I brought my car in for service this morning, and the employee who was taking my information saw from my registration that I was from Newton and asked, “Did you watch the marathon this year?”
I admitted that I had, and then he asked whether I lived near the course. “About a mile and half away,” I said. After a few more comments on the desirability of living near the course, the security, and some other things, he sized me up and asked, “Are you a runner?”
I answered in the affirmative and as I did so, I mentally prepared for the questions I felt sure would follow: Had I ever run the marathon? Had I run it this year? Why not? Familiar questions with well-rehearsed answers.
But instead, the conversation went in a different direction. This guy, a service manager at a car dealership, starting telling me about how his wife had run this year, about how she had run in 2013 but had been stopped at Boston College after the bombs went off. He told me that he had thought that first marathon would be the last one, that she’d run it once and then move on, but no. She wanted to do it again this year, to finish. And now, having finished, she was talking about running it again, running other races. He didn’t put it this way, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him, but I sensed that she had fallen under the marathon’s spell, and that she was a runner now, not just someone who does the marathon once to say that they’ve done it.
He never did get around to asking me whether I had run. It was funny, in a way, and a little humbling. I had been prepared for the typical response from non-runners: the little shake of the head and the brief, but admiring acknowledgement of my status as a marathon veteran. I had been prepared for the momentary ego boost that comes when a complete stranger suddenly realizes you are THAT kind of runner. Instead, I was the one who wanted to hear the story of how his wife had run this year, how she had prepared, and what it had been like.
It was great, actually. It was great to realize that is was their marathon, too. It was great to realize that we were all on this ego trip together.