The beginnings of True Love…
I remember being a kid and watching the Boston Marathon on tv every Patriots Day. I remember saying to myself: “I’m going to run the marathon someday, and I’m going to be the youngest person to do it” Now, let me give you a little background info on little 14-year-old Nicole. She was LAZY. She didn’t RUN! Couldn’t be bothered to exercise! I don’t know what made me think that somehow I was going to RUN the Boston Marathon (of ALL races!).
Brief running background:
Sometime around my 19th birthday, I started to run. Not a lot-Just a few miles around my neighborhood-And I found I REALLY liked it. It was a stress reliever! And, I was kind of good at it(I had never been athletic at anything, ever). I started to do it more. My 14 year old dream long forgotten, I got my first official number at age 22.
The Funny Stuff…
I still laugh when I think back to the very first Boston Marathon that I ran.
When you are getting into running-running experts usually recommend that you start slowly building your mileage up. SO you start with a 5k-a 10k, maybe even a half marathon.
My first Boston marathon was my first race… EVER.
Not a 5k.
Not a 10k.
A marathon. And one of the most difficult back-breaking marathons, to boot.
I never even did a simple road race. Who does that??
I don’t even know how I conceived in my
inexperienced crazy brain that it would be a cool idea to run Boston.
Here are some things you should know before running your first Marathon:
-you can’t just DO IT, you have to TRAIN for it. HARD. Harder than ANYTHING I had ever done.
-it’s best to follow a training plan, and oh BTW’s-learn what a “training plan” is.
-You have to run a lot more than 10 miles (in a row)
-to a non coffee drinker…it is a detox. It also should NOT be drunk in excess. Seriously-I didn’t know this bc I actually don’t like coffee.
But I digress…
I sat outside on a cold, cold field. Free coffee is offered…why wouldn’t i embrace the only warm thing in my life at the moment? I probably had three cups. Oh Nicole…you crazy, crazy girl you. #youregonnabesicknanananapoopoo
The gun went off…I knew I could do it! The first half was great! I was flying through it! But, By mile 16, I felt ill. Nauseous/cold sweats/dizzy(coffee kicking in!) I didn’t think I was going to make it another 10 miles. My best friend and a few others were waiting for me at the last half mile before the finish line. When she found out I was running it, Joelynn immediately pledged her full support and said she would go to see me finish. I know for an absolute FACT that I would not have finished if I didn’t know she was waiting there for me. I knew she would be worried that it was taking me so long to run it, so I tried to walk as fast as a violently ill person can walk.
By the time I got to her, I was a wreck. It had been over six hours since I had started; I was physically beat, mentally shattered. In tears, I told her I couldn’t finish the marathon, that I didn’t WANT to. She gave me an “Are you Crazy?!” look and grabbed my left arm, had our other friend grab my right-and together, they were my legs to the finish line.
The feeling of finishing was exhilarating. Better than any other runners high I could imagine. I vowed to someday do the marathon again.
And here we are, many Boston Marathons later:
Saying that you are a consecutive Boston Marathon runner is the stuff of folklore…when people find out that I’m running it, naturally, they ask,
shocked politely”oh is it your first time?” Nothing is cooler than seeing their eyes turn from shock to excitement when I admit that I’ve done Seven.
Through the years, I have obviously worked hard at my training…I have literally halved my times. HALVED. I mean- besides the coffee and knowing that I need to run more than 10 miles I a row, I now focus on techniques, training patterns, rest days, cross training, and most importantly: I listen to my own body.
But even as an untrained, ill experienced runner..the Boston Marathon grabbed a hold of my soul back then and has NEVER let go. It is something I do, annually, without fail. I love it. Honestly- the course bests me, annually, without fail. It plays tricks on my awesome training and makes my times suck every year. I once lost my phone down a porta potty. Ive gotten physically sick during the Boston Marathon. Anyone in their right freaking mind wouldn’t continue on with a love affair like this one. But I do.
Because you don’t give up on your dreams.
What’s my dream? Besides breaking 3:30 in a marathon-I want to win Boston. Duh.
(Jk. Sort of 😉 )
And now we come to April 15, 2013
There were many, many lessons learned that day. Among them-life is short. Don’t ever EVER take a single day for granted. I can say that over and over again,
But it seems to never fully sink in.
At about 5pm onApril 15, 2013, I was standing with my husband, brother in law, and sister in law among the wreckage and chaos of the city. We were still there, hour and hours later trying to get to a safe place for my SIL’s dad to pick us up. It was not an easy thing; half the city was blocked off, and there were massive amounts of traffic. We walked for miles on end. Police, swat Teams, FBI vehicles, helicopters-we saw it all. The constant sound of their sirens was a haunting song on replay. Even now, I cannot hear a single siren without it taking me right back to that moment.
My husband turned to me and said “how do you feel about never running this marathon again? You can run any marathon you want to, just not this one.”
I didn’t even respond…
….even though-I know, that if the bombs were “correctly placed” – we (me, absolutely) would’ve been severely injured…or worse…
…even though we were physically and emotionally all shaken up
…even though the identify of the bomber was still unknown and he (they) was/were out there on the loose…
…even though the thought of returning scared me
..and it still scares me a little now…
There was one thing that was, even already, the MOST clear to me:
I knew, without a single doubt, that I would be standing at the starting line in Hopkington come April, 2014.
Running the Boston marathon has come to define me. It had shaped me into the person I am now. I know that sounds silly-a marathon had shaped your character? But it’s the absolute spot on truth.
It motivates me.
It has changed me.
It gives me goals, and inspiration. Hope. Courage.
I have had people express outright shock when they find out that I’m planning on going back next year.
“Are you crazy? It’s too scary”
Yes, it’s scary.
No, I won’t change my mind.
“What if it happens again”
I can’t, i WONT, I REFUSE to think like that. REFUSE.
I had a large group of family and friends there to wish me well and watch me cross the finish line.
Everyone had their own reactions. I know the majority of the group won’t be heading back. And I understand.. I don’t want anyone to feel that they don’t feel safe…I would rather them stay home, and cheer me on from their houses. (Oh and pick me up at the train station, please.)
I had this new friend say to me today:
I’m happy to see you are running the 2014 Boston Marathon, too. I don’t think there is any better way to show support for Boston and to show how resilient and awesome runners are
And she is right. Runners are resilient..the City of Boston is resilient. We will NEVER give up. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
We will stand united, because divided…we fall
We are one BostonStrong. ALL OF US.
If you haven’t been aware: the outpouring of love towards the city of Boston is Incredible..from the NY Yankees playing “Sweet Caroline”, Jeff Bauman being announced at the bruins games- and to the Red Sox laying this along the finish line:
There are still tributes everywhere we look. Because we will NOT forget, nor would I WANT to. It’s a life altering experience.
I’m not just running this marathon for me, I’m running it for all of the people who are still facing their awful and lifelong injuries. For the four that will NEVER be there again. For my husband and friends who have ALWAYS, ALWAYS supported me and won’t be going back. I will never let the terrorist win. I will never let FEAR win. We are better; we are more than than that.
Never forget: BostonStrong now, BostonStrong ALWAYS.
The Girl Who Ran Everywhere