Friday, April 18, 2014

On a Mission from Marblehead

Patriots' Day in Boston is Monday.  It is the day on which the 2014 edition of the Boston Marathon shall be run.  I suppose that the city as a whole shall hold its collective breath and wait to exhale until Monday has safely passed into the day after, much in the same way that New York City did on September 11, 2002.  Rob and I spent the night at Yankee Stadium.  There was a beautiful pre-game ceremony, which was highlighted by the dedication of a 09/11 monument in Monument Park.  During the seventh-inning stretch the great Irish tenor Ronan Tynan came onto the field to sing "God Bless America".  The Yankees won the game if memory serves - defeating the Orioles. 

The result on the field seemed secondary to the process itself.  Fifty thousand-plus of us had gathered in a very public place not too many miles away from where the worst day ever had unfolded one year earlier as if to say "Fuck You!" to those who had brought the pain.  Truth be told - and bravado aside - I was more relieved than anything else when Rob and I left the Stadium that night.  My great, great grandfather Phineas used to say, "There is but a fine line between bravery and foolhardiness."  More than once that evening I looked over at my then-young son hoping like hell that I had not deposited us squarely on the wrong side of that line.

On Monday morning, the sensational American marathoner Shalane Flanagan shall attempt to win her first Boston Marathon.  Flanagan is a Marblehead girl and has admittedly spent this whole year engrossed in the pursuit of winning this race this year for this city, which is a scant seventeen miles or so from her hometown.  Whether she will accomplish her goal I know not.  I do know that running 26.2 miles as fast as you can is hard work.  I suppose she will find out Monday morning whether she is running it with the good wishes of her hometown fans at her back like a tailwind available to her or her alone or whether she is running it with the expectations of those fans stacked mightily upon her shoulders. 

Last year, competing in the event for the first time, Flanagan finished fourth.  One hell of a nice maiden voyage.  However, whatever good feelings she had about her performance were quickly overtaken by feelings of anger and outrage regarding the actions of those two cowards at the finish line area.  Her anger at them morphed into the fuel that has driven her to prepare relentlessly for this year's race.  It really is one hell of a story.

Feel free to root for the runner of your choice Monday.  Me?  I am rooting hard from the Irish lass from Marblehead.  It has been said that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.  It seems to me as if "a woman on a mission" can bring the heat pretty damn well too. 

Here is to hoping that she brings it all the way to the finish line ahead of the rest of the field.



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