My Mother’s Marathons

On April 20, what should have been the day of the one hundred and twentieth-fourth Boston Marathon, the city’s mayor ordered all would-be runners to steer clear of the route—to forgo the morning chill in Hopkinton, the undulating rise of Heartbreak Hill, and Commonwealth Avenue’s swerve through Boston College to the finish line downtown. So my mother, age seventy-one, decided to run her own marathon, her first solo, her twenty-fourth overall. She would set out from home, in Sharon, Massachusetts, through the suburbs of Easton and Norton and Attleboro, along Route 123 west to Cumberland, Rhode Island. According to Google Maps, the route looked leafy, rural. She printed out the directions so her phone battery wouldn’t die. Her fiancé would track her progress and would be there in Cumberland. I walked them through installing the Find My app on their iPhones.

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