Have you ever had the feeling of doing something incredible? That’s exactly how I felt crossing the finish line of Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minn., with a BQ (Boston Qualifying Time) — incredible. Today I had the opportunity to actually get the chance to fulfill a long-time dream of running the Boston Marathon. It’s a first for me. I can cross it off my dreams list. There’s an amazing feeling when you accomplish a dream you’ve worked so hard to attain. I wish everyone could experience that rush of happy emotion. I wish everyone could experience something great. There are seeds of greatness inside all of us, but it’s sad that most never let them grow and flourish. I didn’t want that to be me.
There was so much anticipation the days leading up to the big race. I had a plethora of emotions — excitement, nervousness, pride — a sense of accomplishment knowing the hours of hard work it took to qualify to be here. I did it for anyone who forgot how to dream big dreams. I did it for my country as my way to show patriotism, Boston runs together, Boston strong! I did it to be an example for my kids so they can dream and achieve larger than life goals. But I mostly did it for me to prove to myself that I am worth it and that I have something to offer to others.
It was hours of waiting to start. I was up early to get ready, then we took the shuttle to the airport to get on the Blue Line T to get on the Green Line T to get to the Boston Commons where I would take a bus to the starting village — only to wait another hour before we could go to the actual start line where we would find our corrals and wait for the gun. It was HOT! Coming off my Minnesota winter training into 60s and sunny proved difficult. Keeping hydrated throughout the race was key.
The race was awesome and terrible all at the same time. My first half proved strong with sub-8-minute miles, and a goal of a PR (personal record) seemed in reach. However, the second half told a different story. My IT Band flared up, and my foot pain did as well, both things I had been fighting throughout my training. I tried to shake it off, but my IT Band was hurting enough that turning over my legs became harder and harder. Eventually it forced me to slow down even though my lungs and heart told me to keep going fast. When I realized I couldn’t make a PR and also couldn’t hit another qualifying time, I decided to slow even more to ensure a finish without further injury.
The race course is hard, but I was determined to just run my race and not think about that. Were there hills? I didn’t notice them in the beginning, but I sure enjoyed those downhills! Sometimes in life it’s hard to push through the hills, but it’s always worth it to get to the downhill. Even Heartbreak Hill wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be. It was at a tough spot between miles 20 and 21, but it didn’t make or break the race. I did walk some of it because of my leg pain, but I didn’t sweat it. I just kept going.
I teared up quite a few times along the way, some from the pain, but mostly thinking about what it took to get here. It was a surreal feeling that I wanted to make last. I wanted to enjoy each and every moment. I teared up thinking about the fact that many try to qualify but not many will. I was among the elites of runners. I teared up thinking about the fact that 50 years ago women weren’t allowed to run the race. I teared up thinking about how Bobbi Gibbs must have felt 50 years ago when she snuck into the race and ran unofficially to prove women could run 26.2 miles. I teared up as I passed by Patrick Downes who ran on his prosthetic leg after losing his leg in the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon finish line three years ago. I teared up as I looked up at the historic buildings. I teared up as I passed runners on stretchers from the heat, and I prayed for each one as I ran by. I teared up because of the pain. I teared up knowing I missed my goal. I teared up thinking about making it to the finish. I teared up after I crossed the finish with mixed emotions of pride and fighting feeling like a failure. I would have failed if I quit — but I finished.
Am I disappointed? It would be a lie if I said no. Yes, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed that I didn’t hit my goal and that my injury held me back. But am I proud? Yes. I’m proud that I finished despite the pain when many may have chosen to quit. I’m proud to have soaked up all the moments along the way, all the cheering, all the signs, all the sights. I’m proud to have run this sought after race. I’m proud of the hard work it took for me to get here at all. So, yes, there is some disappointment, but only because I’m a winner, and I always want to know I did all that I could. I strive to be better. I’m proud that I started, I stayed steady, and I didn’t quit.
Will there be another marathon? Well, I didn’t hit my goal, so I think you can answer that question. I need to heal. I need to take time to fully recover. I am running Twin Cities Marathon with a goal of pacing my aunt to qualify for Boston, but then it’s just a matter of when and where. But you better believe that I am determined to make this new goal and dream a reality. Do you have a goal? Now’s your time to dream big dreams and make them happen. Don’t waste your days. Turn them into moments. Soak them up. Go get your dream, climb your hill and find the downhill. It’s always worth it!