2014 Boston Marathon — A Race To Remember
I’m writing this while waiting in Tokyo for our final flight home to Okinawa. I’m trying to find the words to describe Monday’s race experience but it isn’t easy.
The morning of the race, I woke up early to check my Facebook and email accounts. I could not believe the number of “good luck” messages and prayer offerings that were steadily flowing into my inbox or across my Facebook timeline. They just kept coming and by 7:15 a.m., when it was time to make my way to Boston Common, I was completely overwhelmed by the enormous amount of support I had received.
During the bus ride to Athlete’s Village, I sat quietly and thought about everyone’s messages. So many people had expressed their faith in me and I did not want to let them down. I didn’t want to let Wilson down either — my friend’s 8-year-old son with leukemia.
A few hours later, as I started running, these thoughts were still on my mind and the first few miles went by with ease. By mile seven, however, I began to feel as if I were “losing control,” even though I was sure that I had been keeping a comfortable pace.
At mile 13, I was relieved to see my husband on the sidelines. I felt encouraged as he ran down the sidewalk, dodging bystanders, so that he could cheer me on for at least a few more seconds. I needed that moment; I was already feeling exhausted and my confidence was wavering.
By mile 15 I was feeling physically ill and I made the hasty decision to throw away all of my remaining energy fuels, including the hand-held bottle I had been carrying. The only thing that would keep me going from this point on would be the water and Gatorade offered at the aid stations.
The next few miles were a mental battle as I fought the urge to throw up. As I approached Heartbreak Hill, I wondered how I would make it to the top without having to stop and walk. The difference between the Boston Marathon and other marathons is the local support. It is so tremendous. From start to finish you are surrounded by thousands of spectators screaming at you to keep fighting and to not give up. I couldn’t let them down; I kept running.
The last five miles seemed slow and torturous. I was stopping by this time at every aid station, slowing to a walk, taking sips of Gatorade followed by sips of water and then pouring a full cup of water over my head. At one point I passed a guy hosing people down and I gladly allowed him to cool me off.
It was also at this point that I heard someone yell out, “Hey Kiwi, you better start running if you wanna catch those Aussies that just passed you!” If there’s one thing that motivates a New Zealander, that will do it!
Just a few more miles to go. At the Athlete’s Village, two veteran marathoners had told me that the crowd would carry me through the last three miles and they were right. As ill as I felt, the loud cheering and high-fives and frequent cries of “Go Kiwi!” spurred me on. I saw the Citgo sign and fixed my thoughts on reaching Hereford Street.
Most Boston marathoners know that once you take the right turn onto Hereford Street, there’s a final left turn onto Boylston Street and then a short distance to the finish line. I almost cried when I finally saw Hereford Street. I found a sudden surge of energy and ran, with all my heart, all the way to the finish line.
I didn’t achieve my 3:30 goal. But I did qualify for Boston again and I’m thrilled!
I’m also thrilled, and proud of myself, for refusing to give up. Marathons are tough; they are not for the faint of heart. I believe that is why there is such camaraderie among marathon runners; we have mutual admiration and respect for one another. We all understand the level of pain that is endured. We don’t question each other on why we continue to test ourselves in this way; we simply accept that we each have our reasons.
As I reunited with my husband after the race, feeling both broken and victorious at the same time, I told him I never wanted to run another marathon again. But today is another day, and like every other marathon experience, I always recover from it. In fact, next year’s Boston marathon is already on my mind …
— Jannine Myers