I am a Boston Marathon finisher.
I think the reality of that is finally setting in. On Monday, over 25,000 other runners and I braved the wind and rain and cold and completed one of the oldest and most prestigious races in the country. This was my first Boston Marathon. I had qualified for it 18 months previously, which means 18 months of thinking about and talking about and planning for this one day and this one race.
And now it’s over.
I’d like to say that I was able to savor every moment of the course and take in every amazing sight and sound of my first Boston; but that wasn’t my experience. I think running Boston on a different day with different weather would have been a very different race.
Of course I tried to look around and absorb as much of it as I could. Decades of runners had come before me to run these roads, and I wanted to capture every moment. But mostly I ended up trying to keep as dry as possible, avoiding puddles and staying behind others who could block maybe just a little of the wind for me.
Yes, there was amazing crowd support along the entire course, although I have to imagine that the weather kept some people away. When I do it again, I’m curious to see if I notice a difference.
I do remember running through the different towns, taking note of the different little shops that lined the main streets. As a big fan of Dunkin Donuts, I remember noticing the DD in each of the towns we ran through. More than once, I fantasized about running into one and enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee.
I remember the cheers running through the scream tunnel at Wellesley and I remember counting off the four hills in Newton.
I do remember the emotion I felt sometime after mile 24 when I first saw the big Citgo sign in the distance, knowing that when I reached it there would only be a mile to go and that I was surely going to finish this race.
And I remember reaching that Citgo sign and the words painted on the street that I was just one mile from the finish line.
I remember turning right on Hereford and then left onto Boylston and feeling the emotion begin to swell in me.
And I remember the crowds and the cheers on Boylston. I remember raising my arms and cheering and taking in all the support that came from the spectators, knowing that I would soon be done. Despite the rain pouring down, I knew nothing was going to stop me at that point. I wish I could bottle that moment in time.
I remember crossing the finish line and the sense of elation and wonder and awe that I had done it – and in some of the worst weather conditions in years.
And I remember thinking how great a race it was and that I would do it again in a heartbeat.
There are many other things I remember about that day, but these are some of the main ones that stand out as I sit and reflect on the experience. I cherish these memories as I now deal with the post-marathon blues. I’m happy to talk about the race to anyone and everyone who will listen, to regale them with my tales of what it was like to run on Monday, knowing that I will still have stories to tell about this race many years from now.
Had the weather been different, I probably would have written a very different piece about my first Boston. I would have written more about the B.A.A. 5K on Saturday (which had perfect running weather) or my time at the expo or any of the other weekend activities that made the city abuzz with the energy of all the runners. But it was what it was…
Which was what I had realized before the race even began. Yes, I obsessively checked the weather forecast in the weeks and days leading up to the race just like so many others. But by race day, I had come to accept that it was not something I could control. I could only make the best of the situation and try to enjoy myself as much as possible. And that’s what I did. That resolve and peace with what was helped carry me through those eight cities and towns.
Certainly I hope that Boston’s weather next Patriot’s Day is more ideal for running. I would love a cool day with the wind from the west. But whatever the day brings, I know that nothing will stop me (and countless other runners) from once again making that historic trek from Hopkinton to Boston. Until next year Boston….
So very proud and happy for you Jeffrey! I admire anyone whose made it to Boston and to have completed your first on one of the toughest days in the history of the race is something you should wear as a badge of courage! I can also empathize with checking the weather reports. I know in the weeks leading up to my first 70.3 in July, you bet I’ll be watching the reports with the intensity of a storm chaser! Not sure I could muster the courage to bike in the rain and accept that fate! Again – Well done sir, well done! Can’t wait to read the report from your second trip to Bean Town!