When I started running, the thought of actually running Boston was a pipe dream. I thought my chances of qualifying would perhaps be in my 50s or 60s, when those race times would be more realistic for my actual ability. In 2012 after having both babies and I stopped nursing, I took on marathon #1. I wasnt sure if I would be a one and done or if this would become a life long thing. My goal was solely to finish, but in the back of my mind I wanted to beat Oprah Winfrey's time. One thing about me is I always have a goal in mind, but I never tell anyone...call it superstition if you will. Needless to say, I finished...I beat Oprah's time...Running became a big part of me.
My next marathon was Goofy 39.3, but my goal was just to run a 4hr marathon. I thought that was possible with the amount of training I had done in a years time. There was that 3:35 BQ time that lingered, but I refused to verbalize that thought. Verbalizing it meant I would fail. To my surprise though, I ran a 3:31:24 and qualified for my first Boston.
Nothing going into Boston aligned correctly. I was plagued with injury that would take 6 months to heal and emotionally I felt disconnected. It was rough, but I pushed with all I had to be where I needed to be. I needed to be at that start line at Hopkinton, but my leg, my heart and my head had a lot of healing to do.
The process took a lot of time and quite possibly took a village to keep me put together. My amazing chiropractor who served as more than just the doc, he helped more emotionally than hes quite aware of. My best friends and my RJ family motivated me everyday and believed in me on days I couldnt even walk without limping. The work was on me though and I trained in the most non traditional way possible. The person who followed training plans like bible, now split up long runs, did not an ounce of speedwork, no hillwork, no garmin, no tempos....just me, my shoes, inspirational music and a bag of epsom. I had zero expectations at this point....JUST FINISH!
I landed in Boston with a good friend on a Friday and our agenda was focused on just taking the tourist approach and enjoying everything Boston had to offer. We got lost too many times to count and I spent more time on my feet than I should have. From the moment we landed, the entire experience was just surreal. There really are no words. Runners were royalty there and I did not pass a single person in 5 days that did not say, "Thank you for running!" The atmosphere was celebratory, although at times people cried reading a message left behind or catching a glimpse of a burned up banner that was still flying after surviving the bombings. I took it all in...the history...every moment...every bit of laughter...every tear. I was overwhelmed by all the support from friends and strangers believing in me.
On that Monday, I woke up to choppers flying over head and feeling every bit of nervous. I pinned my bib on and did what I trained my unbroken spirit to do....F**kin Run!!! I do not know what happened nor how I did it, but when you set out with your heart there is no stopping that. I thought my Garmin was broken from the months of neglect, so I even asked some girl what our pace was at around mile 6. I remember passing Team Hoyt at mile 10 and feeling absolutely overwhelmed with emotion. All I remember screaming out was, "You are amazing!" I closed my eyes several times during the race and opened them each time with such amazement. One guy at the top of a hill held a sign that said, "F**ckin Awesome!" Perfect sign for a moment where my legs screamed back at me. So many kids held signs saying, "Punch here for Power!!!" I punched every sign possible and while they jumped for joy that a runner read their sign, they really had no idea the push that gave me. I glanced down frequently at my arm to remind myself who I ran for and the lessons I learned from their struggle. When I turned left onto Boylston, I saw a beautiful finish line waiting for me after a long year. The crowd was 8 deep in some parts and the noise...oh wow that noise. As the runners around me crossed that finish, we all embraced and we cried. Complete strangers celebrating a personal journey and also that WE TOOK BACK THAT FINISH LINE!
"What defines us is how well we rise after falling." I suited up and showed up and running gave it all back and then some!
My first steps as a baby according to my parents was actually a run. At 5yrs old my dad took me to the NYC Marathon, but truth be told I had no idea why people were running down the street. All this was foreshadowing for what was to be a life of running almost 30 years later. "If opportunity doesnt knock...build a door."
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