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Mile 3,329, Sandy and Joe Wahler. Thank You!
It would be hard for two people to be more supportive of Paddy Runs for Haiti than Sandy and Joe have been. Waking up early, standing around at races, buying me breakfasts, gatorade, hotel rooms, and race entries. They traveled to Washington D.C, New York, and Boston and stood around for hours just to see me run by for ten seconds.
There’s no wellspring of gratitude deep enough, no lexicon of thanks that could adequately express the debt I owe them, so I won’t even try, but whenever I’m out on the road, I feel them pulling for me. They’ve gotten me further down the road than they know. I’ve tried to lead a life that would make them proud and I’m a much better man for that.
Bare-chested in Back Bay, I charged across Arlington Street and through the gates of the Boston Public Garden. The rain and hail continued to dump down, but what of that? I gave George Washington my best and crossed over the fancy bridge in the middle of the park. There’s a small island on the north side of the lake that was originally attached to the land. In the 1800’s, however, the peninsula became a popular spot for open-air hook-ups so the city engineers dug out the narrow strip of land connecting it to shore.
I crossed Charles street and entered Boston Common, the oldest public park in the United States, arguably the world. When the city of Boston bought the land in 1634, it was used as common pasture for cattle. The 50-acre plot was quickly overgrazed and the cattle population limited to seventy; a restriction that remained in effect until 1830 when cows were officially banned. English soldiers camped here in the 1770’s during the build up to Lexington and Concord when the Common was the city’s favorite spot for hanging religious dissenters. A large oak tree served as a gallows.
I ran past the Soldiers and Sailors monument and turned north, bounding up the stairs by the golden-domed state house. I tagged up at the 54th Memorial commemorating the valor of first black regiment in the United States Army, then turned around and headed back towards my hotel.
Besides angry protests against everything from colonial food-shortages to the vietnam war, the Common has seen positive events as well, including a speech by Martin Luther King and a Judy Garland concert that drew over 100,000 people. The East side of the park is also the mustering point for runners taking the free buses to the marathon start in Hopkinton. I’ll be there bright and early monday morning.
Heading back through the Public Garden, I tapped the head of Mama Duck making way for her ducklings, curved back around to George Washington, and headed back down Commonwealth Avenue.
Mile 3,330, Patrick Toon, in honor of Jean Robert Cadet. Thank You!
Ever since I graduated high-school I hoped that someday I’d be able to repay Jean for the perspective, knowledge, and confidence he instilled in me when I was his student. It sucks that the opportunity arose from such horrific circumstances, but it makes me proud to know that the lot of us stepped up to help. Jean is the embodiment of determination and endurance and I’ve tried to run with that same spirit every time I put on my shoes.
I ran these miles this morning along the Charles river. The weather was pure Boston; gray, wet and chilly. The John Hancock tower was swathed in fog. I started at Kenmore Square and ran across the Harvard Bridge toward the cement dome of MIT. The sidewalk on the bridge is marked off in “Smoots”, a unit of measurement invented by MIT student Oliver Smoot in 1958. One unit equals five feet, seven inches, Smoot’s height at the time. The Boston Police use the smoot marks to help determine the location of accidents on the bridge.
Despite the early hour and the unpleasant weather, I passed a lot of other runners out for their final run before Monday’s marathon. I got a bit philosophical and reckoned that the marathon is a metaphor for what life should be like: A difficult event but one that rewards those who are prepared for it. An event where the guy next to you has nothing but words of support and the people cheering from the sides are shouting like you were part of their family. An experience that rewards participation, where everyone is engaged in the same arduous struggle, but no one thinks twice about stopping to help a person who really needs it.
Maybe that’s why I like doing these things so much. I find my utopia out on the roads.
Mile 3,331, Denise Cardarelli. Thank You!
The last mile before the marathon goes to Denise, who has done more to support Paddy Runs for Haiti than even she will ever know. The list of things to thank her for is gigantic, from putting up with my running schedule to buying me band-aids and burritos to enlisting support from her friends and family to listening to me complain about my aching body to leaving inspiring notes around the apartment. My thanks fall short but Love inspires.
I ran back along the south bank of the Charles. Rowing teams were practicing out on the water.
There’s such a great atmosphere in Boston this weekend. The city crackles with energy from the marathon. It’s not like other sporting events where athletes are sequestered in swanky hotels or training camps. Here, they’re everywhere. I passed one of the elite women and her coach training on the esplanade. A group of African runners practiced intervals nearby. Yeah, the “regular” runners wandering around the city look a little dorky in their bright blue jackets and yellow hats, but they’re all so excited to be a part of the Marathon. The locals know why we’re here and end every conversation with, “Good luck on Monday!” It’s all so positive and affirming.
While running down Massachusetts Avenue, I got a direct flyover by a pair of Canadian Geese. I took that as a good omen.
I’ll see you at the finish line!