If Saturday was a day to finish what we started, then Sunday was a day to accomplish what I wanted to do since February 2011. Both days, both distances, and now, both races, carry more meaning after the Boston Marathon Bombings.
For many weeks, I convinced myself that I would wait until April 21, 2014 to cross the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The plan I had also meant that I would only cross between Exeter and Dartmouth by way of Newbury. The last .2 miles of Boylston would wait.
Then I remembered this is not about me. The Boston Marathon is about a collection of people, many running with a cause close to their heart, who take on the challenge of more reasons than simply crossing the finish line on Boylston.
When the One Run was scheduled, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, I was excited that many of my DFMC teammates would be running the final mile together. I know that a few people, like me, assumed that people would just get to Kenmore Square, wait for a starting gun, and have 20 minutes on the closed off Commonwealth, Hereford, and Boylston to enjoy the last mile of the Boston Marathon.
Again, I was wrong. The One Run wasn’t just for the runners of the Boston Marathon. It was for the spectators who lined all of Boylston. It was for the police officers who became first responders on April 15. And it was for the families of the victims of the Boston Marathon to show that crossing a finish line means more now.
The last time I ran the Run To Remember half, May 2010, I was on pace for a 1:45 through the first 8 miles. In the heat and humidity, that year, I struggled immensely in the final 5 miles. Fast forward to a cold and rainy Sunday morning—ideal running conditions for 13.1 miles.
More than two years since I ran a 1:49:36 at Hyannis, I have attempted to set a new PR in 4 half marathons. I hit 1:51 on a hilly course twice. Then, last weekend, I paced all 13.1 miles perfectly to cross the finish line at 1:47:20. The finish to the weekend, with the accomplishment I have been trying to set, to remind me of all the reasons why I keep going back to the starting line.
It happened at the right race, too. Not in Miami, Hyannis, or Newport, but the home course. It is Boston’s race to honor fallen police officers. The race to be thankful for all the officers, including Sean Collier who make it their life to protect citizens. So the race had even more significance when about 50 Police Cruisers, representing many towns and cities of the Commonwealth, were parked along memorial drive to show support for all the runners. To me, that was so much more than Boston Strong.