The runners prepared to the best of their abilities for the marathon of their lives. But none of them could have ever anticipated what was about to come at mile 26.
As I sit down to write this, we are 11 days away from the 123rd Boston Marathon. This year's race marks the 6th anniversary of the bombings on April 15th, 2013. Before 2013, no one thought that a marathon would be a place of an attack. Now, six years later, we know that anything is possible.
In 2013, there were over 23,000 runners. If you think that, in 2014, there were fewer runners, then you are sadly mistaken. In 2014, 36,000 runners were accepted to run the marathon, which was the second largest race pool in Boston's history. There were about a million spectators to line the course, more than double a typical year for this city.
At the race in 2013, three lives were lost, 16 people lost their limbs, and hundreds of others were injured. It would make sense that if, in the following year, less people registered for the race, and less people spectated, due to fear. But this is America, and that is Boston. The bombings didn't scare future competitors away. Instead, it brought them together and gave them something to fight for, to represent.
With qualifying for the most prestigious marathon in history, and running with some of the top athletes in the world, it's almost easy to forget what those of the 2013 marathon endeavored.
They laced up on Monday morning, selected their race outfit, quickly ate their pre-race breakfast, hurried into their corrals, and waited. They have been counting down to this very day for months. They all had time goals and dreams of personal bests, and some just wanted to enjoy every second and have fun.
Everyone had different intentions for their race that day. They prepared to the best of their abilities for the marathon of their lives. But none of them could have ever anticipated what was about to come at mile 26.
I had just started running of January 2013, nothing more than a 5k around the block. I vividly remember coming home from school, helping my dad set the table for dinner, and we had the news on just like every night. Then, we saw it.
We saw the videos, and we could feel the pain and the fear through the TV. I hardly considered myself to be a runner then, but ever since then, I have felt the need to run Boston.
While I'm finally getting another chance at the marathon of my dreams, and another marathon to run, I remember that moment I saw on TV, the moment that changed the way I felt about marathons.
I've always been about pushing myself, running my best and hardest, and fastest times for every marathon, but that's not what Boston is about.
They say that once you make that left onto Boylston Street, you can't hear yourself think. Everyone is screaming so loud and cheering you on, that their voices physically create a sound wave that carries you through to the finish line. It's the most magical part of the whole course; the energy is like no other. To think that is the exact place where three innocent people lost their lives is heart-wrenching.
I'm less than two weeks away from the race I've been working so hard for, for the last four years. While I always imagined myself leaving Boston with a shiny new personal best time, I know that's not what this race or this city is about. It's about unity. It's about passion. It's about endeavoring.
As I approach the hardest miles of the race, when the tough gets really tough, and my legs are begging me to stop, I'll remind myself that the marathon isn't about me.
This marathon is about the 30,000 others running beside me, and the millions of others who have ran this race before us, and the millions who have stood out in the various weather conditions to cheer everyone on. To those who still choose to fight through their injuries from the 2013 bombings, and are brave enough to keep showing up.