All Hail the Spectator! #NYCMarathon #3daystogo (Recipe: One-Pot French Onion Pasta)

They say the New York City Marathon is one-third runners, one-third spectators, one-third volunteers.  Each segment wouldn’t be anything without the others.

This morning it was very fitting that as I was ellipticaling (is that a word??) at the gym I read an article in Runner’s World by Cheryl Lock on the spectator.  I will reproduce it for you here now.


As I stood at the 24-mile marker, the third and final point from where I would be watching my then-fiance run in the Berlin Marathon, it struck me:  I’m a damn good marathon spectator.

I’d gotten up at 6 a.m., despite jet lag that begged me to do otherwise.  I’d stood for hours in the cold, gotten lost on streets that all sounded the same, and taken the U-Bahn in the wrong direction–twice.  It was now 11:40, and as I watched runners pass before me, I held my breath.  Thirty seconds passed before I saw him.  He looked tired.

“Keep going, Connor!” I started worrying–Am I loud enough?–until he gave me a weary nod.  And then he was gone.  I glanced down at the course map in my hand.  If I was going to see him cross the finish–a crucial viewing point–I’d have to run fast.  Damn.

You see, runners aren’t the only ones at races participating in a fast-paced, anxiety-inducing activity.  The spectators–at least those of us assigned designated points of contact for optimal energy-boosting effectiveness–are equally stressed.  Maybe more.

In New York City, I braced against onlookers grumbling they were “here first!”  In Boston, I broke speed limits to make vantage points.  In Chicago, I sprinted in 80-degree heat to make the finish line.  I’ve pushed kids out of my way (not proud of that), spent $100 for last-minutes garage parking (bad sense of direction), gone into debt on travel expenses (who needs savings when you can have London?), and screamed “You can do it, Connor!” (Chris’s last name) so loud I went hoarse.

Frequent thoughts cross my mind as I race from A to B to C, the course map with Chris’s time-specific checkpoints clutched in my hand:  If he doesn’t see me, is it my fault if he runs badly?  That high-five added seconds to his time!

And if he’s not where he’s supposed to be, I assume he’s passed out.  In a ditch.

All my worrying is worth it when a spectator turns to me, as someone always does, and says, “You know someone who runs that fast?”  I smile cockily, as if Chris’s athleticism (and his, ahem, 2:49 PR) has anything to do with me, and say, “Yeah, that’s my guy.”  When I walk away, there’s a swagger in my step–and then I’m motoring to the next spot.

Yes, as a dedicated non-runner, I’ve perfected the art of spectating, having walked, run, driven, and taken the subway from point to point to point in five of the six World Marathon Majors.

I’m proud of him, sure, but I’m proud of myself, too–the unsung hero who has been loyally sprinting by his side for five years, racing as fast as my short (untoned) legs will take me.


So, in advance I want to thank my amazing boyfriend for taking the weekend to trek to NYC and stand out in the cold on Sunday morning to cheer for me.  Seeing him 4 or 5 times during San Diego lifted my spirits tremendously.  I also want to thank all the spectators!  We runners need you!  Both those who are standing on the streets of New York and those tracking me on their computers and cell phones.  It means the world to me!  And, A, I know I gave you a salty kiss each time I saw you in San Diego, but because I’m feeling good about this race, that won’t happen in NYC.  🙂

Quote of the Day:


So, it’s carb-loading time in marathon training.  I knew it was coming.  You knew it was coming.  So, what is my carb of choice for the week?  One-Pot French Onion Pasta.  I made a HUGE batch of it.  I think it’s delish.  And simple ingredients.  Very basic.  Definitely a good choice for pre-marathon meals.

One-Pot French Onion Pasta

One-Pot French Onion Pasta


– 3 medium yellow onions, peeled and sliced

– 3 tablespoons olive oil

– 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

– salt and fresh cracked black pepper

– 3 teaspoons fresh thyme

– 2 cups water

– 2 1/2 cups chicken broth

– 12 ounces uncooked spaghetti

– salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

– parmesan cheese


  1. Place a large heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter and stir until butter is melted. Add the sliced onions all at once. Stir to coat the onions in the fat. Allow onions to cook, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes. Add salt, pepper and thyme and stir. Allow the onions to cook for about 4 minutes at a time. Lower the heat if the onions are browning too quickly. The onions will begin to brown, break down, and resemble an onion jam.
  2. When onions are entirely browned and completely soft (about 15 minutes), add the water and chicken broth to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any burned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the pasta all at once.
  3. Return to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the lid on the pan and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the lid to toss and stir the pasta for about 3 minutes. Return the lid and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid and taste the pasta for doneness. There will still be just under an inch of liquid in the pot. Allow the pasta to cook more (if it was still crunchy), or allow some of the liquid to cook off. It’s about your preference. I like a bit of the broth remaining. Plus, the pasta will absorb more of the liquid as it sits.
  4. To serve, spoon into large bowls, top with parmesan cheese.

Courtesy of Joy the Baker

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