Several weeks after spectating the marathon and I know without a doubt that it will be one of my most cherished memories going forward.
But of course, getting to that point was an emotional roller-coaster that started on 4-15-2013
I have no doubt that the journey to the Boston Marathon Finish line circa 2014 was an emotional journey for everyone. Between the victims, first responders, runners and spectators alike, it was an emotional journey.
I knew when I decided over a year ago that I wanted to be there this year… that I HAD to be there this year that the entire trip would be emotional. And it most certainly was but what happened emotionally while I was there was not quite what I had expected.
And I guess, to be fair, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I didn’t know what emotions I would feel, I just knew that I would feel them.
My first look at the finish line and seeing the memorials in the locations of where the bombs went off as I walked ever closer was a mixture of joy and sorrow. I have always known that I would never get the chance to run down Boylston toward that finish line as I prepared to the finish the Boston Marathon… the holy grail, if you will, of marathon running. But I think a part of me also thought I would never actually be AT that finish line either. But 4-15-2013 changed that.
As a runner who does understand the significance of that finish line, being able to see it in person was magical.
I am extremely fortunate that my parents were willing to take a trip to Boston to support something, that in all truthfulness, had nothing to do with their daughter. Sure, the events hit me hard and they both know that. But it wasn’t about me.
It was about the marathon. It was about being a spectator. It was about supporting runners. It was about cheering on people as they accomplish a dream. It was about showing that we are NOT afraid. It was about not letting hatred take away our passions and dreams. It was about taking back that finish line.
My experience running the last half mile of that marathon course was nothing but emotional for me. Part of me wishes that I had run with my phone or a camera so I could capture some of magic that is running down Boylston toward that finish line. But I also know, that if I had, a lot of that magic wouldn’t have been experienced because I was too busy with the camera. As far as running a race goes, I know I didn’t run the last mile smartly. I let emotions take over and ignored everything I know about running and pacing as I flew by people. But I wouldn’t change anything about that race and those moments running on Boylston.
One of the things that I had not expected on that half mile stretch was seeing the American Flag at the end of Hereford before the turn onto Boylston. I think the events of the past year truly hit me in that moment and I did have to fight back tears. We came together as a nation, as a community, to pick up the broken pieces. I am beyond grateful that I was able to be part of that.
I went into spectating the marathon overly excited. I had those race day jitters and it wasn’t even my race. I knew I was going to witness greatness. I knew we were going to take back that finish line.
It is difficult to describe what I witnessed. There is always cheering and clapping along a marathon course. There is always the support of loved ones. But this was so much different. This wasn’t just support for one runner or even one team of runners. It was support for EVERYONE. The sound was louder than any I have ever heard at a race… and I have been at my fair share of races. The sheer volume when we all witnessed Meb winning was indescribable. The support for the runners before and after him was fantastic. I don’t think there was a lull in the volume that entire day.
More importantly, I felt a very specific feeling in the air. It wasn’t about a single person completing the race. It was about everyone completing the race together. I know running is not a team sport but it felt like it was that day. If one person was struggling then the whole team was struggling. If someone needed help then the team came to their rescue. I saw this throughout the race and there have been numerous accounts of it as well. And truthfully, this race started on 4-15-2013 and now was the chance to finish the race. Now was not the time to leave a teammate behind.
The spirit of the day was support. Support for each other. Support for the marathon. Support for the City of Boston. Support for a nation.
I did not shed one tear of sorrow that day. Instead, I shed tears of joy as I witnessed us taking back the finish line. That finish line is, once again, ours.