ON THE FIRST DAY of the week we will never forget, I pulled my dusty bike out of the shed, inflated the tires left languid by a long winter, and went for a ride. The sun was bright and the wind was strong as I headed for Heartbreak Hill. Along the route, I locked eyes with runners, walkers, and other bikers. Some were skinny, some sculpted, some plump and perspiring. I tried to smile or nod at all of them. A few smiled or nodded back. Most did not. I took no offense. This is Boston, where smiles have to be earned. Besides, I was happy to be out on this Sunday for my first ride of spring. And I knew warmth would arrive the next day.
Every Marathon Monday, Boston finds its better self. It is more gracious, more welcoming, at once more intimate and more international. The elite runners from East Africa are nearly as anonymous as the bucket-listers huffing their way along the course for charity, so the applause is evenly distributed. Strangers cheer on strangers, kids hand out orange slices, tribalism takes the day off. Scan 52.4 miles of sideline, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a single “Yankees Suck’’ T-shirt.