Marathon Monday

My first year in Boston, someone needed to explain Patriots’ Day to me since it’s not a day celebrated in the midwest. It has multiple components.

1. Patriots’ Day celebrates the battle of Lexington and Concord which kicked off the Revolutionary War. Reenactments happen every year in Lexington and Concord but they’re so early in the morning that I’ve never made it to one.

2. It’s also the day of the Boston Marathon earning it the nickname “Marathon Monday”. Nearly the entire city gets the day off since getting around the city can be pretty tough that day.

3. There is always a Red Sox game. Beats me why you would add to the chaos of the marathon by throwing an afternoon baseball game in to the mix each year but there you go.

All this combined makes it the happiest and my favorite day in Boston.

2006 – My first Marathon Monday! It also happened to be Tax Day. I had a bit of a filing mix up and ending up finishing my taxes super late. In a wild panic, I found a post office that was open late and sprinted to it. It was Marathon Monday and the post office I was running to was in the Prudential. So I raced down Boylston, weaving through the crowds. I do not run. I was miserable. I burst into the post office gasping for air only to be told by the post office man that since Patriots’ Day is a Boston holiday, we get an extra day to file our taxes. I slumped out of the post office, defeated, sat on a bench and cried. But hey, I can now say that I ran a portion of the marathon.

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2007 – We decided to volunteer for the Boston Marathon. We were in the family meet up area directing people. The theme of the day was “hypothermia prevention.” It was a very, very cold and rainy marathon.

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2008 – Gorgeous spring day. I love this view of the marathon. Runners are just coming out of Kenmore and once they make this turn on to Boylston, the finish line is within sight. And what a beautiful sight that must be!

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2009 – This was the year that I was an AmeriCorps VISTA at Boston Cares. John Hancock (one of the main sponsors of the marathon) provided the VISTAs with passes to the VIP area. We were in the bleachers right at the finish line.

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2010 – Such pretty scenery along the Comm. Ave portion of the course. Each year, military folks start the race at the crack of dawn and walk the entire course in full gear with their packs and a flag. Makes me tear up every time I see them.

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2011 – We had lunch in Kenmore and then wandered about the course later in the day. By this time the marathon had officially finished so we were able to walk on to Boylston.

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2012 – This was a hot one. Spectators and runners alike stripped down and wore as little clothing as possible. They set up hoses to give the runners some relief.

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2013 – This is the year that changed everything. Instead of our usual stroll along the last mile of the marathon route, we were invited to a marathon brunch at our friends’ place. They lived in Kenmore and their apartment overlooked the marathon route. We got to see the year’s winner and runner ups go by. It was incredibly exciting to view the marathon from above. Then, two brothers blinded by hatred and anger, changed this day and our lives forever. My favorite day in Boston quickly turned into one of fear and intense sadness. For days we all lived in a state of disbelief and extreme anxiety. Patriots’ Day hasn’t felt the same since but this was the year that I realized how much affection I feel for this city. For years, I insisted that I was a Chicagoan, not a Bostonian. But when Boston was attacked, it hit me that I love this city and that it is a part of me.

2014 – My Mr. got a new job that’s headquartered in California so he didn’t get the day off. It was my first Patriots’ Day by myself and it wasn’t as much fun. Also, last year’s event was very much on my mind. I wasn’t afraid of anything happening, I just wasn’t feeling as celebratory.

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2015 – It was another cold and rainy marathon. I headed out pretty late in the afternoon to catch a bit of the marathon. I meant to only watch for a bit but I ended up staying until my hands had frozen to my umbrella. I couldn’t tear myself away. To me, the Boston Marathon is THE marathon and I may never see it again.

