For the competitive and non-competitive runner alike, the 2014 edition of the Boston Marathon will offer an experience unparalleled to any other marathon. For the past year, runners from around the world as well as most Americans have been reeling and reflecting on the terrorist attack that took so much from so many at the 2013 marathon. I, myself, decided to register for the 2014 event after qualifying at the Mississippi Blues marathon in January of 2013 because of that very terrorist act. Although I will not be racing this year, I have had time to reflect on the meaning of this year’s race that will be something all participants remember for the rest of their lives.
It’s hard for me to consider what this year’s race will mean without reflecting on my first meaningful and special Boston Marathon experience. In 2010, I stood at the start of the Boston Marathon, hoping to finish my first Boston Marathon without walking. While I had run my first two marathons in 2:38 each, I had never finished one without walking. It may seem like a small goal but that’s what I wanted-simply to run the entire race without walking. Training had gone well, I was motivated and excited, the weather was perfect, and I was even able to give Ryan Hall a high five while he was on his way to the starting line.
With my goal in mind and confidence in my training, I ran the first 13.1 miles on 2:33 pace. I couldn’t believe how easy it felt. Maybe it was the support of every community along the way, or maybe it was the screaming girls I ran by at Wellesley College. Maybe it was because I knew I was running in the wake and footsteps of some of the greatest runners of all time. Meanwhile, I was having the race of my life. I was in the top 100 and feeling strong.
Then… the hills came, grueling hill after grueling hill. Each hill seemed steeper and longer than the next. My legs ached and lungs burned. My teeth and gums even hurt. I was getting passed by a lot of people. I wanted to walk, rest, catch my breath and to give up on my goal.
That’s when it hit me. The very people I had been urged on by for the past 2 hours not only wanted me to finish, they needed me to finish, they needed me to achieve my goal, even if they didn’t know what it was.
So I pressed on, gradually picked up my pace, and refocused. With one mile to go, I knew I was going to do it. I was going to finish the race and achieve my goal. I had become a part of the history of the Boston Marathon, the greatest foot race in the world. While I finished in 2:39, a mere 2 minutes away from a personal record, I didn’t care. Something better had happened.
When some one runs the Boston Marathon, it is as if they become a part of the city itself. Perhaps, that’s why this year’s race is so special. I cannot say what this years race will mean for everyone, but I can, without hesitation, say that everyone who puts on a race bib and steps up to the line will feel and know what it’s like to be a Bostonian for the day.
Whether runners are from Kenya or Tennessee, China or France, each will leave the 2014 Boston Marathon with a piece the city forever engrained in their heart, and they will be stronger and better for it.
Coverage of the 2014 Boston Marathon will begin at 7 am on April 21st.
Article by: Chris Winter, Outdoors, Inc.