Monday, April 17, 2017

Of Guile, Guts & Gu...

This year, the fiftieth in which the world has been graced with the presence of Yours truly, shall be the final one in which I run a marathon.  Truth be told, among the many things for which I have never demonstrated an affinity, marathon running occupies a spot on or near the medal stand.  My abject lack of comfort at the distance has not dissuaded me from tackling eight of them thus far.  

It shall not prevent me from running two more this year, the Marine Corps Marathon on October 22nd and the New York City Marathon on November 5th.  Hopefully, I shall still have my legs when I reach the finish line in Central Park.  If I do, then I just might bend down and kiss it - move I shall not risk if I lack confidence in my ability to return to the locked, upright position thereafter. 

I shall never run in the Boston Marathon.  On the larger scheme of things, it matters not.  Those who have run in it, and those who organize it annually, shall be uniform (I assure you) in their belief that my non-participation in the event has done nothing to detract from it.  It might actually be an enhancement.  

I wrote this last year, a couple of days after the 2016 Boston Marathon.  May those who run it today, and those in attendance to support them, have a beautiful, safe, and joyous day in Boston.  They deserve nothing less. 

THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2016

They Perspired So That They Could Inspire...and Aspire


For the third year in a row, the Boston Marathon, which is truly a great American tradition and event whether you are a marathoner, a couch potato, or positioned somewhere else along the running-space continuum, was completed without incident.  But even as the murderous cowardice of the brother bombers recedes one year further into our collective memory, reminders and remembrances abounded. 

Patrick Downes crossed the finish line at Boyleston Street at 2:49 P.M., having completed the Marathon in 5:56:46 and immediately fell into the arms of his wife, Jessica Kensky.  On Patriots' Day 2013, the first of the two bombs that the terrorists detonated at or near the Marathon's finish line exploded at 2:49 P.M.  Among the seriously wounded that day were Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, who were there watching the finish of the Marathon and each of whom lost their left leg beneath the knee for their troubles.  Ms. Kensky subsequently had to have her right lower leg amputated when it refused to heal properly.    After he hugged his wife, Mr. Downes headed over to where the father of eight-year-old Martin Richards, the little boy who was murdered that terrible day three years ago, was watching and reached up into the stands to hug him too.  After the race, Mr. Downes told the media that he had run "with the city in my heart".  I reckon that he was fairly well ensconced in the city's heart as well.   

Mr. Downes was the first 2013 bombing amputee who crossed the finish line on Boyleston Street on Monday afternoon, but he was not the only one to do so.  Adrianne Haslet crossed the finish line at approximately 7:15 P.M., having spent roughly ten hours on the course.  Ms. Haslet, too, lost her lower left leg in the bombing.  Her determination to complete the race on Monday was nothing short of extraordinary.  She experienced a problem with her prosthesis at or about the halfway mark, which problem required her to pull in for "a pit stop" at or about Mile 15.  The problem took ninety minutes or so to solve but with her new and improved prosthetic leg underneath and her immense heart to power her, she completed the final eleven-plus miles.  One hell of a way to break one's Boston Marathon maiden.  

Unlike Patrick Downes and Adrianne Haslet, Brendan Cox was not among those injured in the 2013 Marathon Bombing.  Way back when, young Mr. Cox was still in high school here in New Jersey.  These days, though, he is a student at the University of Maryland.  On Monday, he not only completed the Marathon in a time (3:28:35) that I could only hope to attain if I traded in my Brooks running shoes for an Acme rocket, he did so while running for a worthy cause:  A job.   He ran the race with the hashtag #RunnerNeedsAJob on the back of his shirt, which generated quite a bit of attention on social media.  It appears as if it might have also landed him a couple of interviews, which are certainly far more important than hits on Twitter.   In case you were wondering, young Mr. Cox is majoring in Marketing at the University of Maryland.  I know not what type of grades he makes in his major but I would think he has one hell of a future ahead of him in his chosen field.  

Adrianne Haslet said it far better than I ever could when she noted that the emotional impact of crossing the finish line for her was drawn in significant part from the fact that she thought of, "all of the definitions that this finish line has held."  For Adrianne Haslet and for Patrick Downes, on Monday it represented not only the completion of an amazing day's incredible journey but also the threshold each has crossed on the continuing path to blunt the long-term effects of evil by refusing to allow it - and refusing to allow those who perpetrate it - to hold down and to choke the life out of those who are good and the good deeds that they do.  

Boston Strong?  You better goddamn believe that they are...  




...and each has many more miles that they intend to cover.   

-AK 

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