If you’ve been following along for a little while, you probably know that I love, love, LOVE my hometown. Boston is an wildly imperfect, occasionally uppity, student infested, cold, beautiful little mess of a city. I’ve lived in and around Boston my whole life, and most of that has been within spitting distance of the marathon course. As a kid, I literally watched the race from my bedroom window. I was, however, a dedicated non-runner until about 6 years ago, so the notion of running Boston (or any distance over a couple of miles on a treadmill) didn’t really cross my mind.
Fast-forward to 2013 at my first “real” job, when a project fell into my lap–to coordinate our organization’s Boston Marathon team. For those who don’t know, tens of thousands of Boston runners every year gain entry by raising money for nonprofit organizations. I had just started running myself, so I was stoked to land such a fun project. We had a small and mighty team of 6 runners, and my coworkers and I were cheering our heads off at mile 23 when I started getting some funny texts from my friends that something had happened at the finish line. I ignored them at first, figuring it was some small shakeup, until word started to spread that we needed to move away from the route and head home. I managed to shoot off a text to J and my parents that I was ok before cell phones signal shut down. The next few days were a bit of a blur–confusion, lockdowns, and all the rest.
Everything really clicked for me when I took a walk downtown during the days following the bombing. It’s still a little bit hard for me to look at these pictures, but I was so moved to see how fiercely my communities–both the community of runners and the Boston community–came together to shout our love for each other into the void of hate that had shown its face.
Even though I didn’t fully realize it at the time, it lit a fire that was somewhere deep down in me. I was fully and completely a runner. I started to take my running more seriously–I cut my half marathon time down from 2:12 to 1:36 and ran my first marathon in New York City in 2015. For the first time in my life, I had found an athletic activity that I enjoyed and that I was actually pretty good at.
Slowly but surely I came to the realization that not only could I run 26.2 miles, but I might be able to do it fast enough to qualify for Boston one day–not only to run, but to earn the right to do so by committing to taking myself seriously as a runner. My brother’s scary experience at last year’s race only served to stoke the fire–this community is so strong and supportive even during the hardest times.
I’m close. I’m doing the work. I’m going to have an amazing time this weekend, and I’m going to be a little bit jealous. Because that jealousy will just fuel my drive to earn my spot on that starting line in Hopkinton. So to those running this year–you are amazing. I can’t wait to celebrate with you and support you and keep you nice and hydrated. And I’ll be focusing on Sugarloaf and fighting with every muscle fiber to for the opportunity to toe the line with you.