I’m from Boston, and I love this day. I’ve written the cliche Marathon column before. The great poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning once put the all-encompassing idea of love into a 14-line sonnet, perfectly formed and perfectly versed in iambic pentameter. There is no simpler, better expression of what love means.
Here, without doing her original poem justice, I give you “How do I love thee, Marathon Monday, let me count the ways,” from a Boston college-aged youth’s point of view:
How do I love thee, Marathon Monday, let me count the ways
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height those 26.2 miles that separate boy from man, weak from strong, cub from lion. From Boylston to Wellesley, to Newton Centre, to Beacon.
I love thee for thy pride, for thine owns ability to bring a city together, for the sense of community you create and for your tradition, for despite heartbreak—you have risen and run again, year after year, step after step.
I love thee for your fierceness, to be kicked to the ground and rise back up, for your steadfast commitment and your true heart.
I love thee for thy 6 a.m. wake up call, whether it be in early morning burpees in Hopkinton or tangy, bubbly mimosas in Brighton.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right, as they sprint up Heartbreak Hill with true grit or hit that crushed up can in dizzy bat without falling to the ground.
I love thee for thy dollar drafts.
I love thee for Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, and all those who run to keep their memories alive. For all those survivors that have the courage to look evil straight in the eye and run again.
I love thee for thy Red Sox games which happen each and every Marathon Monday, upholding the longstanding traditions. From flooding Fenway to continuing on the spirit of sportsmanship and returning to the finish line to cheer on finishing runners.
I love thee for thy wheelchair race, because ability and bravery have no limit.
I love thee for thy cheers, of “Sweet Caroline” choruses, to “Boston Strong” chants. I love thee for thy tracking text messages so I know how far my friends are from my embrace.
I love thee with the passion put to use, for the minute one crosses the finish line that makes the grueling 6 months and exhausting 26.2 miles seem worth it.
I love thee for thy Police Department, who—while we are celebrating in the triumphs of others and participating in revelry—are hard at work protecting the streets we run and play on.
I love thee for thy cool race jackets, so that everyone can congratulate those who have taken on and conquered you. So that everyone knows who is strong enough, willed enough, brave enough to take you on.
I love thee for thy back porch funnels, Kan Jam, the Mods, for celebrating a day off. For the ability to go out in leggings and sweatshirts.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose, that despite passing out at 1 p.m. or not making it past mile 20, there will always be the friend to wake us up, to cheer us on, to continue the final 6 miles.
I love thee for water stations and friendly neighbors along the road.
I love thee for Mile 21, the golden mile, the flock of tanks and bucket hats, with each Natty Lite seeming to give us the courage to cheer louder and more fiercely than we ever have before.
I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life, of the endeavor of the present, with each hill and cramp and cheer experienced.
And if God choose, I shall love thee better after death, when I power nap, eat a burrito, and anticipate the next Marathon Monday.
Featured Image by Robert Bukaty / AP Photo