although she seemed excited about it last week, julie bailed out of going to see the boston marathon. her excuse: she had work to do. fortunately work has never been an excuse for me, so after i ate some breakfast (prosciutto egg bagel sandwich) i motored down to newton, to the start of heartbreak hill at mile 20, the place where i usually watch the marathon from. although the race started at 9am, runners wouldn't be making it to heartbreak hill until much later. however, by the time i arrived at 11am, the wheelchair division were already passing, as i could hear people cheering on the athletes. around 11:30 the first of the women elite started showing up, right behind the pace truck.
minutes later, a second pace trunk came down the round, this time in front of the men elite runners.
alex was supposed to come to the marathon with me as well, but called to let me know that he didn't get any sleep last night so he wouldn't make it. i sort of had my doubts he'd show up anyway, so it wasn't a big surprise, even though he asked me to bring him a few days ago. my friend andrew was also watching the marathon about a mile away, but i didn't get in touch with him because i didn't remember his new address.
this being my 4th marathon (past years: 2003, 2004, 2006), there weren't any surprises. however, the weather was the best i've ever seen for this event, and sitting out in the sun, it was just relaxing to drift off while all around me runners were struggling to make it up heartbreak hill.
since i couldn't possibly take photos of all 25,000+ runners, it was easier just waiting for that occasional person that caught my attention. usually it's somebody in a costume. i did see some celebrities though. the hoyts are a marathon regular, and i also managed to spot lance armstrong, flanked by an army of other runners. he went by so fast, most people probably didn't even realize who he was. another runner collapsed right in front of me, screaming in pain. while i stood frozen, some other people rushed out to help him and carry him to the sidelines for medical attention. he seemed to be suffering a muscle spasm in his calf, but i thought he was a little too overdramatic with his agony display. this was my first year seeing a runner sporting a prosthetic leg. shouldn't they really have their own division? that'd be an awesome race to watch, as half human half machine cyborgs march down the streets of greater boston.
i left around 2pm, having had my fill of marathon excitement. i headed back into town, but not before stopping by my parents' place. i was surprised to find at home doing some yard work. i called up alex to make sure he was home so i could return his canon 40D camera. that was the one i was using to shoot the marathon, based solely on the fact that it can shoot 6.5 frames per second. just so happened he wanted the camera back anyway, because he was going to buy an used 50mm f1.8 lens he saw advertised off of craig's list. he briefly showed me some of his taiwanese photos, mostly him hanging out with his friends, shot with his nikon D70.
i went back to my parents' place where my father and i continued with our pruning from last monday. first we got all george washington and chopped down a cherry tree. a dead cherry tree at that, and judging from the growth rings, about 18 years old (makes sense, since they've lived at that house for more than 24 years, and i remember when we first planted that tree a long time ago). the tree had died a few years ago after a bitterly cold winter. we didn't get much cherries off it when it was still alive, most berries eaten by birds and squirrels. the few that did survive were like finding a rare present. anyway, it'd rotted to the roots, and a mighty yank could've easily toppled what was left of the tree, but first we had to prune off some branches first. to compound the problem further, the nearby honeysuckle wall had spread all the way across and taken over much of the dead tree, so we first had to de-vine everything. the aftermath of dismembering the cherry tree looked like one of those poacher photos, with various animal parts on sickening display.
next we moved back to the maple tree, the one that needed the most pruning (since it's overshadowing the garden), the one that almost killed my father last week (ladder chainsaw pruning, remember that?). we removed another large branch (15 feet long), as it splintered off of the main trunk with a hair-turning cracking noise. in that split second, you're not exactly sure how it's going to fall, but luckily it dropped to pretty much where we wanted it to drop, without damaging any property or injuring-killing any humans or pet. it was close though: the bulk of the branch fell within just a few feet from where i was down below holding onto the dog so she wouldn't get crushed.
all this tree cutting might sound environmentally negligent, but there's a silver lining: we hope to plant some new trees to take their place. there's a spot where the cherry tree used to be, and although it won't happen this year, we might completely chop down the maple tree next season. the open space will afford us some room to possibly plant as many as 4 fruit trees. maybe some chinese pears?
as it was late, and my mother had already come back from work, i ended up having dinner in belmont. we had some fried dumplings before i packed up my gear and returned to cambridge.
note: just checking the marathon results. this is totally freaky, but there was a runner today named "tony yang" running the marathon! number 26323 from fremont CA. he finished in 5:14:49, which is a 12 minute mile. i think if i ran the marathon, and had the endurance to last all 26 miles, i'd probably run a 12 minute mile myself. if i'd known my namesake was running, i would've stuck around to cheer him on. of course two tony yangs meeting face to face might tear a hole in the spacetime fabric and destroy all life as we know it, so maybe it was for the best i didn't see him.