That’s the word I would use to describe this year’s Boston Marathon experience.
I had high hopes for this year’s race. My training was the best it had ever been. No injuries. No aches. Nothing holding me back. Nothing in my control, that is.
On top of feeling great, this year I would be taking my grandma and parents with me. My grandma had never seen me run, so to have her at the biggest event in the marathon world was a treat. For the first time, I dedicated this run to my grandpa who had passed away three years earlier from Alzheimer’s.
It was my grandpa who taught me how to be a runner. No, he wasn’t a coach or a runner. In fact, as far as I know, he never stepped foot on a track or a race course. But the life lessons he taught me made me the runner I am.
He taught me that anything worth having in life is worth working for. He taught me not to quit. He taught me to be the best I could be at whatever I do. He taught me to set my sights high and far and never lose sight of the goal. He taught me that none of life’s success mean anything without loved ones to share it with.
It was these lessons that helped me get through one of the most trying experiences of my running life.
You could hear the rumblings a few days before the race.
Have you seen the forecast?
Did you hear the temperature will be in the 80s?
Did you know the BAA is offering deferrals for those who don’t want to battle the heat?
People were throwing around phrases like “Duel in the Sun II” and “Another Run for the Hoses."
But I didn’t panic. I had run in the heat before. In fact, I finished the St. George marathon in 80-degree temps. I run in the summer afternoon sun all the time. I knew how to hydrate and pace myself. I knew better than to expect a PR. I would take it conservatively and enjoy the day. No pressure. Nothing to prove.
The Facebook frenzy began early. My phone was vibrating like a washing machine gone bad for hours with message alerts from friends and fellow runners all in a tizzy about the weather. I’d been a cool cat, but maybe I shouldn’t be. Should I be more alarmed? Should I stress? Nope. I should just sleep.
I wasn’t nervous when I walked out to the busses that waited to take us to the start and I only needed a light jacket in the chilly morning air.
I wasn’t nervous when I walked around the Athlete’s Village and had to unzip said jacket.
I wasn’t nervous when I finally took the jacket off because I was too warm in the shade.
No, I had this under control.
I was having more fun than I had at any other Boston Marathon. I had seen so many friends over the course of the weekend. I was soaking in the sense of comaraderie I shared with those I knew and those I didn’t. I was with my people and loving it. As my corral was called to the starting line, I gave my friend and fellow instructor Tracy a hug, wished her well and made my way to the most famous starting line in the world.
I was off.
It was in the high 70s during the early miles, but I felt fine. My pace felt easy, but was faster than I expected. The crowds were out in full force and the energy was electric. I could feel the training pay off as my legs felt light through the first 5K.
By mile four, I was drenched in sweat, but I tried not to let it worry me. At each water stop, I would take one cup to drink and another to pour over my head. I zig-zagged the course, chasing shade and spectators with ice.
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