune vol 63 - The Wind Cries Rabid

Word on this street today is Beware! Blizzard Coming! Run for cover! It's gonna be bad!  To which I say, Bring it on!  Let her dump!  Let her rip!  Let that wind cry Rabid!

I love a good snowstorm.  Why?  Because we all know what comes with a snowstorm, right?  SNOW!  And if this storm ends up being as "bad" as predicted, there will be lots of snow come mañana, and the day after mañana, when the boards will be strapped to the feets of all four members of the Rabid household.

For some reason, the general populace is being rather dramatic about the snowstorm that's due any time now.  Commuters were advised to leave for work early, or not to go to work at all, kids were kept home from school, and everyone seems to be running about in a panic.   The weather people have deemed this storm the blizzard of all blizzards.  So far, I've yet to see anything out of the Northern Utah Ordinary.

I'm super duper excited to see what happens.  That's why I put today's regularly scheduled Tuesday Tunes on hold for a couple of weeks (it's a goody!), so as to give you the Blizzard of 2010 playlist, also known as The Wind Cries Rabid.  Perhaps you'll have something with which to listen while you're bundled up with your buddies -- that is, if you still have power, and if you still have power, then let us hope you still have internet.


The Forecast - Jason Mraz
Something Wicked This Way Comes  - Barry Adamson
Weather Girl - Shiny Toy Guns
Stains Of Saints - The Weather MacHines
Snow Cherries From France - Tori Amos
Couldn't Stand The Weather - Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Cold Brains  - Beck
Hey, Snow White - The New Pornographers
Des pas sur la neige (Footsteps in the Snow) - Claude Debussy
Snow and Taxis - Gold Panda
A Pillow Of Winds - Pink Floyd
Snow Desert - Speachless Project
Wind Below - Rage Against The Machine
The Nutcracker, Op. 71 - Waltz Of The Snowflakes - Tchaikovsky
Snow Globe - Chely Wright
Hot 'N Cold - Katy Perry
Suzy Snowflake - Ween
Candle In The Wind - Elton John
Don't Panic - Coldplay
Windstorm - School of Seven Bells
Cold Blows - The Wind Ween
Weatherbeaten - The Republic Tigers
The Wind Cries Mary - Jimi Hendrix
Under The Weather - KT Tunstall
The Snow White Rows of Arlington - Sammy Kershaw
Wild Is The Wind - David Bowie
Out In The Cold - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Wind Of Change - Scorpions
Riders On The Storm - The Doors
Forced In - Muse
Earthquake Weather - Beck
Waving My Dick In The Wind - Ween
Like The Weather - 10,000 Maniacs
Speed Of Sound - Coldplay
When It's Cold I'd Like To Die - Moby
Dark Was The Night - Kronos Quartet
Blizzard Woman Blues - The Daze

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Monday, November 22, 2010

NYC Part VI: The Rest Of It

I suppose that in order to get on with my real life, I should summarize the rest of the New York trip in one post.  Perhaps this will give me some closure quickly for I've come down with the post-vacation blues.  Do any of you get that?  This post-vacation depressive slump?  Where you mope about feeling sorry for yourself because you can't be on vacation every day?  Or the fact that you had to save your pennies for a year, and borrow from your future car in order to finance the jaunt? I do.  I want to play, like 24 and seven, and don't want to worry about petty little issues like finances.  Bah.

After the marathon, I walked the mile and a half back to the place where we sleep.  I was wearing the official marathon-issue mylar space-blanket and sporting my newly acquired NYC Marathon finisher's medal.  This goofy getup got me all sorts of attention on that walk home.  I kid you not, fifty or more people hollared a "good job" or "congratulations" or a "way to go."  Not kidding, fifty or more.  Those New Yorkers are impressed by marathon finishers.  Unlike most people I know, who just roll their eyeballs and mutter, "There she goes again, doing another one of her dumb races!"

I remember that day as being among the top 10 of my hungriest days ever.  I would have eaten my own flesh raw if I had to.  Even had sympathy pains for all those cannibals in the non-fiction stories who had to eat their own to survive.  Suddenly I totally got it.  Got it!  I ate whatever leftovers were in the residence -- linguine in red clam sauce, baked potato, broccoli, pretzel crisps, an apple, powerbar recovery beverage -- but still needed more.  More, I say.  I wanted more.  Then I had sympathy pains again for poor little Oliver, you know when he stacked up enough gumption to go up to evil-whats-his-name and ask for more slop.  "Please, sir.  I want some moh."  And then evil-whats-his-name screams "MOH?!!!?!!!"

It was just like that.  Except I was on vacation in New York city and not in some orphanage without parents.

