First Day of School

The Number Field is moving to a new location!

When we arrived in England, we knew that Elena would be starting school at the end of the summer. We applied to our top three choices and I fretted for the next several weeks as if we were waiting to hear back from college. Our top choice, Grove Road School was only a couple (flat) blocks away and Elena had heard me talk about wanting to get into that one so often that when we found out they had room for her, she was ecstatic!…

Read more at the new home of The Number Field


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Twice in a Lifetime

I have been letting the days go by too quickly these past three months. My beautiful wife is the same, but the beautiful house and beautiful car that I find myself in are different from the ones I described during our last once in a lifetime experience. It’s again time to think and tell about, well, how did I get here?

I started writing this more than a month ago, while I was on top the water at the bottom of the ocean, cruising towards the European continent, looking forward to a week when we will frequently ask the GPS “where does that highway go to?” We prepended a few days of vacation to a business trip; it was our most adventurous adventure since last year’s long weekend jaunt in Italy. Jenny has already written some about the trip, and there’s more to come. She thinks that I should give up on writing about everything that happened between our arrival and that trip, but I’m not ready to declare blogging bankruptcy just yet. I still want to tell the story starting from where I left it off, a day in late May when we left the US to return to the UK, and work through the the highlights of the whirlwind of everything that’s happened since we arrived.

In hindsight, the seemingly dramatic six hour flight delay on our way over turned out to be inconsequential, despite how dramatic it seemed at the time; everyone we meet has one or more crazy travel stories, many of which made ours look tame. Upon arrival, we were well taken care of by our sponsor family–friends from when we were here last year that volunteered to help us with all the details, administrative and otherwise, of settling in. They’re very kind and helpful, and have two children that are great friends for Elena and Roman. Among the many nice things they did for us: they borrowed a high chair and Pack-n-Play for Roman to use, brought us food on the day we arrived, so we wouldn’t have to shop right away, and on the first full day we were here they took us to a beautiful, fun public garden for rest, relaxation, and sunshine to help us overcome jet lag.

Our living arrangements are significantly different this time around. We arranged to stay for several weeks at Daisy House, a holiday rental townhouse close to the center of town. It was a great place for us to start out, with two nice bedrooms, a beautiful master bathroom, and even a workout area in the cellar. Still, we were anxious to find a permanent home, and had begun to examine the local real estate listings well in advance of our arrival. Although we had high hopes, none of the houses on the market at the time were quite right for us. One that we loved decided at the last minute that no pets were allowed; the owners of another one that we loved decided to renew their effort to sell it instead of letting it out. In the process, the local real estate agents got to know us and tipped us off as soon as a new house came on the market–a huge, beautiful Victorian townhouse in a great location, close to the bus stop and just down the road from a good school for Elena. We arranged a viewing, then put in our application and deposit the same day, and everything was finalized shortly thereafter. We still had to wait a few weeks to move in, but we felt a great weight lifted once we knew we had a place to live.

Securing our means of transportation was the next big item on our list. We had shipped Jenny’s car just a few days before we flew, and we knew that it would take several weeks to arrive. We had sold my car and planned to buy a new one upon arrival, when the right deal came along. It wasn’t long before I saw a poster on a bulletin board advertising a silver sedan that was the right price. It seemed good during my test drive, so the owner and I shook hands and arranged on a day to make the transfer, just a day or two before he left to go back to the US. Knowing that we would both have cars soon, Jenny and I started to study for the driving test, which consists of 50 multiple choice questions about rules of the road, street signs, and roadside first aid. We both passed on our first try, and were good to go as soon as we got our cars.

And so, exactly seven weeks after we stepped off the plane, we took posession of the keys to our house and opened it up just before a moving crew showed up with all of our stuff. It only took a few hours for them to move everything in. By that evening, we had unpacked enough boxes that the house had already begun to feel like our home.

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Happy Birthday Roman!

This year for Roman’s birthday I was determined to have a party! It was really the first time in our childrens’ lives that we’ve been in a living situation that would allow us to host a significant number of guests, and we were excited to have a big social event.

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The main entertainment was a bouncy castle that just barely fit in our front yard. We offered a simple lunch of hot dogs, watermelon, and assorted side dishes to satisfy both children and adults. I had every intention of decorating, but in the end we just blew up a big bag of balloons and let them scatter throughout the house, which was perfect–two-year-olds don’t have high expectations! We had several friends and their families over and had a wonderful time chatting and eating. Roman had a great time at the party, and after the guests left he got some more solo time on the bouncy castle before it was picked up.

