I have a very special place in my heart for the Boston Marathon (note: I am not, nor have I ever been, nor do I ever intend to be, a marathon runner). My family has always loved the thrill of a big sporting event, and the Boston Marathon, for our Boston/Massachusetts-grown family, was the Ultimate. In sixth grade, my gym teacher organized a wellness program about walking, which in turn led to a training program, for those who wanted and got permission to participate, for walking the course of the Boston Marathon. I was on board from the get-go. My dad signed up to chaperone. We walked the course in two days -- Day 1 was Marathon Monday, and we walked 13.1 miles. We stopped for our lunch break at a key point in the course to offer cheers of support. AND, bonus for 12-year olds, because we trained following a strict regimen, local media coverage picked up the story, and followed us along the way! My dad was even interviewed on camera! AAAK!
Day 2 we finished the course, and walked into downtown Boston. When we rounded the turn from Hereford Street onto Boylston Street, a group of us grabbed hands, and singing the Chariots of Fire theme, slow-motion ran over the finish line. THRILLING. I literally am getting excited and giddy just recalling it. It's one of the best memories I have, truly.
Throughout my childhood, and during high school, we'd make it a point to go whenever we could to some point along the course and slap runners hands and cheer ourselves hoarse. It was amazing. When I went to college, my dad, grandfather, and great-uncles (and my brother?) developed a tradition of parking themselves part-way up Heartbreak Hill and cheering like lunatics from early on in the day. (If you're a Canadian and a runner who completed the Boston Marathon during those years, I'm sure you heard and recall my Uncle Saul, who took it upon himself to support our neighbors to the north!)
And then in graduate school, it all culminated in a level of amazingness that needs to be recreated. Thanks to my great friend, J, I ended up magically living on HEREFORD STREET! THE LAST TURN BEFORE THE FINISH! THE PUSH! Our place was between Commonwealth Avenue and Newbury Street... mere blocks from the end of this incredible athletic race course. My dad about split his head in excitement when he realized what kind of front-row seat he'd have for at least the two years of my grad school experience. And it. was. incredible. If you've ever been to or lived in Boston, you know what Marathon Monday is like. It's basically a giant city-wide street festival, with all the lunacy, debauchery, celebration, stupidity, and wonderful-ness that goes along with that. The building next to ours would blast We Are the Champions on repeat out the windows and by 11:00 in the morning the sidewalks were packed with bodies. Good thing Dad and I got down there by 7 a.m.! It was the best. The most. The greatest.
It still is, and should be. I think I just decided that I'm taking Marathon Monday off every year moving forward, and going home to Massachusetts to get back on the race course with my dad, and whoever wants to join us. Next year on Heartbreak Hill! Love you, Dad.
GO RUNNERS! Should be a beautiful day!