The marathon issue

Aww, goddammit, don’t make me do this.

I was perfectly comfortable growing old with the knowledge that I got my marathon out of my system. It was 10 years ago last Monday, and the only marathon I ever considered running was Boston, mostly because I grew up on the 1-mile mark and because I just had to do it once.

It’s the one marathon I dragged my kids to see almost every year, pulling them up the Hopkinton hills in red wagons when they were too small to walk to the starting line to see the hoards of people from all over the world who crowd my little hometown. We’d get back to Curtis Road in time visit with all the neighbors, to cheer for an hour or two, calling out to the runners who’d put their names on their shirts or penned them on their arms. We’d collect castoff jackets and laugh about the stragglers who were running backward, in tutus or who were planning to juggle the whole way.

last year's front runners, Boston Marathon

last year’s front runners, Boston Marathon

Now that some asshole has killed people at MY marathon it makes me *almost* want to run it again. But I hesitate to make the commitment because I know what’s involved. Instead of enjoying the mellowing memory of 2003, of seeing my kids at several points along the way, focusing more on the conversations I had with other runners than the pain in my knees, the feeling of accomplishment when I hit Kenmore Square and the delirious wonder at all the people still cheering on Boylston Street when I arrived 5 hours into the race, I will have to start building miles. I will have to find enjoyment again in those long winter runs, to shrug off the weather and put aside other things, to put the running first. And I will have to try to believe I won’t end up dragging myself through Newton and Brookline with excruciating knee pain again.

Before the bombing, the Boston Marathon was inspiring because it’s accessible to almost anyone with the drive to see it through, and that’s what hurt so much about Monday’s violence. Just a handful of the runners are top-flight athletes within reach of the winner’s purse, the rest are doing it for personal reasons and after great personal sacrifice. I was 37, a full time college student and journalist with 5 kids at home but had a lifelong desire to accomplish this one goal, that’s what got me to the finish line. Every runner has his own story and motivation, they are the Dana Farber runners, the mobility impaired participants, the blind runners, the indomitable Dick and Rick Hoyt. I was shocked, weeks after my marathon run, to receive a nice note in the mail from a Hopkinton neighbor who found inspiration in my running it.

Unfortunately I think the bombing is going to inspire a bunch of people to run when they probably should consider other options.

First of all, you have to run for yourself. You have to really want to do this. You have to find time. You have to get the right footwear, you have to bear wintery slush, chafing and, in my case, bronchitis and pleurisy just a few weeks before the race. You have to think about your knees and the pounding they will take. And I’m not even talking about running under 4 hours, I mean these are requirements if you just want to make the 26.2 miles, I am not one to consult about running fast!

So, think about these things when your group of over-40 friends say “let’s all do this together next year and really show that asshole.” Because we will still need people to hand out orange slices in Natick, to pour Gatorade in Newton, and to form that wall of sound that makes even the most sore, most weary runners step it up a bit when they make the turn at Hereford and Boylston.

Where will I be next Marathon Day? I gotta think about it some more. I think I tried to talk myself out of it here but was only partly successful. I’m still on the fence.

For now, I’m not gonna let that asshole with a pressure cooker damage my life by sitting home watching putrid speculation on Fox TV, I’m going to McGreevey’s and Cactus Cafe, to shop at the Pru and to the next big event at the Hynes and to outdoor concerts at Copley Square, the Hatch Shell and Government Center. You don’t have to run to stand up against senseless violence and to remember the victims every day.

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One Response to “The marathon issue”

  1. Hello Ladies Says:

    I will hand you water if you run.

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