The 2012 Boston Marathon will certainly rank near the top of most amazing days in my running life. I have run marathons for 33 years and have NEVER experienced one as challenging as yesterday.
I understand the Boston Athletic Association considered canceling the race due to the extreme heat and the inherent risks of running 26.2 miles on arguably one of the most challenging courses in the world. This also happened to be the 10th anniversary of the tragic loss of Dr. Cynthia Lucero who collapsed at Mile 22 of the 2002 Boston Marathon from hyponatremia. The world lost one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known and I was forever changed.
The thought of another tragedy was omnipresent throughout the weekend. I attempted to balance the scale between avoiding another tragedy and being as encouraging and positive as the reality of the situation would allow. I fielded calls and e-mails throughout the weekend from runners and family members seeking my advice on whether to run or to defer. My tendency is to ALWAYS push forward, particularly at the end of a journey as special as the last 5 months with the Marathon Coalition. But it was extremely challenging to offer advice without a realistic dose of trepidation.
I wanted to arrive in Athlete’s Village early and spend as much time as possible with my runners. I needed to provide as much encouragement and reassurance as the conditions would allow. I didn’t encounter one Marathon Coalition runner that had an ounce of doubt about their ability or desire to make it to the finish line in relative comfort. When I said goodbye my heart was screaming to stay with them. I wanted so desperately to run the marathon for them…to place myself in harms way and to protect them. But I knew they didn’t need my help and they proved it throughout the day.
I stood at Mile 15 in Wellesley until the last Marathon Coalition runner passed through an area that appeared like a war zone. There were sirens blaring from several ambulances, buses passing with runners that chose to end their journey early and debris from hours and hours of incredible spectators offering support in the form of baggies full of ice, bananas, gels, and liquid in every form imaginable. And when this runner cried briefly and said, “Thank you for being here,” I knew my day in Wellesley was complete and that I needed to transition to getting into Boston and monitoring everyone’s progress the rest of the race and celebrating their amazing accomplishment when they returned to the Westin.
The most special moment of the training season is awaiting the arrival of each runner with their family and friends. I get chills and unbelievable emotions race through my body as each runner receives a heroes welcome upon returning to the Westin. The moment I share with each runner is indelibly etched in my heart and serves as an important reminder of the power of giving that each Marathon Coalition runner epitomizes. This day is far more than completing the Boston Marathon for them…it’s about a commitment that’s far greater than themselves. That is why charity runners have a far greater rate of completion than any other segment of Boston Marathon runners…including the Kenyans!
Transitioning back to my work life and putting the past 5 months abruptly behind me has never been easy. I’ve never been one to flip a switch or shut the door on one experience and easily move on to another. I pride myself on living in the moment and experiencing all that is available in every journey. Driving home from Boston last night with Lori, Macie and Rider, I commented on how special this TEAM is and what they mean to me. Lori mentioned that I said that from the beginning. What a powerful and amazing group of people! So I will NEVER be fully able to move on from this journey. But I will be able to do more for others than I ever imagined and commit myself to asking more of myself on so many levels because of their example.
The truth is that I have gotten more out of this journey than I’ve put into it. So I will put even more into coaching the next group of runners. My only hope is that the next group will consist of as many 2012 Marathon Coalition runners as possible!
Thank you for all that you’ve done for me. You have shown me the true power of the human spirit and the difference it can make in the lives of so many…including mine!
Congratulations on your amazing accomplishment!