[Apologies in advance for the extreme ramblings of this post...it is taper, after all....]
For some reason I've had this lyric running through my mind all throughout this taper week. 15 weeks of hard work, aching muscles, tears of joy and frustration, freezing wind, pouring rain, heartache, maybe heartbreak, and finding the point where you thought you just couldn't go on, then going on - to get to the starting line of a marathon, you've fought through these obstacles and the things that once held you back have melted away and you have been forged into something new, something strong, powerful, beautiful. Only diamonds now remain.
The nerves and the excitement have sprung up on me at random and utterly mundane times - walking from the bus stop to work listening to "Living on a Prayer", doing the dishes after dinner - and times that make complete sense - picking out Gu for the race at Marathon Sports, seeing the trappings of the finish line beginning to be constructed on Boylston Street. I am running the Boston Marathon. The number 16180 [my number!] floats around in my dreams...as does marathoning in general [I had a crazy dream last night involving being in a start corral by myself at 4 am and having a guy I had a crush on long ago come and give me a pep talk...bizarre.] I haven't been writing here a lot which is surprising because damn, I've sure been thinking about this marathon a lot. But every time I sit down to write something, I lose the words and the only thought that comes back is I am running the Boston Marathon....and I just don't think typing that out a million times would make for a very interesting blog post.
It's hard for me to explain or even quite figure out for myself why doing this race and doing it well means so much to me. When I first qualified I wasn't even planning on running, and before a few years ago I doubt I knew that the Boston Marathon existed, let alone that you had to qualify to run it. I am running it alone, without the motivation and support and push to perform that running with a team has given me throughout my entire running career up until this point. In a way, I think that's just it - this is the first race that I've ever trained for, and will be running, completely alone. No teammates, no friends - just me versus the road, my mind and heart versus my legs and the weather and the Newton hills. Getting through this training cycle alone has given me a strength that I'm not sure I would have found otherwise. As I once told my dad when he asked me if I ever went to church anymore, there's plenty of time on a 23 mile run to contemplate religion - and not only religion but me - who I am, what makes me do what I do - I have learned so much about myself. And I've learned enough to know that I can and I will run an amazing race on Monday - and when I do, I really won't be alone. My teammates, family, friends, and even rivals, who all, in some way, have been important in allowing me to get to a place where I actually AM capable of something like this - there will be a part of all of them with me as I run from Hopkinton to Boylston.
There is another reason I have come to realize too, and it's probably going to sound silly, but hey, it's the truth. By blogging standards I think I'm on the young end at 22, and I have a whole lifetime of training and racing ahead of me. But since I just graduated from college I've kind of seen the past year as an "end of an era" - the era in which I've gone from a 100 meter hurdler to a marathoner - crazy, right? As my events have changed I've changed as a person as well, but there are things in my high school past that have never quite escaped me - namely, my constant fear [which was sometimes made reality] of not being 'good enough'. I could tell stories about this from all over the map of my high school hobbies - getting cut from the top tier of dances in my competitive dance program, not getting the best and most prestigious scholarships, blah blah blah. But running-wise, what it all comes back to is this: my senior year of high school, the only thing I wanted in the world was to make it to state in the 100 meter hurdles. I trained my ass off, joined cross country to work on my endurance, ran some fantastic times, made the state honor roll, won the indoor conference championship....and then tripped out of the blocks at sectionals, costing myself precious tenths of a second and missing qualifying by 2 places. I. was. devastated. I felt like I let down my team, my coach, myself...It seems so silly in retrospect that I honestly can't remember being more depressed about anything in my life than not qualifying for a big high school track meet. But the sting of that defeat, combined with the fact that once I started running distance I found that I'd maybe been doing the wrong event all along - has given me this unconscious motivation to be better than okay at running - I want to be great. I want to make it.
And I think in the end, that's why I am so beyond pumped about running Boston. Because Boston means I made it. Boston means I am not average, Boston means I never settled, Boston means I refused to give up, Boston means I am stronger, better, more than I ever believed I could be. And Boston is only the beginning.
Only diamonds now remain...4 days. BRING IT, BOSTON!