On this, the eve of the Boston Marathon, it seems appropriate to tell you all a little secret. No, it’s not about how to run the tangents of a meandering course, or how to start out more conservatively than you have already planned because the downhill start will trick you into thinking marathon running is easy. It’s not to tell you that you’ll actually look forward to heartbreak hill with all of the cheers that await the top after you grind your way up there… or that the actual heartbreak is when you have to start running downhill again and your quads start screaming (and they will – scream – but you will press on because you have worked your tail off to be there).
I remember watching Boston 2013. I remember seeing Rob Watson take the lead with his Team Canada kit on. I remember getting in my car and driving to Nashville after the elite race finished. I’ll never forget finishing my drive and seeing my phone had blown up with missed calls and text messages from people asking if I was ok? Was I in Boston? I remember turning my car radio on and sitting there hearing what had happened and, though I felt loved that so many people had reached out to check up on me, my first thoughts were all of you. Those of you who were running along the street in those moments. Those of you who were there spectating to help celebrate the dreams of your loved ones running. Those of you, who like me, were sitting there hurting because WE had been attacked.
I had my Boston Experience in 2014. As one of the “elites” my experience was slightly different from what yours will be tomorrow. I didn’t have to rise at a completely insane hour to pack into a shuttle bus and wait around for hours in just my running skivvies. We were bused up and hung out in a small church right beside the start line. It was the first time I really felt separate from you at a race… felt separated from the Boston experience I have heard stories about. The beautiful thing about running however, is that as separated from you I may have felt in those moments during my warmup, I immediately felt connected again once the gun went off.
We all get to run on the same course… literally following in the footsteps of those who came before us – the former elites, idols like Katherine Switzer, your friends, your teammates, the millions of versions of you that logged those miles before and after work, in the dark, while children and spouses were sleeping… We all get to cross that finish line knowing we were part of something bigger than our own personal goals.
So tonight, on this eve of the 2017 Boston Marathon, the secret I wish to tell you as you ready yourself for your final night’s sleep is that you are who inspire me. You are the spirit of Boston that has made the race iconic. And tomorrow, when you line up you are showing “elites” like me what running is actually all about.