Every year I watch the Boston Marathon and yesterday was no exception. It is such a strange day in Boston. Almost the entire city shuts down and 30,000 runners and 500,000 spectators flood the city streets. It’s as if no one knows it’s actually Monday.
I drove down to Boston Sunday night and stayed with my sister who lives in Cambridge. At 10:00 we casually got brunch and walked toward Beacon Street to get to our spot to see the elite runners that usually make it to mile 24 ½ a little before noon. We find a space along the orange gate, this time on the opposite side of the street as normal. It all feels the same even though I haven’t lived in Boston for 9 months. As the first police cruisers come down the street, followed by the truck with the large pace clock indicating the first woman, my eyes get watery.
Why is it that every marathon I have ever watched or ran in brings forth the same reaction? My eyes are wet and tears roll down my cheeks. My sunglasses can’t even hide it. My heart is heavy with the memory of the bombing 2 years ago, but that’s not what is making these tears. This happens when I am the runner and the spectator.
It’s partly seeing the strain in the eyes of the runners as they only have 1.5 miles to go. It is the glimpse of hope as the runners see the CITGO sign towering ahead. It is the fact that thousands of people are standing around me cheering on strangers. It is a runner pushing a disabled man. When he raises his arms to the crowd, everyone erupts in applause and cheers. It is the fact that this is a true manifestation of the human spirit, strangers coming together to support such tenacity.