If you ever wonder how weather affects people’s moods, look no further than the 2012 Boston Marathon. For those not aware, Marathon Monday in 2012 was one of the hottest on record with temperatures near 90 degrees by the end of the race.
If you’re a tourist, this beach-like weather was a real treat, since April is typically cold, wet and windy. However, if you’re running, you would prefer July temperatures to take their proper place in line and come much later in the year. Either way, what was striking to me was the difference in how the city presented itself under these conditions compared to previous years.
On my first Boston Marathon trip in 2010, my experience was most of the people we encountered on race weekend were crabby, rude and even belligerent. In previous years, the race seemed to present more of an inconvenience to the locals than an opportunity to showcase their city.
The 2012 experience was completely different in a number of ways. The city was buzzing with outdoor cafes full of patrons, people smiling as they sported their summer attire early and an overall mood that seemed foreign to someone like me who had only seen the city under a cold blanket of early spring.
I noticed the difference as soon as we entered the city, and the more time we spent, the more opportunity we had to experience a city that had shed the weight of winter and embraced spring and the marathon invaders with enthusiasm. The race route was packed with locals out to support the 22,000 fools who had chosen to run the 116th Boston Marathon and ignore both the record temperatures and warnings from the race director.
Not only were the locals out in force to support the runners, but hundreds of them had set up their own stations handing out water, fruit, candy and ice along the route. I saw kids running back and forth from their houses with ice trays trying to keep up with the need of the runners. Dozens had dragged their hoses out from their garages and spent their afternoon spraying water on runners trying to keep them cool. Mile after mile the generosity was constant. Even the Wellesley College girls had a stronger than normal showing with creative signs and plenty of positive energy to push the runners towards Boston. This year’s best sign from the Wellesley girls was “Kiss Me – I am flexible.” And while I’m not 100% sure what that means, it made me smile anyway.
|The record heat added a half hour to my race time
and left me weaker than I realized.
But the most personal acts of generosity came to me after the race. Once finished, I quickly showered and my wife and I headed to the subway to catch our flight. I was pretty wobbly from the race and the heat, but we had a flight to catch so we pushed forward. The subway was packed. Shoulder to shoulder with hardly an inch to move. Then, the train stopped. We sat and we sat and we sat. It was about five minutes into this delay that the residual effects of the race, the hot train car and the crying babies began to accumulate. Suddenly I was sweating profusely and I knew I was going to be sick.
Someone noticed my ashen color and sweating and offered me a seat just in time for me to get sick all over myself. If you’ve never had the opportunity to vomit repeatedly in front of 90 strangers trapped with you on a subway car, then you’ve simply never lived. Imagine being locked in a small compartment with someone who seems disoriented and is tossing pea soup around his immediate area. It must be terrible. In fact, I am not sure if it’s worse to be the lead actor or the audience in that little piece of theater.
The doors finally opened and to my genuine amazement a young lady said something to my wife and then grabbed my bag. She pointed us in the right direction and then chaperoned us down two flights of stairs to the train we needed to take. She did this carrying my luggage the entire way. If by some miracle that Moroccan-born college student from Bunker Hill College ever reads this, thank you for your kindness.
As expected, the TSA lines were long at Logan International and I had just enough recovery time to start feeling ill again. One of the TSA agents noticed me and asked if I was OK. I told her I wasn’t feeling well. Again, to my amazement, the agent took me out of line, found my wife, and ushered us through security in a matter of seconds. I was delirious from the race and the subway experience so I figured I was dreaming. Perhaps I was on another planet. People were being nice, compassionate, caring. What’s going on!
And to finish things off, the Boston-based JetBlue flight attendant crew treated me like a patient in a medical facility checking on me constantly and bringing me everything I needed. Despite a very crowded flight, they were incredibly attentive. I must have looked horrible to garner so much unsolicited attention.
So what did we learn on our 2012 adventure to Boston? Well, we’re reminded that first impressions aren’t always accurate. Our 2012 visit couldn’t have been more different than our 2010 experience. The Wellesley girls are a welcomed sight especially when it’s hot. Vomiting in front of strangers isn’t as fun as it sounds. TSA isn’t all bad. Boston does have a heart after all; and a big one at that. And lastly, that sunshine on your shoulders does really make you happy, especially if you’re a Bostonian.
For more personal accounts of the 2012 Boston marathon, click here.
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