I feel like I was part of a piece of history. Being in Boston for the 2014 marathon was SO AWESOME. I haven't talked to a runner yet who hasn't said some variation of, "That was awesome. I am so grateful for the experience, for family, for friends, for community, for Boston, for resilience, for running, for my health, and for the opportunity to be here." People had "bad" races (was there such a thing as a bad race in Boston 2014?)-and still said they had the time of their life. It was a great day.
The race and city did a lot to remember the events of last year. There was a moment of silence before the race began. There were memorials at the sites of the bombs. Each runner received a piece of one of last year's marathon banners in bracelet form so they could, "Wear their heart on their sleeve." "Boston Strong" was displayed everywhere, along with every variation you could think of such as #LoveBoston. During the race I saw the Hoyts and it was another immediate reminder that this race was about more than myself. So many people were involved whether it was through running, volunteering, working (there was a lot of law enforcement out), spectating, tracking runners and events from afar, or some other activity to serve and celebrate the city.
There were crazy amounts of spectators. I remember the Wellesly girls in particular cheering VERY loudly :) Every time one of my friends found me in the mass of people running by and called out my name I felt grateful for them.
Things were well organized even with 36,000 runners and my only comment would be that the Athlete's Village coordinators didn't send my group out to our corrals quite early enough b/c wave 2 started just as I hopped into the wave two, eighth corral. I got in and we were soon off! As the race started I ran 7:40-7:54 min/miles. I felt excited, a touch crowded, and I couldn't believe this moment was finally here. Things were going well. My legs started to hurt around mile 13 due to the downhills but I knew they would. I remained calm. I took my GUs. The time seemed to pass quickly. At mile 17, around the infamous hills-including Heartbreak- I slowed. Things got hard very quickly. However, I held it together better than in 2011.
I was now wildly off goal pace, up over 9 minute miles, and, again, in a bit of heavy-legged hurt, but I kept on running. There was a moment similar to one in my first BQ marathon where I was close to tears from unhappiness but that quickly passed. For goodness sake, this marathon was an optional life event! I kept moving forward and it was around here on out that I heard the bulk of my spectators: my friend B and her family cheered for me, followed shortly thereafter by JS, soon followed by J4. (My friends LM and then LE were earlier on the course.) Before I saw J4 I concentrated on running as fast as I could (about 9 minute miles), trying not to think about how badly I was feeling, and my kiss strategy. In 2011 when my race was going badly and time was out the window I stopped to give him a kiss around mile 23. I had told J4 that if I stopped for a kiss this year, also around mile 23, things weren't going well and if I didn't stop I was having a good race. I decided things were going well enough and there was no race kissing!
Picture's from Heartbreak-photo credit, with much thanks, to B's husband R.
The end of the race was very exciting with the well-known "right on Hereford, left on Boylston." Running down Boylston I really tried appreciate this moment. I don't know when I'll be back running in the Boston Marathon-it's a long journey not to be taken for granted-and I wanted to remember this moment, the moments that brought me here, and the events of 2013 that took place feet away from where I was. I was looking to see if people were cheering from the spots where the bombs were last year (they were). They were not afraid. The announcer said my name when I crossed the line (that felt really nice) in 3:38:03, an 11 minute Boston best.
After crossing the line I was a bit teary-eyed. Later J4 mentioned I probably could have gone four seconds faster to slip into the 3:37s! Yeah. I could have. But I didn't look at my watch at the end. It wasn't about the time anymore. It was about Boylston street. Yes, now of course I want those extra seconds when I see my time staring back at me but it just. does. not. matter to me this race and this year.
Importantly, however, check out my sweet selfie of my Boston Marathon-issued finish line mylar hoodie (they were trying to discourage bag-checking):
So again, I've talked to many runners who did not have the race they wanted at Boston. But it's the Boston Marathon. That happens there. There seem to be no regrets (that people are voicing at least!) and people are grateful for the day.