On his actual birthday, the following Monday, we had another chance to celebrate. I had people over at our house for a Visiting Teaching activity. The grown-ups, all mommies, had manicures and pedicures. It was perfect, because the kids had so much fun playing together, and we still had lots of food that I had stockpiled for the party but hadn’t needed, so we had plenty for lunch. Several of the little girls had their nails painted and after one girl got up, Roman saw his chance and jumped right in the chair for his turn. We didn’t want to disappoint him on his birthday, so we helped him pick out a lovely green, which he loved!

In the evening we had another round of opening presents, these ones from family, and ate the last of the birthday cake. It was a wonderful way for Roman to commemorate being years old. We love you, Roman!

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Have Kids, Will Travel

We arrived in Stuttgart, Germany on Sunday afternoon, and that evening drove around the city to help me feel a more oriented when I would have to navigate on my own the following week. Despite some some doubts, I woke up the next morning with my courage renewed and a plan for action.

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The kids and I headed to the tram station for a ride to the train station, and then on to the zoo downtwon. There was one hiccup along the way, which did require me to purchase a map (money well spent!), but overall I was quite proud of myself. We bought our tickets and in we went to look at flamingos, kangaroos, penguins, and Elena’s favorite: deer–strange, I know. We had bratwurst and fries for lunch at a zoo cafe, then spent the rest of the afternoon looking at polar bears, giraffes, elephants, camels, and all kinds of monkeys. The kids especially enjoyed the small play areas scattered all over the zoo, which gave me a chance to sit down occasionally. The zoo also has some beautiful botanical gardens with lily ponds. Roman, the water lover, walked right into one of them. One shoe and pant leg up to his waist were soaked, but he just had to air dry because I didn’t bring spare clothes! He didn’t seem to mind. When it was time to head home, we were at the opposite side of the zoo from the entrance. The kids were exhausted and I knew it was going to take forever to get them to the gate and onto the tram, to get to the train, to get home. I took a chance on a tucked-away side exit in the hope that we would decrease our walking distance. It seemed lucky at first; there was a tram station very close, but then we got on the wrong tram more than once and ended up walking a mile back to the hotel. The kids were so tired, but they were troopers! I felt victorious in our first day’s adventures!

The next day we returned back to the center of Stuttgart to explore a large park that advertised rides on a miniature train and a petting zoo. It was not the bustling center of activity we had envisioned. After walking, and walking, and walking some more we finally found a play area. Nearby there was a large penned-in area with goats grazing and horses. You could reach through the fence and touch the animals, so maybe that was the petting zoo? The kids played on the playground for a couple hours and we had a picnic lunch. When we were starting to head back, we saw that the ride along train was in operation, so we hurried back and had a fun ride on the train before leaving the park.

On Wednesday we tried to find a place to do a load of laundry, but were unsuccessful. Instead I did some by hand. We met Mark for lunch and then headed to the museum and factory of Ritter Sport, a a favorite German chocolate brand. This time there was no train, so I drove and was proud to find our way without difficulty. I thought there would be more to do than shop for discounted chocolate in their factory store, but that was really the main attraction. We made the most of the opportunity and stocked up for our long car ride back to England.

On Thursday, I decided to take the kids to Sensapolis, an elaborate playhouse on the outskirts of the city. I should have driven, but I wanted to get my money’s worth from the three day “Travel Stuttgart” pass I bought on Tuesday. It took us about an hour to get there, including a train trip, bus ride, and long walk. We were already tired when we walked in the door! Things went from bad to worse when they wouldn’t take my credit card and there was no ATM nearby, but in the end they gave us a “distressed tourist discount”. The place really was amazing! It had a huge spaceship, a three story castle, giant slides, a science center area, and even a high ropes course with a zip line and a climbing wall. The kids had a blast! They wouldn’t hardly touch the lunch I brought because they were too busy playing. Eventually it was time to go, so we started back towards the hotel, but the trip home was anything but routine: confusion led to bad decisions, and it took us two and a half hours to arrive at the rendezvous point we had arranged with Mark. It would have taken 30 minutes if we had driven! We were exhausted, but headed straight to a dinner with the group Mark had been teaching that week, which turned out to be quite pleasant.

It was good that we were leaving on Friday because the kids and I were ready for a rest! I let them watch German cartoons while I packed the car, then we picked up Mark, ate lunch and said good-bye to Stuttgart! We had a great time!

