NPR

8 runners take on the 2014 Boston Marathon

jannine myers

2014 Boston Marathon — A Race To Remember

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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

What I Always Wish For The Day Before A Marathon

I hate to admit this, but I have a tendency to wish for the same thing before every marathon I run. I start wishing that I could fast forward the time and plant myself in the future — to be exact, at the finish line a second or two after I’ve crossed it.

Does anyone else wish for the same thing? Maybe I should start wishing that I didn’t suffer so terribly from pre-race nerves and that I would start looking forward to the race instead of dreading it.

— Jannine Myers

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The John Hancock sign marks the finish line of the Boston Marathon

Escaping From All Marathon Thoughts — At Least Momentarily

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With so many beautiful churches to admire here in Boston, it makes it easy to momentarily steer my thoughts away from tomorrow’s marathon and reflect instead upon the significance of Easter.

Happy Easter everyone!

— Jannine Myers

Enjoying the incredible hospitality of my Bostonian hosts — Suzanne and Jay. Jay was kind enough to take me down to a local running trail yesterday (that wraps around a gorgeous pond), where he patiently waited for me to run a couple of loops around the pond.
— Jannine Myers

Enjoying the incredible hospitality of my Bostonian hosts — Suzanne and Jay. Jay was kind enough to take me down to a local running trail yesterday (that wraps around a gorgeous pond), where he patiently waited for me to run a couple of loops around the pond.

— Jannine Myers

Final Thoughts Before Race Day

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In October 2011, I flew to Portland, Oregon, to attend a running coach clinic hosted by the RRCA (Road Runner’s Club of America). I remember the course instructors talking about the Boston Marathon and claiming that only 10 to 12 percent of American runners manage to qualify each year for this prestigious race. I was stunned at that statistic and looked it up online to verify it’s validity. Sure enough, the information seemed to be backed up by other sources.

Throughout the remainder of that clinic, I continued to ponder those numbers, attempting to process what it would mean to me if I ever managed to achieve a Boston qualifying time. Up until that point it had definitely been on my mind to try and qualify, but I hadn’t realized just how few marathon runners actually make it to Boston. That concept made the challenge even more appealing, and by God’s grace, I finished the coaching clinic on a Saturday afternoon, ran the Portland marathon the next morning and qualified for Boston!

Now that I’m finally here, just days away from running my first Boston marathon, I’ve been experiencing a wide variety of emotions. One minute I feel super charged and ready to go and the next I feel nervous and jittery or, when I see news coverage of last year’s tragic event, I feel incredibly sad and a little afraid.

Physically I feel far from ready; this hasn’t been one of my better training cycles. I’ve had some highs and lows, both physically and mentally, and due to the resurfacing of old injuries I don’t feel that I am where I should be. Simply put, I don’t feel strong. And that adds to my nervousness.

Still, despite everything I am currently feeling, I am confident that I will run and finish the Boston marathon. While I set myself an initial time goal of 3:30, I’ve since realized that a more realistic goal might be one of “just finishing.”

Had it been any other marathon, I probably would have felt disappointed at having to revise my race goal. But this marathon is different; it’s different because there is so much more meaning attached to it and everyone is running with a shared desire to show a united front against all kinds of adversities and tragedies.

In my case, I will be running in honor of those who were victims of last year’s bombing attacks and also to raise money for a friend’s 8-year-old son who has leukemia. With those thoughts in mind, I know that I will do my best to overcome any setbacks on race day. Anything less would be unacceptable, as unlike those I am running for, any pain and suffering I experience will be temporary.

Put into that perspective, I think I can show up to the start line on Monday with a positive and determined attitude, a sense of gratitude that I get to run a race that statistically few runners qualify for, and a renewed appreciation for life, loved ones, and blessings.

— Jannine Myers

Thank You!

This isn’t a regular post, just a few words to say thank you to everyone who has been following our NPR Tumblr blog! I have not missed a single comment and would like to express my sincerest thanks to all of you who have responded with supportive and encouraging words. I have taken them all to heart!

— Jannine Myers

A Shout-Out To My Husband

My husband rarely takes time off; he’s one of those workers who takes his job seriously and invests a lot of time and energy into making sure that things are being done as they are supposed to be done and that no loose ends are left hanging. In his line of work — infantry operations in the Marine Corps — loose ends can’t be afforded. I admire my husband’s dedication and accept that his sense of loyalty often limits our time with him. But I also know that, when it comes down to it, his family always comes first.

