Marathon Monday 2011
Last year, we only saw the before and after. (Since Sasaki is in Watertown, which doesn't observe Patriots' Day, we don't get the holiday off.) But we promised 2011 would be different. So I saved my floating holiday, Ian saved comp time, and Monday morning we headed down to Washington Square and settled in with our community group on a quiet corner a couple blocks away from the mile 23(ish) water station. We were just in time to watch the elite women fly by, quickly followed by the elite men.
Last year I was struck at how people capabable of running 26 miles could blend into the crowd downtown, only recognizeable by glimpses of the ribbon around their necks. In contrast, the elite men and women are striking. As slender frames sprinted past, I had one thought: they were built for this. Only a sheen of sweat betrayed the past 23 miles. And in a blur they were gone.
Soon the trickle of runners widened, and for hours we watched runners pass. A man in a pink skirt waving a sparkling wand. A gorilla. A woman in a shirt announcing "baby's first marathon." A barefoot caveman. A b.good burger. A woman running for Japan. A line of ROTC cadets marching in full gear.
As the stream of runners began to slow, we headed to Washington Square proper for some Starbucks, where we saw a marathoner hop in, get a coffee, and jump back on the course. I guess he wasn't in the mood for more water.
Our next stop was Coolidge Corner — mile 24. As we waited for the train, we saw another b.good burger with a cramp. He veered to the sidewalk to stretch, and his two fries (regular and sweet potato) stopped to help, encourage, and get him going again.
We boarded the train, which raced (and often lost to) the runners alongside on Beacon. Some runners had enough energy to wave at the train as they traded leads. When the train doors opened at Kent Street, a guy yelled to a runner "I love your son!" It was Ray Allen's mom.
We hopped off at Kenmore (busy thanks to the Sox game) then walked alongside the course until we reached the finish line. It's an emotional spot. Pride, pain, love, joy, packed into single moments. Regular people accomplishing the impossible.
I'm inspired. I don't have even the smallest desire to train for a marathon, but I'm reminded of how much we can accomplish when we work with focus and discipline, and of how great is the joy of a hard-fought success. Now I just have to find my "marathon." What's yours?
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