Three weeks ago, I ran the 126th Boston Marathon on Marathon Monday, or what is also known as Patriots’ Day. The iconic marathon had been on my list for a while as I am trying to complete all six World Major Marathons. It also has special meaning in my family since most of my mom’s side of the family went to school in Boston. When I saw an application in December to run as part of a charity team, I jumped on the opportunity. I knew that Easter weekend would be a weekend to remember.
I raised money for Girls on the Run Greater Boston, a nonprofit that designs programming that strengthens third- to eighth grade girls’ social, emotional, behavioral, and overall life skills through the sport of running. I connected instantly with this foundation as I’ve found running so useful in my own life. For me, running acts as a de-stressor and I love the fact that it’s time I set aside during the day to think about whatever I want to think about. Training for marathons and half marathons has given my life structure and purpose.
It was especially fitting that I ran for Girls on the Run this year, as this Boston Marathon was the 50th anniversary of the inaugural women’s field. Eight women lined up on the starting line in Hopkinton that year including Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to officially run the marathon after receiving a bib by registering as K.V. Switzer. It’s hard to believe that women weren’t allowed in long distance racing sooner. In honor of the 50th anniversary, Kathrine returned to Boston this year and ran the race wearing her infamous bib #261. The Boston Athletic Association also announced a team of eight women to run this year’s race to honor the original eight finishers. These eight women were chosen due to their important impact in areas such as athletics and human rights.
After four long winter months of training and fundraising, marathon weekend was upon me. My parents, sister and I drove up to Boston on Saturday just in time to pick up my bib at the expo. My other sister and her boyfriend flew up from Atlanta to watch me too. We enjoyed the festivities of the weekend, including a pasta dinner, an Easter brunch at a rooftop spot overlooking the Common and a final dinner at a restaurant close to the finish line. I felt nervous since this is arguably the most special marathon on my list, not to mention the hardest to get into. Mostly, I was excited and ready to go!
Monday morning, I woke up early to complete my pre-race routine of fastening my bib, stretching and foam rolling one last time and consuming a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. My parents drove me as close to the gear check as they could. I made it with a little time to spare and then waited in the long line for the buses! I made it to Athletes’ Village just in time to do any last minute preparations before heading to the start.
At 10:30AM, I lined up with Wave 4, along with 30,000 other runners (including EiC Deirdre Keane) right near the “It All Starts Here!” sign in Hopkinton. The first few miles were idyllic and I quickly fell into a good rhythm. The course was mostly downhill. I didn’t even listen to music for most of the race. I just wanted to experience race day without any distractions. The crowd of runners that was at the beginning of the course thinned out after a few miles and I was able to establish a good pace although it might’ve been on the fast side. My favorite part of the race was running through the Wellesley Scream Tunnel. Wellesley College cancels classes on Marathon Monday every year so that students can go out and cheer for the runners. Their screams can be heard from a mile away. After the halfway point in Wellesley, the course got a little hillier as we approached Newton. Then, I took on the notorious Heartbreak Hill. I didn’t even realize I was on it until I was at the top. At Coolidge Corner, I ran into some local college friends who gave me the extra push I needed to get to the finish line. After passing the famous Citgo sign, I was finally one mile away. Before I knew it, I made the famous right on Hereford, left on Boylston and sprinted to the finish. Luckily, I kept a lookout for my family who was screaming my name on the left side of the street. Running down Boylston Street to such an iconic finish line and passing landmarks so many elite runners had passed before me, I was overwhelmed with emotion and the reality sank in that I was about to finish arguably the most famous marathon in the world. I feel blessed that I was given the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon and I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day!