Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rocky Balboa's Got Nuthin' on Ralph

Everything I read about what I'm supposed to be doing in this last week of training says I should be taking it easy by watching uplifting movies like Rocky and Chariots of Fire and Prefontaine. Which would be well and good except that I heard Steve Prefontaine died in a taken-too-soon car crash. And even though his death was completely unrelated to running, dead marathoners are not really the vibe I'm looking for two days before my race.

The vibe I do want? A little more magical realistic. A little more breathlessly rooting that the fantastically ridiculous longshot will pull through. A little more outting me as the complete sap I am when it comes to competition movies (this dates back to the time in my latchkey phase when my sister and I wore out the videotape we'd used to steal The Karate Kid from Cinemax).

So when I read that Saint Ralph was about a fifties-era freshman who fixates on the idea that winning the Boston Marathon was just the miracle he needed to rouse his mother from her coma, I was all over that shit.

You remember that stereotype of the frat boy who gets drunk at a party, starts hanging off his friends, and screams "I love you, man?" Yeah. So that was totally me from the moment the gun goes off at the marathon and Ralph gets busy run, run, running. Because the thing was, you see, that the people at home were listening on their transistor radios.

I mean, like, all of them.

And yes, I know that no sports movie is complete without the required quick cuts to all the motley fans listening in cars, in classrooms, and in any weird place the director decides will fly, really. But in this particular movie, those supporters were Grub Street.

Grub Street's been called a lot of things by all the people who have done Q&As and essays for the Grub Tales section of this blog, but so far no one's mentioned how the community at Grub buoys its writers with all the energy of a fan-support montage in a competition movie. The only difference is that where love for Ralph was total Hollywood fabrication, Grub love is real.

The amount of well-wishing I've received this week has been totally humbling. And I'm downright gobsmacked at the number of people who are planning to show up in Wakefield on Friday night to support me. Though given my weepy reaction to Saint Ralph, I need to renew my warning about the likelihood of tears: I may well turn into a blubbering shell of myself after crossing the finish line.

You know.

Assuming I've got any water left in me at all after sweating for five to six hours.

Catherine Elcik is running her first marathon to raise money for a scholarship fund for Grub Street, Inc, an independent writing center in Boston, MA.


  1. Good luck, lady!
    My marathon inspiration is "Run, Fat Boy, Run."

  2. Grub love *is* real, how true that is. And the commitment, stamina and creativity you've shown is a beauteous thing to behold. We love you, pacey goddess! Go, grrl, go!

  3. Elizabeth: I love "Run, Fat Boy, Run"! That's where I got that great Fratelli's song for my playlist! In fact, I much watch that again tomorrow night. I just watched "Spirit of the Marathon" and it freaked me out a little bit. Too much crying in pain. Too much (as in it happened once) screaming for medics. Shudder and eek!

    Sue: Hearts!