Anyway, Tina and her boys wandered back, and we went out for more food.  On the way we found a Subway and had our photo taken with Jared.  Jared ran the NY you know, and we wanted a photo so as to say that we ran with Jared.

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After din-din, Megan rolled her sweet Polly Pocket ass into town via fancy town car.  Jessica gave Megan that Polly Pocket name, because Megan is smaller than petit.  (I'm afraid, dear Megan, that the Polly Pocket name might stay a while.  It also helps that it's alliterative.)  Megan and I talked and talked.  Hadn't seen her in the flesh for, like, six months, so we had some catching up to do.  Speaking of flesh, I was still hungry and considered eating her flesh raw as well.  We stayed up past 1:00am. I never do that.  Yet somehow New York had me doing that night after night.

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On Monday, November the 8th, we woke to yucky weather.  Wind and rain and hail. We started the day with the top of the Empire State Building, which was more like Mount Everest, not that I know what Mount Everest is like, or that I'll ever know what Mount Everest is like, but the top of the Empire State Building on that cold, windy, hailing day, was just as I image Mount Everest to be -- a holy hell on earth.  Although I say I'd never go to Mount Everest, I'd do the trekking thing at base camp fer sure, just wouldn't go higher than, like, 20,000 feet.

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Monday also brought us some shopping, walking at least six miles, a visit to the over-populated Apple store (fashioned after Le Louve's glass pyramid entrance,) central park, photos, the chess house, a belgian waffle, and Indian food at a place called Amma.

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That fine Monday was polished off with a visit to Mamma Mia.  Oh!  Here I go again!  My, my, how can I resist you!  Mamma Mia was fantastic, I didn't want it to end.  The cast was funny.  And animated.  And had voices like buttah.  I didn't want that show to end.  There was also a Spawn of Andy Warhol-like usher who yelled at people whenever they turned on a camera (no photos on Broadway.)  Yelled, I tell you.  And pointed a spotlight at 'em.  It was fun to watch people be idiots over and over again.  (Not the Warhol child, he wasn't an idiot, it was the show-gowers.)  Did I mention that I didn't want that show to end?  I didn't for reals.  Also, did I mention that Monday and Mamma Mia are an alliteration?

After the show, we frolicked in the autumn mist of Times Square, you know shopping at midnight, dancing, and making fun of rude obviously-from-Jersey people.  I topped off the day with Cheesecake at 2:00 am.  Or would that be considered the beginning of the next day?  Either way, it was a fine piece of cheesecake.

Speaking of cheesecake, that particular cheesecake piece has a story about its selection.  We went into a place called Cafe Europa.  New York has started this new thing where they list the calories for everything.  Everything.  So you walk into a joint, hoping to seduce yourself with millions of calories, you've relinquished yourself to the knuckling under of millions of calories, but you don't really want to know just how many millions of calories.  Oh but New York will help you with that.  They plan to let you know just how many millions of calories you're about to consume.  As luck would have it, there was one piece of cheesecake in the case that didn't have it's exact calorie count, and so that's the one I chose.

It's cheesecake fahcryinoutloud!  Who counts calories when eating cheesecake?  Not me.

On Tuesday, November the 9th, we went to lower Manhattan with Tina and her boys.  Started the day right with a Mojo Bar Breakfast and jumped on the subway.  We visited Wall Street, Battery Park, the anatomically correct Merill Lynch Bull (it's for sale!) and the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry.  I went to have my picture with a green statue-guy wearing Oakleys, in the which he demanded $5 for a picture.  "No way! I'm not giving you five bucks for your dishonest salesmanship!" Said I, and returned his torch right directly.   On the ferry, I dropped my camera, then said "shit" around eighteen times.  Camera's okay, though, don't worry. We dined on grodey Chinese, although the broccoli was the best broccoli I've ever eaten.  We chose that Chinese joint because we wanted to sit down.  People in the financial district don't sit down for lunch much, judging from the number of eating joints with tables 'n chairs.  We walked somberly through the World Trade Center area where they're building a memorial.  Megan and I finished the day with a bus ride tour over lower Manhattan.  We had the tour guide drop us off in Greenich Village where we ate the best pizza, like, ever, at a place called John's Pizza.  We also had gayke then a stuffed subway (train, not sandwich) with biscotti.

What is gayke?  I hear you say?  Why, let me tell you.  Greenich Village is the birth place of gay rights, or at least that's what the tour guide told us.  It fits, however, because there are statues and whatnot here and there that echo this.  So Megan and I go into a bakery.  Again.  We did a lotta bakery goin'-in on that trip.  Megan looked through the window of all the yummies, looked at me and pointed at this:

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"Look.  Gayke."  She said.  You know we had to buy a piece and take it back for a photo.  After the photo we ate it.  Of course.

