Boston. Over the past few days, I’ve tried to decide which details to include. Should I recap what we did before the marathon – the 5K, expo, Sam Adams and the duck tour (all extremely fun by the way)? Should I bring up the warm-hearted Bostonian who helped Dylan and I post-race at the T station? Or how you feel like a rockstar the entire weekend especially when you wear your race medal around town after?
I think my friend Laura D. summed up Boston pretty well by referring to the event as the “Disneyland of Running”. The spirit of running is abundant and overflowing all weekend. A myriad of events – seminars, expo, shakeout runs and pop up shops ready for every running geek to attend. Boylston Street is a hot spot for days with people taking photos at the freshly repainted finish line, watching the invitation mile or visiting Marathon Sports. Last year I only visited this “Main Street of the Boston Marathon” when I ran the 5K and the marathon. This time, the expo was located back in the Hynes Convention Center so I was able spend a little more time really checking out the famed last stretch of the Boston Marathon. The collective energy which surrounds you is palpable and can be so overwhelming yet exciting. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals amps up my passion and I always feel like I’m right where I am supposed to be.
As I ascended from the T station and made my way through Boston Commons for our shakeout run Sunday, I couldn’t help but smile. Coming into my periphery from every direction were runners. Some alone, others in pairs and then groups just pounding the pavement together. Running along the Charles River was a beautiful experience this year. The weather was wonderful as we passed elite runners and watched crew teams row down the river. Our small group took the obligatory photo with the “1 mile to go” Citgo sign in the background and of course made a stop where “everyone knows your name”. I enjoyed a pasta dinner with friends and family and I was ready to run.
Although the forecast called for more cold, wind and rain, it’s New England and the joke is, ‘If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.’ So true. As we waited for the buses to transport us to Athlete’s Village, we were in a full thunderstorm. The rain poured down, the thunder rolled and lightning brightened up the sky over the city. Once we arrived in Hopkinton about an hour later, the storm had subsided and clouds and drizzle remained. Once our corral was called and we started the .7 mile hike to the starting line, the sun decided to shine. I found my way into Corral 7 and met up with a few Facebook friends who I hadn’t yet met in person. And soon, we were off. My favorite part in the beginning of the race was running with Gary, a 50 year old 1st time Boston Qualifier. As we started down the hill surrounded by runners and spectators, Gary exclaimed, “I can’t believe I am running the Boston Marathon!” There may have been an expletive in there, but I was overjoyed to share this moment with him. The sound of everyone’s footsteps is amazing; I made a comment about the people who choose to wear headphones were missing out.
After all the trouble during my training cycle to lock into my goal pace and being adamant about not going out too fast like all my previous marathons, I was happy to dial in right where I wanted to be. The first half was great- miles just ticked by, I gave so many high fives, made sure to stay hydrated and fueled and of course enjoyed the Wellesley scream tunnel. Then, things suddenly got hazy. After miles of the sun blazing, I felt so hot. Even as I write this, I cannot remember much about the last half. This race was never a mental battle as far as feeling like I was giving up or needed to drop out – I honestly went into a lightheaded fog focusing on moving forward and hydrating. As I slowed down at one water stop, my vision blurred but I never became idle. I stopped looking at my watch at some point, alternated walking and jogging and tried to stay moving in a straight line. I honestly expected to see 15 minute miles because it seemed I was walking more than running at this point. As I passed the Citgo sign, I mustered whatever strength I had left to soak in the last few turns stacked with enthusiastic and screaming spectators. Not far after, I was lowered into a wheelchair and peppered with questions about my status. I said, “I just want to get my medal.” The volunteer asked if I wanted him to get my medal. “Absolutely not!” I rose and staggered on and allowed someone to place the hard-earned medal over my head. I continued on, trying to stay upright and reach our meeting destination. Once I arrived, I found my friends and family who were wonderful in keeping an eye on me as the nausea and lightheadedness continued. About an hour later, after liquids and some food, I finally started to feel a little more like myself. Remember my sentence about New England weather? When we went back outside to find food, the sun had retreated and now it was chilly, rainy and windy. Really?!
Although the day was a struggle, seeing my finish line smile with my medal absolutely makes me ecstatic. I have no regrets. I crossed my T’s and dotted my I’s in every way possible, but the day just zapped me. It feels so good to look back and not think, “maybe I should have…” My heart has been breaking this week chatting with a few friends who have been devastated to run 15-30 minutes slower than the race they trained for. Find the positives. Thousands of people would have loved the chance to be on the course no matter what the weather. Find the joy. Words cannot describe how amazing it is to run 26.2 miles full of spectators cheering you – the young and the old from all walks of life simply taking time out of their day to cheer strangers on to finish a race. It sounds crazy just to write that. We all live busy, busy lives with so many priorities and yet people took their precious time to give me a high five to run a race that in the scheme of the big picture of life is quite insignificant. This is what I will remember. Not my time, not my struggle, but the kindness of people I may never meet again.
I ran, I walked and may have nearly crawled, but I crossed the finish line to become a 2X Boston Marathoner. I am Boston Strong.
Last but never least, I want to say I am full of love and gratitude for my family and my friends who shared this experience with me whether with me or from afar. Not a moment goes by that I do not feel loved and supported by all of you. I know several of you were worried about how I would feel after mentally – being upset about my time or my performance – and I love you all of you for being so kind and caring. Boston can break your heart; but only if you let it. I encourage you to always find joy in whatever journey you are on. Enjoy the highs and appreciate the lows for in the darkness is where our inner light truly shines.
Now let me get back to signing up for the next race so I can run Boston again in 2020…..