Yesterday I ran the slowest and most painful race I’ve ever run (recap here). But it was also the best, most fun, and most rewarding one I’ve ever experienced. It was Boston, and I ran all 26.2 miles of it. Finally.
Crossing the finish line never felt so sweet. When my feet hit that rubber strip yesterday I was overcome with the emotion of the moment. The relief of it. It wasn’t because my legs were screaming at me to stop, stop, stop. It wasn’t because my lungs didn’t seem capable of sucking in enough air to keep me breathing. It wasn’t because my toes ached and my shoulders throbbed. It wasn’t because my head buzzed and my eyes were watering. It wasn’t because I was so damned tired. No.
Why did I feel so relieved? Because all along the way to that end point the enormous and boisterous crowds were still there. The inspirational signs were still there. The runners were still there. The guys with the bullhorns were still there. The girls in Wellesley were still there. The kids hands held out for high-fives were still there. The mile markers were still there. The beer swilling BC kids were still there. The BAA volunteers were still there. The strangers calling my name, encouraging me to go on were still there. My husband was still there (somewhere up ahead running his own good race). My friends and my kids were still there to cheer me on in Natick, in Wellesley, in Newton, in Boston. The noise, the energy, the smells and the sounds of the race were ALL still there. It was exactly the same as last year’s race, and the race the year before that and the year before that. But there was something more this year. There was a renewed sense of community, a heighted sense of camaraderie, a strengthened sense of pride, and a certain new diligence for safety. It felt like everyone was looking out for everyone. And it felt like YES- we faced something terrible, but we’re back and we’re better for it because we are getting through it together. It was such a relief to me to be a part of that and to know that we really did take our race back. It felt the same. It felt like the Boston Marathon.
Crossing that finish line represented so much more than I ever thought it could or needed to. When I first set out to run Boston it was only to achieve a very personal goal. Something that I wanted to do for me. But over time it became clear that it could never be just about me. Because I am not a solitary planet. I am a small part of a much bigger universe. And nothing in that universe can be controlled. I realized that no amount of planning can really prepare you for the big race. During these past years so much has happened in my life, in my training, and in the world that I never could have imagined or wished for. Bad things happen every day to good people. But evil never wins. Because those good people fight back and they fight with their hearts. And they fight together. After all that we went through as a running community, a city, a country we aren’t broken. We came out, we took our day back and we finished the race. We truly are Boston Strong.