Boston Marathon 2022

I can’t believe it’s already been a week. One week since I ran the Boston Marathon. One week since checking off one of the highest items on my to-do list. One week since the most unforgettable experience.

I’m still on a happy high from the entire day and want to reflect on such an incredible accomplishment. Having attended the Boston Marathon for so many years since I was a student at BU, it was surreal to be on the other side. The energy from the crowds along every single mile, the fellow racers, and (thank all the gods) the most beautiful gorgeous weather — it was truly a perfect day. Not to mention the privilege of running on behalf of Boston Scores (for which I had raised almost $8k!)

I had heard for years that Boston is one of the hardest (if not the hardest) course to run, how its rolling hills slowly wear you down, how brutal Heartbreak Hill is. But I had also heard how the crowds shout adrenaline into your veins, how the heart skips a beat when the Citgo sign finally comes into view, how your legs somehow find fuel in an empty tank when you make a right on Hereford and a left on Boylston.

All of that was true, and more.

(Though I know now why every single person looked at me like I was crazy when I said that not only was I running the Boston Marathon, not only was this my first marathon, but this was my first race ever.)

The actual running experience was really incredible and unexpected in so many ways. I reached the halfway point feeling very good, taking my pace easy and slow to conserve energy. Shockingly, I even took my headphones off around mile 12 and kept them off for the rest of the race! I never in a million years would have thought I would have done that. I took them off as I approached the Wellesley Scream Tunnel so I could hear the crowds and then kept them off as I approached miles 15/16 where my family was waiting, and then I got so amped from all the spectators, they stayed in my pocket for the rest of the run.

By the time I reached my family shortly before mile 16, I was definitely starting to feel exhausted and slowing down a bit but trusting my training to keep me going. And seeing the fam gave me a burst of energy that got me to the dreaded hills. Miles 17-21 were easily the hardest of the entire race for me. I walked the uphills and jogged the downhills to protect my knees but mentally this is when I started to falter. But by the time I summited Heartbreak Hill, the knowledge that I was five miles away from the finish line (and four miles from seeing my family again), gave me another burst of energy. With mostly downhills from there on, I sank into a pretty steady walk/run groove, where my walk strides were long and purposeful and my run pacing was quicker. So it ended up evening out.

Despite knowing how close I was, this was still mentally the hardest bit. Several times I almost texted my sister (the designated texter of the group) to call the time of death and send the helicopter to rescue me. I felt like I couldn’t possibly take another step but somehow, incredibly, impossibly, found myself passing the 20-mile marker, the 21-mile marker, the 22-mile marker.

With a surprise friend appearance on the sidelines shortly after mile 24 and knowing my family and friends were waiting at mile 25, I got my final burst of energy. As I crested yet another hill to see the Citgo sign ahead, Kenmore laying out before me, my old hood, I knew I now wasn’t going to stop until I crossed the finish line.

At the mile 25 marker, I said the fastest hello to my family and friends who were cheering like crazy, grabbed my last gel of the race and a quick swig of water and kept going. A few seconds later, I gave my friend a big sweaty hug who was waiting by the mile 25 water stop. And from that point, I dug deeper than I had all day and raced to the end with the biggest smile on my face.

Through Kenmore, down and up the overpass, right on Hereford, left on Boylston.

The finish line in sight, the noise from the crowds. I told myself there was no way I was stopping on Boylston. The finish line felt like an optical illusion, not getting any closer. But I just urged my legs forward, smiled big, and listened to the cheers.

Before I knew it, my arms were up, and smiling big for the cameras, I was crossing that glorious beautiful finish line.

I did it.

It still doesn’t feel real. The feeling of accomplishment and adrenaline and happiness and pride. Getting my medal and my heat blanket and my snack bag. And then being descended upon by my family and friends as I waited sitting on the curb of the family meeting area. Being helped by them as I slowly limped back to the hotel.

And then all of us celebrating together with a delicious pasta dinner in the North End.

Truly a perfect, perfect day.

I love you forever Boston.

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