Good sports

Opening tip

This morning, after Roxy survived the night without vomiting and took several poops containing macerated bits of the leather leash she’d eaten, J and I drove to Connecticut for a WNBA game. Since we didn’t want to leave Roxy at home unattended for long, we watched the first two quarters of the game then left at halftime.


The last time J and I left a basketball game early was in November, 2014, when I was recovering from asthmatic complications from a respiratory infection. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve often thought of that sickness, which laid me low for weeks and subsided only after a round of antibiotics and two nebulizer treatments from a doctor who told me my blood-oxygen level was so low, it was a wonder I didn’t pass out on the drive to his office.

T-shirt toss

During that years-ago Celtics game, I spent as much time watching other spectators as I did watching the players, marshaling my energy and saving my voice by cheering only quietly. These days, my asthma is well-controlled, but I don’t take any breath for granted.


When J and I left the game at halftime, the Sun were losing; in the fourth quarter, however, they rallied to win the game. Although some would argue J and I missed the best half of the game, I’d counter that we enjoyed the two quarters we saw, as well as the drive there and back again.

On the Jumbotron

Next time, we’ll stay for the whole game, health willing. In the meantime, Roxy is sleeping beside me as I type these words, happy to have me home again.

2023 Boston Marathon

This morning, before J and I watched this year’s Boston Marathon from our usual spot on Commonwealth Avenue between Miles 18 and 19 here in Newton, I read a New York Times article by runner Matthew Futterman describing what it’s like to run Boston: not any marathon in general, but the route from Hopkinton to Boston in particular.

2023 Boston Marathon

Futterman mentions how rural the western end of the route is, and how lovely it is to pass Lake Cochituate, with water and scenic views on both sides of the road. He mentions how you can hear the infamous Scream Tunnel at Wellesley College a half mile or more before you reach it, and he recited every Marathoner’s favorite description of the turn onto the home stretch: Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston.

2023 Boston Marathon

The most memorable line of the article, though, is what Futterman said about the iconic Citgo sign in Kenmore Square: “At the top of Heartbreak Hill in Mile 20 of the race, the Citgo sign outside Fenway Park, roughly a mile from the finish, comes into view. It looks so close and so, so far.” When you see the Citgo sign, you know you’re almost to the finish line in Copley Square…but you’re not there yet.

2023 Boston Marathon

Although I’ve never run the Boston (or any) Marathon, Futterman’s words rang true for me. Oh, yes, I know that feeling. Patriots’ Day always happens at the busiest, most exhausting time of the semester. You’re sooooo ready for summer break, but it’s not here yet.

2023 Boston Marathon

Just as a veteran runner can tell you how many miles and what kind of terrain they must traverse between one landmark and the next, I can tell you exactly how many teaching days there are between now and summer break: Six at Framingham, Three at Babson. But there is so much distance to cover between now and Done, and I can’t skip a single step.

2023 Boston Marathon

2023 Boston Marathon

CLICK HERE to see all my photos from today’s Boston Marathon. Enjoy!

Face off

It’s been years since J and I have been to a hockey game. Before the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and tickets skyrocketed in price, we used to go to a handful of games every winter, and for a while we went somewhat regularly to Boston College men’s hockey games. But COVID prevented us from going to crowded venues, stealing several years from our (and everyone else’s) social lives.

Today J and I went to see the Boston Pride women’s hockey team at Warrior Ice Arena in nearby Brighton. Warrior Arena is the practice facility for the Boston Bruins, so we felt at home with Stanley Cup banners overhead; not to be outdone, the Pride displayed their Isobel Cup banners on the glass surrounding the ice.

Going to a hockey game is like riding a bike: you quickly fall into the rhythm of the game. Compared to basketball, hockey is a low-scoring game: to the uninitiated, players seem to spend a lot of time just skating around, spurring some fans to scream “Shoot the puck” when players don’t seem to be attacking the net aggressively enough.

But if you’re a fan whose mind wanders while hockey players are skating from zone to zone, passing the puck to set up a play, you can rely upon other spectators to jolt you back to attention, as there is a surge of crowd noise whenever either team is poised to score.

This is to say that watching hockey surrounded by other fans is intrinsically different from watching a game on TV at home. Although Warrior Arena seats only 700 people, the crowd felt larger, with fans packing the rows ahead of us and a steady hubbub of noise coming from the standing-room-only concourse behind us.

