Usually, I get excited about a week before a marathon and start babbling on and on and on and on and on about everything from what my pacing strategy is going to be to what I’m going to eat in the entire week before the race and what I’ll probably wear in the event that the weather does [insert every single weather possibility here] . My next race is Boston, but I’m not thinking about any of that. I’m thinking about how thankful I am to be able to participate in the race again this year. Sure, if every variable were in my favor and goes according to plan, I have goals that I hope to achieve. Who doesn’t? But this year’s Boston is so much bigger than all of that.
A few days ago, Mark H. and I met at Bart’s house to film a segment with WFMZ about running Boston this year (it’s going to be aired on the morning of the race!). We were interviewed by a reporter, and then they filmed us running and interacting. I wasn’t very prepared for the interview. I didn’t know what to expect, and I hadn’t really thought much about what I would say if asked my thoughts about the race this year. Everyone knows that the race is going to be a huge ordeal. But my thoughts about going back? The first word that came to my mind was pride. I am running Boston because I am proud to be an American citizen, and I am proud to be part of the running community. I’m proud of the 35,000 other runners that worked hard and will run the course with me. I’m proud of my family and friends for putting up with me as I beat myself up and often flake out on plans to qualify and train for the race. I’m proud of myself for overcoming a difficult year of injuries to get to this point again. I didn’t say it quite as eloquently in the interview, but it all boils down to that one word. Pride. Boston pride.
After the interview, I began thinking about why I run this race each year and what draws me back to Boston. I never really thought much about that before. I mean, it Boston. If you qualify, you go…right? Bo (the reporter) asked why the race is important to me, and I babbled on about how the city of Boston and it’s locals are amazing hosts, and how it’s a huge accomplishment for me. Blah, blah, blah. I wish I prepared a little better, because after having some time to reflect on my past three years in Boston, I know exactly what this race means to me and why I am running again this year.
In the past, I ran Boston because I worked hard and earned my qualifying spot. I wouldn’t pass up my chance to toe the line in Hopkinton. This year, instead of reflecting what I had to do to get there, I am running for those who won’t be there. I run for the victims affected by last years tragedy. For those who lost their lives, and for those who were injured. I run for the loved ones they left behind to grieve. It’s been almost one year since their loss and I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult April 15th will be for them. I will run with prayers for the victims and families to find peace.
I also used to run this race as a “status” thing. It’s Boston. Just as Bart said, it’s one of the most prestigious finish lines in the world. This year, instead of running the streets of Boston because it’s “cool”, I run for the city of Boston. The city that welcomes us with open arms year after year for this iconic road race. For the men and women who put their life on the line protecting the city each and every day, but also during last year’s horrific events. For the service men and women who lost their lives while trying to take the terrorists into custody. I run for them. I will run with great thanks to the city that supports the BAA, the marathon, the runners, and spectators. I will run with appreciation that the tradition of Marathon Monday will continue.
Running down Boylston Street and crossing the finish line in Boston one of the craziest, most exciting places. You hear runner’s talking about a “runner’s high”…well, if you really want to see what that’s all about, just go to the finish line at the Boston Marathon. There is really nothing like it. There are people who ran last year’s race but never had the opportunity to experience the finish line. This year, I am going to cross the finish line for those who never had their moment on Boylston Street last year. For those runners who had maybe just a few hundred feet, and for the ones who still had miles left to go.They will be on my mind as I run from Hopkinton to Boston in hopes that they all get their moment. I will run with drive and determination to finish the race for those who couldn’t.
Some will not have the chance to make it to the starting line because they are currently injured, were injured while training to qualify, or were turned away because they were a few seconds short of the cut off. This year, I run for those who can’t. For my friend, Cassie, who put in all of the hard work but ended up with an injury preventing her to run. For my friends who are just as passionate (if not more) as myself about running but just haven’t been able to run a qualifying time yet. For my friends who busted their ass, qualified but just not by enough time to get into the race. In the past, I was a squeaker myself and can’t imagine how heartbroken I would have been if my entry would have been denied. I will run with humility and with compassion for those who can’t.
In the past, I’ve had bumps and bruises along the way of qualifying and training. I’ve trained for this race with stress fractures and had to aqua jog for weeks on end, and I’ve run the race with injuries. I’ve whined about how I just want one year on this course where everything is 100%. I’ve come to realize that for a perfect race, all of the variables have to be perfect – and most of those variables are completely out of your control. So of course I’d like to go and throw down at Boston this year and run a good race. But it isn’t about that this year. It’s about rebuilding a tradition in our country that was tarnished by an act of terrorism. It’s about showing that our country is resilient, and our running community is stronger than ever. It’s about remembering the victims and showing love for this incredible city that so graciously hosts us, year after year. It’s about unity, hard work, and dedication. It’s about Boston pride.