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On Marathon weekend, spring finally got off and running

Runners in the Marathon passed by onlookers at Wellesley College.
Runners in the Marathon passed by onlookers at Wellesley College.Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

The alleged “first day of spring” arrived here in March, and it felt like even the calendar was blasting us with fake news.

Cold rain. Granite-colored skies that made it feel as if we were living in a giant mausoleum. This was spring?

But then came Patriots Day weekend, and finally we could switch our mind-set from surviving the place we live to actually enjoying it. Warm and sunny, Monday delivered ideal spectating weather for the tens of thousands who had the day off or played hooky to line the route of the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox played their annual Patriots Day matinee, and sports fans had the Bruins playoff game to look forward to Monday night.

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“This is a turn-the-corner kind of a day — for religious reasons, for weather reasons,” said Mitchell Garabedian, enjoying lunch Monday outside on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Who knew the prominent Boston lawyer is also a bit of a philosopher about the changing seasons? Patriots Day, he said, “is about the ushering in of spring and the change in our mood and the way we live.”

“I get a sense it calms a lot of people down,” he said, “and helps us appreciate what we have here.”

One great weather weekend and everything seems changed:

For so long we’ve all been shuttered indoors, slavishly tending to our smartphones.

Finally, we can slavishly tend to our phones outside in a park .

People who order iced coffee all year round no longer look like weirdos.

It was time to finally sweep the mouse nest from inside the Weber, because family and friends expected you to fire up the greasy beast.

And it was the first time it felt safe to drain the gasoline from the snow blower.

The Red Sox scratched out a win in the traditional Patriots Day game at Fenway on Monday, and the season is young enough that optimism is still in full bloom. Put another way, it is officially still too soon to worry that the Sox are last in the league in home runs. We’ll save that for Memorial Day.

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Much of the credit for the annual transfusion of good feelings must go to the Boston Marathon, a head-bobbing human river of inspirational stories, made even more potent after the 2013 bombings.

A sense of peace filled Abbie Roop, 29, of Framingham, while she watched people finish the race on Monday, she said. Her husband, Dan, 29, was running his first marathon.

Roop saw a woman collapse, exhausted, a few feet from the finish line, and then heard a call over the public address system, “Come on people, this is what we’re here for!” Showered with cheers, the fallen runner climbed to her feet, muscles shaking, and finished her race.

Roop got the chills just telling the story.

Runner Tom Fancsy, 34, of Ontario, sporting a yellow and blue Mohawk, said the heat “was brutal. Really hard. By 8k into the race I had to adjust my goals.” But if you need motivation, the Boston Marathon has plenty: Fancsy said he watched a runner racing on one leg and a metal blade.

“If he can do it,” Fancsy said he told himself. “I can do it.”

Runner Jason Helvey, 42, of Omaha, said he battled cramps, fatigue, and an inflamed knee that really hurt. Blessedly — when he saw the Citgo sign he knew he was close.

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“In other marathons I would’ve quit,” Helvey said.

“But I wanted to get that Boston Marathon finisher medal.”

Ed Montana, 45, of Katy, Texas, said he cramped a lot in the heat. “But a rough day in Boston is better than a good day at work or anywhere else.” He has run Boston four times. He is drawn by the atmosphere the weekend before the Marathon and said he’s in awe that the spectators are so grateful when runners return year after year. Nothing, not even the bombing, Montana said, could keep him from running Boston.

Across the city, a man panhandling at stoplights near Dewey Square said that drivers are more liberal with donations in warm weather.

“Everybody is in a good mood,” said the panhandler, a young man with a vicious scar down his biceps, who asked not to be named. “And a lot of people are under the influence,” making them more apt to part with a little cash.

Nearby, a young couple embraced on a Greenway lawn, enthusiastically kissing, as if they thought they were invisible. It was tempting to crack: “Get a room!” But on second thought, maybe they couldn’t afford Marathon hotel rates. Or maybe, like everyone else, what they really lusted for was sunshine.


Cristela Guerra of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Mark Arsenault can be reached at mark.arsenault@globe.com.