greatest because I elected to train, dedicated the time and energy to train, and then triumphed with a race time of 4:32:19. My goal was 4:30:00.
I began training during the frigid, unforgiving days of January 2008 (the race is always the third Monday in April). I would run 5-7 miles after work - three days out of the week - skillfully avoiding the icy patches on the street and always enshrouded in the chilling winter darkness. After my runs, I would inhale my dinner and fall into a deep slumber. My weekends consisted of one short run (3 miles) on Saturday and then an ever-increasing long run on Sunday (7-21 miles). My life was running during these months, which was not too out of the ordinary. I have always been a runner since my cross-country days in high school. Running is like breathing to me - I have to do it or I suffer, both physically and emotionally.
The morning of my Boston Marathon experience was slightly chilly and overcast. The forecast was 60s and intermittent sun (ideal, really). I had raised money with The Campus School, a charity team from my alma mater, Boston College, that raises money to support children with disabilities. We were bused out to the start of the race in Hopkington, MA. Scores of people - around 3,000 - of non-elite runners (the elite runners start earlier) lingered with anticipation at the starting line. There sheer mass of people meant that everyone had to walk for the first 1/4 mile. As the crowd thinned, I began my run.
Though running this marathon was a solo experience, the people - the spectators and the my friends and family who supported me - were my chief inspiration. Without them, I would not have finished. My parents met me Wellesley (mile 14), at Boston College (mile 21), and at the finish line. Seeing their smiling, proud faces was the greatest motivation. At Wellesley College (around mile 13), Evadne, one of my good friends, gave me huge hug and screamed ecstatically as I ran past!
The Boston Marathon is notoriously challenging because of the number of hills and in particular, Heartbreak Hill, which earned its name due to the long, gradual incline on Commonwealth Avenue at the latter half of the race when runners begin to lose steam. I was determined to run the entire hill without a break, and I pounded the pavement to the hill's crest and Boston College, where I was greeted by packed sidelines of gregarious students cheering on the runners. That was one incredible rush, finally running in a downhill, cheered on by your alma mater! At BC, I connected with my friend Katie, who ran the last five miles with me - an act that sustained me in the miles that proved to be the most challenging.
During the last five miles, the weight of this race began to catch up with me. I ran the distance but I was not entirely sure how I was moving. My mind and body were in a new, strange territory. I was blessed to have Katie there to encourage me towards that finish line. The worst hill of the entire race was actually the slight incline on Beacon Street before Kenmore Square. My dragging legs felt weighty with exhaustion. However, the deafening cheers from the crowd propelled me further along. That final stretch down Boylston Street towards the finish line seemed like the longest distance in the world. And full of unreal emotions. But I had done it. I had completed the Boston Marathon.
I'm not certain if I will ever run a marathon again. Some days I think, sure. Others, never. Regardless of my future running plans, this experience was a milestone on my life for my personal triumph as well as a reminder of how blessed I am to have such miraculous friends and family.