Its April 17th and the countdown button on the BAA website says “4 days until the race.” I have found that since the one week countdown officially commenced, I have been a mixture of reflective and solemn. This race marks so many milestones for me and signifies a year of immense change. On Sunday, I had all the Roaster ladies over and for a moment, I had to stop and take a look at the coveted prize I had before me. A room filled with strong, remarkable, amazing women who have surpassed my expectation as to what a female athlete could be and inspired me to push outside of my self inflicted comfort zone. They are funny and kind. A wealth of knowledge with a splash of sass. Life achievers and stellar fighters. All of them unique and none of them the same. To see that our friendships extend beyond time on the road, filled my heart with warmth. I felt, very special in that moment, knowing that here in Maine, I have arrived in every sense of the word. And it’s not just the Roasters, but in all aspects of my life. Relationships this year seemed to appear from everywhere, existing ones grew even stronger and the ones that dissipated, I was more than ready for. Learning that not forcing things is sometimes the best option, was one of the big lessons I had to learn.
As I have stated before, it was over a year ago last year that I prepared for my first race in the Distance Medley, the BAA 5K. I wandered around that expo, just in shock at all the people wearing those marathon jackets. I enamored them, I was jealous of them and a lot of me, thought they were nuts. How does a person do that? How do you sustain that level of activity for 26.2 miles? I just wrote it off. I’m broken, I’ll never get to, nor do I want to, experience that. I purchased my “Boston Runnah” T-shirt, which I had no idea, would become so valuable to me. How could I know that two days later, someone would place two bombs in a landmark treasure, in a city I grew up in and love so much? In a place, at an event that is so inspiring, and hurt so many people. I had no idea what that shirt would become to me. I have worn it at almost every race since then and been proud every time. I remember crossing that finish line the next day at the 5K, with 29 minutes on the clock thinking: what a wash. I looked around at the people I was supposed to be “running it with” and felt almost no emotion. Running was at that time, a lonely sport for me. I always celebrated with my husband but lets be honest, husbands get tired of hearing about this kind of stuff. It never dawned on me that shortly after that race, I would find my new “home.”
One year later, I have sacrificed much, to prove to myself that this is possible. My family has sacrificed even more. I have given up every Saturday morning with my family and sometimes Sunday mornings. Days that were once leisurely with the kids are now usually about “the long run.” I have sacrificed cocktails and date nights and some, but not all, sugary treats. I missed phone calls with my best friend Katie and hearing about our evolving lives. I woke up on every freezing cold morning and ran, thankfully not alone. I ran in the dark, at the sunset, at dawn. I shared countless hi-fives, hugs, tears and stories. I will never forget when Allison and I finished the 20 miler and after catching our breath, hugging and immediately starting to cry. My Roasters have seen me fall on my bum, hard, due to careless footing on my way to the bathroom. They have seen me scared, when I thought my heart was giving me the red flag. Alan looked at me before the 20 miler, because he could see I was freaking out, so that he may tell me to take it one step at a time and not to worry. They have given me gifts with notes, that I proudly display on my fridge. To say that this year, the last six months especially, have been filled with momentous occasions, would be an understatement. This year, has been filled with more character building moments than I can count. Watching the sun come up, seeing Venus shining in the sky, waves crashing and all the things people usually miss because they are sleeping, has been life changing.
To my Roasters, I say this:
I’m a bit of a giver upper. I tend to take the easy road whenever possible, choosing to sell myself short of my gifts and the possibilities. I would have NEVER trained for the Boston Marathon without your special guidance and time on the road. I would have bailed a long time ago. Some of you may say that’s not true, but I know me, and it’s true. I would never have written that essay for entry without all of you, because I would have had nothing to say about the matter. I would have never tried. The evening I found out I was running the Boston Marathon, you all poured your support upon me and offered anything and everything imaginable in terms of help. Saturday mornings have become very special. Warm smiles, after a long, cold run, go a long way. And watching everyone rise to the occasion this winter was priceless. Sometimes, when I think of the magnitude of this group, I just get so emotional. It’s a beautiful thing. It is. Training for this, has healed so many old wounds, I have put many things to bed while running quietly. I thank you all for your part in my miles. And I of course, wish everyone running the Boston Marathon the best of luck: Susan, Dave, David & Kristin, for some this is not the first and definitely not the last but for all of us, it will be the day we take back Boston.
