Boston – 2016
The only thing sweeter than a BQ is crossing that finish line on Boylston Street.
My running journey started at age 8. Running laps for hole punches at recess. See, I’m from a small town in MO known for running. We have loads of State Championships to prove that fact. I’m a middle of the pack runner. Not the fastest, not the slowest. I ran my first marathon because Pamela Anderson ran the NYC Marathon. It’s funny what lights a fire under your butt. My first marathon in 2014, I was less than 10 minutes from qualifying for Boston. That where’s my goal changed from running a marathon to running the Boston Marathon. There were injuries, heart aches, cramps, disappointments, tons of hard work and sacrifices and then one day, all the stars lined up and I qualified for Boston at Irving in April 2015.
Fast forward to April 18th, 2016. Jill and Amber were in the second wave so their shuttle left earlier than ours. I rushed down to see if I could see them before they left to wish them luck but I just missed them. Donna and Salome were having breakfast so I joined them. With a 10:50 start, it was a balancing act of what to eat and when.
We loaded the shuttle at 8:30 and we headed out to Hopkinton. We got off the bus and it was HOT. Right then and there my planned changed from a time goal to a sub 4. I didn’t want to be sitting out in the heat but we were in line for the bathroom when they called our wave. That’s where I had to say good bye to Jessica. She was in corral 4 and I was corral 5 and there were different lines for each. It’s about a half mile walk to the start corrals. All I could think is how warm it was. People were in their front yards handing out water and sunscreen as we walked down to the start. I found my corral and then I saw Salome! I squeezed her so tight she probably couldn’t breathe and I started to cry. She went on to her corral and I stood surrounded by strangers in mine. I brought sunscreen and offered it to everyone around me. Before I knew it, we were off.
The first 3 or 4 miles are tight. Like, can’t move, tight. People were talking, laughing and just enjoying the moment. At mile 8, I heard “Lea Anne!!!”….it was my Sadie! Out of 30,000 runners, she found me! I was so happy to see her face and to see her running after the training season she had. She ran just a little with me and headed off to the Team Hoyt tent. A little further up, a girl ahead of me had a shirt that said “I run for Jenna”. I caught up to her and asked her if Jenna was her sister. She said Jenna was her friend who died of pancreatic cancer and she was running for her. We chatted a minute and she told me thank you for asking about her friend. I saw a runner who had lost both legs running with two guides. I saw so many people who were running in honor of a loved one, in memory of someone they loved, for causes they were passionate about. The journey wasn’t theirs alone. They were running for someone, something much greater than themselves.
About mile 14 or 15, I was already over the hills. I said to a lady about an upcoming hill “Is this were we start the Newton hills?” She said “Oh no. At 16, you’ll turn a little corner and you’ll see the first hill.” Holy crap. I was done and we weren’t even at the hard part. It was hot, I ran through every garden hose and even a man made car wash kind of tent.
The crowd was AMAZING! A girl ahead of me must of have been from ID because people would yell “IDAHO”! A girl behind me was Liz. I know this because I would hear “GO LIZ!” constantly. Boston shuts down for the marathon. Kids are out of school and people have the day off of work and they are there. They are ALL there and it is the most incredible cheering you have ever seen and heard!
At mile 20, my legs started cramping. Then it was just about finishing. I knew Sadie wouldn’t let me wear that jacket unless I crossed that finish line. It was a long run/walk for the last 6 miles. There were guys handing out roses but I was too tired to take one but did thank them for offering. I saw half naked girls at Wellesley, Santa Claus at the top of Heartbreak Hill, a family bouncing on mini trampolines. I saw hope, determination, bravery, happiness and pride. I saw that the whole 26.2 miles. A city that loves Patriot’s Day and is out there to support each and every runner who makes that journey from Hopkinton to Boylston Street.
I looked at my watch and it said 25.76 and I knew the end was near. Then I saw Hereford! You really only turn twice in Boston, Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston and there it is…600 meters to the finish line! That gigantic, beautiful finish line. I willed my legs to carry me that last little bit for a strong finish. I smiled, I pumped my arms and I crossed that finish line! Then the tears started. It was difficult, it was hot and I was thrilled to be done.
After the race, Boston was flooded with medals and jackets. If you saw someone without a medal and jacket, you can bet they were congratulating you on finishing the Boston Marathon. No one asked you what your time was, it didn’t matter. You finished. We all finished. Sometimes the time on the clock doesn’t make a bit of difference. That was the day it didn’t matter. It was a hard fought race and that in itself, is victory.
I ran my first half marathon because Jill Price told me I could do it. I qualified and ran Boston because of the support I had from my family and from all of my running girlfriends. The ones who believe in you when you start to lose faith in yourself. I celebrated with my girls that night. My entire trip was perfection. We met and ran with Shalane Flanagan, we saw Uta Pippig speak, we rode a pedi cab to a Red Sox game and we had fun every step of the way!
Boston is worth every failed attempt, every training run, every time you want to sleep in but get up and run because you know that it’s hard but it will be worth it. Boston was everything I imagined and more. There is only one Boston. That is the absolute truth.