Pick Me Up 

Remember I will look for you at the finish to pick you up! Good luck, enjoy the day so much! You got this Yes Yes Yes!

You are gonna do amazing things with your FI-eet on Sunday!!! And remember I pick you up at the FI-nish line on Sunday!

At mile 23, all I could think about was that Arthur was going to pick me up at the finish line. So I needed to finish. Arthur. Arthur Arthur. Must. See. Arthur. Finish. Finish.

Arthur was volunteering with Fred’s Team as a finish line greeter for the TCS New York Marathon. He had run the marathon in the years before, but this year he decided to play a crucial role on the other side of the race.

About a month before the marathon, as we were having brunch, he said, “I want to pick you up at the finish line.”

I wasn’t sure what that meant. Pick me up like hold me over his head? Like that famous lift from Dirty Dancing that I used to practice on my couch as a kid? Or maybe give me a piggy back ride?

True story.  I really thought this.

“Yeah, when you finish, I’ll be there to get you and walk you to your tent. It will be so fun.”

Really?? I get to see you at the finish?! You’re going to be there?!” I tried to play it cool because I still wasn’t sure what was going to happen at the finish line when I saw him. I hadn’t practiced this lift in years.

I didn’t know a lot of people running the marathon and I was running the race solo dolo. Friends and family aren’t allowed in the finisher zone. So to see a real, live friend after completing my very first marathon would be amazing.

Arthur and I met through college pals (Hook ‘em!) at a gluttonous Italian dinner in New York. I remember thinking, “Ugh, this guy runs marathons and does Crossfit. Lame. We have nothing in common.”

Before you could finish saying “marathon,” he and I were waking up early on Saturdays to take three back to back Crossfit classes. That’s three hours of Crossfit on a weekend day. For fun.

Since then, we’ve been spotted karaoking to Britney Spears, Aladdin, maybe Justin Timberlake. Arthur loves a good karaoke session. You might have also seen us sporting burnt orange while cheering on the Texas Longhorns at an alumni game watch. I’ve also been seen at one of his dinners (see “gluttonous Italian dinner” above) where he orders the entire menu for the table because he thinks we’re all huge cows who need to eat that much food — only way I can explain this.

Now here we were having brunch nearly a year after seeing each other last. Life, work, new gyms happened but we didn’t skip a beat. Because of that, he was going to pick me up. 

As promised, Arthur picked me up at the finish line in Central Park. I had just run 26.2 miles. Omg I just ran 26.2 miles!

“You did amazing!!” he cheered.

I did?!” I asked.

“Yes! Look at you! You ran a marathon!”

“I did?!” I asked again.

“Arthur, what do I do?” I whined. “Arthur, this hurts…what do I do? Help me. Help. What now?”

I stopped walking for a second since my legs were locking up. I bent over like I was going to sit on a toilet but with my back arched and my chest thrust outward.

“Yes, do that. Whatever feels good,” he said. He then mimicked my movement so I wasn’t alone in this. “Stretch your hamstrings.”

A woman stopped to ask us if we needed help (most likely because we looked funny).

“No, I have Arthur,” I beamed as I looked over at him bending over.

I held onto him as we slowly walked to get my bag at bag check. He grabbed my giant bag. Oof, that looks so heavy, I thought. I can’t carry that.

He took my bag and led me to the heated Team for Kids tent. (Note: If you want VIP status when running a marathon, which I recommend, run with and raise money for Team for Kids or Fred’s Team and put meaning to your miles.) He sat me in a chair and knelt down in front of me to asses what I needed.

“No, don’t kneel like that. You’ll hurt your knees,” I said.

“I’m fine. It feels good after standing all day,” he replied. He had been greeting race finishers for nearly three hours by the time he saw me. And he still had a few more hours to go.

He listened and laughed as I babbled things that didn’t make sense. My mind felt like cereal. Like Fruity Pebbles. Words were coming out of my mouth but I couldn’t tell you what any of it meant.

Then, he jumped into action. He fed me cheesy Goldfish, fish by fish. He gave me a protein shake, Gatorade, water. He handed me some trail mix. He did all this while telling me what a rock star I was and how proud he was of me. It was sweet.

“I need my Hoka recovery slides.” We looked at my giant bag. They were at the bottom.

He reached in and began to pull everything out.

“Duane Reade Vaseline….protein bars…t-shirt…book…charger…why did you bring all this?!” he asked while laughing.

He helped me take my soggy running socks off and put my beautiful-smelling bare feet with a missing toenail into my slides. 

“Sweatpants,” I said. “I need sweatpants.”

He unpacked my bag again and put them on me as I struggled to stand.

“Ok. I’m ready,” I told him. “I’m ready to go.”

He repacked my bag and put the straps over my shoulders. He threw away my trash. Then he wrapped me up tighter in the post-marathon poncho that was keeping me warm. He grabbed my arm and led me out of the tent.

Arthur had saved me. I couldn’t say goodbye without telling him how much the past 29 minutes had meant to me. But I didn’t know how to do this because my brain and words were still like Fruity Pebbles.

“Are you going to be ok?” he asked.

“Yes,” I said.

We hugged and walked our separate ways.

I was overcome with gratitude and happiness. He was my marathon angel. And whoa…I just ran 26.2 miles.

Now that a week has passed, I’ve been able to find a few more words. These are for Arthur:

Arthur, remember that time you worked so hard to get me off my couch during one of the darkest moments of my life? And you did…

Or those times you practiced double-unders and toes to bar with me for hours and hours until I got better…

What about those times where you’d text me to tell me you loved my latest blog post…

And then that time you gave me something to look forward to after I ran my first marathon…

Arthur, thank you. For everything you’ve done for me, I thank you. 

Thank you for being one of my biggest supporters in all I do. Thank you for inspiring me to be the best version of myself and for showing me there’s no such thing as limits. Thank you for reminding me that I’m stronger and more capable than I think and for believing in me. Thank you for showing me what loyal friendship is all about. Thank you, my marathon angel, for your kindness and for being part of one of the best days of my life. 

Fi-nally, thank you for not picking me up like Johnny did with Baby in Dirty Dancing. I don’t think that would have ended well. But thank you, thank you, thank you for picking me up in every other sense of the word.

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