And to my Roasters who have trained the bulk with me:
To Allison: I asked my father-in-law last night, “How do you thank someone for what she has done? How do you thank someone for never leaving you, not once, during this kind of training?” His response was: “You keep being her friend. You become her life-long friend. And someday, you pay back the favor, in one way or another.” He’s right. There are no words for what you have done. There are no gifts that can cover it. There is no card that can say what I need it to say. I can only say once again, thank you. I would have been barren without you. I would have withered without you. I needed you there, I did, and you followed through. For no reason, other than because you wanted to help a friend. I value every finish line we cross, whether I’m first or you’re first. (lately, you’re usually first) I value all our milestones and achievements. I hold them deep in the depths of my soul. This year, you and I, together, have just smashed every goal we have set out for. We are indeed, partners in crime. And I love you. I love you for this gift. You gave to me, the Boston Marathon.
To Alan & Jan: I can’t even count the runs you did with me, that no one else would have ever wanted to do. Zero degree days with major wind chill factor, running with a blizzard on its way, running with snow pelting us in the face. Running on the hills with me, that will be the reason I make it through Newton in one piece. The mid-week runs, those frosty 7 & 8 milers, were really only possible because of the both of you. Especially when I came back from Florida and was still nursing a broken toe. You gave me the motivation to just do it, but also, let me know it was alright if I couldn’t do it. The guidance you have provided has been endlessly helpful and immensely appreciated. You guys are my Buddha couple, I lean on you for direction and solace. Jan, I know you are always mentioning age but when I look at your beautiful face, I don’t see anything but the person who I love. A person that I share great moments with. And Alan, I know I may threaten your life quite a bit on the road but your tenacity for the hard stuff has made me SUCH a better runner. I am grateful for all your gifts in life.
To Kristin, Meg & Dave: Meg, you did my first 10 miler with me all alone after I broke my toe and it was the only reason I had a chance in Florida, and you have continued to battle out the long ones with me throughout the winter. I love how you always ask me: “How are you feeling?” which just showcases your compassion for the people around you. I revel in the moments when you share your stories because they are always so profound and just when I think I have been rightfully astounded, you tell me something else about you that just blows me away. You are such a strong woman and I marvel at your integrity, dedication and commitment to everything you do. I will be right there with you for your San Francisco training, we’re gonna get you to those hills ready and able to conquer. Kristin: You are my rabbit. I will never forget the first time I tried to run with you, I thought I was having a full on stroke. I couldn’t believe it. I just crawled up from behind, in astonishment at the woman in front of me. You’re a beast and I mean that as an immense compliment. There are many shit talkers out there but you’re not one of them. You just get up and do the work and quietly shock people with your fierceness. Running with you, is never easy for me but it’s always good. I know this is the groundwork to becoming a faster runner, chasing after those you love. We have shared the road many times throughout this training and I have always been amazed. I can’t wait to marvel in the day. I just, can not wait. I feel our connection has grown in our preparations for Boston and I can’t wait to see how everything blossoms. Dave: Our friendship has been swift in its growth and I am grateful for that. Some people, you just connect with and I think you’re one of them. Watching you come out of your shell and learn your “passions” for life has really been something. Thank you for always slowing down for me, for always coming back for me (even if it makes me feel like an old cripple) and for always thinking about your fellow runners. You are considerate beyond the norm. Thank you for every mile and every word, I treasure them all.
To Cheryl & Kate: You magical ladies have no idea the impact you have had on my life and there are, again, no words. You make me feel as though the world is possible and I dance in the idea that I can do anything when in your presence. Thank you for the support, encouragement, lively laughter and everything else you do for this group. My heart has a very special place for you both. xoxo.
To David & Cynthia, Betsy, Susan, David Holman & David Edwards, Monica, James, Meg & Russ, Terry, Laurie, Stacey, Ryan, Jim, Hugh, Bill, AM I MISSING SOMEONE?!? Hopefully not! I love you all. Each one of you has contributed to this in one way or another. I am eternally grateful. I really am.
A VERY special thank you to Maine Track Club, you saw something in my essay that made you feel I deserved this opportunity. Thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me this gift. I have cherished it and held it close, I promise to make you proud. And to resonate that you made the right decision.
I’ve been lucky that in 30 years I have had many grand moments. But this year, this moment, will certainly take the proverbial cake.