my little hill of beans

I can’t let a whole week go by before I write a rebuttal to my own last post.   Talk about picking the wrong group to go all snarky on. Marathoners, for crying out loud, who find the motivation to make their dreams come true by being willing to put in the time and effort—it sounds so simple, and is so profoundly difficult.  People who get up in the dark and the cold, whatever the weather, to log the required miles, week in, week out.  People who show up at the start for each other, who bond with folks who happen to be going the same speed they’re going, up Heartbreak Hill and down the other side.  Hurrah to them all, I say.  And that something north of 5,000 runners didn’t get to cross the finish line yesterday, because some twisted nutjobs thought it was a good idea to spread shrapnel and mayhem, and maim and kill innocent people…well.  My bad, and then some, for being a cynic towards a cohort of athletes who deserve better, every day, but particularly in the aftermath of yesterday.


I realize that a bunch of runners getting sidetracked from the last few hundred yards of a 26.2 mile race isn’t the thing that should make me weepy, nor is it even close to the saddest thing that happened in Boston.  That a boy ran to hug his father at the finish, then ran back to be with his mom and sister, with no notion of the danger they would face on the other side of the barrier…that’s tragic.  That another victim was a daughter of someone who works at the same campus as my beloved…that feels way too close to home.  That my friend Jennifer spent the weekend with us, and that I teased her about treadmill training and nudged her about eating my sesame noodles for carbo-loading purposes, and that my husband drove her downtown in the morning and put her on a school bus headed for Hopkinton, with no notion of how the day would end…suffice it to say, I have never, ever, EVER been more relieved to find someone at my back door than I was when I heard the joyful voices of Jennifer and her son and his friend, who together had scooped her up at the finish and whisked her back to our house, arriving with flowers and cheers, and with no clue about the tragedy they’d just escaped.  Those are the kind of tears that come with the relief when, finally, you can breathe again.  Later on, for me at least, came the tears that flow from the heartbreak of  stories that are beyond the known boundaries of sadness.  Who could have guessed that a day so full of promise, so lovely and so happy, could end by hurting so much.


And here’s what yesterday kept telling me, over and over: my problems don’t amount to a hill of beans.  I am so lucky, on so many fronts.  I keep telling people that what I’m dealing with could be so much worse—and on a day like today, that seems like the ultimate understatement.


I’ve read stories of heroes who made tourniquets out of lanyards and t-shirts, who offered transportation and cell phones and beds and breakfasts to those in need.  I’ve listened on the radio to runners who vow to come back next year, and the year after that.  I even got to high-five a couple of marathoners (made recognizable by their yellow and blue windbreakers, this year’s color scheme, as well as by the medals around their necks) on my reservoir walk this morning.   I am in awe of the true heroes, and their amazing  resilience.  And despite my love of sports with higher thrill-to-exertion ratios, I aim to be more like them, now and forevermore.




3 comments on “my little hill of beans

  1. andymacomber says:

    I didn’t read your words about marathoners as snarky. You see and feel the quirks of people and what they do with a clear mind, even when you write about the extremes of behavior. I’m glad that you give us pictures of the humorous sides of human behavior, as well as heartbreaking ones. Sometimes it’s just bad timing.

    Seeing runners and others run to help at a terrible time makes us all feel much less cynical.

    Gay says that the 8-year-old boy was a member of YES. and Julie Ford taught him to ski. It’s a little world that connects us, isn’t it?

    Love, Andy Sent from my iPad

  2. Viki Bok says:

    Thanks for your words, Kris, right on the money as always. Reading your post is just one more small help in digesting the big ball of anxiety and dread that has been in my stomach since Monday afternoon. There are so many things to be sad about in connection with Monday. But I agree that one is the abrupt end to all those marathoners’ hopes and dreams for that day, for which they had trained for months. Running isn’t thrilling, but I do love how it makes you dig down for the strength you weren’t really sure you had, day after day after day. I wanted a better day for all those runners on Monday. Even though their individual stories have been overshadowed by the larger tragedy of the day, and what happened on the sidewalks.

  3. I must be thick, because I didn’t and still don’t pick up even a whiff of snarkiness in your previous post. Prescience, yes. To paraphrase Bentsen v. Quayle: I know snarky people. I’ve worked with snarky people. You, Madam, are no snarky person.

    Thank you for this hill-o-beans post. In an odd way, it fills me with joy and gives me permission to let go of a handful of beans I’ve been carrying around with me. Tomorrow, I’m going to go hunt spring ephemeral wildflowers with a friend. Thank you. Enjoy your release from lockdown. Mwah.
    xoxox j.

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