I will be using the words amazing, awesome, wicked, crazy, and inspiring in this post a lot. There are just not a lot of words that can accurately describe this day.
I wasn't sure if I was going to take my children to see the 118th Boston Marathon. I had never taken them before. I had actually not watched the marathon since 1998. Crazy.
Usually we use Patriots Day as an extra day to get chores done and work around the house. A badly needed bonus day in the middle of the crazy spring season.
But this year was a little different. My children and I knew four people running the marathon this year. And it was the first marathon following last years tragic and terrifying bombing and subsequent stand-off with the bombers. It was definitely going to be a special marathon.
But I still I didn't know if I wanted to go. The hassle of it all. The day lost after a holiday weekend away from home. And that little nagging fear of putting my children in a not 100% safe situation. Crazy because logically I knew that there would probably be no place safer than the marathon route that Monday, but events like last year tend to rattle you in ways that don't really make sense.
But then last Thursday my youngest asked me about going and when I told her I wasn't sure she replied that she wasn't sure if she wanted to go because she was a little scared.
"What if there are bombs again?"
And then I knew. Of course. Of course we were going. I wasn't raising my children to live in fear. I wasn't raising my children to be bullied by cowards.
I spent hours over Easter weekend trying to figure out just the right place to set up camp with my children for the marathon. Hubby was working so it would just be the four of us. I knew I didn't want to go all the way into Boston. Just the logistics of getting into the city and then getting out again was a overwhelming. I also knew I wanted to use the commuter rail to get us there and back because I would be venturing into unfamiliar territory and knew there would be lots of road closures.
After spending waaaayyyy too many hours thinking about (because that is what I do) I decided that we would go to Wellesley, the 1/2 way point of the marathon and the home of the Wellesley college scream tunnel. I knew that the train would drop us off right at the center of town (I wouldn't want my little divas to have to walk too far). I knew that there would be places to get food and drink (very important when you have a 14, 12, and 7 year old). And I knew that the Wellesley students would ensure that it wouldn't get too boring (another important thing to think about because when you have children my age because everything has the potential to be boring).
Once I had made the all important location decision I then became obsessed with the dilemma of how I would possibly be able to fit everything that we would need for a day out in ONE TINY BAG! The BAA had asked everyone to refrain from carrying backpacks and large bags on the marathon route. Understandable, but worthy of a panic attack from the mom who carries everything with her even when leaving the house for just a few hours. In the end I decided not to really plan ahead and in our mad rush that morning just threw my wallet, sunblock, sunglasses, and lip balm in my crossbody. And it turned out that those few things along with a small stadium blanket were all we needed.
Huh! What do you know...
It was an awesome day.
A wicked awesome day.
We arrived in Wellsely as all the police officers were finishing up their security pieces. The town was still quiet. It was a little eerie to see the huge police presence, but at the same time reassuring.
By the time we finished our breakfast people were starting to set up camps along the street. We strolled through the town. As we walked around we saw many National Guard men and women walking their way to the halfway point of the marathon. They traditionally walk the root in their fatigues and boots hours before the race starts. We all started to get a little excited watching the soldiers walk by.
And then we wandered down to Wellesley College. The women there take sign requests from the family and friends of runners, make the signs, and then hang them along the police barriers in their scream tunnel. Wellsley had over 800 requests this year. It was fun and inspiring to read all the messages for the runners.
My children decided they wanted to hang out with the Wellesley ladies for awhile to see how many kisses they would get (the students not my children). In the scream tunnel not only do the Wellesley students scream and cheer their hearts out (some runners say they can hear the screams from miles away), but they also solicit kisses from the runners with funny signs. It is one of the many awesome traditions of the Boston Marathon.
So we waited. And we waited. And waited. And my children must have asked a million times how much longer. And it seemed like forever, but really wasn't long at all before the we heard the sirens from the lead cars signalling the arrival of the wheelchair racers.
There are really no words to describe how inspiring the wheelchair racers are.
My children were awestruck.
The elite woman were next. They first group had passed us by almost before we knew they were there. They were so fast. I was not surprised at all when SuperHubby texted me later to let me know that the women's winner had set a course record. The elite men quickly followed and again we were overwhelmed by their speed and strength at the half way point of the race.
And then finally the rest of the runners. Literally thousands and thousands of runners passed us by. Some still running at a fast pace, some running at a slow jog, and some walking. We saw young runners, old runners, pregnant women running, mobility impaired runners, runners who were running their first marathon and runners who were running their 17th Boston Marathon. We saw runners who were running for causes and runners who were running for special people. We were looking for the four people we knew and did not see any of them even with the special app warning us when they were approaching. Crazy, but true. It was dizzying looking for people in the mass of runners.
The runners were all so excited to see us. Many were video taping the crowd cheering and yelling encouragement. And amazingly enough hundreds made sure to thank us, the crowd, for being there for them as they passed by. I hadn't expected that. I hadn't expected to be so appreciated by people I didn't know.
TeenStar got kissed several times as runners mistakingly thought she was one of the Wellesley students that she was standing next to. The shock on her face the first time it happened was probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen. By the time we left the marathon her hand was black from high fiving so many runners, her throat was hoarse from yelling so much encouragement, her back was sore from leaning over the barrier to look at the runners coming down the street, and her face was pink from the lovely April sunshine. I was so proud of her.
Princess managed to get her hand out there for a lot for high fives too. It took her a little more effort to stick her arm out far enough to make contact with the runners, but she did it without complaining. That is major for her. She got a little tired and hot around the 3.5 hour mark, but overall was great.
Golden Boy is 12.
As a "parenting expert" I know that 12 means that no enthusiasm or excitement will be shown about anything unless it directly benefits the 12 year old. Thankfully for most people this is a fleeting stage.
So Golden Boy alternated between half heartedly sticking his hand out for high fives and sitting on the blanket with his ipod. Luckily he is not really a complainer so I didn't let his lack of enthusiasm bother me too much.
We stayed in our spots cheering and high fiving for hours. Eventually the groups of runners became smaller and the gaps between the groups became larger. We realized that we were hungry, tired, and that it was almost time to catch our train.
I loved this day so much.
I learned many things.
The human body is crazy amazing and marathoners come in all shapes and sizes.
As amazing as the human body is the human spirit is even more incredible.
Determination and grit in action is an inspiring thing to witness.
The majority of people in this world are good
I have never shared so many smiles, so much laughter, and so much excitement with so many strangers in my life.
And wicked awesome.
|After a wicked awesome day you are wicked tired.|