26.2 miles with Karemy (and Levi and Mallory)
This year, for the first time, we had marathon visitors (what timing). We were thrilled Karen and Jeremy decided to accompany their friends Mallory and Levi for Levi's annual pilgrimage as a Boston marathon qualifier (and finally make good on their promise to return for a Sox game).
We met up at Hynes Friday evening after they picked up their numbers (Mallory registered herself, Karen, and Jeremy for Sunday's 5K so they all were running over the weekend). During trip planning, Karen hadn't mentioned Mallory was the same Mallory we both knew from our hometown. It was a pleasant shock to turn around to a familiar face (and Karen and Jeremy had a good laugh).
We braved the cold rain and wind gusts along the harbor to enjoy an epic welcome-to-New-England seafood dinner. The Barking Crab had a long wait, but it was worth it. Ian coached Mallory and Levi through their first oyster slurps, and we had a great time catching up (and getting to know Levi) over mouthwatering chowder, crab, and lobster.
The next day, we dusted off those long-awaited Sox tickets, and planned a relaxing morning followed by an afternoon tour of MIT before the scheduled 7:10 p.m. first pitch.
Mallory and Levi were staying at a hotel in Quincy to take advantage of its free marathon shuttle to the starting line, so for convenience we agreed to meet near MIT for lunch. In the middle of "what are you wearing?" texts between the ladies, Mallory texted that she heard the game was in the afternoon. Ian assured us we were fine. The previous night's game had been rained out, so the 1 p.m. game was the makeup. After all, our tickets said 7:10 p.m.
At noon, we headed inbound on the green line to connect to MIT. The train was packed with Sox fans, but we weren't worried. They were headed to the makeup game. A Google search on our phones still showed a 7:10 p.m. start, to further reassure us. But after a few conversations with people decked out in red, we realized Mallory was right. Ian had not received the official time change email that apparently had gone out to ticket purchasers. Thankfully, our late morning had put us right on schedule to get to Fenway by the new game time. We contacted Mallory and Levi, then hopped off at Fenway and met up on Lansdowne Street.
We arrived just in time. After loading up with ballpark food, we headed to our seats. We had a great view, the weather was perfect, we saw a home run, and the Sox managed to pull off a win in the 10th inning. Not bad, considering we almost missed the game.
After the game, we headed to the North End for Mike's Pastry and some historical explorations. Eating cannoli in the shadow of the Old North Church and the Paul Revere statue will never get old!
Sunday, we were up bright and early to get Karen, Jeremy, and Mallory to the 5K starting line by 8 a.m. They've been training and did great, finishing in the top half of the race. Go Team Kansas!
After the race, we split up so Mallory and Levi could spend time with Joe, a fellow marathoner, and Joe's son, who is on the high school track team Levi coaches back in Kansas.
Karen and Jeremy joined us for [REUNION], then we headed to Cambridge for the MIT campus tour we had originally planned for Saturday. After some wandering and a lengthy discussion of MIT pranks, we topped off our time across the river with a Toscanini's visit. Stuffed with ice cream, we headed back downtown to rejoin Mallory and Levi at Bull & Finch Pub (the original Cheers bar, as opposed to the recreation near Faneuil Hall).
After toasting with the special Sam Adams 26.2 brew, we bid Levi farewell and good luck, then headed to the finish line to snap some photos while the course was relatively empty. In previous years, I attempted these shots after the marathon, but the crowds and barriers had always proven a challenge. Since we were already so close and the street was closed to traffic and open to the public, I decided we should take advantage. Blissfully unaware of future events, we snapped our photos then headed home to order in some Genki Ya: sushi is a tradition with Karen and Jeremy.
Monday morning, Ian headed off to work and I joined Karen and Jeremy to meet up with Mallory and Joe's son at mile 17 to cheer for Levi and Joe. We arrived early enough to catch a handful of wheelchair and handcycle racers, as well as the elite women and men. I am always amazed at the grace and endurance of the marathon participants.
As soon as Levi and Joe passed by, we hustled back to the green line and headed inbound: me to work, them to catch Levi and Joe one more time.
We said goodbye on the train. I hopped out for an almost two-hour trek to work that involved backtracking 15 minutes to find a place where I could sneak across the marathon route (no help but lots of sympathy from a few of Boston's finest), and walking an additional two miles towards the office before giving up and waiting 20 minutes for the bus.
Almost as soon as I got settled at my desk, one of my coworkers asked, "There was an explosion at the finish line. Are your friends still there?"
Karen had already called with an update: Levi and Joe had finished almost an hour prior, but Levi, disappointed in his time (which is still insanely impressive), had needed some time to process. Karen and Jeremy, worried about missing their flight, headed to the airport without Levi and Mallory. I checked in to make sure Levi and Mallory made it to the airport before running through the rest of our list of friends and coworkers who might have been at the finish line. Work productivity tanked. I briefly thought it wasn't worth coming in, but reminded myself that decision had kept me out of harm's way.
By evening, our friends were all accounted for and Karen, Jeremy, Mallory, and Levi were safe back in Kansas.
It's eerie looking through all of our race photos from the weekend, knowing what happened there less than 24 hours later. Because Karen, Jeremy, and Mallory ran the 5K, we cheered them on from the same spots where the bombs went off the next day. That unnerving realization hit about a week after the tragedy. There is such a vast chasm between before and after.
This year's marathon weekend will stick in our minds for so many reasons, but I'm thankful that one of them is happy: spending time with old and new friends enjoying one of Boston's quintessential traditions.
Karen, Jeremy, Mallory, and Levi: thanks so much for spending the long weekend with us!
More photos from the weekend on Flickr.
I also wrote a response to the events of Marathon Monday 2013 (if you're looking for something more lighthearted, check out the posts from Marathon Monday 2011 and 2010).