I must have my childhood and grownup years mixed up somehow, because as a child the only significance I attached to April was tax day — wheras it wasn’t until I was in my late 30s that I first associated the natural wonders of springtime with that month in particular, rather than to a season in general, after having listened to a recording of Margaret Kinnan Rawlings’ The Yearling.
Next year will be different. When April comes round we‘ll remember Boston. Which just happened to fall on tax day. Which also, coincidentally, was the day — exactly halfway through a month in which I‘m supposedly participating in a biking challenge — that I took out my road bike for the first time and tried to do any actual “work” with it.
Up until April 15 I’d felt increasingly guilty that I’d done nothing but play, riding round and round on Colleen’s little flip bike without taking note of miles or speed or accomplishments of any kind. But that day — long before I knew about the bombings, for I haven’t got a smartphone and rarely listen to the radio or check in on Facebook — I decided it was time to get down to business about this biking thing. I packed up my road bike and drove over to the state park to get in a few wind-sheltered miles, to begin the task of trying to get in shape for next month’s sprint triathlon.
It wasn’t til several hours later, watching Ben’s JV baseball game, that my dad asked if I’d heard about Boston. In Dad’s running days, before his knees gave out, we used to pay attention to that marathon. On a family trip that took us through Boston, we took note of the course Bill Rodgers used to run, along with the one that Paul Revere rode into history.
The news about the bombing was too weird to fathom. It knocked another shocking revelation about the Boston Marathon that I’d been meaning to tell Dad — that if I can work up to a four-hour marathon in a couple of years, I could actually qualify, given the age and gender sliding scale — right out of my mind.
Would I be any less likely to run Boston now, if I ever do manage to qualify? I was thinking about that the next day when I dutifully took my bike out for some more “work.” Because that’s how it feels right now, frankly, knowing I’ve got a deadline coming up, feeling like I ought to get in 12 miles whether I felt like it or not.
It doesn’t really matter how I do at that triathlon next month, any more than it matters if I ever run at Boston or if I actually complete this biking challenge rather than just blowing it off. They‘re all just made-up challenges I‘m inventing as I go along.
But something’s changed, now that April 15 has come and gone. I wonder if that’s always been the case, or if it just feels more so this year.