Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Boston Marathon

So, Monday was a holiday for most of the Boston area, most importantly, for BC. It was Marathon Day! The 26.2 mile course ran right in front of BC, thus making it nearly impossible for the hundreds of people who work here to get here. It was great.

T and I, and our friend P, decided to watch the marathon from a shady spot atop a hill on the Brighton Campus. It was fabulous: picnic blanket, books, yummy bread, cheese, salami, and (of course) wine; lots of cheering, picture-taking, and chatting between the three of us.

We sat there and watched the first wheelchair racer pass (he had huge arms), and then the two leading ladies (they were shoulder-to-shoulder the entire race!), and then the Kenyan guy who won the men's division. Then, slowly, the "normal" people started passing by: people who have been running their whole lives but not professionally, people who love to run marathons and do it for fun (?), and people who decided to do a marathon "just because." It struck me, as we watched these runners cruise, trot, jog, walk, hobble, stagger, and crawl by our vantage point, the question struck me, "Why do people do this to themselves?"

Granted, the people who run as a profession do it to make money. But what about the other thousands who ran this Monday? We came up with a few reasons..

1) Why not? (T's and P's reason. Very manly, I think.)

2) It's good for you. (Actually, it's not. The distance of a marathon is longer than a human should be running. There comes a point, for most normal people, where one's body would eat itself if one doesn't give it some other energy source (gel packs, power bars, etc.) Most people just aren't designed to run 26.2 miles all at once. But the training is good for you, definitely.)

3) It's one more way to conquer yourself. Alexander the Great, when he had conquered the known world, sat down and cried. Peter Kreeft said, "If he had only looked to conquer himself, he would never have run out of territory." That's a good point, I think.

4) Companionship. It was pretty cool to watch several pairs of people running together, step by step, arm in arm, or holding hands. In a marathon, especially, when the two of you sign up to run it together it's an entirely unique growing experience.

5) Making new friends you'll never see again. If you're running along in a race and you realize you're at the same pace as so-and-so in the orange shoes, you keep running with him the whole race. You get to know him, even if you never talk to him. "He runs hunched over to one side a bit." "He's smiling now, I wonder if his family is near by cheering him on." "It looks like he's got a side cramp, I hope he's feeling alright." You get the idea...
I remember that aspect of running in high school. In a race, whether you know the person or not, you're all kind of looking out for each other. It's true that you may also be kinda fiercely striving to beat them all, but I never had a chance at winning so I was mostly on the friendly side of things.

So, in the end, while I've acquired no desire to run a marathon myself (T still wants to--more so, I think), the thought of running a 1/2 marathon has entered my head. I could do that. I've done a 10 mile run before. Maybe I should start training with T and run the first 1/2 with him (actually, I wouldn't be running with him if he was running for a good time. I'm too slow.) and cheer him on at the finish line.. We'll see :)

Here are the winners for Boston's 112th Marathon:

Dire Tune - 2:25:25
Alevtina Biktimirova - 2:25:27

Robert K. Cheruiyot - 2:07:46
Adberrahime Bouramdane - 2:09:04

As you can see, the two leading women were only two seconds apart. Intense.

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