Growing up in New England, Marathon Monday was a huge freakin’ deal. It was a day that teachers kicked back and tossed on the tv to watch the epic-ness that is completing a marathon. I was immediately smitten as a kid that one day I too will be crossing that finish line.
I ran my first 5K at 9 years old – countless cross country and track meets – followed by my post college life of finding my inner marathoner completing 4 half’s and 4 fulls. Running is in my blood.
For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure/pain of running a marathon – it is the worst and best thing I can ever recommend you do especially as a 20-something. Right now, most of our lives are shit and confusing as fuck and we spend most of the days wondering and worrying if we will survive. Running offers an escape to that life and shockingly shows you that you CAN and WILL survive. It offers an opportunity for you to set a goal (run a a few miles) and accomplish it – start to finish. It’s immediate gratification for all us who are not able to get that in our jobs, relationships, life, etc. Seriously, do it. It IS completely crazy to run 26.2 miles – hands down – but it will be a life changing experience.
To get your ass to the finish line of any race it takes a lot of physical strength, but in my running experience I would say about 40% of me surviving a race is THE CROWD SUPPORT. Having family and friends at certain mile markers has saved me on all 4 of my marathons. It eases my mind hearing “YES YOU CAN” from someone I love and adore. However, the beautiful thing about being a part of the running community is the people that come out to support you that you don’t even know.
Flashback to last spring – I was running the LA Marathon and my knee had just had enough and hated me. I honestly didn’t think I would physically make it. I had seen my friends at mile 20 and burst into tears – emotionally and mentally tapped out of the race. That is until mile 21, I locked eyes with this elderly couple with a cooler of ice. Without any words or exchange (they must have seen the pain in my eyes) they shoved ice down my knee socks and told me that 5 miles was nothing and that I had come too far to give up. The elderly woman gave me a hug and I was off. I carried their kindness through that last leg all the way to the finish. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have survived without their support.
To say my heart broke last April 15th is the understatement of the year obviously for many reasons. I felt personally attacked that how dare someone take away that moment from a runner – that moment of just pure pride in yourself for doing something so fucking crazy. But also, how DARE someone attack the innocent, beautiful, and wonderful course supporters. The people with signs and orange slices for their loved ones – they are the unsaid heroes of any race.
As much as the situation boils my blood it solidifies what I already knew as a runner – no one can stop you. No one. In fact, if anything it only builds up the running community and their admiration and support towards each other. As I continue to work towards my qualifying time for Boston, I am inspired not only by the runners of that 2013 race but for the survivors and runners of 2014 who stand up for us as a country to say that we are a force to be reckoned with.
I applaud all of you and will see you at the finish line in 2015.