If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.
I knew this quote by Emil Zatopek to be true after running my first marathon in 2016. This time around though, I lived it. That is what Boston does to you: it takes everything that you know to be true about running a marathon and shatters every expectation that you may have had. Boston did not fail to challenge and support me the whole length of the course from Hopkinton to Boston. All 26.2 miles of smiles, tears, and cheers. Soon, I will share a post about my physical experience in Boston. For now, I want to tell you about my emotional experience. It was exactly what I imagine living a different life to be like.
In Boston, I smiled straight for three hours and fourteen minutes. In Boston, I found joy in the battle. In Boston, I saw what happens when the support of strangers empowers people to do things they never thought possible. When I take the time to imagine what a peaceful world would look like, I see something like the Boston Marathon. Thousands of grown men and women doing something they love. It is almost childish… like play. Maybe that is why we love to run so much.
Picture a 26-mile long block party of strangers that are supporting you and your cause, with complete enthusiasm, without knowing anything about you. Imagine looking up and seeing hundreds of bobbing heads, all with the same intention of reaching the finish line. In my mind I can see many moments in life when all I have wanted to do is give up, go to the sideline, sit down, stop. The environment in Boston does not let you reach that point of failure. The environment in Boston is one that breeds success, joy, happiness, and strength in numbers.
When I crossed the finish line on Boylston Street, I knew exactly why I was a runner that day. It was because I needed to experience the running of the Boston Marathon. My soul needed the confirmation that when 30,000 different people gather together for one common cause, we really can reach the finish line together. Boston enriched my life in a way that I never knew running could do for me. Eric Gretiens said that “if you want to win any meaningful victory, you will have to fight for it.” From my experience, the fight does not have to be seen in a negative way. The fight does not have to be a struggle….it can be a joy. It can be a yearning for excellence. It can be transforming adversity into an enjoyable challenge. That is what Boston was for me. It is one of those things that stirs at your soul and makes you cry a little bit because it is so moving.
Boston is a beautiful celebration of life. Boston is a tribute to anyone who has not let “no” stop them. Boston is a victory for those who have been pushing the limits of their mental and physical strength for years. There will be more marathons for me, but there will only be one Boston. ❤
[More to come on the Boston marathon, later!]