I am not an athletic person in any way. I’ve never really been interested in sports (except for the Bulls during the glory years) and exercise makes me angry. I have no desire to ever run a marathon. But there’s something about witnessing people achieving such an amazing goal that brings me to tears every time. People of all ages, shapes, sizes, ethnicities. Friends who trained together reaching for each others hands so that they can cross the finish line together. Children who jump the barrier to run the last bit of the course with their moms and dads. Strangers who give a pat on the shoulder and an encouraging word to a fellow runner who’s struggling. Runners who come from all over the world and proudly wave their nation’s flags as they finish the race. The hundreds of thousands of spectators, friends, family, strangers, who line the course and scream like maniacs for the runners. This year, I stood by two young guys who yelled themselves hoarse cheering for every single runner that passed by who had their names or any kind of identifier on themselves. It made my heart balloon up. If the spectators see someone who is limping and struggling to make their legs take just one more step, they cheer even louder, “You’re almost there! You can do it! You’re amazing! Keep going!” How can you not get choked up by such an outpouring of love and encouragement from strangers? It’s such an emotional event to witness and to be a part of something so big and so very Boston is something truly special. I’m not a big cheerer (going back to this too-shy-don’t-want-to-draw-attention-to-myself-thing) but I hope the runners can see the encouragement on my face and the overwhelming awe I feel when I watch them run.

Marathon Monday

Anime Boston – My First Con!

Anime Boston! For nine years, I’ve missed Anime Boston. Every year, I would forget about it until I happened to walk down Boylston and see all the cosplayers. But not this year! I finally remembered to look it up and we actually made it! My first con!

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I have only four photos from the day. Pathetic. They aren’t even good photos! I’m too shy to ask for photos most of the time so I’d sneak in with the other photographers like a creeper. And my camera is on the fritz so they’re blurry. SAD. The other reason was that I was just so overwhelmed. My eyeballs were completely over stimulated. My brain was so consumed with trying to take in everything that I couldn’t even think of taking photos. So many cosplayers! It’s an anime con so I figured there would be cosplayers (one of my main reasons for going) but I never expected so many. I think 95% of the attendees were in costume or at least sporting some kind of geeky accessory. We actually stood out because we weren’t in costume! One of my dreams in life is to go to a con in full costume. But I’m super self-conscious, shy and for this con, we just didn’t have time. One day!!

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I was so impressed with this cosplayer’s armor. He clunked so I knew it wasn’t cardboard. I gathered up my courage and asked him what it was made out of. Resin and fiberglass. He told me it was ridiculously heavy. I believe it. I can’t believe he toted that weapon around all day! Such amazing artistry.

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I must play League of Legends just so I can fully appreciate all the cosplay. Our friend plays and said that tons of people around us were dressed as champions. These guys were particularly impressive. My blurry photo doesn’t do their work justice.

I haven’t been keeping up with anime much lately but it was still fun. I enjoyed spotting familiar characters and puzzled over what the heck the crest with the wings were (it was Attack on Titan.) I marveled at all the vendors (so many technicolor wigs…) and bought a few manga from my favorite comic book store. We peeked in on the Godzilla panel (some of the original cast was there!) and watched the original, uncut Japanese version of the film. Neither of us had ever seen it before and we were very impressed. Several rooms played anime all day long which was a good way to take a break from all the walking. (Side note: I racked up nearly 19,000 steps on my FitBit the first day. Holy Moly.) We got to see a bit of Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals (our friend who’s never seen Naruto was very confused) and my Mr. got to see why I love Yakitate!! Japan so much (spastic anime about baking!) At one point, the plan was to catch a little Ranma 1/2 but when we got there, Sailor Moon was playing. The staff encouraged us to stay and I’m so glad we did. Sailor Moon was my first anime ever. I would watch it on TV before school as I ate my breakfast. I had forgotten how girly, glittery and funny it was. My Mr. was such a great sport and sat through an episode with me as I watched all starry eyed and hummed along with the intro.

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How perfect are these Sailor Soldiers?? How can they all be so gorgeous and tall? I’m in awe of their well made costumes and accessories.

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And of course, I had to find an assassin! There were a several Ezios (mostly women!) but this Connor just looked really great.

Anime Boston totally renewed my love for anime. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it! I’m so glad we got to experience this con. It has a very carefree, open hearted feel to it. There’s almost an innocence to it that I found incredibly charming. It truly welcomes all forms of geekiness with fully open arms. No judgment, just a safe, accepting, happy space to be yourself. That’s what cons should be right? Light hearted and filled with passionate people who want to be surrounded by people who love anime as much as they do.

Anime Boston – My First Con!