Friday, April 12, 2013

Boston and Counting

Christmas may be the highlight of the year for a child, but THIS is the apex time of year for the runner.

We are days away from the Boston Marathon. So it seems like a great time to reflect, not only on my Boston experience, but THE Boston experience.
No, I am not running in it this year, but I may jump in for part of it as I track a couple friends of mine.  But I promise I will NOT pull a Rosy.  Probably.  *note my disclaimer below.

I definitely have a couple cool observations I want to share as a lifelong runner when it comes to Boston.   The first and foremost is the name.  I don’t need to say anything other than Boston, and everyone already knows I am talking about The Boston Marathon, and that it is held on Marathon Monday, its start line is in Hopkinton and it is lined with the best crowds any marathon has ever seen.  What a great statement that alone makes.

Next, it is not possible to talk about Boston and not mention the most famous father-son team that Boston takes pride in rightfully claiming as theirs:  Team Hoyt.  Or for us locals, simply saying Dick and Rick Hoyt will conjure up pride and humility.

This father-son team has been running Boston for over 30 years.  The testimony of deep love is so prevalent, its impact reaches much farther than their 26.2 mile journey.  I had the joy of running next to them for a mile or two a few years back.  And this year, the start line is honored with a statue made in their likeness.  Friggin’ awesome.  That’s what that is.

On a personal note, this time of year always makes me think of Amby Burfoot, who won the Boston Marathon in 1968.  He connects my past and present through the Marathon.  We both grew up in the same town: Mystic, CT. We ran the same roads as children, seen the same crack in the sidewalks, though years apart.

He was a family friend with my older boy cousins.  He went to school with them, ran with them.  I do have some great stories about him in his younger days (which I am quite certain he is completely oblivious to my knowledge of them – and me in general for that matter).

The roots planted in our feet ran deep and all of them connected.

And his name, quite frankly, is the PERFECT name for a runner.  Again, wicked awesome!

Regardless of whether you run, watch, walk, or hand waters to the runners, the Boston Marathon experience is one that simply must be experienced to be fully appreciated.

Every runner should have some brush with Boston at least once in their life.  Whether you are a 5k runner or a full blown marathoner, do what suits you.  Go to Wellesley College, kiss a girl.  If that distance freaks you out, cheer from the sidelines.  Hand out waters, make a sign for the participants, or hop on the train and get off at Mile 20……… maybe pull a Rosy.  (JOKING).

Whatever the ability and inclination, be a part of it.  As with anything in life, it is best to join in.

PS.  We are closing in on the 50th anniversary of when women were official allowed to run in the race (1972), though we had been secretly getting in under our initials for a few years prior. So that’s something else to celebrate!

*Note:  I know there are a few folks who feel passionately about their running and running ethics – when I made a joke about bandit-ing in to Boston, I realized just how vigilant.  I actually don't disagree, but also recognize light hearted humor is good for the spirit, too.  So here is my disclaimer.  As a lifelong runner, I have NEVER actually stepped across a start or finish line UNLESS I was a legit registered runner.  In fact, when I ran with a friend pacing him part way in his marathon, once the finish line was within eye shot, I high-fived him, and gracefully moved off the track to the sidelines.

There are all sorts of ethical and moral reasons not to cross the finish line if you didn’t earn it, not the least of which is the stash of food is limited and should be given to the registered runners, along with all sorts of crowd control, safety personnel, etc, are based on the registered numbers.

I have never even worn a race shirt for a race I have not participated in.  The one and only exception happened just recently, when a few weeks ago, we lost a member of our running community – and I worn a race shirt for a race that he was part of – and wore it in solidarity with my running community.  Once the funeral was over, I returned the shirt.

My comments of rosy-ing and bandit-ing are meant to be lighthearted and hopefully make you smile.  It's not in me to actually DO that (I'm a whole lot of hot air)  ;)

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