The Boston Marathon by the numbers (with some pictures interspersed for the visual learners)


26.2 miles = length of a marathon (42.195 kilometers)

113 = Yesterday – April 20th, 2009 – was the 113th Boston Marathon.

25,000 + = the number of marathoners in yesterday’s race.

500,000 = approximate number of cheerers along the course route.

8 = cheerers in my group

389 = sweaty high-fives exchanged with runners (estimated)

5 = cough drops consumed post-cheering to soothe my throat

13477 = my father’s marathon number

3:45 = the time he needed to qualify for next year’s race

3:36:25 = his finish time

8:16 = his pace per mile

2:37 = his Boston Marathon P.R. (in 1984)

2:08:42 = Deriba Merga’s winning time yesterday

8 seconds = the difference between first & third place in the women’s race.

$806,000 = total prize money awarded yesterday

$1,000,000 = how I felt watching my dad! (pride-splosion!)


363 = days until the 114th Boston Marathon. Start training. NOW!

Marathon Monday

Today is Marathon Monday in Boston, the first day of Massachusetts’s spring break, and also Patriots’ Day. It’s Marathon Monday that drew me home this weekend – away from my non-vacationing classroom in Pennsylvania. My father’s running his 14th – or possibly 15th or 16th, he hasn’t kept track – Boston Marathon and if he runs, I cheer.

My first memory is of cheering in the crowds – only really able to see a smear of legs at they passed my toddler eyes and my mother’s too-close, over-smiley face as she bent down and asked excitedly, “Tiff, did you see him? Did you see Daddy?”

I’m sure I lied and nodded. Then she plopped me in a stroller, grabbed my older sister’s hand and pushed me through the crowd to our next cheering vantage point.

I loved it.

I love it. The energy of the runners. The names block-printed in sharpie down arms & thighs. The runners in costumes. The runners on teams. The serious runners. The runners who worry they can’t make it up the next hill. Or the one after that. Or the next one. The course is not flat.

I’m a great cheerer too! If you’ve got your name somewhere on your body, I will yell it out. I will clap, smile and tell you that you are the fastest, bestest, enduring-est runner, and I’ll ask you when you’re going to start sweating, because you’re just making it look too easy. Or I’ll tell you how proud I am of how far you’ve made it, and I just know you can keep going.

The runners LOVE me. My mom and St. Matt tend to slowly edge away, which suits me fine because then I have more room to wave my arms while cheering.

Now that I’m taller than kneecaps, I love being able to look into that sea of runners and pick out my father. There’s a my-heart-might-pop-with-pride feeling that comes from spotting him and knowing all the adverse weather, business travel, and injuries he’s overcome in order to prepare for 26.2 miles on one of the most grueling courses.

Last year he finished in 3:33: approximately 8-minute-miles: 26.2 of them. His best time was 2:37: approximately sub 6-minute miles: still 26.2 of them. Want to join me in a pride-splosion?

I have a post-marathon tendency to think, perhaps, next year, I could join him out there. Maybe I should start training for a marathon. Look how great this is! There are older people, heavier people, runners with so many braces they’re practically bionic. I could do that.

And then I get injured.

So, I’m putting this in writing. Do. Not. Let. Me. Start. Training. For. A. Marathon.

5K’s? Sure. Easy. 5-miler? That’s okay. Any distance longer than that and I might as well start asking for the physical therapy referral now.

I repeat: Do. Not. Let. Me. Start. Training. For. A. Marathon.

And start brewing the post-race tea & honey now. My father will need it for lungs that sawed 26.2 miles. I’ll need its voice-restorative powers because post-race, post-pride-splosion hugs, I’m back in the car and making the reverse of Friday’s journey so I can be back in the classroom tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow after school, no matter how inspired I feel, no matter how beautiful the weather is, or how loudly the trails by my house call my name: Do. Not. Let. Me. Start. Training. For. A. Marathon.

St. Matt may need to hide my running shoes.

Brick

There’s a brick tied with pink ribbon that sits on the floor beside the bureau in my childhood bedroom. It was a gift from four of my best friends in high school. The same ones I met for lunch today and girls’ night in Boston yesterday.

As we settled into our chairs and rattled off our drink orders, the restaurant’s speakers began to play I Who Will Save Your Soul by Jewel, a song that came out in 1996, our sophomore year.
“It feels like I come back to Massachusetts and I’m back in high school,” I observed.
Except it’s not like that at all. When I came home last night the door was unlocked and the lights were on, but it was my husband waiting up for me, not my parents. And he wasn’t sitting there to smell my breath and make sure I hadn’t broken curfew, he was waiting up to hear my stories and give me a good night kiss.

Today at lunch we didn’t talk teachers and tests, Friday night plans and boys. We talked bosses and jobs, wedding plans and babies. But when the check arrives, we still pass it to the same person to compute the math, and we know who to ask to if we need chapstick. Fourteen years after we banded together as naïve freshman, we still know our places within the group – we’ve grown and matured, but haven’t outgrown each other.