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Look at Tina all up in that bull's business!

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Wednesday, November the 10th, was museum day.  It was also Wicked Wednesday.  We pulled out all the alliteration stops for our Broadway experience on this trip.  We spent a couple of hours in the Guggenheim, then a couple more in the Whitney Museum of Modern Art.   The Guggenheim had a post World War I and II exhibit which was a bit on the dark side.  (What?  Art?  Dark?)  The Whitney had an entire floor dedicated to that wacky Paul Thek.  Being as I like wacky and all things wacked, the Thek exhibit was my favorite.  My favorite was a painting that said, "Afflict the comfortable, comfort the afflicted."  Hello mayhem!?  Mayhem is my specialty.  The exhibit also showcased his famed Meat Pieces, and his notebooks, where he'd smoke a joint and write about or draw all things wacky.

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The end of Wednesday, and our fantastic adventure in New York, came with Thai food in the East Village then great seats at Wicked.  Wicked was a treat.  It had great talent, great sets, great costumes. But for some reason I was ready for it to end unlike Mamma Mia.  I would have moved in with Mamma Mia and married it if possible.

This trip was the most fun I've had in a long, long time.  I had four of the best travel companions, and how we all ended up friends and in New York City is another post altogether.  There was a moment or two, when I looked around and thought, "Gee.  Everyone is pleasant.  No one is overly demanding.  You know what this means?  I must be the demanding one!  I'm the weak link!  I'm the one that annoys!"

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In a perfect world (where cash grows on trees, and responsibilities are pawned off easily,) I'd do it exactly the same, with the same people. Every year.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

NYC Part V: The NYC Marathon

All marathons start the day before.  They just do.  What happens the day before is almost as important as what happens on race day.  For example, if you go out and get yourself blisteringly blistered, either by drinking, walking, sunbathing, or eating the wrong food, then the marathon will most likely turn out to be a bust.  26.2 miles is along time to be on your feet, there's no faking 26.2 miles.

After doing this marathon business a few times, I've got my day-before-the-race situation under control, which includes (but is not limited to): staying off the feet as much as possible, sleeping in, keeping the fiber intake to a minimum, salmon and potatoes for dinner.  When traveling for a marathon, taking care of the pre-race rituals can get tricky, and one must be flexible.  Luckily, I was able to take care of most of my race preparations in New York.

Of all the rituals, the most important is the inventory and/or laying out of the gear.  It is essential that all needed essentials are laid out and counted.  Gotta make sure you got it all.  It's also a bonus if you do it early in the day, so that if one or all of your essentials are missing, you can chase about town finding them.

So here's my gear all laid out 'n stuff:

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I felt so pleased with my organization until I saw Tina's layout.  Her stuff was stacked in a first-on-last-off order (FOLO):

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For dinner I had salmon and taters at his little diner on 79th street and 3rd avenue.  Twas yummy.  I ate, then returned to the pad so as to put up the feet.  This part was kind of a drag, 'cause we were in this exploding city of entertainment, and sitting inside, resting.  I surfed the internet on my phone until the battery went to sleep, after which I went to sleep.

Marathon morning was exciting.  We woke up and went to catch the bus, and wouldn't you know we rubbed shoulders with Meb!  Tina and I were official ING something-or-others, and were able to catch a ride to the race start at the same spot as the elites.  We walked into the building (called The Hilton) just as the elite men were walking out.  Meb was right there!  Right there!  The average size of said elites are around 5'8" and 125 lbs.  They looked like a pack of kids, especially when they climbed on the bus.  When they passed, I fumbled with the camera so as to get a picture of their back sides.  Meb's in there.  Promise.

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Once inside the building, we drummed up conversations with strangers and watched the wheelchair participants parade through the lobby.  Now that was one of the most inspiring things I've ever seen.  There were a hundred or more of them, all dressed up, and ready to race.

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We climbed on the bus and I had the pleasure and opportunity to sit next to a Queens native named Diego.  Diego is a software engineer at Verizon who hadn't run a marathon in over 30 years.  Diego gave me some New York City pointers, which included using the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, and pizza at John's in Greenwich Village.

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After a two-hour bus ride, we arrived at the frigid holding tank on Staten Island for all runners.  It was cold.  It was windy.  And it was confusing.  There were people and porta potties everyone.  There were signs pointing this way and that.  The helpers, bless their hearts, had no idea who was supposed to go where.  As a result, Tina and I had no idea where to get in our assigned coral and were late.  This meant we missed the start for Wave 1 and had to stand in the windy cold for another hour.  That was the hardest part of the day.  My body was stiff and shivering.  I was also hungry, having fueled for a start-time 30 minutes earlier.

