I remember receiving all kinds of text messages, phone calls, and facebook messages last year asking if I was in Boston. Thankfully I was not. I could not imagine being there during the bombings. My heart went out to everyone there and continues to go out to everyone it affected, especially those who were physically or emotionally hurt. I wasn’t there physically, but it still hit close to home.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Yankee as a person from New England. I am most definitely a Yankee. I grew up in Monson, Massachusetts (about an hour west of Boston) where I spent the first 22 years of my life. We had Patriot’s Day (Marathon Monday) off from school and always watched the Boston Marathon on television. My dream as I became a runner at age 11 was to run it one day. I have run it five times so far in 1997, 1998, 2001, 2011, and 2014.
After last year’s bombings, I wanted to be part of the 118th running of the Boston Marathon more than ever. Luckily I had already run a fast enough qualifying time in January 2013 to register and make the cut. My husband and I decided to make Boston our vacation this year and spent almost a week enjoying the true history of our great nation that can only be found in New England. Somehow the whole experience, despite it being my fifth time there, seemed more exciting and special than ever before. Maybe it was the fight, the spirit, and the determination to show that we were one year stronger. It was literally all around us.
We spent four hours at the expo. We have never spent so much time at an expo before but there were so many amazing people to meet, including Dick & Rick Hoyt, Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, Deena Kastor, Kara Goucher, and one of my favorites “Boston Billy” Bill Rodgers.
The weather was pretty cold for this Yankee who has lived in Florida since 1995, but race day warmed up to a near perfect 60 degrees and sunny. Everything was pretty much perfect the whole trip. Even my first half splits were near perfect; sadly, a little too perfect on those down hills. I did try to hold back and stay relaxed like you need to that first half. I had a pretty strong emotional moment in the first three or four miles when we ran by a large crowd outside a bar screaming, holding signs, and blaring music. When I reached half way, I knew my legs were toast and this would not be a good second half. Despite how annihilated my legs were with 13 miles to go, I never even considered dropping out. I knew I had to finish and be part of the 36,000 who were there to show that we were one year stronger. I am a very competitive runner so it was quite the epiphany for me to stop caring about my finish time or mile splits and push through the pain for something so much bigger than myself.
Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston. Words cannot adequately describe the feeling you get when you turn left on Boylston and can see the finish line. You cannot hear your own thoughts. I almost had tears running that last stretch to the finish. I am definitely not happy with my finish time, but I was incredibly happy to have finished Boston Strong. This city, this marathon truly inspired me.