This year, for the first time, we had marathon visitors (what timing). We were thrilled Karen and Jeremy decided to accompany their friends Mallory and Levi for Levi's annual pilgrimage as a Boston marathon qualifier (and finally make good on their promise to return for a Sox game).
We met up at Hynes Friday evening after they picked up their numbers (Mallory registered herself, Karen, and Jeremy for Sunday's 5K so they all were running over the weekend). During trip planning, Karen hadn't mentioned Mallory was the same Mallory we both knew from our hometown. It was a pleasant shock to turn around to a familiar face (and Karen and Jeremy had a good laugh).
We braved the cold rain and wind gusts along the harbor to enjoy an epic welcome-to-New-England seafood dinner. The Barking Crab had a long wait, but it was worth it. Ian coached Mallory and Levi through their first oyster slurps, and we had a great time catching up (and getting to know Levi) over mouthwatering chowder, crab, and lobster.
The next day, we dusted off those long-awaited Sox tickets, and planned a relaxing morning followed by an afternoon tour of MIT before the scheduled 7:10 p.m. first pitch.
Mallory and Levi were staying at a hotel in Quincy to take advantage of its free marathon shuttle to the starting line, so for convenience we agreed to meet near MIT for lunch. In the middle of "what are you wearing?" texts between the ladies, Mallory texted that she heard the game was in the afternoon. Ian assured us we were fine. The previous night's game had been rained out, so the 1 p.m. game was the makeup. After all, our tickets said 7:10 p.m.
At noon, we headed inbound on the green line to connect to MIT. The train was packed with Sox fans, but we weren't worried. They were headed to the makeup game. A Google search on our phones still showed a 7:10 p.m. start, to further reassure us. But after a few conversations with people decked out in red, we realized Mallory was right. Ian had not received the official time change email that apparently had gone out to ticket purchasers. Thankfully, our late morning had put us right on schedule to get to Fenway by the new game time. We contacted Mallory and Levi, then hopped off at Fenway and met up on Lansdowne Street.
We arrived just in time. After loading up with ballpark food, we headed to our seats. We had a great view, the weather was perfect, we saw a home run, and the Sox managed to pull off a win in the 10th inning. Not bad, considering we almost missed the game.
After the game, we headed to the North End for Mike's Pastry and some historical explorations. Eating cannoli in the shadow of the Old North Church and the Paul Revere statue will never get old!
Sunday, we were up bright and early to get Karen, Jeremy, and Mallory to the 5K starting line by 8 a.m. They've been training and did great, finishing in the top half of the race. Go Team Kansas!
After the race, we split up so Mallory and Levi could spend time with Joe, a fellow marathoner, and Joe's son, who is on the high school track team Levi coaches back in Kansas.
Karen and Jeremy joined us for [REUNION], then we headed to Cambridge for the MIT campus tour we had originally planned for Saturday. After some wandering and a lengthy discussion of MIT pranks, we topped off our time across the river with a Toscanini's visit. Stuffed with ice cream, we headed back downtown to rejoin Mallory and Levi at Bull & Finch Pub (the original Cheers bar, as opposed to the recreation near Faneuil Hall).
After toasting with the special Sam Adams 26.2 brew, we bid Levi farewell and good luck, then headed to the finish line to snap some photos while the course was relatively empty. In previous years, I attempted these shots after the marathon, but the crowds and barriers had always proven a challenge. Since we were already so close and the street was closed to traffic and open to the public, I decided we should take advantage. Blissfully unaware of future events, we snapped our photos then headed home to order in some Genki Ya: sushi is a tradition with Karen and Jeremy.
Monday morning, Ian headed off to work and I joined Karen and Jeremy to meet up with Mallory and Joe's son at mile 17 to cheer for Levi and Joe. We arrived early enough to catch a handful of wheelchair and handcycle racers, as well as the elite women and men. I am always amazed at the grace and endurance of the marathon participants.
As soon as Levi and Joe passed by, we hustled back to the green line and headed inbound: me to work, them to catch Levi and Joe one more time.
We said goodbye on the train. I hopped out for an almost two-hour trek to work that involved backtracking 15 minutes to find a place where I could sneak across the marathon route (no help but lots of sympathy from a few of Boston's finest), and walking an additional two miles towards the office before giving up and waiting 20 minutes for the bus.
Almost as soon as I got settled at my desk, one of my coworkers asked, "There was an explosion at the finish line. Are your friends still there?"
Karen had already called with an update: Levi and Joe had finished almost an hour prior, but Levi, disappointed in his time (which is still insanely impressive), had needed some time to process. Karen and Jeremy, worried about missing their flight, headed to the airport without Levi and Mallory. I checked in to make sure Levi and Mallory made it to the airport before running through the rest of our list of friends and coworkers who might have been at the finish line. Work productivity tanked. I briefly thought it wasn't worth coming in, but reminded myself that decision had kept me out of harm's way.
By evening, our friends were all accounted for and Karen, Jeremy, Mallory, and Levi were safe back in Kansas.
It's eerie looking through all of our race photos from the weekend, knowing what happened there less than 24 hours later. Because Karen, Jeremy, and Mallory ran the 5K, we cheered them on from the same spots where the bombs went off the next day. That unnerving realization hit about a week after the tragedy. There is such a vast chasm between before and after.
