18
Apr
13

Boston 118: Will I be there?

My wife always asks me at a low point. When I’m feeling lousy, nauseous, spent. When all the doubts creep back. When I’m thinking: I’ll never do that again.

It’s usually about the time we get back into the car, as I attempt to fold myself into the passenger seat.

“So, do you think you’ll do it again next year,” she’ll ask.

It was the same thing Monday afternoon. I had spent nearly an hour sitting on a Stuart Street curb, leaning next to the pole that displayed the letter “D” at the Family Meeting Area a few blocks away from the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I felt sick and cold much of that time, and wasn’t thinking about next year – just about feeling better.

But eventually I did feel better. And when we got into the car to head home, the question was posed. I gave my usual gee, that’s a long ways off – I don’t know answer.

After watching the interfaith service that was held in Boston Thursday, I echo the words of President Obama. And I pound my fist, just as he did, while exclaiming them:

Bet on it!

I have never been more proud to run a 3:11 marathon. That was the time of my first 26.2-miler in Philadelphia, just two months after the 9/11 attacks. It was the time of my last Boston in 2006.

My PR is 2:58 but Monday’s race will always be my PF: personal favorite.

When my family moved from Montana to Ayer, Mass., last year, I discarded a pile of medals and awards and coffee mugs from previous races. They didn’t mean that much to me; the memories of all those races are in my brain. I don’t need a ribbon or a slab of granite to remember them.

But the Boston medal I had draped over my neck Monday afternoon – the one I took for granted when receiving it – has become a treasure.

It reminds me of what so many others went through that day. The thousands who weren’t able to finish. The injured spectators. The injured runners. The emergency personnel. The race officials. I hope there’s a medal for them, too. (I hope those who were stopped mid-race are invited back next year – free of charge.)

I remember passing several military personnel, wearing fatigues, who were walking along the side of the road at different points of the race. I can’t imagine they got even close to the finish line. They deserve a medal as well. So many deserve one, and one is all I have, but I’d gladly and proudly drape it over the neck of someone who endured a lot more than just cramps and dehydration that day.

While there is still so much hurting in our city, there is so much to be proud of as well. The camaraderie that has been shared from the Chicago Tribune, which dedicated a sports page to Boston, and Yankee Stadium, which played “Sweet Caroline” at a Yankees game this week, is a feeling I wish would never dissipate.

Why does there always have to be so much hatred? Isn’t there already enough of that?

The world’s next big sporting event is this Sunday in London, which is hosting a marathon. All eyes will be on that city and there are sure to be tributes before the race, just like there were before Boston when a moment of silence was held in honor of the Newtown shooting victims.

Boston surely didn’t fail on Monday. No one is to blame. But all I can say to London is: make us proud. We need a big event such as yours to go off without a hitch.

And when Boston comes around next year and there are more moments of silence, I’ll be there bowing my head at the start in Hopkinton.

You can bet on it.

 

 

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