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Getting Jewel to England

Jewel has been part of my life ever since she showed up as a small kitten on my father’s lawn when I was staying with him after my college graduation. After diligently searching for her rightful owner and coming up empty handed, I decided she should be my kitty. Jewel has lived in a surprising number of places for a cat: Washington, Virginia, Texas (in 5 different apartments), Maryland, and now she can add England to her list. After missing her for the six months last year that we were in England, I knew we couldn’t come back unless she made the trip with us.

As our plans began to fall into place, Mark and I investigated the rules for bringing a pet into the UK. They were not as clear as we would have hoped. We spoke to people who had brought pets previously; several indicated they had run into problems along the way. The memory of our stressful travel day to England last year was vivid in my mind when I decided to call a pet shipping company to see if they could take care of it.

Blake, the pet shipping representative, spoke with me several times over the ensuing weeks. He assured me that everything would be fine, we would get everything taken care of and that it was perfectly reasonable I was stressed out about getting my cat overseas. I purchased the correct transport crate, made vet appointments, and gathered the required paperwork.

In time it became clear that Blake’s company was only familiar with getting pets to London. We ran through several different scenarios on how to get Jewel to Harrogate, about 3 hours away from London, but each seemed overly complicated or overly expensive, when using a pet shipper is already not cheap. My anxiety level was quickly rising! With ten days to go before our departure, Mark convinced me we could bring Jewel on our flight as an accompanied pet, and that the rules would allow her to go through customs at our arrival in Manchester, so that we could then take her with us directly to Harrogate.

I stressed through Jewel’s final vet visit (eight days before we left) and stressed waiting for the vet to fill out the several forms I needed. I worried about overnighting the paperwork to the USDA office for endorsement, thinking that maybe I should drive the four hours each way to the office to make sure everything was okay. I checked the UPS online tracker incessantly the day the paperwork was supposed to arrive back, but hardly relaxed when I had it all back in my hands. When we took Jewel to the airport cargo check-in point, it took two hours to get her set and I worried the whole time they would look at the paperwork and decide it wasn’t correct, or reject it for improper penmanship, or because it wasn’t dark enough on all six carbon copies (we had heard of all these things happening to others). But then they took her away and it was time for us to check in ourselves. It was very reassuring to find we were sitting over the cargo bay loading area on the plane. At first, it was just nice to see our bags being loaded, but then we saw Jewel’s carrier being escorted towards the hold by the same friendly pet handler that had taken her at check in. It was nice to know we were all on the same place! Twelve hours later, we saw Jewel emerge from the cargo bay in Manchester-she looked like she had a few things to say about being shut up on that airplane for so long!

Even though clearing customs took longer than we thought it would, we were finally able to get Jewel and all travel together to Harrogate for the start of our new UK adventure. We’re so glad to have our kitty here with us!

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Sport and Competition

Watching Elena and Roman, it’s clear to see that children have an innate urge to compete. It probably stems from the survival instinct of needing a mother’s attention, but while the initial manifestation–who can cry the loudest?–eventually fades, the underlying desire only becomes stronger as children grow. I’m particularly surprised how quickly they learn to feel the thrill of competition by proxy, becoming avid fans as soon as they figure out which side they should cheer for.

As spring arrived, Elena asked when we were going to another baseball game. Although it had been nearly two years, she remembered the last game we had attended and wanted to go to another one. She was in luck. The Orioles were closing out a home stand on a weekday afternoon and there were plenty of tickets available in the upper deck. I took the afternoon off and headed towards the light rail station, our chosen method of transport into the city. However, there was a bit of a mishap as Jenny and the kids left home to meet me there. Jenny had turned around to lock the door, and the pad of freshly-poured wet cement that had escaped her attention proved to be an irresistible draw for Roman–he stomped right in it before Jenny even turned the key. As soon as she saw what had happened, she redirected me towards home, changed Roman’s pants and shoes and rinsed off the concrete, and we started on our way, not as early as we would have preferred, but still arriving in time to hear the National Anthem.

It was a great day out, with warm temperatures and beautiful blue skies. Elena knew to cheer for the Orioles in orange and white, not for the Blue Jays. (For some time afterward she thought that any team in blue was the Blue Jays.) The Blue Jays hit some home runs to take the lead, but the Orioles worked their way back to a tie. We had some snacks from home, and got cotton candy as a treat. When I took Elena out for a break, The Bird was there and we had our picture taken with him. There were plenty of empty seats around ours for the kids to stretch and wiggle. We had to get going when the game went into extra innings, so we were already home by the time the game was decided–probably a good thing, because the O’s lost.

