Monday, April 20, 2009

2009 Boston Marathon Day

The Boston Marathon was run today. We went in to watch it for a while, and caught the women's finish. But unless you get to Copley Square at the crack of dawn or you have a VIP pass to the stands, you're not going to see anything except flags and the backs of people's heads. Still, this video gives a good sense of the excitement and anticipation as the runners headed down the home stretch. You can see the flags getting whipped by the headwind the runners had to face the entire face.

Still, the marathon doesn't have the appeal that it used to have for me, back in the days when I was running hard, 40, 50, 60 miles a week, if my shins would let me. Back then I called it Boston, and everyone I was hanging with knew what I was talking about. I had runners from all over the country sleeping on the floor and on couches one year, coming to Boston trying to qualify for the Olympics (none made it, but there were two very low two-digit numbers under my roof at one time.)

Things, life, hasn't let me out on the roads in about, God, is it three years now? But even back then I was running up to 15 miles at a clip, in the dead of summer with a Camelback loaded with Gatorade and a packet or two of GU (raspberry was my favorite.) I want to get back into it, but first I have to find a doctor who will give me a stress test and say, sure, no problem, you're heart is fine. At my age, with heart disease part of a big one-two punch in my family (the other being the Big C) I don't want to get out there on the roads and collapse of a heart attack. (Well, at least he died happy.)

So we checked out the finish, where we couldn't see anything except the backs for people's heads and some flags. Around the corner there was a veteran's display. I have to think when dealing with a crisis like that in your life, 25,000 (I was told that was the number of runners today) endorphin-junkies is going to look pretty lame. From the work I did on The Boys of Summer, something like dealing with someone's death through warfare sticks with you for the rest of your life. You pretty much wake up everyday, and that's the thing that slams you between the eyes. It wasn't a dream, is the first thought through your head, and I feel for those people; I really feel for them.

Farther up Newbury we saw the Hempest store. I had heard for hemp being used for clothes, so we wandered in to see what the fuss was about. I have to say I really liked a few of the shirts, but still, I'm not going to pay $89 for a shirt, no matter how much I like it. I wouldn't be leaving for Spain and North Africa in a week if I spent that kind of money on clothes and luxuries. I'm a backpacker, and I like living like that. I've said if I won the Lottery the only thing that would change is I'd drink more premium beer and less beer on sale.

Farther up, Natural Bean was giving away free coffee to celebrate the opening of a new store. Sue told them I'd blog about them, so here I am doing it, but I'm not just doing that because Sue said so. It was really good coffee. I mean, really good. And giving it away is one way to get people turned on to your stuff. (Hey, fat-cat music execs--are you listening?)

We ran into a stream of runners up on Hereford Street that we couldn't cross, just like you might with a swollen stream out in the wilderness, so we turned around and headed home, via Park, going through the crowds again. It's weird, how the race and the runners just became a backdrop for our day, instead of the focus like it used to so many times in the past. The end of Marathon Day was always a cookout. Today we went to REI to pick up a couple of things for our trip.

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