By Jay Kumar
---- — If you’re reading this column, I don’t need to remind you that the 117th Boston Marathon takes place on Monday. Even if you’re not running in the event, you’ve no doubt seen or read about it in recent weeks.
Personally, the Boston Marathon has meant different things to me over the years.
In the early to mid-’90s I wasn’t a runner, so the marathon seemed like more of a freakish endurance test that made no sense to me. I was all about going to the annual late morning Red Sox game on Patriots Day, having a few beverages and then hanging out in Kenmore Square to cheer on the marathon runners as they rambled through the final mile or so of the race.
A few years later, I was more interested in the marathon because my then-girlfriend (now wife) was running the race. I had begun running 5Ks by this point, but I still thought people who ran marathons were crazy — although standing on Boylston Street waiting for Deb and watching the runners go by, I wondered if I could ever run 26.2 miles. That musing was quickly brushed aside as foolishness after I saw a runner cross the finish line and immediately get ill.
Eventually, as I began to run longer distances, I grew to embrace that foolish thinking. And in 2002 I ran my first marathon — which of course was Boston.
As far as first marathons go, it went about as well as I could have hoped. The weather was cool and cloudy and I reveled in the sights and sounds. A year later I ran Boston again, but struggled with the warm, humid temperatures that had me dehydrated and hobbled for the last several miles. It wasn’t fun.
In subsequent years, I opted to do different marathons, figuring that I’d had enough of the hills and the unpredictable weather of Boston. In 2006, I was a spectator again as my wife ran the race.
But in 2009 I had a chance at a club number for Boston and took it ... and it was a blast. The weather was cool and dry, and I managed to get through the Newton hills with a little still left in the tank. I finished Boston in under four hours for the first time and felt pretty good about things.
Now, four years later, I’ve got a whole different take on Boston.
I’ve pretty much sworn off running marathons thanks to injuries, but I’ll be at the marathon on Monday, volunteering at the mile 12 water stop. It’ll definitely be a different vantage point as I help hand out water and Gatorade to the 27,000 runners. I’ve worked smaller, local races before, but never one on this grand a scale.
Even in years when I haven’t been training for Boston, there’s always a palpable excitement around the race for a variety of reasons. Each year, I’m rooting for friends who are running, but it’s also fun to watch the elite male and female runners, and to see if an American runner can win the marathon for the first time in a long time. Not to mention the question of what kind of weather will greet the runners Monday morning.
The storylines change each year, but what remains the same is the sense of wonder that surrounds Marathon Monday.
Starts and stops
The YMCA of the North Shore kicks off its 2013 road race series tomorrow with the Chase the Gorilla Down Argilla 5K in Ipswich, starting at the Ipswich Family YMCA at 9 a.m. The second race in the series takes place on Sunday, April 21 with the Ring Around the Neck 5-mile road race in Marblehead. The race begins at 2 p.m. at Five Corners in downtown Marblehead. Both events also feature children’s fun runs. Visit www.northshoreymca.org/programs/healthy-living/road-races/ for more information.
On the Run is a biweekly column about the North Shore running scene. Send any questions, comments, or news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming races Wednesday, April 17: Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William's Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail email@example.com. Thursday, April 18: No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Sunday, April 21: Energize The Earth 5K/10K, Lynch Park, 55 Ober St., Beverly, 10 a.m. Rolling hills-fast finish, custom shirts & bibs. Awards presented at post-race festival. Contact Ashley Steeves (BNS EVENT MANAGEMENT) at 1-978-836-0271 or email@example.com. Wednesday, April 24: Danvers 5K Fun Run, Sweet William's Garden Center, 141 Pine St., Danvers, 7 p.m. Free, timed run. All welcome. These events are part of a weekly 52-race series. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Thursday, April 25: No Rest for the Wicked Weekly 5K-ish, Salem Common, Salem, 6:45 p.m. Free 3.2-mile run. Contact email@example.com. Visit www.northshoreroadraceguide.com/race-calendar for more race listings.