When Grandma, Grandpa and Mark came up from Virginia for a final visit, Jenny picked a very special activity: a visit to Medieval Times. I’ll admit that I was skeptical about how good the show would be, and despite the awesome coats of armor on display the lobby and gift shop did nothing to lessen my fears. As soon as the horses galloped into the arena, I was as transfixed as everyone else. The horses are truly incredible, and the knights who ride them come in a close second. Jenny worried that the fighting would scare Elena and Roman, but we reminded them that it was all pretend and said we would cover their eyes if it was too scary. There don’t seem to have been any ill effects. We were in the green section, and cheered for Green Knight as loudly as we could, even louder than we booed his rival the Red Knight. The Green Knight didn’t emerge victorious, but it was good way to get excited for our impending move to a country where they have real knights.

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Hershey Park

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As our UK departure date drew closer, I realized I would not be able to fit in one more trip to visit my Mom in Virginia, in spite of my original plans. I was worried and anxious about getting everything done–in particular Jewel’s travel arrangements and cleaning our townhouse–not to mention all the small things that kept coming up. To my delight, Mom called and said that she could come up and help me with all the odds and ends I was working on for a few days just before we left. She and Mark came up on Thursday afternoon, one week before we left, and stayed until Saturday. They helped me to finish cleaning the townhouse and run many errands.

At one point, I had thought I would need to drive Jewel’s health inspection paperwork to Harrisburg, PA to get signed by the USDA. Mom and I had decided to take a side trip to Hershey, which is not far from Harrisburg. When plans for Jewel were changed and I no longed needed to go to Harrisburg, we decided we still wanted to go to Hershey. So off we went on Friday morning, first stop: Hershey’s Chocolate World. Even though we were there on a weekday, there were lots of school age kids, but we were able to see the exhibits we wanted to quickly and with no waiting. First, we took a train ride through a mock Hershey factory, breathing in the wonderful chocolatey aroma, learning about where cocoa beans come from and how they get transformed into yummy treats. Next, Elena and Roman donned factory hats and helped to package some Hershey kisses. And of course, we spent some quality time in the Hershey Store, where we bought Mark giant Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They had other fun activities, like creating your own candy bar and a chocolate testing adventure, but Roman and Elena were too young. For lunch, we headed a short distance to Cafe Zooka at The Hershey Story. This cafe had been recommended by some friends, in particular for the Country of Origins Chocolate Tasting, a selection of shots of drinking chocolate, each containing a different percentage of cocoa. It was fun to try chocolate from different parts of the world and taste how different they were–I was on a chocolate high after that!

We had to say goodbye the next afternoon, but we were so happy that Mom and Mark came up to not only help with our final travel preparations, but also to have fun times!


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Art and Culture

In parenting, there is always tension between the short term and the long term. I want Elena and Roman to be inquisitive and thoughtful, appreciative of the world around them because they’ve been exposure to great, amazing, and profound things. We have to lay the groundwork now, even though we know they aren’t ready for it, because if we try to start when they’re old enough to appreciate it all, it will be too late to get into the habit. And that’s why we keep making the attempts, even though we know that there will be tiredness and fussiness, complaints and breakdowns, and the very real possibility of damaging priceless works of art or irreplaceable historical artifacts.

Leisa and Sam suggested a trip to the Walters Art Museum, and Grandpa Dana and Gran Ann decided to come along as well. The museum had a good activity kit for Elena: she had to search for Degas’ Little Dancer sculpture, then dress up in a replica costume. Roman decided that he and I should roam the galleries, and we eventually found an interesting spiral staircase with some auditory art–a brief sound recording that plays only intermittently; if we hadn’t taken so long climbing the steps, we probably wouldn’t have noticed it. Jenny’s favorite painting of the day was Picasso’s Mother and Child, even though Picasso is usually too modern for her. The rest of us found our favorites in the contemporary art wing. Elena and Roman preferred art that they could treat as interactive, like the giant lips or a curtain made of turquoise beads. Roman reacted very strongly by growling at Andy Warhol’s self portrait; I don’t think he liked it. My favorites were geometric or otherwise mathematical, although I’ll need to do some statistical analysis before I believe Bochner’s numbers really are random. After the museum, we all shared in appreciating a different kind of fine art: the culinary masterpieces at Matthew’s Pizza.

