Boston Marathon 2014: Race Day Morning

This post is not going to go on at length about how incredible the Boston Marathon is, how it is like no other marathon or how it is essentially the Holy Grail of races. Maybe that is true. Maybe it isn't. What I know is this: Every marathon is unique and special in its own way. They are interesting snapshots into the culture of the city and the people who live there. And they are filled with excitement because the energy and enthusiasm surrounding the running community exists whether it is Boston, London, Dublin or Nowhere Land USA. After spending months beating yourself up to endure 26.2 miles, how could you not be glittering with nervous energy? Now multiply that by 32,000 and THAT is Boston. At least this year.

Race day. You awake early knowing you need to put in some calories and then are too nervous to eat very much and there's no chance you can go back to sleep. It's fantastic. But by this point, most runners are usually pretty pumped. It is race day morning when I am able to just throw myself into the experience and let the race play itself out, however it may go. 

We got ready and then headed down to the lobby to wait for our new friend we didn't know yet, Alli. She arrived promptly and after a quick introduction, we were off. Alli was my saving grace. We were best friends for the day. She was excited and nervous and totally at ease with the fact that we not only stopped for coffee but then proceeded to get lost AND HIT A ROBIN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! But good ol' Alli just trusted the day and kept a smile on her face through it all. I love Alli.

While waiting at South Street to grab a bus, Alli proceeded to tell me all about her qualifier: how she had only signed up for the Marine Corp half marathon and then decided last minute to run the full (and by last minute, I mean she changed her race the night before!) Her longest run during that training had only been about 12 miles. She ended up running a Boston Qualifying time of about 3 hours and 28 minutes. I hate Alli. But when I pressed to know how she trained this time, thinking maybe she had done a little research and realized she might need to actually work on it given how hard her recovery was in D.C., it turns out she couldn't even recall her longest run and had no idea how much mileage she had put in each week. Ahh, the carefree nature of youth.

I proceeded to impart every bit of knowledge I had of Boston's course, what to expect, when to expect it, how many Gu's she would need, etc. etc. She soaked it up and as we stood in the ridiculously long line to use the restrooms, she and another younger woman started stuffing their Gu's in their sports bras and pants because neither of them had a running pack. I marveled at their easy-going (and totally disorganized!) styles. It was as if they had not put one bit of thought into the actual race and hardly any into their training. By this point, there were four of us in our posse, and as the oldest by at least 8 years, I became mother hen, forced them to put on sun block, and wished them well. It was time to get to our corrals.

The walk to the starting ling is about 0.7 miles. I spoke to other women about skin cancer, and whether or not to drink beer on the course. I had thought maybe I would just take it easy and accept whatever beverages were offered but when that first beer stand popped up, half a mile BEFORE THE START, I couldn't risk throwing away all that time and effort, so I kept walking and made it to my starting corral just in time for the gun. And four minutes or so later, I was turning my watch on as I crossed the starting line, relaxed and almost confident in my training, but fully joyful for having been of service to others for that last few hours. The day was a success no matter what happened from there.

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