Monday, April 23, 2012

Hello Blogosphere!

Have you missed me, blogosphere? I've rather missed you... It's hard to believe that my last post was almost a year ago! Lest you be afraid, I have not run out of exciting and exotic places to visit... I've just been short on time to report on said visits. But, at this particular moment in time, I'm back on the road! (for a mere month) - which ironically enough gives me more time to blog than being back home in Seattle. I suppose not having a job helps. Today's trip brings us to the Lands of the Maya - Central America, but we'll get to that soon enough, the starting point was in Boston - to watch the Boston Marathon:

First come the super elite women

Followed by some slightly less super elite runners, who are actually willing to acknowledge the crowd

And then the super elite men show up

And eventually you start to realize that there is a LOT of people running this marathon! And qualifying is a pretty high bar...

Now, when I say super elite, these guys finish the marathon (26.2 miles) in just over two hours. This year's temperatures were quite high for the marathon - peaking at 88 degrees(!), so they didn't quite set any records... yet the winning time was 2:12:40 for the men and 2:31:50 for the women... which I would term fairly ridiculous. But then again, I don't like running all that much, especially not for 26.2 miles! But, we weren't just here to watch the insane Kenyan runners (and the insane ones did still have some trouble with the heat - apparently several of the top runners had had to drop out because of leg cramps due to the higher than normal temperatures). We were specifically here this year because, Kelly, a friend from Seattle, had qualified for the Boston marathon last summer and was running this year, so Erica and I were there to cheer her on:

Kelly and Lora celebrating at the finish line - we did a lot of cheering for no leg cramps... And just the general having of a good time - Very good, very good, yay!

Now rewinding a bit from the finish line, the Boston Marathon hits Wellesley College at just about its halfway point, and Erica, a Wellesley alum herself, had been telling me all about the spectacle that is the Marathon running through campus. So we promptly headed off out there to watch most of the Marathon. And the Wellesley ladies did put on quite a show for the runners

The main road through Wellesley, lined with Wellesley students cheering the runners on... hunting to collect a few kisses

Largely by utilizing some hilariously creative signs - Erica and I may have stolen this one for ourselves; it just seemed so utterly appropriate.

Erica also has a lot of friends in and around Boston (who were kind enough to let us stay with them!) - Karla came out to watch the marathon with us and brought along the runners' #1 fan: her cute 15 month old daughter Vivian. Seen here doing her best to urge the runners on through the heat!

Marathon day was actually fairly exhausting - from being up at 8 to make it to Wellesley ahead of the runners, to fighting our way through the crowds to make it to the finish line, to the 88 degree weather, it was a little tiring. You know, not exactly 'I just ran 26 miles' exhausting, but a little tiring. Fortunately, after meeting and congratulating Kelly at the finish line, our plans for the rest of the day called for a perfectly relaxing barbecue with some of Erica's old Boston co-workers. So, sightseeing and such had to be saved for another day... and, in fact, we had saved it for the day before (look at us be all prepared!), when we headed off to have a look at the Wellesley campus (yes, we saw the marathon from Wellesley as well, but there wasn't much sight seeing involved at that point).

Erica, seen her full of glee to be back on campus (and to play tour guide)

After a little while, I started to realize that Wellesley actually reminded me quite a bit of the Duke Campus - lots of Gothic architecture; a tall phallic symbol sort of thing towering in the middle of it all; the entire campus essentially being surrounded by a forest... and then!

Naaaaaaaaan! Nannerl Keohane was the Duke president when I was there (and we didn't much like her), and where did Nannerl come from!? Well, apparently, she'd been president of Wellesley College just before making her way down South to Duke. And Wellesley hangs portraits of all the former presidents, seemingly just to drive the point home for me (they also have fun stories about how the one and only time they had a male [interim] president, the campus had been struck by lightning... twice! So, there's that.)

There were, admittedly, a number of pretty stark differences from Duke too - for one thing Wellesley is a women's college (Erica frowns upon my referring to it as "an all-girls' school"), so all the students we saw on campus were women... which after a while started feeling a little weird. Especially, since none of them were having pillow fights. Wellesley is also quite a bit smaller than Duke, so it really seemed like a miniature version of the Duke campus - the chapel is smaller, you can get across campus faster... the lake is, well, the lake's actually bigger. But the campus as a whole was smaller!

All in all, Boston was a lot of fun, and a nice way to ease back into a month of traveling - seeing a bunch of friends, getting chance to visit Wellesley, and watching a world-class athletic event. And at that point, it was time to head South! Aiming for Cancun and Central America eventually, but with a layover in Atlanta for a few days to see more friends and finish up some work... More to come!

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