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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Planning for the Marathon

The Boston Marathon runs through our entire city. It starts at the very western point and runs along a major thoroughfare to the easternmost point. Thus, it cuts our city in half each and every year. The marathon is always run on Patriot's Day, a Massachusetts state holiday that we observe in honor of the beginning of the revolutionary war. This is celebrated with reinactments of the Battle of Lexington and Concord, and with Paul Revere's ride. Since these reinactments start at the crack of dawn, I've never seen one, I'm ashamed to say. Not that I need to see musket's fired, and I guess we all know the ending, right? Bye bye Redcoats.

But the marathon in our family is a must not miss. I've been viewing the marathon yearly since I moved to Boston in 1976 to attend grad school. I actually was standing at the spot where Rosie Ruiz jumped into the marathon to cheat her way to the finish. Not that I saw it, because I didn't. But I was there and photographed her running. I'm so dumb I didn't notice that she was completely dry without a bead of sweat. Duh!

Planning for the marathon is tougher some years than others. If it's run during Passover, as in this year, we have to bring everything we eat and drink, and that can be a royal pain in the ass. But we do it anyhow. And we like it! (OK, we don't like it one bit, but we do it anyhow, and we do not go to the kosher food tent further down the road because it is impossible to get to on race day, being as half our roads are closed to traffic.

We almost always view the marathon from the same point. It's not a special place, but it tends to bring a decent sized and fairly vocal crowd, and it's one of the few places where I don't have to walk a lot carrying chairs and a bunch of other things. And best of all, there are pottys at this junction, which can make a marathon viewing ever so much more pleasant. We also are almost directly across from one of the medical tents on Heartbreak Hill. Lots of runners ask "how much longer?" and "Where is Heartbreak Hill?" and we barely have the heart to tell them they're right at the bottom of the hill with 6 more miles to run.


Our viewing spot also features something no other spots have, a statue of Johnny Kelly both young and old running the race. Tourists come all year round to have their photos taken in front of this statue and serious runners start practicing on Heartbreak Hill months before the marathon. The hill itself isn't that steep, it's just a very long uphill grade that never seems to quit. I think it's something like 2.5 miles straight uphill.



For our family, it's important to bring a variety of clothing as the marathon can be either freezing cold or deadly hot, all in one day. It is New England, after all. It is supposed to be in the mid-50s with sunshine most of the day, perfect for the runners but a bit chilly for those that hang about cheering the runners on for hours on end.

In the old days, runners used to wear regular cotton t-shirts with their names or the clubs or school names on them, so you could yell, "Go Colorado!" and "You're doing great, South Africa" but most runners now wear clothing with Adidas or Nike on them, and you can't really yell for those particular companies now, can you? I like the runners the put their names on their legs or arms so you can cheer them on. I love the shouting and some of the stuff people in the crowd come up with. I also love the whole milling crowd thing, where you can actually be friendly with the police and the news casters without regretting it later.

Also in the old days, there were runners that dressed up in silly costumes and wore nutty hats. I remember on year where a guy ran the whole race dressed as a Viking. Now him you could cheer on! You don't see that much anymore. It's changed a lot since the days of Bill Rogers, especially with the entries of the elite Kenyan runners. Those guys are just astounding, teeny little men going so fast without any pain on their faces. It's really amazing to watch.

Even the wheelchairs have radically changed, and now make very fast times. They are so inspiring to watch. Right after they pass, the women come next as they start before the men. They are small too, and wear these tiny little shorts that barely cover their butts. Their shirts are tight and they have no body fat, which means no breasts. If they didn't have a W on their number tags, some of them could confuse you as to their gender they are so lean.

Tomorrow I'll bring the camera and snap photos of the race.
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