This weekend was pretty ridiculously busy. Friday night I had to work on my paper and clean the apartment (it was being shown Saturday and Sunday). Saturday morning I worked a race in Rhode Island, went grocery shopping, wrote my paper, and then went into the city to celebrate my little sister’s 24th birthday. I didn’t get to sleep until midnight or so, and then woke up a little before 6am to work a race in Milton. Luckily, I had a little bit of time to go home and take a power nap before heading into Boston for … One Run for Boston.
Logistically, the One Run for Boston was an adventure. I parked in Back Bay and then took the T to my sister’s apartment in Cleveland Circle so that I could hitch a ride with her to Waltham… and then run all the way back to Copley Square for my car. It had rained earlier and was still overcast. I decided to bring my rain jacket… just in case… since I knew that if I forgot it, I’d end up regretting it. My sister dropped me off at the Main Street park in Waltham at around 2:20, and there was already a pretty good crowd of runners – including my friend and colleague Hilary who I convinced to join me on the first 6.5 miles.
It was perfect timing, as I got to watch the runners from Wellesley arrive in Waltham, proudly carrying American flags and Miles Jr., the baton (aka MJ). As they finished their trek and the group prepared for the second to last leg, we signed the official One Run for Boston car and took pictures with MJ. One Run for Boston was started by three friends from London who after the Boston Marathon bombing decided that they wanted/needed to do something to help the victims as well as the overall running community. They completed the first One Run for Boston at the end of June 2013. The second One Run for Boston began March 16th.
As we hung out in the park, stretching, taking pictures, and waiting anxiously to begin our journey towards Boston, I noticed that the infamous Danny (proud wearer of short red shorts and a ducky backpack, as well as one of the founders of One Run for Boston) was trying to figure out the direction of our route a few feet from me. Since I know Waltham and the Charles River Trail fairly well, I stepped up to him and suggested we run in X direction to get to the opening of the trail just a couple blocks away. Danny stepped up onto a platform, told everyone which direction we were headed… and then pointed MJ the baton at me and told me to get us started. Even though I didn’t want to leave my friend Hilary behind, and I knew that my slow(er) pace wasn’t going to match up with everyone else, there’s no saying “No” to that kind of order. So I grabbed the baton, and started running. One girl carrying an American flag ran up next to me and we chatted until we reached the trail. She had done the One Run last year, and had already done multiple stages of this years – and she always carries the flag.
When we got to the trail start, I passed MJ the baton to the next person behind me, and waited for Hilary. Not only did I find Hilary, but I found Danny, who after giving me a hug and kiss on a cheek and posed for selfies with me and Hilary, I had the pleasure of running with him for a bit – talking about his plans for the future, the successes and areas of improvement for the race, etc. For a guy that is now famous in the running community, he is absolutely down to earth and hilarious and an amazing guy.
We ran along the Charles River Path – my old stomping grounds, literally – and with only one stop to ask a police officer if we were going the right direction (we weren’t, and I could have told that), we made it to the start of the final stage. I said goodbye to Hilary, who was an amazing run partner (can’t wait for our half-marathon in August!), and hung around some more until the next start. I found some women I had chatted with in Waltham, and together we set off with the 10 minute mile pace group.
I felt great during the first 6.5 miles. But, after stopping and hanging out for a good 20 minutes before running again, I was not feeling as awesome. I may have walked a little. I may have called Sarah to complain about how tired I was. Eventually though, I made it to the Mass Ave bridge where everyone was waiting for the entire group (leave no runner behind), and together, we ran across the Mass Ave bridge – which was closed down for us – towards Back Bay. Regardless of the traffic we were causing all over the city, the people in cars were amazing – honking their horns, taking pictures and videos, and giving high fives.
We ran to Comm Ave, and then finished the run following the marathon route (I think) towards Copley Square. At Newbury Street, victims and survivors of the bombing joined us to walk the final 100 yards. I had managed to keep my cool the whole time… until I saw the finish line. As I approached it, I don’t know what hit me, but I crouched down to touch it and immediately start to sob my eyes out. It didn’t last long – but long enough for a random girl to crouch down beside me and give me a hug. I was able to compose myself after a couple of minutes, but then began to sob again – and another random girl came by and gave me a hug. And, this is why I love runners and the running community. I don’t know if I was emotional because of the Boston Marathon itself, the memories of last year’s bombing, or because it’s the week of the 4th anniversary of my grandmother’s death – or all of the above – but even though I didn’t know a single person in the crowd, I was surrounded by the strongest, most resilient community of runners who care about, comfort, support, and love one another.
I know I said that I was going to take April off and not run a half marathon, but I honestly couldn’t help it. But, you’ll be happy to know that I am signed up for ZERO races in May and really, truly plan to not run any half marathons until June.
Thank you to all the people who so generously gave towards my fundraising efforts – I promise to not ask for anything else until the Boston Marathon!
And thank you to Hilary, Janelle, Santana, Scott, Danny, Amanda, Ann, my unknown comforters, and all the other amazing runners I met on this journey. Sunday was an inspiration, an emotional outlet, and the most perfect example of why I love running, runners, and the community we’re a part of.