I don’t even remember the first time I heard about the Boston Marathon. I did not grow up as a runner. All I knew growing up was that marathons were hard, and the people who ran them were crazy. When I started running 4 years ago, Boston was the pinnacle. To qualify was unheard of. To even come close would have been a dream come true. But I was not a fast runner…and I had no desire to run a marathon. Eventually, I did run a marathon, but I was still not fast enough for Boston and I was OK with that.
I remember the day that the dream was birthed. I had finished a long trail run, and was sitting having coffee with a group of trail runners. One of them was sharing about his hundred miler, which happened just after Boston. I asked him about Boston, and for the next 30 mins, he wove a tale that was so enticing and so magical, I could not get it out of my head. A week later, I still could think of nothing else. My mom had just passed away. I needed to do something epic, for her. That day, I decided I would try to qualify. 3 months later, I knocked 18 minutes off my PB marathon time set only 5 months earlier, and qualified to run the Boston marathon. My husband Rod insisted that we go and finish the dream by running it. And so, the Marathon preparations began. However, due to timing of the race, it was almost a year and a half later before race day. Fast forward…..
We left for Boston on Wednesday, so we had a few days to enjoy before the race on Monday. We had 4 days on our own, and then met up with friends Lisa and Kristy and one more gal, and shared a condo with them for the last 3 nights. Our first 4 days were filled with sightseeing. We packed so much into that time, I could write a whole separate blog post about it.
There were a few things that stood out for me, that relate to the race. One of the most powerful moments was walking down Boylston street and seeing the finish line for the first time. The history that it represented just hit me. I didn’t realize how big that would be. I’m glad I went to see it before the race. I also enjoyed going to Marathon Sports, and finding out more about the race from the local experts. I took the chance to try on the jackets there, and ended up buying my marathon jacket from there to avoid the crowds in the expo. Further down Boylston street, I found Adidas Run Base, where they had a working 3D model of the race course. Standing there looking at the model was a “wow” moment. To see how much downhill was involved, it struck me that I might not be as prepared as I had thought. Humbled, I took more time to study the course. I wanted to understand it as best I could before I tackled it. All of these key “moments” shaped my mental game for the race, and i knew they were important.
Attending the race expo on Saturday was really a highlight for me. I had already been in Boston a few days, so the “newness” of the city had worn off. As I walked down Boylston on Saturday morning with Rod, we were in a hurry to meet Lisa and Kristy. I was tired, and knew they were already there. I was completely done with the city crowds- and had not even gotten to the expo yet- so was trying hard to get inside my head to find some quiet. I looked up, and suddenly got goosebumps. The person in front of me was unmistakeably a Tarahumara, from Born to Run. I recognized the sandals made from tires and lashed around the foot, the traditional colourful running garb, the dust on his legs, and the simple pack he carried. This man- a trail running legend- was reaching distance from me. I was in the presence of greatness. I tried to explain discreetly to Rod but failed, so I took a quick photo from behind (I did not want to disturb him on the street). And as I followed him into the Expo, it dawned on me: The man I was following was Arnulfo, from the movie. Arnulfo, one of the greatest trail runners alive, was racing the Boston Marathon. I would be sharing the race course with Arnulfo. Sadly, I lost sight of him as we got held up at security.
Heading in, I went to the bib pickup, and got my race bib. The marathon got very real at this point. We took a quick photo, I said goodbye to Rod, and quickly met up with Lisa and Kristy. Within a few minutes, the crowds in the shopping section overwhelmed me, and I excused myself to go and wander the expo. I once again caught a glimpse of Arnulfo, and I followed him so I could get a better photo. I spoke with race volunteers after and they confirmed that he was in fact racing. I met up with Lisa a few minutes later, and we carried on through the expo. Seeing a long lineup, we decided to investigate why so many people were waiting for a sample….and discovered that Scott Jurek (American ultrarunner and trail legend) was there to sign autographs! We stood in line, got his autograph, and also got a photo with him. Once again, in my mind, it was a powerful connection. The trail world- which normally is a very separate sport from road marathoning- was recognizing this road marathon. It’s hard to put it into words, but seeing those 2 men there was pretty cool. It fused my two worlds together, somehow. The rest of the expo was fairly typical, just on a larger scale than I had ever been to. I learned some cool info, and saw some awesome new gear. Somehow, by the time I walked out, I now knew that I was ready to run.