On another occasion, we were very tired from our Boston trip but wouldn’t have another chance to see Grandpa’s band perform for a long time, so Elena and I went to his spring concert. Elena fell asleep in the car on the way, but woke up refreshed when it was time to go in; she was happy that Gran Ann had arrived at the same time so we could walk in together. This was her second concert, and she was very well behaved for the whole thing, although some of her whispers were on the loud side. Our favorite compositions were those by Eric Ewazen, who was at the performance and said a few words. He told us the story of Shadowcatcher, which is based on photos of Native Americans taken about a hundred years ago. One of them was about a dance done by one tribe whenever there was a lunar eclipse: they believed a monster had eaten the moon, so they made a fire and put awful smelling things in it, so that the smoke would force the monster to sneeze the moon out. We listened carefully to hear the sneeze in the music; Elena heard it right away and had to convince me that she was right.

The kids don’t have to participate in all of our cultural activities for them to have an influence. Thanks to the help of two Grandmas–one who gave us the tickets as a Christmas present and the other who took care of Elena and Roman, Jenny and I went on a date to see Hello Dolly at Ford’s Theater, where the presidential box is preserved in remembrance of President Lincoln. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance. When we got home, Elena wanted to hear all about it. She had already asked Gran Ann to sing her the songs from the show. I’m sure that Jenny will take an active interest in fostering Elena’s nascent love of musical theater.

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Playtime Connections

I still have a lot of catching up to do. We moved back to the UK about three weeks ago, and we’ll probably be here for at least three years. In the run up to our departure from the US, we did lots of fun things that I still want to chronicle, and we haven’t really slowed down since arriving here. However, there are some things that are too precious to leave at the back of the queue.

We’ve been working with Elena and Roman on self control, and specifically on reverence during prayers. We don’t have unreasonable expectations, but we know that they’re capable of being quiet for half a minute once in a while and want to unlock that potential. To that end, we’re isolating the desired behavior by having a “practice prayer” before our real family prayer, when Jenny or I count to a random number between ten and twenty while we ask Elena and Roman to fold their arms, close their eyes, and keep quiet. We praise them effusively when they do well, but when they struggle we can usually have a calm discussion about what went wrong, because it was just practice.

Roman usually struggles with being quiet, but a few days ago it was as if a switch was flipped and he was silent for the duration. Elena immediately put forward a hypothesis about the reason for the sudden change. She pointed out that we’ve been playing a lot of hide and seek recently, suggested that Roman had learned to be quiet while hiding, and proposed that he had transferred this skill to reverence practice. I think she’s right; they have both noticeably improved in their ability to stay quiet during hide and seek. We’re still waiting to see this transfer fully to better behavior during church, but I think we’re on the right track. This is not the first time that Elena has built an observation into a clever inference; I think it’s fascinating to watch her start to piece real-life events together like puzzle pieces.

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Marathon Weekend

It’s hard to believe how close we were. Already exhausted from cheering for the racers all morning and afternoon, we got on the subway and had just transferred to the train that would take us back to the car on the outskirts of town, where we would begin our long drive home. It was so packed that nobody could even get on at the next stop, even though there were crowds on the platform trying their best to squeze on. When the conductor spoke over the intercom and asked everyone to leave the platform because of an emergency, at first we thought he was just speaking to those who weren’t on the train. He had to repeat the message several times before we understood that the whole station was being evacuated. We didn’t get much more of an explanation when we emerged onto the street, right into the thick of things, although we did overhear some policemen confirming that there had been some kind of emergency.

We decided to walk for a while, hoping perhaps to board a subway or commuter train further out from the center. The crowd along the marathon route was still thick; there were still racers on the course, and the Red Sox game had finished not long before. News of the events was slowly spreading through the crowd–we knew that something had happened, but we didn’t know what, and then all of a sudden, a plain clothes police officer in a Red Sox jersey flashed us his badge and told us to get away from some unattended bags or boxes on the sidewalk; at first we thought he was telling us to turn around but then he said we could go any way we wanted, just to move away from that spot. Around that time we started to figure out that there had been explosions along the course; I think that I managed to get a cell signal for long enough to get part of a news site to load.

Since we still didn’t know what was happening or how long it would be before the subway opened, we decided to move away from the crowds a little bit. I decided to ride my new folding bike ten miles out to the car, which I would then drive back into town and pick everyone else up. In retrospect, things might have gone faster if we had just all waited for the subway to start back up, but our plan worked well enough. The worst part was being a part of rush hour traffic on the way out of Boston. Jenny, Gran Ann, and I all took turns driving through the night and we made it back home a few hours later than we had planned, but safe and sound.

