One year after qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I flew out to Massachusetts to run the event this past Monday. At 6am race morning, I boarded a bus that took me 26.2 miles away from the race finish, to the starting line. I had 2 hours to wait with my energy bar breakfast.
The thrill of running combined with the fear of not having a bowel movement before the start, produced enough nervous energy for me to visit the bathroom 4 times while I waited, but it worked, and a “successfully cleaned-out system” was achieved! Excitement built as I put a black trash bag over my short-sleeve shirt (for warmth), tucked my arms inside and warmed up. The positive energy was contagious; everyone smiled towards everyone and talked about health, pre and post race meals, training efforts, mental-strength strategies, physiology, injuries and personal struggles.
Beyond the 25,000+ participants, 300,000 people came out to watch and cheer, which was astounding to say the least, offering red vines, orange wedges, gummy bears, pretzels, cheese nips, and cups of water along the entire 26.2 miles of the course. Humor infused me sporadically – especially from passing the barefoot cave man runner wearing only a loin cloth and also from signs: “Don’t take cups from college students -it’s not water, it’s alcohol!” Race-side messages ranged from funny “I can’t even run 26 seconds” and friendly ” the current Red Sox score is “5 – 0″, to motivating “You can do it, only 10 more miles to go!” and supportive “You inspire me!”
Throughout my run, emotions infused me like a roller coaster. Pride and other self-centered feelings led to a faster than normal pace the first 13 miles. I took in my surroundings more during the last 13 miles, and became aware of hundreds of different runners wearing t-shirts with personal messages of love and loss: either in memory of children, moms or pops with their lifespans printed underneath a photo of them on the backs of their shirts, or as messages of hope for surviving cancer. I ran and I cried, I felt humbled, grateful, thankful, and very lucky. For miles I spaced out, cherishing my family and friends, especially my best childhood friend who accompanied me on this trip – who’s selfless act of support spurred me to enter the race at all. Then at the 23 mile mark I ran up behind a woman wearing a silk-screened tee stating: “If you ask yourself ‘Can I give a little more’, the answer is generally yes.” This jump-started the feeling of pressure and not wanting to feel regret, so I got to feel the extra “umph” of trying to fight through pain as I increased my pace. I finished with a personal best time, so pride resurfaced as I crossed the finish line, then walked through the crowds where fellow runners congratulated each other.
I met my BF at the Nike Store on Newbury St. where they engraved my race time (3 hrs, 31 min, 49 sec.) and finisher place (#8176) on my medal and gave me a free massage. Today I can barely walk, but I’ll remember that day as one of the most intensely emotional days of my life. It was incredible.
I just signed up for the Nike 1/2 marathon in San Francisco this October…which has breathtaking views along the Embarcadero towards Highway 1 and into Golden Gate Park. I would encourage everyone to enter an organized race; the entrance fee goes partly to a charity and the energy of all the participants is just delightful!