It felt good to be back.

2022 Boston Marathon

Today J and I resumed our Patriots’ Day routine of watching the Boston Marathon along Commonwealth Avenue between miles 18 and 19 in Newton. It has been three years since the Marathon happened in April: in 2020, the Marathon was canceled outright due to the pandemic, and in 2021, it was postponed until October. This year, the Marathon took its proper place in the calendar, serving as one of my favorite Boston-area rites of spring.

2022 Boston Marathon

New Englanders are known for their reticence and reserve, but Marathon Monday is a welcome exception. Patriots’ Day often falls on the first really nice day of Spring, and everyone turns out to celebrate, with parents guiding kids, kids tugging dogs, and folks of all ages waving signs and ringing cowbells to urge the runners on: go, go, go!

2022 Boston Marathon

In a region where making eye contact with strangers is verboten, on Marathon Monday people actually talk to one another. On a day I’ve called New Englanders’ high holy day of hospitality, locals welcome all manner of strangers to their streets, clapping and cheering elite runners and everyday Joes alike. If you are bold enough to run 26 miles through our proverbial backyard, then by God we’re going to show up and treat you like a champion, even though we might curse you in traffic on any other day.

2022 Boston Marathon

Although it has always seemed fitting that the Marathon happens in Spring–a chance for locals to gather outside, enjoy some sunshine, and celebrate the fact that we’ve survived another long winter–this year I’m realizing how appropriate it is to run the Marathon on Patriots’ Day. Established to commemorate the day in April, 1775 when British troops came to town and the men of Lexington and Concord took up arms to say get off my lawn, Patriots’ Day is a celebration of American liberty in general and Massachusetts resolve in particular.

2022 Boston Marathon

Patriots’ Day celebrates something fierce, but the Boston Marathon celebrates something friendly. Every year on Marathon Monday, I’m struck by the simple kindness of people showing up to cheer for random strangers. Although it was a welcome respite to watch the Marathon last October, this 26-mile-long block party with a race running through it really belongs in April. During a month when both hope and Spring spring eternal, it’s a welcome relief to see strangers come together to cheer and encourage.

2022 Boston Marathon

CLICK HERE to view photos from today’s Boston Marathon. Enjoy!

Keep running

Today J and I watched the Boston Marathon from our usual spot between miles 18 and 19 in Newton. It was the first Marathon since the race was canceled in 2020 and postponed this past April due to the pandemic: a relic from the Before Times modified for our current COVID days.

Water station

Today’s field of runners was intentionally smaller than usual, and we missed seeing the elite front runners who started earlier this year to allow a rolling start for the general field. It didn’t matter, though. This year wasn’t about seeing any particular runner win or lose; it was about taking back the streets after more than a year in pandemic isolation.

Guide runner

Usually Marathon Monday happens in April, when New Englanders are ready to get outside after a long, cold winter. This October, we’re emerging from a different kind of hibernation, ready to return to in-person activities (with proper precautions).

Run for the candy

In 2014, one year after the Marathon bombings, showing up to shout from the sidelines felt like an intentionally courageous act: no terrorist is going to bomb us into hiding. This year felt similarly liberating: after a year and a half of avoiding crowds, here we are again in the open air cheering for strangers.

Worst parade ever

Although some spectators were masked (and J and I carried masks on our wrists, ready to wear if the crowds got too dense), most of the folks we saw today were bare-faced to the open air. It felt good to be outside, and good to see other folks outside. During the dark days of 2020, we weren’t sure this day would ever come.

Find your happy pace

CLICK HERE to view photos from today’s pandemic-delayed 2021 Boston Marathon. Enjoy!

Marathon Monday

J and I awoke this morning to thunderstorms and pouring rain, and as I write these words, the wind is rattling our windows. But this morning when we headed out to watch the Boston Marathon at our accustomed spot on Commonwealth Avenue between miles 18 and 19, the raindrops stopped. It was largely overcast with only occasional moments of sunshine, but it was nothing like the frigid washout we’d (briefly) weathered last year.

Wheelchair runners

Although J and I couldn’t stay and spectate as long as we have in past years, we observed our annual ritual of cheering for the last of the wheelchair runners, the elite women and men, and then the start of the stream of Everyone Else.

