By Christopher Cudworth
Marathon Monopoly is a game involving a lot of real estate covered by streets, houses and the occasional railroad along the way to running 26.2 miles.
It might start with a roll of the dice to see if you can get into one of the big races. Lotteries to run a race like New York City Marathon do depend on a little luck. Get in and the game begins. Miss out on the lottery and you Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Spend $200 for an entry fee.
Monopoly Marathon 26.2
But once you’ve chosen a marathon to race you can start to consider how to cover the Real Estate.
The gun goes off and you begin to cover those early, easy miles from Mediterranean to Baltic Avenue and you’re all purple and happy inside.
By mile 5 you’re cruising Oriental Avenue with that Light Blue feeling of being warmed up and running your pace. You wish the Light Blue feeling could go on forever.
In Jail but Just Visiting
Just then your stomach begins acting up a little and before you can turn the corner to St. Charles Place you frantically look for a Porta-Pottie because you know won’t make it to Virginia Place with an upset stomach. So you sit inside listening to the foot plants of other runners going by as you try to relax enough to let nature take its course. Then you essentially Get Out of Jail Free and back on the course and heading onto the Raspberry streets from St. Charles Place to States Avenue and Virginia Avenue.
Just then your iPod goes dead. You realize it must have been bumped by your shoes in the gear bag on the way over to the race, and now the battery’s dead.
Great. You’re 8 miles into the race and the music’s gone. You’ve trained all year with music in your ears and were counting on that pumped up music on your Playlist to get you through miles 16-through-20 and now that plan is out like a light.
Now your iPod feels like dead weight going into the next 18 miles, but you certainly don’t want to throw it away. Not when it’s inscribed with your own name on the back, given to you by that vendor who was desperately trying to win your business. At least you got a nice iPod for listening to their boring schtick.
These are the thoughts that go through your brain during the Monopoly Marathon. ‘
It seems impossible a guy with that much body mass can move faster than you can, but there he goes. So you slip into his wake to feel what it’s like to run the pace that he’s running, and you’re rather impressed. It’s not pretty, but there appears to be a lot of diesel power in those churning thighs. The wheels of his feet go round and round. Sweat flies off his hair and you have to slip out of his tracks to avoid getting splashed. He’s going too fast for you anyway, and as he moves out ahead you fall back into your pace but glad for the temporary surge. You made up the time you lost in the Porta-Pottie.
The Orange Zone, St. James Place to New York Avenue
Coming up you see an Aid Station and immediately wonder how some people can eat or drink during a marathon. There is even an extra table serving orange slices and you recall that if you were to chew one of those down you’d be puking within a mile. Citrus does that to you. You won’t even put marmalade on your toast on race morning. Too much risk for an orange-tinted pukefest.
The aid station water tasted a little funky but you can feel it sinking into your stomach where it cools your core just a touch and then you realize you have to pee. Dang! That’s two stops for gastrointestinal issues but there’s really no choice.
You pull into an alley and hide behind some cars and try to let it go. Some of the pee splashes off the ground and hits your sock. Your new, blisterproof socks. Hopefully pee doesn’t compromise their intelligent weave fibers.
As you go to leave you realize with horror there is a woman sitting in her car opposite where you stopped to pee. You give a little wave and she drops her eyes, and you wonder just how much she saw. Then you think of your female training partner back home and recall how brazen she is about peeing in public. She just drops her shorts and goes when nature calls. It’s no longer shocking to you, much less her. It’s like she has a FREE PARKING pass whenever she needs to go. People just turn their heads or don’t notice her at all.
You hit the half-marathon mark at your goal pace and continue down the streets of Kentucky Avenue, Indiana Avenue and Illinois Avenue. By now your mind has begun to drift just a little from the effort and you can’t seem to think of the names of relatives who live in the states for whom those streets are named after. Then you realize you don’t actually know anyone in those states at all, especially not anyone to whom you’re related. You wonder why you ever thought that thought in the first place.
