Running, and marathons, are big things in my family. I myself don’t do it; I don’t seem to have been dealt that peculiar hand which compels others in my family to run and run and run.
But I remember being 8 years old, in the seventies, when running became really popular here in the Boston area. Bill Rodgers was like a rock star to us. And my dad, a former high school track star, ran every race there was to run. I remember loading up the car with my mother and sister and going to various points along various routes, handing out little cups of water and wedges of oranges to the runners.
And I remember the first time my dad ran the Boston marathon (he’d done New York and Bermuda as well). I remember hanging out in Copley Square and trying to find a place where I could see him cross the finish line. I remember going to find him in the tent in front of Trinity Church, where he sat wrapped in a foil blanket, looking shocked, looking exhausted, looking happier than I’d ever seen him.
I remember taking my sister home after her first marathon. She zonked right out in the back seat of our car…exhausted, elated.
I understood this, to some degree. Because while I myself have never had the urge to run and run and run, I understand passion. And I was proud of my sister and my father for setting a goal, and achieving it, blistered heels, black and blue toenails, and all. I watched them both cross finish lines having run (to me) an unfathomable distance.
I’m an artsy fartsy type. I work in a theatre, and have worked there since I was in my early twenties. “Endurance,” for me, is learning loads of lines and getting up in front of total strangers to recite them. But I love runners, and always have. And I love Boston, and always have.
I was just a few blocks away when it happened yesterday. A group of us sat around my desk and tried to get news and listened to sirens, one after the other, for over two hours. So many sirens.
An 8 year old boy died. He was there to see somebody he knew cross that finish line, and he never got to.
This morning, I will get on the subway and I will go to work. I am not a runner, but I have never wanted to run back into my city the way I want to today.