“Did you know you qualified for Boston?” The phrase that started it all. “I did?” was my reply. I never even thought to try or dared to hope….after all, I’m not a runner. So I thought. Once I realized how difficult it was to get into ‘Boston’ ( funny how it’s called that…no one says ‘Boston Marathon”…just ‘Boston’) I was dumbfounded, 3:33 is a good time? I hadn’t planned on running another marathon, just tried to survive the one I did. It came at the end of a very long triathlon season and I swore it was my last. However, if you get into ‘Boston’ you accept that honor and make sure you make the most of the coveted spot. That meant training hard ALL WINTER. I hate the cold. This winter I’ve run in sleet, snow, crosswinds, head winds, hail, below freezing temps, up hills, down hills, through battlefields and on trails through multiple states. After all, it was a privilege I took very seriously and I was determined to prove ( to myself really) that I had earn the right to race in the most prestigious race in the country. So the girl who was told she would never be a runner and that she had bad knees and asthma and just should give up on the idea, was going to Boston!
The week before was full of doubts and second guessing and nervousness, as always. I remember sitting at the gate full of fit people with their race jackets of years past on thinking, I don’t belong. However, once I got there (after trying to avoid being hit by a bus at the airport, lol) I was excited. I was met by a great Bostonian full of excitement to show me his wonderful city. “What do you want to do first?” he asked. EAT of course. J Everywhere we went I was acknowledged as ‘a runner’. There the title of ‘runner’ in the Boston marathon was revered and met with smiles and well wishes ( and extra desserts,lol). Here it is just another name for ‘crazy’. The business owners/employees there felt like they were contributing to something great by helping me anyway they could. It was inspiring and touching and strengthened my commitment to do the very best I could to make them/everyone proud. The entire city respects the dedication, hard work, and mental toughness it takes to do ‘the’ marathon. It was awesome!
This was evident by the 27 miles of thousands of screaming and cheering residents. Some of the miles the crowd was so loud my ears were ringing. Their energy drove my legs forward, their cheers warmed my heart, and their orange slices (held out by tiny children’s hands) fueled my soul. “Keep going! Their rooting for you…..” I reminded myself. They sincerely and truly believed I could do it. Complete strangers looked me in the eyes and whole heartedly believed I could do it. When people ask me why does it matter if I’m there?.....that’s why. I can’t explain it but there is a secret power each spectator has with their ‘Woo hoo!’ or simple high five. It is a very tough job and we all GREATLY appreciate every cheer, even if we are too tired or focused to show it. Never underestimate the power of the spectator! They gave me wings that day.
Crossing the finish line was more than the just an end to the 2year wait. It was the end of a 10 year struggle to become a ‘runner’. Crying now because I am so angry that someone would target us. Those people spent 4 hours pushing the limits of human strength, finding the greatness they had deep inside them, fulfilling life long hopes and dreams. Those that didn’t get to finish were robbed of something few will ever understand and I can’t even articulate. Those that were hurt/killed………my heart aches for them, especially the spectators (you know how I feel about them now). I struggle with guilt at finishing, guilt at passing them, wondering why I was spared. I have never taken any mile for granted and will continue to cherish the privilege every time. I hope others will realize as well that every step is a victory and every mile ….every minute even….should be celebrated. I have not complained that my legs hurt, not on the 3 mile walk to the hotel, not the day after, maybe not ever again. I am thankful I have a chance to run again and will NEVER take that for granted. Thank you to everyone who sent me messages of concern. I didn’t think anyone really paid attention to my ramblings about my races. I greatly appreciate your thoughts and prayers! I am still in shock that so many people cared, warms my heart.