A lot has been written about Monday’s 118th running of the Boston Marathon, and I don’t think I can add any incredible insight, or encapsulate the emotion of the day any better than the hundreds of talented writers who have already offered their observations.
But I feel compelled to write about it, and because I am the boss of this blog, that is exactly what I’m going to do.
Monday was not a typical day. It was bigger than just a marathon, and bigger than just a city. It was bigger. You could feel it. It was in the air.
If a year and a week before had been one of the darkest days in Boston’s history (although some would argue that it was also a great day on account of how neighbors and strangers came together), than this Monday must have been one of the best.
A dear friend of mine was running so I watching the elite runners from home (although by my standards, she is an elite runner as well, finishing in an amazing 3:13:06) before setting out to cheer her on.
After leading for the first half of the race, Shalane Flanagan fell back in the pack and I felt my whole body sigh. Maybe it was too much to wish that an American would lead us back from the terror of last year. But come on, Americans never win, right? So as Meb Keflezighi pulled away from the pack, I didn’t get my hopes up. But by the time he crossed the finish line I had tears streaming down my cheeks. It seemed like divine intervention. Days later when I read how other Americans in the field worked together to help Meb, I lost it again.
After I composed myself, I set out, sign in hand, to make my way to Boylston and Fairfield. I had cheered other friends from that same spot in past years, but left myself extra time to account for the increased security that I knew would surround the route. Well, I never made it to that corner. I could get no closer than Newbury Street. Check points were closed, barricades up. Under other circumstances I probably would have been pretty annoyed, but I just thanked the police officer who turned me away and devised a plan B.
I wasn’t going to miss cheering these runners, not this year, so after a quick cab ride to Kenmore and secured myself a front row seat at the 25 mile mark, exactly where I knew they need a strong cheering section.
I always find marathons moving. Watching people of all shapes, sizes and shades leaving it all out on the course gets me every time, and this year those feelings were more acute. There were countless runners who paused to shake the hands of the police officers that lined the course, thanking them for all they did that day, and every day. And for those of you who have run 26.2 miles know that stopping at mile 25 is hard.
The amputee runners made me cry, the visually impaired runners and their guides made me cry, even the drunk BU students with their cheers of “USA” and “Run for Beer” made me cry.
Last year I wrote on this blog that I was glad I was in Europe for the marathon and the terrifying week that followed. I had lived through 9/11 as a New Yorker, and didn’t want to be afraid of another home. But I am so happy that I was in Boston for the marathon this year. 36,000 people ran and a million people took to the streets to cheer them on; to prove that you can’t keep us down. We won’t let fear get the best of us, and ruin a Boston tradition, that has been adopted by the rest of the country and world in the last year
No, Monday was not a typical day. It was bigger than just a marathon, bigger than just a city. You could feel it. I could feel it.