Right on Hereford, Left on Boylston. Those six words have become music to a Boston Marathoner’s ears. With those last two turns of the course, it means you are home free. The finish line is near and 26.2 miles of hard work comes to an end. That last quarter mile to the finish line is supposed to be pure euphoria.
I didn’t get to experience that euphoria on April 15, 2013. As I’m sure you’ve known by now, I made it to about mile 20 of the race before it was closed due to the bombings.
On Saturday I headed out to finish what I started. At first I thought it would just be my cousin and I running it at the start line. I was so surprised to see two other women – Theresa and Patricia – who I didn’t even know, but who wanted to run with me. It humbled me and touched me that they cared enough to show up and just run with someone they didn’t even know.
It was a long 6.2 (okay, 6.8 according to my Garmin) miles for me. The last of the Newton hills are unkind, especially Heartbreak Hill. But they stuck through it with me and even though we stopped more than a few times to question whether or not we were still on course (between the four of us we were pretty directionally challenged, haha…) we were, and we made it.
Through Kenmore Square and back bay, we finally saw Hereford Street in our view. Making it was a quiet victory on that day, knowing that on April 15 it would have been a much different story. Patricia and I paused to take a picture there (where is it?!) and then we started the final sacred steps of the marathon. Right on Hereford, left on Boylston.
As soon as we hit Boylston, Marissa and Patricia backed off a little.
“You realize you have to cross the finish line first,” Patricia told me.
“Yup. It’s your marathon. You have to finish,” Marissa said.
I gathered the last bit of energy I had left (I haven’t been running nearly as much as I did while I was training!) and sprinted toward the finish line. I crossed it, everyone clapping and yelling, and hugged the first person I saw, who happened to be my dad.
I cried (promised you I would) and then I got around to hugging everyone else :)
I wanna say a big thanks to everyone who showed up for me – my friends, my family, the random River Hawks fans who got the note I’d be finishing on Saturday, the random girl getting a frappuchino who decided to stop and watch me finish. It was amazing to have everyone out there. I want to say a very special amazing thank you to my friend Joanne Stanway, who was so passionate about helping me finish what I had started. And a huge thanks for Scott Donnelly at UMass Lowell for helping me spread the word about my redemption run. Without your support who knows if I would have ever finished!
Thanks to Boston Police Department, who upon seeing that I’d just finished my marathon, stopped traffic for me on Boylson Street so we could get a picture there:
It’s been a long month of processing information about the events of April 15. From devastation to anger and back again, I’ve cried so much but I’ve received so much support. I’m really at a loss for words. But what I know is when I run the Boston Marathon again, and when I turn right on Hereford and left on Boylston on Patriots Day, it is going to be truly euphoric.
So maybe I didn’t finish a marathon on April 15, 2013. You know what? I live to run another day. And that’s all I can ask for.