My Boston Marathon Experience

georgeThis year’s 117th running of the Boston Marathon had a very special meaning to me.  It would be my first time tackling the challenging course from Hopkington to Boylston Street.  With all the fears and emotions that come with entering this race, needless to say training had a totally different feel than those marathons before it.  Trying to mask this was not easy and as expected became somewhat consuming to the point that at the starting line I was emotionally sunk.  The excitement was gone, the desire was gone, the will to run was gone.  I did NOT want to be there.  Everything that I had hoped for was a distant memory, and the tears that I had held back for this moment at the starting line were replaced by lethargy.  The race hadn’t even started and I was ready for it to be over.  With the chill in the morming air of this beautiful town of Hopkington, I pulled on my arm sleeves only to have a hand slip off and bloody my lip.  “Oh great, this must be an omen”, was the only thought going through my head.  This was not me, not my typical positive self that I always want to convey but rather a negative nanny about to undertake what is arguably the most prestigious road race in the world.  After my usual ritualistic prayer and pep talk the attitude changed somewhat, and the gun fired to start the race.  As many of us do, this was the time for heavy internal communication, “take your time, hold your pace back, ease into the race”.  Perfect!  5K, 10K, 15K splits dead on plan and holding slightly negative.  Okay, we’re good to go, we can do this!  Ah, the attitude and swagger are back!

movingForwardAnd then it happened…

What it was I may never know, but all of a sudden there was a sharp pain in the 4th toe of my right foot.  What did I kick?  What happened?  Whatever it was, the pain was slight but seemed to increase.  Looking down I noticed a lot of blood on the right shoe.  Uh oh.  We have 17 miles and lots of hills.  What do we do?  Ego takes over – “suck it up big boy and get moving!”  Needless to say pace continued to slow at every mile and waterstops doubled as shoe rinses.  The hills were excrutiating, as planting on the midfoot was impossible.  By mile 25 the running form mimicked a wobble.  But I finished.  No smiles, no hugging fellow runners, no interviews with the hounding local media, just glad it’s over.  As I received my medal and slowly limped back to the local hotel where we were meeting others, I thought to myself, what are you doing?!  You’ve just completed the Boston Marathon, something many others only dream to ever do and your only feelings are “I’m just glad this is over?”  Where’s the pride?  Where’s the sense of exilleration?  Where’s that happy-go-lucky inner self that you want to convey both inward and outward?  I never even realized where heartbreak hill was!  As I joined my wife Nancy and several friends at the hotel and shared my experience, it dawned on me – I HAD NOT STOPPED.  All these obstacles, all the chances to just quit and I just kept going.  That will to endure took precident.  Even with all the voices giving me reasons to give in, that one tiny, muffled voice held its ground and kept me going.

And then it really happened…..

As Nancy and I exited the hotel we heard an unbelieveable amount of sirens and saw a large crowd gathered around a television screen.  What’s happening?  No!  No one could actually bomb such a beautiful evernt!  Not one that symbolizes not just runner but world unity.  Why?  This can’t be happening!  But it did.  As we floundered past the finish area the views were horrific.  The emotions were once again running wild.  The anger, the frustration, the voice saying just walk away and say “the Hell with this sport” were back.  greyshirtThen looking around at all the other runners that were still out there concerned and wanted to do what they could to help, it once again dawned on me.  This is what makes us great.  This is when the true human sprit comes out.  This is what the running community is REALLY about!  What other sprot puts on as many events as running does to support charities?  What other sport does more to give back and support others more than ours?  THIS is why I love this sport!  This is why no obstacle or tragedy is too big to hold us back!  All this will do is make our bond and commitment stronger!  This is why as a community we will not only endure such a horrific tragedy, we’ll come back with more fire and vigor than ever!  The pain in my foot was miniscule compared to the pain in my heart, but both will heal stronger than they were before.  Look out Boston.  Not only will I be back next year, but I’ll be bringing a bunch of friends with me!!!


Boston Commerative RD1

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