I haven’t written about the 2016 Boston Marathon. It was in April.
The day after our return flight home, we were signing papers on our new house. It was a whirlwind of activity that only got more blustery as time went by. I was unpacking and transitioning to running a business from 120 miles away. But here goes…
It did happen. (It was on facebook, after all.) I was able to realize my dream, that of running this race with my best friends Paula and Erin. I didn’t have a great training cycle going into it, however, distracted with the remodel and sale of our Concord home. Still, I felt all along what many qualifiers feel, that the marathon itself is a victory lap. To be able to enter this race is the prize. Running it is the icing and the cherry on top. It was that feeling that carried me through, even when I was discouraged after some of my runs in training.
I am a cold weather runner. I love hot dry summers, but when it’s time to run, I will take 40 degrees over 65 any time. Boston can do all things in April. In the 120 year history of this race, runners have had everything from blizzards to heat waves and everything in between. This year looked a bit warm. Most marathons start early in the morning. Boston has a tradition of starting much later. Being an older female, my time dictates that I’m in the last ‘wave’, translating into an 11:15 start time.
Speedy Erin was in an earlier wave, and as Paula and I walked with the masses to the start line, I felt a sense of dread. It was about 70 degrees. If I’m not shivering before the start of a race, it’s way too warm. Coupled with less than stellar workouts the previous few weeks, I was just hoping to get through it.
My own attitude disturbed me. I had waited months, make that years, to run this race again. Just getting there, even without all the medical obstacles that had been in my way, should have been enough to make me incredibly happy that day. I knew it was up to me to make or break this day. Would I be able to shake off these feelings and enjoy it? I was hopeful. I had 4 hours to turn myself around. As a little way of giving back to the Amyloidosis community for all their support, I had written the names of patients and caregivers on the inside of my race bib. I had a responsibility to run a good race for them. I know how lucky I am.
When the gun went off, I tried to focus. The first few miles are slightly downhill and I kept on a good pace in spite of feeling a little ‘off’. As always, the crowds were fantastic and I wanted very much to have fun. I wasn’t quite there yet. I have always equated my faster runs with the good ones and the slower ones with being disasters. I usually don’t run races ‘for fun’. I like to set time goals. Hence, the struggle.
At about mile 9, I tripped on something and went down, hitting the same knee and elbow I had bruised two weeks before, while falling on a training run. I had barely hit the ground when two male runners, one on each side, grabbed my arms and stood me up. They asked if I was OK, then quickly took off, resuming their pace. Frustration in my clumsiness (what I tripped on was probably air) quickly turned to admiration. That is what runners do, that is who runners are. No wonder I love the running community.
I was a little sore, but this is a race, so I didn’t stop long enough to see how much blood there was. It wasn’t dripping on my shoe, so it couldn’t be too bad. As I regained my form, it was as if some sense had been knocked into my head, via my knee. I had a light bulb moment with myself. This is your day! Enjoy it! Get into the crowds! Take the orange slices and high five the kids along the way!
So I did.
And a funny thing happened. I started to feel the joy. I appreciated all the thousands of spectators who came out to see the race and cheer. I laughed at the signs. I anticipated the “scream tunnel” that was coming at Wellesley college. It would a be a good run. Not my fastest, but why not one of the best?
I hit the half mark right about 2 hours, but I knew I couldn’t maintain that pace to finish in 4. I set an attainable goal of finishing in under four and half hours. I had built in time to get tired, but still finish in what I thought would be a respectable time. And I could have fun.
So I did.
I crossed the finish line in 4:25, happy and smiling that I have been blessed enough to run this race 4 times. Howard was there in the crowd just before the finish and I was elated to see him! After wading through the crowds, my friends and I were reunited. Paula and Erin had had good races too. The knee was wasn’t very bloody. I would survive.
I learned a lot that day. That run taught me more than all the graphs and charts of my running history on Garmin Connect ever could.
(“And there is always next year” said the competitor within…I can use my time from CIM in December…signups were this last week!)