Celebrating my journey to the Boston Marathon

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Ann Ryan

Running Columnist

I ran the Boston Marathon last month, and it was everything I had heard about it, from friends and fellow running club members, from (many!) books I pored through in the run-up (sorry) to the big day. The experience, the setting, the crowds, the volunteers, the hills at importune moments, were all unforgettable—just electric.

It didn't go my way. In my imagination, I planned to savor every hill, every face, every shout-out and every landmark. It took me six years to earn the opportunity to tilt at this windmill, so I wanted to taste it all. And I did, for about nine miles. When I saw my friend Sarah at mile 7, I felt great. Then, Evil Sun appeared over my shoulder, and chased me to ground. By mile 14, when I saw my family, I was struggling; I had lost my "bounce." Then at mile 17, cramps took over my legs. With that, joy departed, and a sense of defeat swept over me, pushing aside all the positive mantras I have trained with for months/years. Seeing Sarah again at mile 21, I was cooked, but stubborn.  

Joy returned, at last, when I turned left onto Boylston St. The scene was in brilliant technicolor– the flags of nations flapping wildly in the revived wind and rain, and thousands of people cheering madly—(and this is for us less-than-speedy runners!). They absolutely willed me, and those around me, to keep pushing, to dig deep and to take those last few blocks, any way we could. It eclipsed everything else – and I crossed that famous painted finish line with both feet off the ground, (ok, just barely) and a feisty fist pump to the sky, for good measure.

If I was disappointed in anything, it was that I missed the chance to taste the whole experience with the awe and wonder I had planned. Based on my training, I was confident that I could run strong, and LOVE IT ALL. So, when things started to go south, I felt a bit of a failure, a poser. But this attitude has passed. I believe we all have days (and runs!) that just really don't go well. Sometimes we can identify the cause, and I have a few thoughts about what tripped me up. Or possibly, it was just not my day to shine. No matter: the Boston Marathon kicked my butt, but I didn't come away empty-handed.

I will always be proud of the hard work that earned me the spot among 30,000 others on April 15. I feel incredibly blessed to have had the resources, time and good health to follow this running dream.

I'll steal this quote from another Boston-firstie: "Boston is a celebration of you as a runner and the journey to get you there."

I'll add that it was also a celebration of all the support and encouragement given to me, from family, friends and great training partners.

My first Boston, and my final marathon – what a gift.

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