Last year, when my husband learned of the Boston Marathon bombings, he was relieved that I had opted earlier to run the Napa Valley marathon instead. When I informed him that I wanted to go to the Boston Marathon in 2014, his natural protective tendency had him insisting that he would have to go with me. Keep in mind that I have traveled alone to other overseas races without him feeling concerned.

Erik (my husband) isn’t naive by the way; he doesn’t believe that he is capable of keeping me out of harm’s way. But he is also not the kind of guy who will stand back and leave things to chance. As long as I have been married to him he has always done his best to to serve, protect and offer assistance.

In fact, through the help of our host Suzanne (who I mentioned in a previous post), Erik will be out there helping other runners, too.

Next Monday, you’ll find my husband waiting for me at the finish line later in the afternoon. But before that you’ll see him volunteering in the Red Cross DOC (Disaster Operations Center).

My husband always tells me how proud he is of me. But today I am shouting out how proud I am of him!

— Jannine Myers

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My husband made sure to pack his Red Cross shirt. In Okinawa he volunteers for the Red Cross on weekends, teaching First Aid and CPR classes.

This Year’s Boston Marathon A Bitter Sweet Achievement

Yesterday, after arriving at the airport, I tried to feel happy and excited. But it was hard. My younger daughter — Jade — had cried several times already and I felt guilty. It is, after all, because of my own selfish pursuits that I am leaving for a period of time to go and run a marathon that could potentially be the target of another terrorist attack. Jade was anxious about me leaving, but she was more worried about where I was going.

Seeing fear in the eyes of your own child is a terrible thing, and even more so when you know that you’re the one responsible for creating that fear. Even my older daughter Chantal, who calmly played it off as if she were not anxious at all, sent me the following text right before we boarded our first flight:

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I’ve spoken to both girls since we left and they’re doing fine, but I know I will think of them often while I’m in Boston (and worry, just a little). 

Boston-bound is where I am headed. And while I’m thrilled to be one of the many thousands of runners participating in this year’s marathon, I never anticipated the cost of getting there including such an emotional separation from my girls.

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— Jannine Myers

A Marathon Before The Marathon

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Okinawa > Tokyo > Los Angeles > Boston = 30+ hours of traveling!

Flying from Okinawa to the States is just about as exhausting as running a marathon. And just as a marathon requires some recovery time, I’m sure our “marathon flight” is going to require a day or two of recovery also.

— Jannine Myers

Bostonian Hospitality — Nothing Quite Like It!

I’ve never been to Boston before, but everything I have ever read about the Boston marathon tells me that I am going to love it. From the city itself, to the prestigious marathon event, to the hospitality of those who live and work there — I just know that I am going to experience something quite unique and amazing.

In fact, I haven’t even arrived in Boston and I have already had the pleasure of experiencing some wonderful Bostonian hospitality. I hope you’ll keep reading because what I am about to share highlights the fact that for every shameful act of terror, there are also acts of love and kindness.

Last year, after running the Napa Valley Marathon, I had to visit my family physician and have my swollen calves looked at. As I discussed with her my recent race experience, our conversation moved to the Boston Marathon and by the time I left the clinic, I had in hand the email address of her parents who happen to live in … Boston!

Suzanne and Jay are in their 70s and have lived in Boston for many years. They are avid supporters of the Boston Marathon and Suzanne, a Red Cross volunteer, was working on the course last year when the bombs went off. That hasn’t deterred her from volunteering again this year.

Not only will Suzanne be busy with her Red Cross obligations and other commitments, but she (and her husband) will also be busy hosting my husband and me!

We are beyond excited to meet them and ever-so grateful! This is a couple who has never met us. Yet they are opening up their home to us and extending incredible and gracious hospitality.

It seems to me that Boston is a city that, even though attacked in the most horrific way, is full of residents who won’t allow such evil to color their hearts with anger and bitterness. Instead, Bostonians seem even more ready and willing to stand up and welcome into their city, homes and businesses the many thousands of runners who will soon start triumphantly making their way to Boston.

— Jannine Myers