The course leaves the Queensboro Bridge in a sharp U-turn and then there is a left turn under the bridge onto 1st Avenue.

1st Avenue! This is about mile 16, where the excitement really takes hold. The crowds are thick and loud and every marathoner is a champion. I let my emotions go and stepped up the pace.

I was flying along with tears in my eyes, grinning like an idiot, when I heard Jeffrey hail me. This was not far up 1st Avenue, a good way from Central Park. They were well behind schedule and I was well ahead of schedule. I pushed on alone.

There was this adorable Japanese couple I kept encountering. They carried US flags and had “We love USA” on the backs of their shirts as well as their names: Hitoshi and Yumiko.

At the top of 1st Avenue is my nemesis, the Willis Avenue Bridge. There is a demon there that sucks away one’s energy. There is bad footing, a bit of a climb and it is the 20 mile mark. The Bronx is on the other side.

I’ve been afraid of the demon and some years I have shaken my fist and declared “you have no power over me.” However, the last couple years it seems more like the demon and I are old friends and we just grin knowingly at each other.