It’s hard to believe from the current state of my right knee, but when I was in my 20s, I was a runner. When my friends Eddy and Ellen got married, they made a three-day weekend of it in Burlington, Vt.,

It’s hard to believe from the current state of my right knee, but when I was in my 20s, I was a runner.

When my friends Eddy and Ellen got married, they made a three-day weekend of it in Burlington, Vt. — and got every wedding guest who was interested to run a marathon with them.

The Burlington Marathon is special in that you can run as a relay team, so I got the "marathon experience" of people lining the streets cheering my achievement while all I actually did was to run a 5K.

Still, I never forgot how fun that was. As a result, I have always tried to turn out as a spectator for my local marathon, which is a huge one in New York City, whenever I have the chance.

Last year, my husband and I decided to take advantage of our home’s proximity to the finish line in Central Park, and we sauntered over to the race late, after the elite runners had all come in. The crowd of spectators had thinned, but there were competitors still running, and we thought it might be fun to cheer on the stragglers.

And indeed it was, perhaps, more fun than having been in the mob on the sidelines earlier in the day. The runners who were coming in were people who were taking six or so hours to complete 26 miles. That’s a pace that allows for some walking.

Some of "our" marathoners had clearly walked in the middle, and were putting on a final burst of speed to get across the line, while others had clearly run until the pain became too great, and were left limping it out. Still, you could see the determination on all of their faces, and it was magical to see how much they perked up to hear we fans clap and urge them on.

Well, maybe it’s the market, but I feel that as I continue to work in real estate, I’m now being cheered just for being a marathoner. Sure, there are still plenty of people who claim to be home buyers but really just want to know when a property that’s worth a dollar will hurry up and plunge to 50 cents.

In general, however, the people I meet talk to me as though I have insight into the direction of the market. They want to know what my perceptions and predictions are, and they listen attentively to what I have to say.

That’s a level of respect that seemed missing in the go-go years, when "anybody" could make money in real estate and agents were derided as just key-carriers and door-openers.

Other agents are generally being nicer too (not that I wasn’t scrapping with someone over a deal at 11:30 last night, but that’s now more the exception than the rule).

A story from two weekends ago: I had a renter come into town who had made prior contact with a listing broker — which means she should belong to the listing broker. Of course the renter hadn’t told me. I was embarrassed; I apologized to the listing broker, rolled my eyes, and made a joke about how clients often go "rogue."

The listing broker — an agent of some standing here — then offered to go ahead and honor my relationship with the client. It was a gift, it was gracious, and it wouldn’t have happened a year ago, when we were all full of optimism and thought that the 26 miles would be easy.

Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."

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