As I sit here, I’m officially in taper mode with only two long runs left. And by long runs, I mean one 13.1 and an eight. With a little less than three weeks till the Boston Marathon, I am feeling many different emotions but the predominant emotion is happiness. It has been a very long road, filled with self doubt and anxiety. However, the road was lined with some of the brightest moments I have ever experienced. On Wednesday, while running with Alan and Jan, Alan proclaimed that he “had his doubts” when I began my training. And that wasn’t said in a negative manner what so ever, it was a simple statement acknowledging that I had a lot of things working against me and at one point, it appeared as though this may not happen. The three of us have had many conversations, where I have confided with them, my shock that this was even happening and my fears that I may not be able to do it. When I broke my metatarsal bone, a week after getting the call about Boston, I thought for sure, I was out. But something, deep, I mean, really deep inside, made me want it bad enough that I ran through 6 weeks of intense pain. The first runs out were horrible, soul crushing runs that made me doubt, my love of this sport. Then there was my heart, I had a medical team telling me I could do it but I shouldn’t do it. And I said to hell with them and did it anyways, only to find out that my heart right now, at this moment, is the strongest it has ever been. But the worst road block was myself and the gut wrenching moments I had to fight to get here.
Just over two years ago, I lost someone who was once very special to me. I joined the Roasters for a multitude of reasons but one of the predominant reasons was that I needed to keep running for my sanity. But, I was having a hard time alone, fighting the solo moments on the road which sometimes seemed endless. I knew running was my way out of an emotional pit. This loss was very sudden and very personal. He was young, too young. And for reasons, I care not to mention, I kept it private and I kept it close. I mourned it secret. I had loved him at whatever capacity love was to me at that time. Buried inside, were all the regrets and thoughts associated with him and they were eating at me. It was crippling in some ways. Running has helped me sort out so many issues, that I knew time on the road would release me from the grips of, whatever this was.
A little less than a year ago, I began my journey to become whole again. Over the past 5 months, I think I have succeeded at this task. Training for Boston has helped me to grow into myself and to see the good in people once again. One year with the Roasters restored my faith in the human spirit. It also solidified that fundamentally, people are good and will rise to the occasion. There have been so many finish lines with smiling, cheering faces. So many finish lines crossed with hugs and tears immediately following. So many boundaries leapt over. So many songs played, as I come to the end, that I collect in my heart like tokens. Over the past 5 months, I have had people with me, almost every step of the way, there have been few solo runs. My fellow runners and friends have gotten up in the darkest, earliest hours and battled the coldest mornings with me. They have gone long for no reason other than support. They have shared with me: sunsets, sunrises, rainy days, sporadic warm days, blue skies, downpours and moments when everything is so perfect, it’s too blissful not to catch. And while out on the road, with these people I love, I have sorted out all the dark days, all the demons, all the things I wish I had said but never got a chance to, I have come to love what has become my life and to believe that everything truly happens for a reason.
These gifts don’t come for free. That’s for sure. And that’s the way I have come to look at it. My loved ones have sacrificed themselves so that on a 20 miler, I could have waves crashing, tailwinds and the perfect weather to nail that sucker in 3:24. I am grateful. I wouldn’t see these things if I wasn’t a runner. Those gifts are cherished. I hold them in a mental bank, able to access in difficult times.
Everyone keeps telling me that there is a huge difference between 20 miles and 26.2 miles. I’m sure there is and perhaps I am just naïve in my thinking that I have come so far, I’d do anything to cross that finish line. That line, painted in yellow with the unicorn adorning it, represents everything that I have worked so hard for. Once I cross that line, I will be free. Free to release the baggage and the hurt, the fear and the regret. I will be free from my years of fearing my heart. I will be free from all my misconceptions about what living in Maine would be to me. I will be free from the chains I have put on myself for many years. Yes, the last 6.2 will be tough. I will probably have a panic attack. I might cry. But to me, the day of, that’s the easy part. The hard stuff is behind me. Nothing can hurt worse than what I have endured.
That finish line is everything.
And I’m gonna get there. Any way I have to.