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So there we were, standing around, missing the first wave, and waiting to run.  We were packed together with massive amounts of people, all of which spoke some other language besides English.  So we stood and stood, and standed and wailed, and gnashed and thought the day would be a complete disaster, when all of a sudden, the crowd started walking.  We walked around a quarter mile, then turned the corner to hear good ol Frankie sing "Start Speading The News."

Evidently, that's how they start the race, with Frankie singing "Start Spreading The News."

On your marks! Get set! STAND THERE SOME MORE!  Yip that's it.  When the start starts, you stand there some more.  Eventually, the crowd thins and you get to walk.  And after walking for a bit, you get to run, and if you want to run faster? Well, tough.  There's people everywhere, and if your run faster you'll run right into Mr. Igliano from Italy.  Or Thierry Sorhaitz from France.  Or even Urgenheimer Dorsenhurst from the Netherlands er something.

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Let me tell you what happened to me at the start of this race:  A giant, cheek-aching smile consumed the entire real estate of my mug. And that same cheek-aching smile didn't leave my mug for the rest of the day.

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The New York City Marathon is magic.  It begins in Staten Island and immediately crosses the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge into Brooklyn.  The journey in Brooklyn will last around 13 miles, through commercial buildings and brownstone residentials.  Runners are embraced warmly by cheering crowds, banging cowbells, and miles and miles of happy noise.  You hear the thump-thump-thump of fellow runners mixed with a subway train that roars below.  Amateur bands, desperate for exposure, compete on every other block.  There are rock bands, rap bands, punk bands, DJs, gospel choirs, bag pipes, and percussion groups with calypso flair.  There are bands you'd pay money to see, and well, some you wouldn't.  All, however, are welcome, and grinned upon affectionately.  Brooklyn's blaring happy noise is replaced briefly by a happy quiet during the Jewish section of town, where gents walk about in their black hats, beards, and rolly polly ringlets.  Jewish children in long black coats are gathered obediently on street corners to watch.

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Somewhere in Brooklyn, I decided I wanted to meet some friends and found myself striking up some chit-chat with any Tom, Dick or Harriet.  Only I discovered that most of the Toms, Dicks 'n Harriets were either tuned into an ipod or didn't speak English.  Finally I found someone.  "Hey!" I said.  "Do you feel like talking?"  He said, "Yah."  Turns out he's from Belgium but speaks very good English.  After a few minutes of back and forth, he said, "You are easy, yah?"  I returned a "Yip.  But don't tell my Spouse!  (I think he meant that I was running easy, yah?)

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I found another set of friends; a father-daughter combo who I tracked down because of the giant blue "Y" on their shirts.  "What does your Y stand for?" I said.  "Yale!" said they.  I told them that I was from Utah and figured the the "Y" stood for The BYU.  I told him that my father-in-law went to Yale and when the Yale-ite asked when, I told him 1898.  They both laughed, then explained that he had another daughter at Utah State.  Small world, yes?

The course exits Brooklyn on the Pulaski bridge, where runners are reminded that they were reminded to look at the Manhattan skyline.  So I do.  And decide to stop for a snap and a facebook update.  I had a brief chat with three of the many police officers.  These officers were placed to control the crowds and cheer on their own with "Go NYPD!" and "Let's hear it for FDNY!"  They were enjoying themselves almost as much as I was.

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At mile 15, runners are caged into the long mile of that Queensborough bridge.  It's enclosed and it's quiet.  Spectators are not allowed, and you realize how much that cheering crowd carries.  I looked at the guy next to me and shouted, "ssssshhhhhhhh!"  He didn't laugh.  But I sure did!  After that long mile and half in the bridge, runners are liberated by the masses of Queens, the pace picks up a bit, and we run our way to the top of Manhattan via First Avenue.

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First Avenue seemed the most crowded.  The crowd is held back by steel barriers, and foreigners congregate in clumps to display their country pride with flags and colors. I found my shadow and realized that the apartment was only one block away.  Perhaps I could run by for a nap?  Fuhgettaboutit!

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From Manhattan, the race crosses yet another bridge into The Bronx, or the section of town I like to call You Go Girl, where round women with chocolatey voices and skin sing out praises, particularly to girls from Utah wearing purple.  After a brief jaunt through the Bronx, we promenade through Harlem, where a bunny sporting a "Run Angry" sign stood about waiting for some strange girl from Utah to ask for a photo.

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At last, the course ends up in Central Park which is brilliantly colored with November's orange, gold and brown.  It's the only downhill I remember, streets are lined with thousands, and then... Finish.

Really?  Already?  Do I hafta stop?  Don't let the magic stop!

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