Was it really just 2 years ago that I was in my kitchen in the predawn darkness, pinning on my bib (#22243 - Wave 3, Corral 5) and then heading into Boston to meet up with the rest of my charity team to board our bus out to Hopkinton to start the Boston Marathon?
As I was greeting the runners getting off the buses at the Middle School yesterday morning, it brought me right back to when I was one of those runners......I remembered the enthusiastic volunteers who guided us into the Athlete's Village that warm morning and I did my best to pay that back. Our "job" as Entrance Marshals was to have runners show us their bibs and to then direct them into the Village. There were probably 10 of us out in front of the entrance, but I'm pretty sure my voice was the one the runners heard. Many of my fellow volunteers did a great job, but I guess I took it upon myself to go a bit beyond......shouting out my greeting, encouraging the runners to show off their bibs ("They don't give those things away....you EARNED them!"), trying to greet runners from overseas ("Viva Italia!") or out-of-state or any local runners, all with the goal of seeing them smile. I'm sure some of my fellow volunteers found my enthusiasm amusing (or worse), but I remember how encouraging the support of volunteers and spectators along the course made that extremely hard day so magical.
There are so many things that make the Boston Marathon special, but I think the people are what really set it apart. From the runners who come from all over the globe to run, to the volunteers who give up their time, to all of the spectators who cheer on perfect strangers as if they're family, it truly is a wonderful display of civic pride. I've only run 4 marathons so far, and while they were all special in their own right, Boston stands apart. There are definitely parts of the course that are "quieter" than others, but there is virtually no part of the course where there aren't spectators cheering.....well, there is that awful 128 overpass as you head out of Newton Lower Falls, but there always seems to be someone on the side of the road cheering. In other marathons, there can be LONG stretches with nobody there.....I'll just say that more people cheering = more FUN!
Yesterday was a magical day here in New England.......and it has renewed my spirit. I'm not going to go over the litany of difficulties I've had since last year, but the injury bug is still biting me a bit. I was encouraged by my ability to run more consistently during February and March, but as the calendar flipped to April, the heel pain I was stuggling with last year jumped from my right heel to my left. It may force me to take some time off from running, but I'm not going to be stopped. I have to revamp my diet, as I'm convinced the pains are due entirely to the extra weight I'm carrying. I've gained 30 pounds since I ran Boston in 2012, and while part of that is due to my reduced running, a large part of it is due to my own lack of discipline in what goes into my mouth. That ends now......
I've only got a few 5K's on the schedule between now and the end of my school year, but I'm hoping to target a half marathon for the fall. If I'm able to start training again with some consistency and IF I'm able to run a half marathon in the fall, then I'll seriously consider trying to run Boston next year as a charity runner. Seeing all the runners living out their dreams on our streets yesterday left me feeling envious and, for a moment, a little melancholy, as I believe that I find myself in the condition I'm in based on my own bad decisions......but at the same time, I have the ability to make the necessary changes to turn this thing around, and in that spirit, that's what I'm going to commit myself to doing. The future begins NOW!
See you all out there on the road, chasing our dreams!