This year's marathon weekend will stick in our minds for so many reasons, but I'm thankful that one of them is happy: spending time with old and new friends enjoying one of Boston's quintessential traditions.
Karen, Jeremy, Mallory, and Levi: thanks so much for spending the long weekend with us!
More photos from the weekend on Flickr.
I also wrote a response to the events of Marathon Monday 2013 (if you're looking for something more lighthearted, check out the posts from Marathon Monday 2011 and 2010).
April was rough. In one week, we experienced the marathon bombings, the manhunt to find suspect 2, and a cancer diagnosis for one of Ian's cousins. Work has been crazy busy, and our apartment radiators turned into geysers twice. But in the midst of pain, heartache, and stress, I think it is more important than ever to remember that there is still so much to be thankful for.
01. Google's April Fools pranks.
02. a good reminder to connect, not compare.
03. Ian's guys' night allowing me to catch up on Once Upon a Time.
04. winning an office March Madness event representing a tree I actually know.
05. a fun birthday party for a good friend from the office.
06. a quiet, relaxing weekend.
07. a home opener party at the office.
08. catching up over dinner with good friends.
09. Karen and Jeremy visiting for the marathon.
10. the fun surprise of discovering Mallory was a Mallory I knew.
11. making a new friend over the weekend.
12. crab cakes at the Barking Crab.
13. not missing the Sox game, despite not getting a time change alert.
14. cannoli at Mike's Pastry.
15. Karen, Jeremy, and Mallory doing well and having fun at the 5K.
16. photos of the finish line Sunday night.
17. learning Genki Ya delivers their delicious sushi.
18. catching Levi (and Joe) at marathon mile 17.
19. safety on Marathon Monday, for us and those we know.
20. the incredible first responders in Boston.
21. living in a city with unbelievable emergency and health care.
22. being home when the radiator in our bedroom turned into a geyser.
23. keeping our belonging dry thanks to Ian's quick reaction.
24. [REUNION]'s prayer gathering for the marathon and a baptism celebration.
25. the national and global support for Boston.
26. NYC and Boston's sports truce (yes, I know it's temporary).
27. a chance to visit the pop-up memorials and process.
28. incredible family to help support Ian's cousin Alli in her fight against cancer.
29. the early text message from a friend, warning us to stay home from work.
30. letting our families know we were safe before they even knew to worry.
31. the media keeping us updated but also respecting the security/safety issues.
32. safety for those within the search perimeter (including several coworkers).
33. going to bed with resolution, instead of more worry.
34. the best possible outcome to the situation.
35. all of the officers who helped make that happen.
36. a Sea World kids show with a baby sea turtle rescue (PT! so cute!).
37. homemade cheddar dill biscuits.
38. [REUNION]'s commitment to love and serve Boston always, especially now.
39. singing "your love is all around" on Sunday morning.
40. date night at the Coolidge.
41. MBTA bus signs flashing BOSTON STRONG and RIP Officer Sean Collier.
42. safe travel to Kansas for Ian.
43. for our trip, new (plum!) luggage that isn't missing wheels.
44. TJ's sweet potato gnocchi in sage butter sauce.
45. FaceTime to stay in touch when Ian is out of town.
46. surviving a hectic week at work.
47. (virtually) seeing family I wish I could see (in person) more often.
48. hanging out with community group friends.
49. bike rides in 75 degree weather.
50. allergy medicine.
51. a KO meat pie for lunch.
52. a DR team Skype session with Luis Vargas.
53. beautiful flowers for a work event.
54. a solid first attempt at champorado.
Labels: thankful list
It feels strange to think back to before the marathon; it seems like a lifetime ago instead of merely weeks. Much of Boston is returning to normal, but everything is different, as if the explosions jarred a kaleidoscope through which we view the city. The light now reflects and multiplies tumbling bits of grief, pain, and anger, but also unity, resilience, forgiveness, and hope.
Now more than ever, it's important to appreciate what we have. So I can't skip over the time we were able to spend with Ren at the end of March as he took an extended layover in New England on his way to Germany. He'll be living there for a while to gain fluency in German in preparation for grad school.
Ren arrived late on Friday evening, and we headed straight to New Hampshire for a quick weekend with his friends from Boulder who are now in Boston for grad school and work. We connected with Erin and Michael over a year ago thanks to Ren, but it was the first time they had seen us and Ren in person at the same time.
The next morning, after a late breakfast of bagels and lox, we bundled up and hit the trails for our first snowshoeing experience. A friend told me snowshoeing was like walking on clouds. I was skeptical at first, but as soon as I stepped off the compacted trail and into fresh snow, I knew exactly what she meant.
We headed back to Boston Saturday evening after dinner and a movie, and had fun the next few days catching up with Ren and experiencing our first Passover Seder, which was not only sans leavened bread, but also gluten free and vegetarian (and still delicious). Thanks to Erin and Michael for hosting!
Wednesday evening, we drove Ren back to the airport and sent him on his merry way to Germany. Even though we don't know yet when he'll be returning stateside, Ian and I will get to see him very soon during our bucket list trip to Paris/Europe in just a few weeks. Since he'll be visiting all the cities we plan to see, he even promised to do some scouting for us.
Ren, thanks for visiting. We can't wait for you to introduce us to your new city!