|Athlete's Village waiting for Boston Marathon to start. Calm, content with where I'm at with everything, alone, eating a banana, bundled up, empty bladder...all is good. Love this race! Love this day!|
We all have stories to tell. They are unique and significant. Our stories are part of how we find meaning in this world. Telling our stories allows us to process the many feelings that come with the highs and lows of life. Our stories come as they do, and in addition to the peace we gain from telling them, others are often comforted in hearing them. Especially when they are part of a bigger one that so many were part of.
As I sit here on my first "what would be normal" day after the Boston Marathon weekend, I'm feeling anything but normal. Being away from my running community, close friends, and husband (at work), has brought with it a mixed bag of feelings. Raw. Heavy. Confused. Determined. Hopeful. Even though I don't feel entirely ready to tell my 2013 Boston Marathon story (my race, what happened afterwards, and the feelings that come with that), I know that I need to. Such a loss of words but yet so many words. It's hard to know where to start but I know that by telling my story, I will find a peace and comfort that only comes doing just that: Telling MY Story. Letting it out and letting the healing continue.
So much that has been going on in my life leading up to Boston. A move across the country, injury, a weak body, a disappointing marathon just weeks ago, etc. There has been so much change in my world and with these changes (although mostly exciting and wonderful ones) has come stress and fear. Fear of all sorts of things but mostly fear of losing control. Fear of the unknown. Fear of change. I've suppressed much of this worry and fear but recently it has shown its ugly head with feelings of unexpected panic at times. And I'm sure this fear/stress has had something to do with the physical symptoms I've been experiencing. Whatever it has all been, I knew that I wanted Boston to be part of my process in taking this fear and stomping it to the ground. I knew it was a process that I needed. A closure. A celebration. A journey that would help me find that spirit within that keeps me climbing and rising above all the stress that life throws our way. I knew that the Boston Marathon would be a perfect place to gather strength and recharge my own spirit by surrounding myself with the spirit of the marathon...a spirit unlike anything else.
One that perseveres.
One of resilience and strength.
One that gives back to the world.
Again and again.
By giving to itself.
Boston 2013 was a necessary journey for me in so many ways. It was my third Boston Marathon and certainly unlike any race I've ever run in all of my 20 plus years of racing. I ran without any expectations other than to just BE as I was on that day. Each step brought with it a release as I wrapped myself up in an incredible love and allowed myself to run with ease and be where I was at the moment. I've never had so much love and gentleness with myself as I enjoyed my 26.2 mile fun run from Hopkinton to Boston. I remembered my Boston Goals that I wrote down two days before as clearly as if they were right in front of me, and as I was running, I realized that I was meeting
one of them with celebration.
They were more than goals. They were needs that I was meeting for myself with gusto.
There was almost a sense of surrendering... A beautiful exhalation and realization that I was in control of getting rid of the fear that has been so present in my life lately as I make big life changes. With each mile, I let go a little more. And in "letting go, I had more control over this life moment than I've ever experienced. I found myself repeating so many things to myself during my 26.2 mile run. The words I remember repeating the most were:
"Leave fear on the course. Let fear go with every step. You are in control. You are where you are at this time and that's just where you need to be. All will be okay."
It is this very act of letting go of fear and replacing it with an incredible amount of self love that gave me peace and calm during those hours of tragedy that touched Boston at the finish line of one of the greatest human sporting events of history. It was those 26.2 miles of remembering myself and finding an Amanda that I'd never fully seen before that prepared me for what was to come and what is still here to process.
My Boston Marathon 2013 experience was so much of what I needed:
- I had a couple of nights preceding the race where I was with people that mean so much to me and that love me so much.
- I slept the night before and I was in a very peaceful place before I started. As I waited in Athlete's Village alone, I was filled with such a sense of contentment and peace.
- I smiled.
- I noticed the faces of the people cheering all around us.
- I wrapped myself up in love and reminded myself how worthy I am of all the love I have been given in life.
- My body spoke to me and when it said "Yes!", I listened and I ran faster. And when it said to slow, I heard and I slowed my pace.
- I told myself that it was okay to run this race in whatever way I needed. I noticed my watch but I didn't let it own me. I was in control. I was in control.
- When fear would start to creep in just a tad, I recognized it, dismissed it and replaced it with love and self confidence.
- I thought of all the people that I love the most. I thought of my new move to North Carolina and how exciting it all was. I thought of my life and all the happiest moments that are happening now.
- I marveled at how easy this run felt and how joyful it was to just run for fun instead of racing a clock.
- I looked forward to mile 19 where I would see my love and two of my dearest girlfriends (one of them who ran with me last year from mile 19 to the finish and the other one who was with me so deeply in spirit last Boston and in all of my races since I've known her).
