My Boston Marathon journey is dear to my heart. This was a few years ago but when I read the following essay I wrote in the middle of the experience, it brings back all the emotions. Determination, hard work, happiness, heartache, disappointment, and lessons learned. I wrote this short essay to Jet Blue in a contest that would give the winner a free entry into the Boston Marathon. This came about because it was the first time Boston sold out so quickly (within hours!) and a lot of folks missed out-I thought I was one of them:
I don’t even remember when the drive to run Boston started. It seems like it has always been in my mind and heart since I have been a runner. Running Boston is like running in the Olympics for regular folks. Qualifying seemed like a dream that was almost too big, yet with enough hard work and determination, could be possible.
My sister (Jo) finally qualified and after I congratulated her on the phone in January, I was even more determined to run Boston with her. I had just started an intense training program with the sole goal of qualifying–I needed to run a 3:40. I had my fifth child a few months earlier and during that pregnancy, the goal to get back in shape quickly and qualify for Boston fueled me. It was always a dream I hoped to accomplish someday but I had been busy having children the past decade without a long enough break to train and qualify. I have always enjoyed running but now was the time to take it to the next level–the ultimate level.
So my Boston training began. It was the hardest training I had ever done. I was religious about following my training regimen. In between nursing a new baby and taking care of 5 kids, I made sure I followed the plan. Day after day, it was so hard! Most of my training was on the treadmill, it was easier that way with my family and lack of sleep–that way I could get my run in at some point during the day. I remember over and over the thoughts of wanting to quit, but it wasn’t an option–the thought of qualifying for Boston drove me to finish each and every run. I was pushing myself harder than I should and looking back, I needed more time to get up to the necessary speed. But I wanted it so bad!
That marathon morning in May I was a nervous wreck. I wanted it desperately and I didn’t know if I could push that hard again if I didn’t make the qualifying time. I ran the entire marathon with the dream of Boston driving me on through every mile–especially those last six gut-wrenching miles. As I crossed the finish line, the clock read 3:39. I qualified!!!! I was so wiped out and in pain–it took a week to get excited about anything, then the thought sunk in that I qualified! I would run Boston with my sister! This made my whole summer. One of my big dreams would be accomplished–I would get to run the ultimate marathon.
The sad irony of the whole thing…I went to register in October the morning Boston registration opened. I tried over and over and the site wouldn’t work. My thought was–it took two months to sell out last year, I can try again later today. When I went back to register later that day, Boston 2011 sold out! My heart sunk. I cried as I told my sister I wouldn’t be running Boston with her. I couldn’t keep from crying as I told my husband and typing this now, it brings back tears. I was so disappointed. On all my runs I had been picturing running through Boston. My husband told me to run a different marathon–a better one. To me, there is nothing better than Boston. It was quite a painful experience, but I will continue in this quest to run Boston. The disappointment has been fueling me to push harder, farther and faster as I am determined to qualify again.
I submitted the essay, figuring it was a long shot. I didn’t hear back for a long time and assumed I didn’t win. My sister found a friend who would sell me their charity spot in the marathon. I bought it. I knew using the charity spot wasn’t ideal since the point of me running it was qualifying with a certain race time. But in my heart I knew I qualified, charity or not.
So I was officially registered and planning on the race. Then I got a call from Jet Blue telling me I won the contest! I had to tell them I found another way in-although I wished I’d heard from them sooner! They still gave me plane tickets to use sometime. Sweet. The week before the marathon I got tendonitis in my hip and running became quite painful. I could hardly run around the block. What was the deal?! I just wanted to run my dream race-I had worked so hard. I was disappointed but knew I had to run through it. With an amazing physical therapist and a lot of taping, I ran through the injury.
The following is a message I sent my other sisters (I’m lucky enough to have six sisters!) I sent this the day after running Boston.
Just want to tell you how wonderful Jo is. We ran Boston yesterday-woohoo! Quite an experience.
I’ve had an injured hip and it’s something that takes time and rest to heal-not running a marathon. But there was no way I couldn’t run my dream race.
You know how people usually hit a wall later in marathons-like around mile 20? Well I felt like I started the marathon at the wall and it just got bigger and bigger.
Jo would give me all these inspirational lines and quotes, she would run ahead and tell people my name so they would cheer for me, she stayed with me the whole time-even when I was staring at the road, slowly putting one foot in front of the other and barely making it. (She even thanked all the service men and women-that were on all the corners-for serving our country). I wasn’t giving back-just taking all she would give me. I was rock bottom. I wanted to cry those last few miles but couldn’t find the energy. When we crossed the finish line I finally cried-tears of gratitude for an amazing sister that pulled me along for 26.2 miles.
What an amazing, unselfish sister!
Love you Jo,
I smile every time I picture my strong sister Jo-as she was cheering me along the whole race. This was her dream marathon too and she spent it helping me survive! I love to run. But more than running, I love sisters.