Jim Fenzel Art
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illustrated blog about life in NYC apartment with 4 kids

Roo in the City:

an illustrated blog about life with four kids in a small apartment in the BIG city

Ep. 6: Marathon Sunday

The Dashed Blue Line

Overnight it appeared as if left by Santa or shoemaker’s elves.

They notice it first from street level as they cross First Ave. But once they know it’s there, they see it from the apartment windows: a dashed blue line up and down the Avenue as far as they can see.



They can follow the dashed blue line north until they turn off to Asphalt Green at 90th Street for martial arts, soccer, and dance. But the line keeps going into the Bronx.

They see the line again in Central Park. The Park seems to have even more joggers than usual. Some are touring in groups speaking foreign languages. They see Swedish flags and colors on some, there’s Brazil, Argentina, Korea, Denmark. And they know on marathon day, they’ll see even more—runners carrying their country’s flag for 26.2 miles, runners in costume, professional runners, disabled runners, young, old, fit, struggling (or fit but still struggling—a marathon is unpredictable).

On Friday evening they walk the long way home from martial arts through Central Park, because they know something special happens. Just as they reach the top of the mall near 72nd street, a touch before 6:30, they hear the first booms and crackles; explosions of light brighten the mall and reveal only a scattering of other viewers. They have secret front row seats to a brilliant fireworks display. So loud, so bright, so close.



On Saturday night, the clocks fall back. Roo’s mom always longs to trick themselves into saving that extra hour for Sunday night, but it never works.


The Wrong Side of First Ave

Roo lives on the correct side of First Ave should she need to go to the hospital on Marathon Sunday (important but tremendously unlikely). Roo lives on the wrong side of First if she wants to go almost anywhere else in Manhattan.


Last year, Josie and Charlie had baseball games across First Avenue. On marathon Sunday, it can be easier to cross the Grand Canyon than cross the street. The dashed blue line might as well be the Colorado River a mile below you. The NYPD locks it down (earlier and earlier each year, and for longer and longer each year).  At 8:30 in the morning the wheelchairs start the race from Staten Island, and the police don’t let you cross First Ave on the UES in fear you might accidentally step in front of a racer who’s still 16 miles away.

The NYPD getting ready Marathon morning

The NYPD getting ready Marathon morning

Well after baseball, after walking down First from 96th street on that marathon Sunday 2017, Charlie, Benny, Josie, and Dad still weren’t allowed to cross back to home in the mid-60’s despite the fact the last starting wave had been more than four hours before, and those at mile 16 at 3:20 in the afternoon were sparse and walking.  

(Note: the narrator attempted several drafts to tone down his angry snark, but it seems some snuck through).


The Sporting Spectacle


Roo’s apartment overlooking the race route can feel like a skybox at a stadium (but no caterer refreshing the appetizers and drinks).

They have the television turned to race coverage, and their phones track runners they know. They watch from above and then rush to the elevator to cheer from street level as the top women go by, and then the lead men.


By early evening, the street cleaners and garbage trucks roll up the avenue.

The dashed blue line lingers for a couple weeks, fading gradually under the tires of heavy traffic, fading quicker under beating rains.

By the time the Christmas tree salesmen set up later in the month, it’ll be a memory.


Jim Fenzel is a work-from-home artist/ writer and father of 4 NYC kids.

Visit Jim’s Society6 site:  ArtYouCanWear

Visit Jim’s Society6 site: ArtYouCanWear