In eleven days, on the third Monday in April, the sun will rise over the city of Boston as it does every day.
In eleven days, on the third Monday in April, thousands of runners will gather in a little town called Hopkinton, as they have done for 120 years.
In eleven days, on the third Monday in April, I will be one of them.
Thoughts of running Boston have silently occupied my mind for years. The first time I remember watching the Boston Marathon was in 2005. I was twelve years old and Deena Kastor was the fifth female to finish. As a young athlete, it was so awesome to watch an American woman fly through the air looking so strong. Kastor was the equivalent of a celebrity to me on the television. Four years later in 2009, she finished third. The marathon was such a far-off event to me…it wasn’t even something that I perceived myself doing until I was much, much older, if ever. As a 12-year old, the marathon seemed cool. My interest in Boston rekindled again, as it was for many Americans, in 2013. I was a 20-year-old student in Pennsylvania pursuing a top spot on my college cross country team. When the tragic events in Boston took place that Monday morning, it was upsetting and invigorating. Later that week, I watched Obama’s speech to the victims of the Boston bombing and shed silent tears for the people of Boston and the running community as a whole. I still watch that speech to this day and get chills. As a 20-year-old, running a marathon seemed like an act of empowerment. I ran for three more years, concluded my undergraduate education, and moved to a new city. I was doubtful as to what running would look like for me as a young adult. I still loved running and knew that it would be a part of my life for a long time but I did not know how. When two of my friends in Pittsburgh convinced me to run the Myrtle Beach Marathon with them, I hopped on board and looked up the Boston qualifying time for my age. I kept that time engraved in the back of my mind for six months. Six months of perfecting my long run, researching long distance speed workouts, strength training, and most importantly, enjoying life as a runner and exploring my new home city. When I ran Myrtle Beach and qualified for Boston, I was thrilled and humbled at the same time. I was Boston bound and I was exuberant!
For the past six months, Boston has been running through my mind like Denna Kastor running from Hopkinton to Boylston Street in 2009. For the past six months, everything that I have done has been with the intention of becoming a better athlete….with the intention of running Boston well. And for the past six months, my life has been a whirlwind of training, giving and receiving support, and embracing what Boston means to me and to the running community here in the States and around the world.
On the third Monday in April, I will stand at the starting line of the most historic race in America. I will run on a course known as a world-class venue, striding on the same pavement that some of the best runners of our time have run on. While all of this is exciting, Boston means much more than that to me. Running Boston is my way of looking back on my journey and seeing all of the times I could have given up, but didn’t. Brain surgery? – I got through that. No one to train with? – I embraced training solo and even grew to enjoy it. Everyone faces challenges and everyone deals with adversity differently. You either break down or you thrive past it. To me, running Boston symbolizes every time that I have been able to turn adversity into an enjoyable experience. Every person who has cheered me on and encouraged me along the way. Every joyful morning run and afternoon grind where I have found myself on trails and tracks alone, completely engrossed in my own world. Breaking barriers, a strong sense of community, and personal growth: this is what Boston means to me. #BeBoston
In eleven days I will race the Boston marathon, thankful for the joyride that running is in my life, for all of the people that it has connected me to, and for all of the strength that I feel when I do something as simple as going for a run. To me, the difference between a pedestrian performance and a peak performance is all in your state of mind. Everyone has their own motivation for why they run. And, those that do not have a reason, do not run. Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, says it best in his memoir Shoe Dog:
“Running….it’s hard. It’s painful. It’s risky. The rewards are far and few from guaranteed. When you run around an oval track or down an empty road, you have no real destination….at least none that can fully justify the effort. The act itself becomes the destination. It’s not just that there is no finish line; it’s that you define the finish line. Whatever pleasures or gains you derive from the act of running, you must find them from within. It’s all in how you frame it, how you sell it to yourself.”
As always, the most important lesson that running has taught me is how to be competitive and gracious at the same time. And, in the words of E.B. White:
For Boston’s not a capital,
And Boston’s not a place;
Rather I feel that Boston is
the perfect state of grace.
See you in eleven days, Boston!
Oh hey, my Boston Marathon jacket came yesterday. I was only a little bit excited… 🙂 ❤