Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Winding down, gearing up

 The Boston Marathon is full of inspiration.  Not just in people who run 26.2 miles on their day off for fun, but in their stories.  Back in 1972, when I was a young girl in a changing world being told "girls don't," I had heroes like Katherine Switzer who responded, "Says who?"

Switzer entered the Boston Marathon as K. V. Switzer because it was a men's only race.  When the race director, Jock Semple, realized there was a woman running, he tried to push her off the course and out of the race but her boyfriend and other runners came to her defense and she finished the race.  Not that much longer, she was able to join the field legally as one of the first women runners.

People overcome so much to add the title "Boston Runner" to their lives, it's hard to explain to people who are stuck on, "Why would you run 26 miles?  I can't even run one...."  But it's like anything in life, you run one mile at a time.  Sometimes you fall, sometime you push away the haters but no matter what, you push yourself to your limits and beyond to finish the race.  Don't let people tell you what you can't do, that's your call and no one else's.

There will be lots of "we reclaimed the finish line" talk, but mostly I look at the photo from yesterday that summed up the Boston Marathon I have known my whole life: a runner falling near the finish line in Copley Square and 4 runners around him picking him up to carry him over the finish line.  That is Boston, that is how we roll here.  It's the reason why at 4:30 in the afternoon when the course was being shut down, people were still along the road cheering on the stragglers who were determined to finish.

Yesterday I cheered on my older sister running her first Boston and my oldest brother running his 32nd (and possibly) last Boston.  They lined up in Hopkinton and finished in Copley Square.  It wasn't easy for either of them, even though they have been training and training and training some more since January.  They both finished and are stronger people for it and truly an inspiration for me.

I may never run Boston.  I'm training for my first half marathon (the inaugural Heartbreak Hill Half in June) and starting to feel a bit less scared about things after watching the parade of runners yesterday.  Today I will be able to buckle down to finish the last of my work due tomorrow night.  I will enjoy the couple of weeks off between semesters as I ramp up running and think about writing.

I'm not talking about the whole "Life's a marathon, not a sprint...." metaphor.  I'm talking about a reminder that happens every 3rd Monday in April here in Boston: people are tougher and more resilient than you may think and you only need to look at all those folks running in your neighborhood to remind yourself of that truth.

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