Women's winner Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia

When we saw her, front-runner (and eventual winner) Worknesh Degefa of Ethiopia was nearly five minutes ahead of the rest of the elite women.

Elite women runners up

When the elite men passed, eventual winner Lawrence Cherono of Kenya was in (but not leading) a tight pack of fleet-footed fellows.

Men's winner Lawrence Cherono of Kenya

Elite marathon runners move so fast, it’s easy to imagine them outrunning even raindrops.

Gone past in a flash

J and I move a lot less quickly, but we were grateful to have found a spell between storms to observe Boston’s annual ritual of spring.

Fleet of foot

Click here for my full photo-set from today’s Boston Marathon. Enjoy!

It's post time

Every time J and I go to Suffolk Downs, we assume it will be the last time we watch live racing there. Back in 2014, the track announced it would be closing, and every year since then it has hosted three weekends of live racing: just enough to qualify for funding from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Bearly broke a sweat

This year, however, is truly the end of the road for Suffolk Downs. The investment group that bought the property is planning to redevelop it for housing and retail, and if Amazon chooses to locate its second headquarters in Boston, Suffolk Downs is the site the city proposed for that project.

Ahead by a head

Horse racing is a dying pastime: as long as a handful of racetracks feature live racing, people far and wide can place bets via simulcasting. J and I have never placed a bet at Suffolk Downs: we go there to see and photograph actual horses and have no interest in the crowds of gambling folk staring at screens inside.


In its heyday, Suffolk Downs was a swanky establishment: the place to be. Those days, however, are long past. The grandstand, betting concourses, and dining rooms are large, and the crowds for live racing are modest. Every time J and I go to Suffolk Downs, we remark on how clean but run-down it is: a carry-over from a time when people weren’t glued to their TV, computer, and smartphone screens.

Let's go

For me, Suffolk Downs will always represent a simpler time: not only the heyday of thoroughbred racing (the sport of kings!), but also the days when I was a horse-crazy girl living in a suburb with absolutely no horses. Going to Suffolk Downs is like taking my inner child to a candy store. Everywhere you look, there are shiny, pretty horses walking and trotting and galloping, the stuff of my childhood dreams.

Whoa there fella

They can (and will) bulldoze Suffolk Downs and build something new and more lucrative on this plot of prime real estate, but there’s at least one horse-crazy lady who will remember it for the four-footed animals who trod there.

Click here for my photo set of photos from this weekend’s trip to Suffolk Downs. The track will offer one more weekend of live racing in August, then it will close for good: happy trails!

Yuki Kawauchi (center) - eventual men's winner

This is the tenth year that J and I have watched the Boston Marathon as it passes through Newton, and today’s conditions were by far the worst we’ve weathered. I’d thought the chill and drizzle of 2015 was bad, but this year was colder and windier, with temperatures in the 40s and torrential downpours that drenched the runners and kept many spectators at home.

Eventual winner Desiree Linden on left

Usually, J and I watch the Marathon between Miles 18 and 19, arriving at “our” corner across from the West Newton medical tent in time to see the last of the wheelchair runners, the elite men and women front runners, and then the Average Joes. Our regular routine is to watch the race until the street is thronged with runners, then we walk down to Newton City Hall before heading home.


Today, we didn’t last that long. After cheering runners who at times outnumbered spectators, we headed toward home and warm clothes soon after the elite runners passed. We can only hope that other spectators showed up to cheer on the later runners who finished the race despite the miserable conditions.

Running as a pack

Congratulations to all the hardy folk who finished the race (or braved the elements to watch it). In good weather, you have to be Boston Strong to run 26.2 miles. Today, you had to be stronger than the rain and cold.

Some Kinda Strong

Click HERE to see my complete set of washed-out photos from today’s Boston Marathon. Enjoy!

National anthem

A quick search of my Flickr photostream shows I have dozens of photos of the national anthem being played or sung at various sporting events J and I have attended over the years. Snapping a photo during the anthem is easy, photographically speaking. Everyone is standing still, with players, coaches, referees, and fans alike lined up in orderly rows. It’s a moment of collective calm before the scrum of play erupts: a moment for both sides to share a moment of civility.