The back of my bedroom door is now naked. Bare of everything except a small oval tile painted with a red rose and the words: Tiffany’s room. This tile used to be surrounded by collages made by friends, posters of Scott Wolf, Jonathan Brandis and Leonardo DiCaprio. Photos from dances, beach trips, and goof-around days used to paper my walls and frame my mirror. My bureau used to be buried below Bath and Body Works body splashes, tubs and tubes of Lip Smackers and the tiny paper triangles of intricately folded notes. The antique sewing desk where I pretended to study for bio and chem tests has been replaced by a massive table where my father stacks papers and tax files. My antique twin-sized sleigh bed has been upgraded for a you’re-now-married queen.

But the mural I painted the summer before I turned 16 is still on the wall. My ceiling still sparkles with the glitter thrown upon the painted clouds. The pink hoop-skirted, parasol holding doll lamp my father brought back from Paris when I was eight, still illuminates my bureau (and still sports the electric blue eyeshadow I painted on her at nine).

And there’s still a pink ribbon-tied brick on the floor directly inside the door. A brick from my high school, collected by my friends when our school was torn down and before the replacement structure was built. A brick tied with pink ribbon to remind me no matter how far I go from home, how much things change, and how long I’m gone, I still belong here.

Watch out Boston, Here I come!

There’s a song that they sing when they take to the highway


And conveniently that is a line from my song; the song that I sing when we prepare to make the six hour trek from Doylestown to my childhood home in Massachusetts.

We’ll be making that drive today as soon as I hit “publish post” – I can’t wait!

I LOVE roadtrips. I always have. When we were younger, we drove 11 hours each way to get to our beach home in P.E.I.. The drive was always one of my favorite parts of the vacation. I also enjoyed lobster cookouts on the beach, seeing the Anne of Green Gables musical over and over, chocolate-chip pancakes at the Morell Diner, dune races… but the car trip would have made my top 10 list.

Well, I should clarify: the first eight hours were enjoyable. By hour nine my sister would have gotten carsick, the boys would have run out of Gameboy batteries and resorted to he’s-looking-at-me, no-I’m-not, he’s-breathing-on-my-side, and the dogs would be panting and drooling down my neck. The 10th hour was the most awful; we’d all have to pee, but my parents would pull their we’re-almost-there, not-much-farther, can’t-you-hold-it? Occasionally Nick couldn’t.

And worst of all, I’d have run out of books. Not all my books for the trip – my mom knew better than to give me access to all of them at once. But I’d have finished the 3-4 she’d parsed out to me for the drive.

That was the whole joy of the car ride – I’d willingly accept the seat in the back row on the non-door-side of the caravan because I didn’t want to be bothered. Who cares about the extra leg room? I didn’t have to let people climb over me to get out. I didn’t have to reach for things in the cooler or pass out napkins and juice boxes. I didn’t have to hold the dogs’ leashes when the sliding door was opened.

I could slip on my foam padded walkman headphones, turn up the volume on Belinda Carlisle or New Kids on the Block, and flip open a book.

I’d spend a few hours with the Sweet Valley Twins, totally enamored with Jessica and her Unicorn Club, but accepting that I was much more of an Elizabeth.

My sister would poke me when we stopped for gas or food and hand me a leash.

Somethings never change.

Have you figured out my road trip song? Here’s another hint:

Now the first of December was covered with snow
And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go


I have to give St. Matt some credit. He won’t let me get away with tuning him out for the whole ride, which is only fair since I make him do all the driving. When we were first dating I would read book aloud to him. This worked. Sorta. Except, when he got out to pump gas, I would stealthily read ahead and then try and get away with just summarizing when he got back in.

Now we do audiobooks. He’s okay with me tuning him out – as long as he has something to tune into. There are strict pause-button policies that go into affect during any bathroom breaks, gas refilling, puggle pit stops, or if I think of something I need to write down thisveryminutesoIdon’tforget.

Today– we’ve got Airhead by Meg Cabot, Feed by M.T. Anderson, and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E.Lockhart.

And of course we also have music too – it may not be Circle in the Sand or Hanging Tough, but I’ll be singing just as loudly and just as off-key.

And of course I’ll also be singing…

Goodnight, you moonlight ladies
Rockabye, sweet baby James
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose
Won’t you let me go down in my dreams?
And rockabye, sweet baby James

Not a James Taylor fan? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered:

How about a true Boston band? Guster:
The sooner you leave, the sooner you’re home
Back in Massachusetts

Or Augustana:

♫I think I’ll go to Boston…
Yes, I think I will. Now.
….Pity poor St. Matt, writing this has put me in a singing mood and he’ll have six hours in the car to listen to ALL of my road trip songs. (Suggestions welcome!)
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