For Martin

Last summer I visited Boston with my family. On the day we walked the Freedom Trail, my nephew and I left the others behind and made our way to Boylston Street and the finish line of the Boston Marathon. It’s a big yellow line with blue lettering painted across the street. It marks the end of the 26.2 mile run from Hopkinton to Boston. The Boston Marathon is the oldest marathon in the world – aside from that first one in Greece several hundred years ago.

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Running the Boston Marathon is on my bucket list. However, there is an asterisk next to that particular item. The asterisk denotes the fact that runners have to qualify for Boston by completing another marathon in a specific amount of time. For my age range, I would have to complete a marathon in 3 hours and 25 minutes. Based on past performance, I would need to shave about an hour off my personal best time. Not likely, especially since I’m not getting faster as I get older.

Part of my inspiration to run a marathon in the first place was standing on the sidewalk watching the finish of the Capital City Marathon. It was exhilarating to watch the runners cross the finish as the crowd – including me – cheered them on. I wanted to be the one being rooted for. Six months later, I had my marathoning debut in the Seattle Marathon.

All along the route of that race, friends, family, and complete strangers cheered me on. They stood there for hours shouting words of encouragement: “Nice job,” “looking good,” “your almost there,” and, my favorite, “I’m looking at finishers!” Running a marathon is exhausting physically and emotionally, and those exclamations were a tremendous help in keeping me focused on the finish.

As I write this, the Boston Marathon is underway. 36,000 runners are going the distance. More importantly, thousands more are cheering them on. Last year, a lot of those supporters suffered horrible scars, physical and emotional. Three died. There weren’t doing anything more than being supportive of runners, and they didn’t deserve what happened. It broke my heart.

To those running this morning, you’re looking good. You’re going to finish. Stay strong; Boston Strong. To those standing on the sidewalks cheering, I say, on behalf of the runners, thank you. You make all the difference. Nice job. You’re looking good.

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