The Boston Marathon has always held a special place in my heart. In 2000, I ran my first and only Boston Marathon. I was new to running and didn’t know much about the sport. However, I did know that qualifying for the most prestigious marathon in the world was a huge accomplishment. When I told friends and family that I was training for Boston, they were deeply inspired. When I qualified and ran the Boston Marathon, I felt like a world class runner!
Boston is a difficult and demanding goal that requires disciplined training and constant motivation. The challenge is certainly not a task for the faint of heart, and the race marks a pinnacle for most runners. It is an achievement that truly makes you feel like you can do anything! I believe that the Boston Marathon should be renamed “The Marathon of Dreams Come True,” or perhaps “The Marathon that Will Change Your Life Forever.” For me, it was both.
When I crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon 14 years ago, I knew that my life would never be the same. I know that I am not the first person to experience this. Millions of other runners have crossed the finish line and crossed a huge item off their bucket list. The hard work, dedication and passion always pays off. Succeeding at such an incredible goal tends to inspire runners to dream bigger and aim higher.
In many regards, The race is about hard work and earning recognition for your efforts. There’s a quote by Chris Kearns, Boston qualifier, that rings true.
“You can’t win. But, that same internal fire that leads us to do a marathon in the first place glows brighter when we meet a goal beyond just finishing. Qualifying for Boston has become that universal goal—it’s not just finishing, but finishing above a serious, and seriously hard, standard that’s there for all to see.”
Completing that Boston Marathon over a decade ago transformed running from a hobby into my true passion. The race helped me believe in myself and believe that, just maybe, I could become a world class runner too. I pursued distance running with all of my heart and I started to see the running community as my family. I’ve come to realize that there is a running community in every town, made up of like-minded people. The members often come from different backgrounds and have little in common, yet all inevitably share a passion for running, healthy lifestyle choices and the satisfaction of accomplishing big goals.
When you go running with someone, the small talk generally ends pretty quickly. Runners connect on a deep level. When everyone is pushing their personal limit, it’s easy to be real and raw with one another. Like any community, we understand that each member is striving to do their best and become a champion, whatever that may mean to them. No matter their speed or endurance, every runner expends the same passion, energy and excitement when calling upon their inner hero. Though our specific goals vary, we all aim to outperform the runner we were just yesterday. We are all aiming to be better, on the track and off.
Eight years after running the Boston Marathon, I ran the 2008 Olympic Trials in Boston. The Trials were held the day before the Boston Marathon, so I had the pleasure of experiencing the track, the city and the energy once again. The Olympic Trials were held on a four-loop course that crossed the Boston Finish Line with each loop, concluding at the same location where Boston Marathoners would raise their arms in victory the next day.
I felt the charm of the city wash over me with every mile I ran. The cheering spectators gave me chills that lasted the entire race and intensified every time I crossed the Boston Finish Line. The city is alive with a sense of magic and incredible energy that is utterly contagious!
The same year I ran the Olympic Trials in Boston, I coached seven friends to qualify for the Boston Marathon. The day after running my electrifying Olympic Trials race, I experienced the thrill of being a spectator at one of the world’s biggest marathons. Sharing my friends’ journey and watching their dreams come true was priceless!
Hearing about the Boston Marathon Bombing last April sent chills down my spine. I was in complete shock. Who would do something so terrible? How could someone attack such a tight-knit community, as well as the friends and family that support us?
To me, as a runner, it felt like a personal attack. It was an attack on my running family, their loved ones, their supporters and fans. I didn’t understand how someone could viciously harm others at the very line where Dreams Come True and Lives are Changed Forever. I still don’t understand.
This was personal for me; this was personal for all runners. Shortly after hearing the news, I decided that I must run the 2014 Boston Marathon. From across the country, I watched the strength of the Boston community and witnessed runners from all over the world gather to show their support for Boston and its victims. Though the bombing was a terrible tragedy, the aftermath served as a beautiful reminder of the strength and camaraderie that running offers. I have never been more proud to be a runner.
We are dreamers, fighters and champions. We fall, endure pain and get back up again. We support one another, cheer each other on and, most importantly, we never give up! We are runners and we understand the power of uniting around a shared cause. Boston is still “The Marathon of Dreams Come True” and “The Marathon that Will Change Your Life Forever,” and we still own this race.
From this year forward, Boston will hold another title: “Boston Strong!” These two simple words remind us that running is about community, that strength is not only physical and that nothing can stand in the way of our biggest dreams.
The tragic bombing offered many runners the motivation they need to keep moving forward and embrace their running community. Within hours of the news being released, several runners I was coaching called to say, “I am going to run Boston next year!” I am proud to be in Boston with six BTB (believe-train-become) runners: Carrie Weldy, Dardee Murray, Kaylee Barton, Cris Caccavale and Cindy Scott. We are also joined by one runner that I coach from the Boston area, Kelly LeCours. Along with my team, there are many, many others from Arizona running this marathon. Our beautiful state will be there in full force showing our support for Boston and runners everywhere!
As a coach, there is nothing better than seeing someone you’ve worked with achieve their dream of running Boston. The race is a true badge of honor. This year holds extra meaning and significance. The race is not a high-competition solo sport this year, but a team sport with thousands of players all dreaming the same dream. We are all here to promote unity and to celebrate triumph!
The Boston Marathon will always be a prestigious race and a token to be worn with pride. However, the event now also represents the joining of hands and hearts. We are all here to do what we love, to the best of our ability. We are here to support one another–to laugh and cry and understand. We are here to show the world that we are not afraid.
There will be 36,000 Boston Strong runners this year. Each of us will show up with our own personal goals–some are here to win, others aim to run a person best and some (like me) are determined to break an age group course record. Every single person running has a different goal, but we all share one intention. We have all showed up here to run BOSTON STRONG!
Keep Believing, Keep Running & Find a Way,