Sittin’ on a Northbound Train

Last night I watched the evening news for the first time since shortly after the election cycle. With a couple people with some seemingly serious mental issues in charge of major world military powers, it seems like war is imminent. I remember “playing war” as a child and buying in to the glory and glamour of fighting the enemy and dying for one’s flag and country. As I got older, I gained a deeper understanding of the atrocities committed by Adolph Hitler and the arrogance of Imperial Japan. I also learned that there isn’t much glamour in war

Our nut job
Our saber for rattling

Their saber for rattling
Their nut job

As I learned more WWII history, I couldn’t believe that Adolph Hitler somehow rose to power and was given the green light by the German people to plunge them into a winner-take-all showdown with the rest of the Western world. But history is a remarkable thing and it was amazing path full of twists and turns and post WWI diplomatic mistakes that allowed a madman to start the greatest conflict in human history. Watching the news gave me pause to hope that cooler heads prevail and we don’t start an event that goes down in history as worse than WWII. It is a bit scary when I look at our President, Kim Jong-un, and Vladimir Putin, and Putin looks like the sane one. 

I knew if I helped “The Donald” get elected, I’d look like the normal one.

I turned the news off after 5 minutes. On Monday I will tackle my second Boston Marathon. For a few hours, I can hide away from the world and from it’s troubles. I can find a happy place no matter how hard the actual running becomes. There will be no conflict, no personal problems, no work issues, just my feet plodding away as the miles pass. I’ll soak in the atmosphere of Patriot’s Day and Easter together. Throngs of people will pack the marathon course from Hopkinton to Boyleston street in Boston. The girls of Wellsley college will scream for us. Heartbreak hill will remain the last real barrier in the run. After that we will sail to the finish with a stiff tail wind and the cheers of mobs of people lining the streets of Boston. 

I think of these things as I ride along on Amtrak train #162. We are somewhere between Trenton and New York. A very gracious young lady switched seats so that Janice and I could sit together. It turns out she is a gymnast and freshman at the University of Pennsylvania. It is nice to see a young person so polite and not too self-absorbed to notice an old married couple trying to find seats together on a crowded train. 

Of course there are runners. Here and there I see a Boston Marathon jacket from a past year. Sometimes there is a tell tale pair of running shoes hanging from a bag. We smile and nod in recognition. Sometimes we wind up next to each other in line and the talk inevitably turns to running. You are running Boston? How many does this make for you? Where did you qualify? It’s an amazing event isn’t it?

I still don’t know what my goal is for Monday. I’m gun shy of trying to achieve another BQ time given last year’s debacle. I’m also unsure of my training. It had gone well until mid-March when a combination of a virus and injury knocked my training back considerably from where it should have been. But I haven’t been idle. There has been swimming, biking, and pool running although at much more conservative levels than were I healthy. I did finally run a few miles outside in the past week although again they were conservative but they felt good. I suspect there won’t be any miraculously fast splits on my part, but I don’t think I’ll wind up with the hobbled, slow slog of last year either. Ive decided to see what they day brings. I hope to meet up with a good friend who is in the same wave and corral and maybe run a good portion of the race with her. She and I can both use the lift of a friend right now. 

Whatever happens, it’s still the Boston marathon. It seems an eternity ago that I qualified but I know it will be an amazing weekend. 


  1. I hope you have a wonderful race. I really appreciated this post. My favorite adult time is in the car when I am alone and can listen to NPR, but it took me months after the election to do so. I told my husband the other night that it looks like someone really wants to go to war. So incredibly scary, and such a powerful decision with so many lives at stake on all sides. On a brighter note, I really hope you have a wonderful race. Enjoy yourself and the day. I hope to be there soon and see you on the course!

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