Arts, Off Campus, Column

Surprising Sights Of The Marathon

Things I did not expect to see at the Boston Marathon on Monday:

A woman running along at impressive speed, considering the fact that she had a sign that read “Baby” with an arrow pointing to her stomach.

Team Hoyt, the father-son duo of Dick and Rick Hoyt, at mile 21 of their 32nd and final Boston Marathon. I had only previously read about their incredible story in news articles, and seeing them in person for the first time was wonderfully unexpected.

A man keeping pace with a red flannel shirt tied around his waist, as if he were ready for a ’90s-themed party rather than a marathon. Respect, sir.

Things I did not expect to do at the Boston Marathon on Monday:

Have a quick conversation with one of the runners, who slowed down near our side of Comm. Ave. to tell us how great Boston College students were during last year’s marathon, and proceed to take a selfie with the runner on her phone. I imagine it was like getting asked by Ellen DeGeneres to take a spontaneous selfie with her celebrity friends-but much more meaningful.
Refuse to take any pictures of the runners with my own phone, since I just could not bring myself to take my eyes off of their faces-the smiling ones, the determined ones, and the walking-in-pain ones.

After high-fiving countless runners, have one of them hold onto my hand just a little bit longer, and a little bit tighter, as if to say “thank you” with a single touch.

Things I did not expect to feel at the Boston Marathon on Monday:

Love. Even though I love our campus, Boston, and everything in between, I didn’t expect to feel love toward each person who passed by me on Monday. It wasn’t just an overarching love, or the kind of love you toss around daily-it was an overwhelming onset of emotion that was inexplicable, but the kind of feeling that doesn’t really require explanation.

Frustration. The frustration of not being capable of being in two places at once-while Mile 21 is where I know I belonged, I was dying to go to the finish line. Honestly, I wish I could have been in 26 places at once, just for the chance to be with the runners at every step of the way (pun intended), and cheer them on from start to finish.

Regret. Even though I’ve never run more than a mile in my life, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was missing out on something-all I wanted to do was run alongside them, and get each and every one of the runners to tell me their story.

Before Monday morning, I had spent weeks pondering what I should expect on the day that we’ve all been thinking about for the past year. As expected, the Boston Strong movement was in full force-on t-shirts, in social media, and in the atmosphere. As expected, there was a feeling of celebration for the reclaiming of arguably the most important day of the year for Bostonians. As expected, there was an outpouring of pride, compassion, and joy throughout the entire day.

The one thing I couldn’t predict was whether or not I would feel the presence of one particular emotion: fear. On Monday, it’s safe to say that for the most part, there was none.

After seeing countless faces still smiling after running 21 miles, watching officers pace diligently up and down Comm. Ave., and being surrounded by so many people with the same purpose, any tinge of fear that existed within me soon disappeared. I cannot claim that the runners and spectators shared my sentiments, but to me, it was pretty clear that fear didn’t stop this year’s participants from crossing that finish line. When I look back on April 21, 2014, I’m not going to remember feeling afraid. I’m going to remember the two pregnant women I saw running for two, and realize that those babies are pretty special for having completed a marathon before birth. I’m going to remember the girl who has a picture of my face on her phone, and smile at the thought of her showing that photo to her friends in the retelling of the event. I’m going to remember that man who gently squeezed my hand in mutual understanding-a fleeting yet intimate moment of respect and gratitude.

With a mental collection of photographs in my head-snapshots of people, faces, and sensations that will be hard to forget-I can finally give my thanks to everyone involved in this year’s Marathon. Thank you for proving that Boston, and human beings as a whole, will never cease to surprise me.


April 24, 2014