But how did we end up in Boston in the first place? We started to make plans last fall when we found out that Matt had qualified to race, and confirmed those plans once we knew that we would be heading back to the UK a month after the race. We invited Gran Ann, and she was happy to go with us, all the more so because her brother Robert was also going to be in the marathon. We drove up on the Saturday before the race–Elena and Roman were happy to have a back seat companion, especially one so friendly as Grandma, who was always ready to play games and share her iPad with them. We got to our hotel in the early evening, just in time to meet up with Matt and Carrie for dinner at our hotel. Gran Ann had taken care of the meal–she prepared it in the morning and put it in a thermal cooker, where it stewed all day and was ready for us to eat at dinner time.

We scratched our sightseeing itch the next day, following a route mostly determined by Carrie. In the morning we walked around Harvard and the vicinity, stopping at the whispering arch at Sever Hall, Memorial Hall, where a Buckminster Fuller, grandfather of the famous inventor, is remembered among those Harvard alumni who gave their lives during the civil war, and striking out at an art musuem that is undergoing renovations. We also wandered past the Harvard Lampoon building on our way to the Longfellow House and Longfellow Park, where Gran Ann was happy to see that the chapel where she attended church many years ago had been rebuilt after it burned down a few years ago. We ate lunch at a cute little diner, before taking the subway across the river.

Our afternoon plans included walking the iconic Freedom Trail, but before embarking, we let Elena and Roman play in the playground next to the Boston Common frog pond. While we walked, Elena was vigilant in making sure that we followed the red line on the sidewalk. She couldn’t keep her eyes on the ground the whole time, because she also wanted to spot the American flags flying from many of the buildings. For her efforts she was rewarded with a big ice cream when we reached Faneuil Hall. We continued along the trail a little further, ending at Paul Revere’s house, where Elena and Roman chased pigeons in a park across the street while Jenny toured the house. We capped the day off at Regina Pizzeria, where the pizza was totally worth the wait.

I don’t think Matt slept very much that night; he was certainly excited when I drove him to the subway early on marathon morning, to begin his long trek to the starting line. We had a more leisurely morning before we started towards the watching location we had chosen, at about the 17 mile mark, right next to the western terminus of the green line on the T. We didn’t arrive until most of the wheelchair athletes had passed, but we still had plenty of time to find a good spot before the runners came through–first the small bunch of elite women, then the elite men, then the fastest of the regular runners, then more and more until there was a veritable flood of athletes making their way en masse on their way to the finish line. Carrie did an especially good job of cheering for all the people who had pinned their names to their uniforms. To me, the most amazing thing was seeing all the runners who looked like they had no business on the course, then realizing that they had already run seventeen miles at a seven minute per mile pace, and would for the most part finish the race in about three hours.

We were tracking Matt, Robert, and Steve–another friend–online as best we could, but there were so many people we weren’t sure that we would see them when they passed. But then they all passed by in the span of just three or four minutes. Matt was looking for us and stopped to give Carrie a hug, the other two were just a little bit surprised to hear us yell for them, as they weren’t advertising their names and didn’t know to expect us. After we saw them, it was off to the races. Everyone else hopped on the subway, hoping to make it close to the finish line so they could see our favorites one more time.

My plan was to bike along the course, stopping periodically to cheer for Matt. I had not thought this plan all the way through. There were so many fans along the sidewalks and runners in the street that I had to find parallel streets to ride along. Every time I cut back to the course I would pull out my phone to check the split times of the runners going by and compare them to Matt’s most recent split, and I could never quite catch up. No matter how fast I pedaled, my route was always too circuitous and I was always a couple of minutes behind. As the crowds thickened near the finish line, I abandoned my goal of getting ahead of him to cheer and turned towards finding Jenny and company. They weren’t too hard to find, thanks to the magic of Find my Friends, and I was happy to hear that they made it into town and Carrie was able to push her way through the crowds to see Matt and cheer him on in the final mile.

We found our way to the congratulations area around the way from the finish line, where we found Matt and Robert among the giddy and triumphant runners. Matt was clearly on a major runner’s high as he described his race–in the moment it was even more exuberant than his blog post on the topic. We eventually said our goodbyes and boarded the subway, thinking that we would have a straight shot home. Although we were wrong about that, it was a wonderful trip. Congratulations to Matt, Robert, and Steve, and thanks to Gran Ann for all her help!

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