“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”
I woke up just as it was getting light outside. The air was warmer than to be expected on a typical April morning. It was only 7:30 AM and it felt like summer vacation outside. I got out of bed, feeling heavy with anticipation. “It’s today!” I thought, “Boston Marathon day!”
The Boston Marathon didn’t always excite me. Even though it technically takes place on a holiday, I always had to work and I never had the desire to stand in a crowd and watch runners. Even when I first became a runner, I only had mild interest in it. In 2013, I was unemployed and living in Hopkinton, so I decided to walk down to the start of the race. I was taken in by all the positive energy and I started to see why this race was so special. We all know that race ended in a tragedy that I’m not going to get into here, but it did give me a new appreciation for the event. A year and a half ago, when I first joined my running club I found out that the club gets bibs for the Boston Marathon that it gives away via lottery to hopeful members. You don’t need to have a qualifying marathon time and you don’t have to raise thousands of dollars for charity. It was the first time I realized that I could actually have a shot at running the marathon.
The first time I witnessed our club marathon drawing, I had no desire to ever run a marathon. That was until I got caught up in the inspirational stories, dedicated training and send-off parties. For the most recent marathon drawing last November, I did not feel ready to run a marathon. Again I declined to put my name in, but felt so inspired by the club members that were picked and by the other members that got their opportunities other ways that I decided to volunteer to be on the Hospitality Suite committee. On Marathon Day, our club reserves a hotel room, stocks it with food and drinks and provides a place for runners and their families to relax after the marathon. I figured it was a great way to support my teammates and still be a part of this historic race.
I work downtown Boston, so I travel into the city every day. But this day was different – it felt like Christmas morning. I got to meet a few friends that were on the committee, rush around last minute to get some party food and set up a pretty sweet hotel room with the marathon on TV in the background. The room was hopping all afternoon, so I didn’t get a chance to go outside to the race. But every so often, we would see a Mystic Runner on TV and everyone would erupt in loud cheers. Runners came in to the room, one by one. We fed them and made sure they could have a shower if they wanted one. We truly wanted to make sure everyone was comfortable after putting their body through such torture.
Watching the marathon on TV, you get to see all the inspirational stories. The man who ran the whole way holding the American flag after he lost his leg. All the people battling injuries, who just wanted that one shot of finishing this prestigious marathon. I saw a lot of victories as people crossed the finish line and thought to myself “This will be me in six months in Chicago!”
But then I also saw the difficulties – people being carried across the finish line, people collapsing mid-race, disappointment across some runners’ faces. I started to think, “Oh no, what if that’s me in six months in Chicago!” There is no way to know how you will do when you run such a distance. All you can do is listen to your body, run smart for how you feel and hope for the best. I am really hoping for the best in October.
Running the hospitality suite was actually hard work. I was on my feet all day which made my tendonitis flare up a bit. However, it was an honor to help out my friends who were running that day. I was able to feel the energy and be in the city for one of the biggest runner holidays around. I feel proud that I work and live near such an amazing city and that I could actually get the opportunity to run Boston one day. Many people said to me, “This will be you next year.” Well, maybe, who knows. But first, I have Chicago to look ahead to.