Today my Facebook feed has been filled with people angrily facing off like players on opposing teams. To some, the act of taking a knee during the anthem is a sacrilegious act; to others, it’s a constitutionally protected form of protest. What I find intriguing is the very nature of kneeling itself. When Tim Tebow knelt in prayer on the field, he was hailed as a hero. Isn’t kneeling in protest its own kind of prayer: a plea to God or the Powers That Be for justice and sweet relief?


Today as I saw team after team making a collective statement in response to the President’s suggestion that kneeling players should be fired–some players kneeling, others standing with locked arms, and others staying in the locker room, refusing to become political pawns–I didn’t see any disrespect toward the flag or what it represents. Kneeling isn’t an act of disrespect: it’s an act of reverence. Would anyone be offended if dozens of football players dropped to their knees to pray for our divided country? Given the state of that country, shouldn’t we all be on our knees, praying without ceasing?


What I found most striking about today’s collective protests wasn’t the protest but the collectiveness. When the President said individual players should be fired for protesting, teammates across the league responded the way good teammates should: “If you fire any one of us, you’d better fire all of us.” This kind of team spirit is precisely what the flag represents: out of many, one. Standing during the anthem (or posting angry memes on Facebook) is easy. Working together as a team despite our differences is much more difficult.

Nothing is stronger than love

Today is Patriots’ Day–Marathon Monday–so J and I walked to our usual spot on Commonwealth Avenue here in Newton to watch today’s Boston Marathon. The daffodils and crowds of spectators were both out in force, it being a beautifully mild, sunny day.

We run as one for Martin Richard

I took the usual assortment of photos–pictures of runners, wheelchair racers, runners pushing teammates in wheelchairs, cute dogs, clever signs, and people handing things out. Every year, there are spectators who stand on the edge of the course handing out slices of fruit, cups of water, wet paper towels, and handfuls of ice. Even though there are official water stations and medical tents offering pretty much anything a runner could need, bystanders go to great lengths to lend a hand to passing runners, the same folks and families showing up each year to offer handouts.

The ice guy

I normally think of running as a solitary sport: it’s just you, the road, and the sounds of your own two feet as you try to settle into your own stride. But watching the Boston Marathon makes me think that perhaps running–at least long-distance running–is actually a team endeavor. Yes, you and your sneakers might be out there pounding the pavement on your own, your mind providing its own endlessly looping soundtrack of self-encouragement: You can do it! Push through the pain! Pace yourself, pace yourself! But beyond this inner loop is another, louder litany fed by others: the cheering of strangers and the well-wishes of friends.

Orange slices

It can be difficult to remember your training over the long haul: there occasionally are lonely miles when we all yearn for encouragement. Anyone motivated (or crazy) enough could run the Boston Marathon course pretty much any day of the year if they were willing to dodge cars and swerve around pedestrians. On any other day, you’d be just another jogger, just another runner training for that long race in April. Only on Marathon Monday do entire towns (literally) stop traffic on your behalf, closing down schools and businesses so there will be plenty of people on the sidelines, on your team, cheering and pulling for you, some anonymous stranger they’ve never met.

Wet paper towels

After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, security for subsequent races has been tight: you’re always aware at the back of your mind of the state police officers and military police in their black uniforms, watching. While the rest of us clap and cheer, security officials stay on high alert, looking for anything unusual.

Blue and yellow mohawk

This year, after terror attacks in Nice, Berlin, and Stockholm taught us all that hijacked vehicles can be used as weapons, authorities here in Newton beefed up the barricades blocking off roads leading to the marathon route. The giant plow-equipped salt-trucks parked where there used to be sawhorses and parked police cruisers were clearly intended to send a message to anyone thinking they might plow a vehicle into runners and spectators: Not so fast, buster.

Road block

Although it is obviously (and perhaps sadly) necessary to have police, medical personnel, and other official helpers on hand to ensure a safe and smooth race, what I want to remember from today’s Marathon are the unofficial helpers: the folks who decide to hand out water, ice, or fruit simply because they had those things on hand and other folks needed them. We appreciate that people in the helping professions show up and do their jobs, but that doesn’t excuse the rest of us from lending a hand.

Have a drink

Click here for more photos from today’s Boston Marathon. Enjoy!

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