I Get Marathons Now
I get marathons now. Let me begin by saying I’m not a runner and see no point in destroying my knees just to get my heart rate up. Surely there are better ways. But I must say I do have a new appreciation for why marathons are so popular after experiencing my first one this weekend. I was in Washington D.C. with my youngest son, Gavin, for the Pugh family traditional sixteenth birthday trip with dad. He’s actually seventeen now and I won’t bore you with reasons why we were just now getting around to taking the trip. Life happens (He’s also the third kid…there’s just less pressure).
Back to the story. Two important things were happening in D. C. this weekend. First, hurricane Sandy was looming very, very large and we escaped just as the rains began. The other was the Marine Corps Marathon. The city was pretty much shut down to traffic and they had additional Metro trains running to accommodate the thousands of people who were either running or who were coming to cheer the runners on. We avoided the morning crush and around 11:00 surfaced at the Smithsonian Metro entrance and made our way toward the Holocaust Museum. We hadn’t walked very far before we heard the whoops and hollers of thousands of total strangers cheering on thousands of total strangers. That’s when I suddenly got why people push themselves to the limit of their physical ability to run a marathon. Where else can you go and have people cheer for you nonstop for hours? Seriously, it almost makes me want to run one (almost). It’s a deeply moving scene.
As we approached the marathon route, Gavin and I stopped to take it all in. It was about then I became aware of the constant concussion of a nearby drum line. I craned my neck to see who was making all of the racket expecting to see a high school band in uniform. What I saw was a group of a dozen or so college age girls drumming, dancing and cheering with amazing energy. There was no reason for them to be there other than to encourage those who needed courage at mile 20.
Gavin and I dodged runners, crossed the street to tour the sobering Holocaust Museum for a couple of hours. We emerged to a very different scene. The street was deserted. No cheering crowds. No exhausted but determined runners. Only the girls drum line remained. Surprisingly, their energy had not diminished one iota in two hours. They danced, they cheered, they shouted…for no one. I looked to my left towards the Washington Monument and I could barely see the silhouette of a women built more for comfort than for speed. She had long ago given up on running. Her gait could best be described as trudging. She lumbered alone on empty silent streets…except for a dozen girls giving it their best. As this lone women, in last place, marched closer the cheers and dancing reached an incredibly even more fevered pitch. She never looked at the girls in the drum line. She never acknowledged their presence. She didn’t need to. It wasn’t expected. She kept her focus on the road ahead and the one next step.
When she plodded on for block and a half the girls formed a circle, gave one final hurrah and stopped drumming. They silently gathered their belongings and scattered into the city.
I get marathons now. Next post I will share what I concluded and what inspired me from this scene. I hope you’ll check back in.