You start as runner, You Finish as a Boston Marathoner!
I’m unsure where to begin my recap. The Boston Marathon is more than a Finish Line and to simply recap the Race would be missing the journey. For me, that Journey began when I was invited to join ‘Cops for Kids with Cancer’. Its a charity that helps families cope with the devastation and heartbreak of cancer in children.
Being invited by the Charity, meant that I was accepted by that BAA.org as an official runner in the Boston Marathon. My Marathon time wasn’t close to BQ, so being able to run in the 118th Boston Marathon and raise money for a great cause was a dream come true. Some runners may scowl at the thought of running Boston without BQ’ing. To those athletes that BQ’ed, You have my eternal respect and admiration. Your commitment to training and sacrifice is astounding!
I arrived at LAX Friday morning to fly into Boston. You could easily spot those who had run before by past years Jackets and Shirts. Its a badge of honor to wear the jacket and I extended a smile to everyone I saw. I got into Boston that evening and headed to the expo. It was packed with athletes from 30 different countries and all 50 states. I got my Bib and T-shirt and headed to the expo for additional race SWAG. 5 minutes later my wallet was $300 dollars lighter!
Afterwards I called Bill, the head of my charity so I could stop by and say ‘Hi’. Bill told me to exit the expo and He was outside on the left. I walked outside and the only thing on the left was a Police Command Center! I knocked on the door and Bill answered and invited me in. I got to hang out and chat with other charity runners before heading back to my hotel for the night.
Easter Sunday was spent relaxing as well. I woke up and planned to attend Old South Church in Boston, only to stand in line for 20-minutes and be turned away at the door due to capacity issues. I headed next door to the official marathon store to browse more swag and to admire the finish line. I walked up and down the finish chute, making sure not to cross the finish line. It was bright and beautiful, but I made a vow I wasn’t going to cross until Marathon Monday.
Next to the finish line was a tribute to the Martin family. I said a prayer for the family and dropped off a magnet in their memory. I found myself starting to cry standing next to the memorial. Not only for the heartbreak of loss, but for the grit and spirit of all the runners who had come back to honor the family and finish the race from last year.
I then headed to pick up food for race morning and headed back to the hotel to finish my playlist for the marathon. After that, it was time for the pre-race pasta party. On my way to City Hall, I passed Park-Street Church that had just begun an afternoon Easter service. I knew feeding my soul at that moment, was more important that the pasta waiting at City Hall so I went inside.
The Resurrection Service was beautiful and moving. More tears flowed as the Pastor shared a scene from Elizabeth The Golden Age. It was the perfect scene at the right moment. You NEED to stop reading this recap and watch the Clip!! Even if you’ve watched it before, you need to see it again and put yourself in the shoes of a Marathoner the Day before the race.
Below is my edited transcript, its how the scene spoke to me.
“Can you imagine what it is to run a Marathon? For hours you see nothing but road. You running in the grip of fear. Fear of injury, fear of sickness, fear of immensity. So you must drive the fear down deep into your belly, study your chart, follow the runners in front, adjust your playlist and pray for a fair wind & hope, pure, naked, fragile, hope… At first, it’s no more than a haze on the horizon, so you watch, you watch, then it’s a smudge, a shadow on the far water. For an hour, then another hour, the stain slowly spreads along the horizon taking form until on the final hour, you let yourself believe. You dare to whisper the word: Finish, completition, life, resurrection”
After the service I went and asked for prayer. My prayer was for health, determination, grit and pleasure while I run! It was after 5:30 when I left so I found a local italian eatery and enjoyed my last supper before the big race.
That night, as with most nights in Boston I struggled to fall asleep. When I did finally drift off, it seemed like moments later my 4:30am alarm was buzzing. I got up, had breakfast then made my way to the buses. Being part of Cops for Kids with Cancer, we got a Police Escort to the starting line. Our buses parked a block away from the start, which was much nicer than having to walk almost a Mile from Athletes Village.
Since we still had an few hours before the first waves, I walked down to the Start Line and was able to meet Team Hoyt! I still had 4-hours before my wave so I did whatever I could to keep my nerves calm. Jeff Galloway stopped by our Bus to say ‘Hi’ and offer some words of encouragement before our race.
11am finally rolled around and it was time to corral up. This was the moment! It had finally arrived. I was herded in with the other runners as we waited for the gun shot. BANG! Now it was a slow shuffle to the start. As we got close, I couldn’t contain my emotion. I let our a scream of excitement and watched as my feet passed over the start line.
“This is it”, the reality sank in. I’m running in the 118th Boston Marathon. Now to keep the course and run my race. The first half of the race trends downhill as you run through Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick and Wellesley. I forced myself to take walking breaks and be mindful of the journey ahead.
Things felt great up through Wellesley, where you’re cheered on by hundreds of screaming college girls. At this point you start to encounter the rolling Hills of Newton. The Hills were tough and combined with the fact that I ran out of Gels, I felt fatigue and the possibility of failure sink it. I posted a message to twitter and the response was overwhelming. Friends, families and complete strangers started to send me prayers and encouragement.
The pain didn’t go away, but I was filled with new persistence! Along the way, strangers offered orange slices, Oreo cookies and I even got a Crustable!
This helped fuel me until we hit the PowerAid section on the course and I was able to refill on my Gels.
A mile later and the hills were done! My knees and legs were throbbing but I was more determined than ever to push on. I entered Boston with a few miles remaining. The famous CITGO beckoned me!
I then passed under the overpass where all the runners got stopped last year. 1k to go!
The anticipation was building. I turned onto Boylston Street and the finish was in sight. The smudge grew bigger as I approached! The pure, naked, fragile hope became real! The crowd kept getting louder as I got closer. The last 100 feet I looked to the heavens and thanked God for the strength to finish. More Salty Discharge from my eyes as I crossed the finish and become an official Boston Marathoner. I got my medal, heat blanket and wobbled through the finishers corral.
I had done it! The journey that started months ago was complete. A Marathon is hundreds of miles. The finish is the last 26.2!
Its Friday, and I’m still having trouble with stairs. A small case of post race blues have set in, but thinking back to the memories of Boston helps to elevate them. I’m excited for my other races this year. I hope to see some of you on the course! For those considering to run Boston through a Charity next year, I’d start applying and building relationships early. Post a comment once you start fundraising and If I’m able, I’d be glad to help you in your journey!
Thanks for reading my recap! #BostonStrong #BostonMarathon #RunAsOne