- I let the cheers of the spectators wash over me so fully and wonderfully. Their smiles, signs, slices of oranges, music, hugs, waves of joy and excitement...I embraced all of this. I inhaled it deeply. I soaked it up. I allowed it to be part of my surrender. I used it. I smiled with it. It was beyond powerful.
- I had FUN! I danced with the pack of runners as we passed tunes coming from the sidelines. A chorus of YMCAs, hands in the air and people laughing. This race was our reward. We were here sharing our spirit and taking in the spirit of all that Boston is to the marathon world. This was our celebration.
- I let go of the clock without letting go of control. I knew I wanted to run just fast enough without pushing my body hard so that I could requalify for Boston 2014 and be there with my friends (and I did by 5 minutes). And now, in light of what happened, I know even more that I will be there again if my 5 minute cushion gets me in to this race next year.
- I embraced the "terribly" happy feeling that has been in my heart so much lately.
- I didn't over think. I RAN. It was the easiest and most victorious marathons I've ever run. I didn't run a PR by any means. But Boston 2013 will go down as my greatest marathon so far. My most memorable. The one that I am MOST proud of. It is the first race in my life where I had positive self-talk and love with every. single. step.
- After the race and during such a devastating experience, I have never experienced such an outpouring of love and support from friends, family, and people near and far.
|Approaching mile 20. So happy and full of love and peace. At this point I had my best friends and my husband with me for about a half mile.|
After crossing the finish line, so many tears came. I cried because of the incredible amount of physical pain that I was feeling in my back and pelvic bone but I also cried out of Joy. I cried because I was proud of myself. I cried at feeling victorious in letting go of so much and gaining so much in the process. I cried because of how good it felt to finish and be surrounded by such beautiful energy. The volunteers, the spectators, the fellow runners, the cheers of celebration...so much good...so much beauty to be found in the human spirit that was alive on this Patriot's Day.
When I went over to get my medal, I cried some more. As I took the medal to walk away so that I could find relief from the pain I felt, the volunteer gestured me back to her with kind words, "Let me put it on you...you earned this moment." More tears.
Making it from the finish line to the buses felt like such a long walk even though it was all right there. I would have been to my gear bag and back to the finish or to some other area of the city to meet up with friends long before the horrible explosions came if I hadn't been in the medical tent for a bit. The pain in my back and pelvic bone was just too much to not get looked at but after getting my vitals checked and having a chance to ice and rest, I knew I was okay to leave. As I made my way to the bus where my gear bag was, I couldn't stop thinking about how badly I wanted to be warm and with my husband and friends. When I got to my bag, I sat down right there by the bus and wrapped myself up in my warm clothes. I spoke briefly to my coach to tell him how things went and to let him know I was okay. I told him about how this marathon was such a journey of love and letting go of fear for me. I took for granted that I would be seeing my husband in just minutes. I had no doubts at the time that he'd be the first person that I would hug and celebrate with.
No doubts until I heard the explosions. One after the other.
No doubts until I saw the people running with looks of terror on their faces.
No doubts until I couldn't get through to my love on my cell phone.
No doubts until confusion washed over the streets of Boston as we all wondered what was happening on this day that should be nothing but celebration.
Despite the fearful situation that was taking place, my marathon experience gave me a sense of calm that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I was able to reach my husband who was waiting for my call. Just minutes before, he and my friends had been by the finish line where the explosions were. They were cold and decided to step into a soup place to wait for me. It is hard not to think of the "what ifs" as I process this story. If I had called sooner...If I hadn't gone to the medical tent first...If I had walked to meet them at the finish. So many "what ifs" but I'm taking the first step of my journey away from the "what ifs" and I'm going to focus on the fact that my husband and friends met me safely on Boylston and Arlington with big hugs and smiles. Big sighs of relief that we were all together and okay.
As I waited for my husband and friends to come to me, I remember hearing sirens and seeing police cars and ambulances rush by. I saw people in panic running away from the area. Couples found each other and embraced with tears, worry and sighs of relief. I saw strangers comforting each other and sharing information. Time felt like it was in slow motion for me as I waited to hug my husband.
I'm still in shock. Things still seem so hard to process. My heart hurts for those that were killed, injured, and so close to the finish line. My heart hurts for the runners that didn't get to finish their marathon. My heart just kind of hurts today as I sit with things. An it will for a bit. But then we move onward.
So many things could have happened on this Patriot's Day. But things happened as they did. I'm choosing to focus on the spirit that rises above this tragedy. The spirit of the marathon and those that run, volunteer for, and support this sport. A spirit that rises above and doesn't let fear win. I choose to focus on the love and comfort that was with me every step of my 26.2 mile journey on Monday. A journey where, for the first time in a long time, I took control and
And today, I will continue to do this.
I'll see you next year Beautiful Boston. And our spirits will be STRONGER. They already are. Fear doesn't win.