Have you ever seen a Marathon? It's a 26.2 mile race, including, in the case of the Boston Marathon, a grueling stretch called Heartbreak Hill at the 20 mile mark: this year, 27,000 runners competing with themselves to the finish line.
Watching the runners today was enough to restore my faith in humanity and in our collective ability to know what matters and to get it right. It is thrilling to watch the effort and grit required to run a marathon.
There were men and women of all ages, running alone, running in small groups, running by the hundreds, pushed forward by their own determination and the steady claps of a grateful crowd; wheelchair athletes, a few folks in their 70's, so many pretty regular people who had trained their bodies and minds for this race, for this time.
There was one special runner.
His name is Mike.
He is my son-in-law.
Mike never ran a marathon before. His number and ranking was 22,524 out of 27,000. He trained himself for months, wanting to finish in 3 hours and 50 minutes.
We his family and Janna who is also family had to be out of the house and on the road by 7:30 this morning so we could get to the other side of the route that would be closed to all but the runners.
We took ourselves out to breakfast, walked a bit to a spot midway up Heartbreak Hill, and we watched elite men with low numbers, 3, 12, 23 fly by as if they had wings on the soles of their shoes. We waited for how long? two? three hours? before we saw Mike.
We saw him coming fast and his four year old son--Mr. Ryan--saw him, and he looked unbelievably fantastic. He stopped to kiss Ryan and then Jessica, his wife/my daughter, and then he ran another 6 miles, finishing what he set out to do, 45 seconds above his goal.
Jess and Janna took the subway to meet Mike at the finish line and Ryan's three grandmothers took themselves and him to Dairy Queen for ice cream.
Later he talked to his father in the car by cell phone.
"Daddy,how are you? did you finish, daddy?"
Ryan gasped, then smiled a mile wide.
"Oh Gram, BB, Mimi: Daddy finished!"
I will never forget the sound of that four year old little voice, beaming about his daddy.
He finished alright. Yes he did. Quite nicely.
(Mike, if I'm off on your actual or projected time, please forgive me. Writers do that sometimes: they come close but not always accurately. I tried to be a good listener....) xoxoxo