“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon”
In an Instagram post from the weekend, I wrote, “What I’ve gained from backing out of Boston is more than I’d gain from running it.” At the time, that was certainly true, but if I could go back to it now, Id write, “What I’ve grain from spectating Boston is more than I’d gain from running it”
What I saw yesterday has left me speechless, inspired, motivated and even a little heartbroken from the pain I saw on the face of any runners… Is it possible to have post spectating marathon blues???
I stood on Heartbreak Hill yesterday and was incredibly inspired by everyone’s effort, hard work and determination. What I saw yesterday will stick with me and be fuel to my fire as my training resumes because it was pure strength and grit.
I witnessed wheelchair racers tirelessly working their way up the hill despite frozen hands. Each time their hands slipped or they had to change a rim in the middle of the hill, my heart sank. All I could do was cheer them up the hill and it still never felt good enough. But they never stopped working their way up Heartbreak even if it was inch by inch.
Soon after the wheelchair racers, the Elites and Wave 1 Runners started passing by. I saw everything from people crying/ walking to people crying/running to people cramping to people running fearlessly and unphased. I couldn’t help but feel for those who were chasing down dreams and watching them slip away with each burst of downpour.
I am sure every runner had been told prior to the start “you can’t change the weather so all you can do is take what you’re given and adjust your goals.” But it is simply not that easy. You don’t train for months just to simply adjust your goals without having any anger or sadness. And even when you do accept that your goals have been altered, it is still hard to see those Plan B or C paces tick on your watch.
It was clear that some runners were handling the cold way worse than others and unfortunately, it had nothing to do with their training or their mindset. Some were simply frozen to the core. Regardless of how the weather hit them, they all displayed an overwhelmingly amount of grit and determination.
I’ve never felt more Boston than I did on the sideline of Heart Break Hill. Early on in the race, a woman was walking up Heartbreak Hill with goosebump covered legs and a cramped calf. As I cheered for her, I quietly heard her say something about extra clothing. Because I didn’t catch the whole sentence, it took me a second to process what she was saying/asking. She was about 10 feet ahead of me by the time I realized that she was asking for spare layers. I ran to catch up with her and asked if she needed pants. Her eyes lit up and she was like “ Do you have a pair?”…I ran back to my bag and grabbed an extra pair of dry spandex that I had packed. A couple of spectators and I helped her slide them over her legs, gave her an awkward leg rub and sent her on her way. I had to laugh when her shivering lips asked for my Venmo account so she could pay me later. There was no way I was going to have this poor woman try to take down my Venmo account when her mind should be focused on mustering up the energy to make it through the final 6 miles. I am not saying this to boast about how sweet I am because lets be honest, I am currently recovering/coming back from an injury all while trying to graduate in May…translation: I have been the most selfish human this past month.
I say this because THIS IS BOSTON. This is just one small act among MANY that happened on Marathon Mondays. These kind acts are not thought out or planned, they happen organically because that is what the marathon and Boston is all about.
I saw a woman walking and sobbing her way up Heartbreak Hill. A random man came up behind her, put his hand on her shoulder, said a few words and kept running. Within seconds, her walk became a jog and I’m sure the man will never know how much of an impact his words had.
We all know by now about the sportsmanship Des Linden displayed when she slowed her pace to help Shalane get back into the pack after a bathroom break. None of these things are part of the plan, but even in the most competitive moments, they happen because at the end of the day, everyone is out there fighting the same 26.2 fight.
When the race was over and emotions settled, people continued to be inspiring in the way they handled their performance. Some people had personal bests and some had personal worsts but I have yet to see or hear a single person complain or show signs of defeat. It was physically and mentally exhausting but people were taking pride in their fight and that truly is all that matters.
For all the runners out there – when the marathon emotions really start settling, and you start to get hard on yourself and your performance, please remember that these are the races that will fuel you in your future races. It may not have been the PR you had hoped for but the next time you chase your PR, you will be mentally stronger and ready because of Boston 2018. Des says it perfectly #keepshowingup