The Boston Marathon is the reason I started running.
Back in 2000, I watched a friend cross the finish line in Copley Square. Standing among all the cheering fans, the energy is unbelievable and so contagious. We went out to celebrate with our friend afterwards and I remember the look of pride and happiness on his face as he recounted the day. Maybe it was the beer talking, but I told him how much he inspired me and that I was going to run a marathon one day, too.
The next week I started running. (If you know me, this is kind of how I operate. I get an idea in my head and I just have to do it) And the next winter, I spent four very cold and long months, training to run the Burlington, VT marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. I raised almost $2000 for cancer research.
On the day of the race, the weather was misty and cool. And the course was flat and beautiful. Friendly and supportive spectators were everywhere cheering me on and thanking me for my efforts. But the race was hard. So very, very hard. Second to childbirth it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. As someone who is not an elite runner by any stretch of the imagination, the last 1/4 of the marathon was all about mental strength. I was in a lot of pain the last 6 or 8 miles and I just kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other.
I finished in 5 hours and 19 minutes, and next to being a mom, it is the accomplishment in my life of which I am most proud. I achieved something that, 15 years ago, I would not have dreamed possible. This year, the Boston Marathon wasn’t just a demonstration of people doing more than they thought they were physically capable of, but of everyone doing more than they thought they were emotionally capable of. People helped each other in that moment and are continuing to see each other through.
I am a better and stronger person today because of the Boston Marathon. If it wasn’t for the Boston Marathon, I might never have started running at all. And I might never have completed a marathon. I might never have raised money to help cure cancer. I might never have gotten to be that proud smiling person with a medal around her neck, retelling my story and hopefully inspiring others. I know this awesome event will continue to be a source of inspiration, celebrating not only extraordinary athletic capability, but also our human capacity for courage and, much like the last few miles of my marathon, our will to go on.