“A marathoner is not just something you are, but someone you’ve become.” Dean “Karno” Karnazes
The year 2010 was the last year I raced Boston – not for lack of a BQ, but because other new, longer races had my attention – and I remember the experience as awe inspiring and simply a fantastic race. Boston 2010 was by no means my best race as I struggled with digestive issues; however, it taught me a lot about race preparation, my food and energy choices, and about pushing to finish even when faced with adversity. I still remembered that race fondly as the course was fun with amazing crowds despite my less than stellar time. Eight years later, I was truly excited to run Boston once again with, hopefully, way better results. Even better, my mom and 5 year old nephew were joining me for race weekend, and I could not wait to show them around town, eat amazing meals, and watch them enjoy the Boston Marathon experience.
Spring was truly in the air – sun shining, fresh air, bright green and flowered trees, and warm temperatures – making the weekend and marathon appear as if in high definition color. The weather in Boston was unbelievably stunning and we could not have asked for better. My body and mind may have felt a bit fatigued from training and continued interrupted sleep courtesy of Puppy Nico, yet once I set foot in Beantown it all slipped away and I was left feeling euphoric. Now, this may have also been attributed to my anticipation of a couple full nights of sleep, but I like to focus those feelings on the race weekend.
Anticipation of race day is sometimes, for me, just as exciting as the race itself. I love seeing big cities like Boston, NYC, Chicago, and DC taken over by swarms of runners and their supporters. Decked out in previous, or new, race shirts and running sneakers, each racer has a little twinkle in their eye and their team of supporters are with them every step of the way. Whether veterans of the Boston Marathon or first-timer, every racer had an air of eagerness surrounding them. All us runners were ready to test our training and ourselves on this historic course. Mom and Patrick were thrilled to explore the expo and city, and Patrick really loved riding the “T” and racing around Boston Commons. Mom and I were more interested in the great food Boston always has to offer.
Race day arrived bright and early Monday morning. I know some racers do not appreciate Boston’s later start, but after weeks of minimal sleep and early wake-up calls, I felt better and more rested than I had since February after two great nights of sleep. I also enjoyed having the extra time in the morning to go through my pre-race routine – dressing, eating, hydrating, coffee, and bathroom. I did not feel in any way rushed or anxious. This particular race morning, the extra time also allowed me to triple check the weather, see it was going to be 10 degrees warmer than planned, and adjust my race gear to accommodate the increased heat. I, personally, was happy to run in 70+ degree weather, as I tend to run well in warm weather (especially with low humidity), and it was a nice departure from the freezing rain, sleet, and gale winds from my March marathon.
To loosen up pre-race, I jogged the mile to the Commons to grab my scheduled bus to the start. I love the feeling I have when my muscles warm up and feel supple. That is when I know I’m ready for a good run day. Hopkinton was controlled madness and I could not have been happier. My nerves were low, but I could feel them rising a bit in anticipation for my wave start. Rather than worry about the extra nerves, I embraced them and focused on my strategy – stay hydrated and as cool as possible, and stick to my pace. When it was finally time to line up at the start, my mind was clear and my body was ready to run. With the sound of the starting gun, we runners hit the pavement for our (Wave 2) running of the 121st Boston Marathon…and it was fabulous.
No marathon is without its struggles. Running 26.2 miles is always a challenge despite how many times a runner pushes themselves to run that distance. Yet nothing exists like a marathon to clear out all the extra in your mind and allow you to focus on the here and now. That’s how I feel when racing this distance. Each step, ache and worry makes you feel more alive and present than you would on a normal training day. I did not end up with my best time, that honor still goes to the recent and crazy Shamrock Marathon, but it was close. More than that, if I close my eyes, I can bring up the race in my mind and relive all the wonderful and painful moment that led me to seeing my family at the finish and punching up a fist in the air as I crossed the finish line.