This is how a mind in a marathon begins to work, when the incredibly banal seems astoundingly important, you know you are “in a zone.” More than 15 miles into the race, you pass an Aid station by mistake because you are so zoned out or so zoned in, you can’t tell the difference.
Oh well, you grab a cup of water from a spectator and your realize it has the faint taste of vodka mixed in. Somehow it settles your stomach a little and you find yourself moving faster. Even the Pennsylvania Railroad Locomotive Guy in the black New Zealand suit comes into view up ahead. This Monopoly Marathon might just turn to be your PR after all.
GO TO JAIL. OR NOT.
You pass Atlantic Avenue, Ventnor and Marvin Gardens, but not before you glance over to see a woman squatting by the steps of a brownstone relieving herself. It looks so natural and insignificant that you chuckle and mumble Water Works.
Yet here come the cops, grabbing her by the arms to haul her off for public urination. You stop for a second to turn and protest, but she breaks free and starts running again and the cops just laugh and let her go. The crowd applauds and she waves her arms as if she’s just won the race. She will not Go to Jail after all.
There comes a point in the marathon where nothing really matters but going forward. You see men bleeding from the nipples and women who have peeled off their singlets to run in just their jogging bras to get rid of a layer as the day starts to heat up. It no longer matters what body parts anyone has to show or not. You’re are all just marathoners now; torsos attached to a pelvis and legs, with a brain to drive it all. You realize these humbling facts as you run up Pacific Avenue to North Carolina Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue. Nothing else matters now but to finish. Sex doesn’t exist in your mind. If you drew a card from the Community Chest pile and it read, “You get to sleep with Beyonce” or “Ryan Gosling has the hots for you,” you couldn’t care less. Marathons can do that to people. Uncommon focus comes from uncommon effort.
Just then you realize that your rival in the NEW ZEALAND outfit has come back to you. He’s slowed a little nearing the 20 mile mark. It turns out the guy chugging along like the Pennsylvania Railroad seems to be hitting a wall of sorts.
But then you see something miraculous. The big man shortens his stride and begins to shuffle more instead of stomp. Using almost all new muscles he begins to motor along and hits a new new and better stride. The Pennsylvania Railroad has just switched to the SHORT LINE and that’s one more chance to finish going forward.
PARK PLACE AND BOARDWALK
You’re past the 22 mile point and closing in toward the finish. Why marathons like to finish in posh neighborhoods it is hard to tell. The fans here definitely have a different feel about them.
But then you turn into the park for which Park Place is named and along comes an unexpected hill looming before you. This is your LUXURY TAX for not having studied the course carefully enough. As you turn to run (and perhaps walk a little) up the incline it makes you stumble a bit because your muscles have been doing the same thing for so long it is hard to adapt your stride to the grade of the climb. But you shuffle the hill and turn onto the Boardwalk, where the finish line banner shimmers in the distance, less than half a mile away.
A Temporary Monopoly On Happiness
Crowds line the streets of the Monopoly Marathon, cheering wildly and calling out names and race numbers. All kinds of people, rich and poor, mix together here at the finish. You pass by a small gaggle of people shouting your name. It is your family and friends and some teammates from the running club urging you on.
“You did it!” they call, and you feel a surge of excitement and relief. Your feet are numb and your thighs are slightly chafed. You could have stood losing four more pounds before the race, you know. But life intervenes. The marathon cannot have a complete monopoly on your time when there are other responsibilities in life.
As you cross the finish line you begin to think, “Which game piece would you be if you had to name it?”
Would it be a small silver running shoe or a replica of a Finish Medal? Your mind does not work fast enough to decide, because the race organizers are hustling you through and hang a medal around your next that says MONOPOLY MARATHON on the front and FINISHER on the back. This is what you came for. This is why you trained so long and so hard. To do something not everyone can do, to the best of your ability.
It’s like that in the marathon and in life. You do the best you can, to the best of your ability. The rest depends a bit on how you roll the dice.