It was almost exactly a year ago that I wrote about registering for my first Boston Marathon and the accompanying excitement and anticipation of running such a historic race. I looked forward to training hard, to pushing myself and to testing my physical and mental limits in the marathon. Within a couple of weeks of that post, I was sharing details of the surprise trip to Italy that my husband had planned. That week was filled with mouth-watering food, incredible wines, delectable desserts and picturesque towns in the Tuscany countryside.
|a tiny town on the coast of Italy|
The next few months were consumed with marathon training. With pushing myself. With learning to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. With trusting my coach to provide the right workouts for me. With adapting to running during the cold, wet, Oregon winter. With doing everything I could to reach my goal of a sub-3:30 marathon at Boston.
|frozen fingers became the norm for me|
|and frozen spiderwebs|
|(short-lived) post-race happiness|
Of course, the importance of that goal evaporated shortly after crossing the finish line when tragedy struck. I was filled instead with shock, anger, sadness, gratitude, relief and guilt... The what-ifs were simply terrifying. The emotions I felt over the next few hours and days were overwhelming and just when I thought life had returned to normal, something would bring me back to those feelings that I felt in the immediate aftermath of the marathon.
I remember going to a parade with my husband in early June and both of us feeling uneasy. We realized it was the first time we had been in a crowd since Boston and I found my heart beating rapidly and my breathing becoming shallow. I fought the urge to leave. As the months have passed, however, I have felt more and more like myself.
Just six weeks after Boston, I ran the Newport Marathon on the coast of Oregon. My time was sufficiently fast to allow me to register for Boston the first week that registration opened. I really wanted to register and run the race but wasn't sure how the logistics would work for my family. Easter Sunday is the day before the marathon, my youngest child's birthday is the day after the marathon and my oldest child's birthday is the day after that. Those are hard dates to work around. I was uncertain if I should even register.
However, the day my registration window opened was September 11th. After dropping the kids at school, I sat quietly in my kitchen thought about where I was on that fateful day in 2001. I remembered how healing it was to run the Marine Corps Marathon just weeks later. How deeply proud I felt to be an American and how grateful I felt to be running a marathon. I thought about how I have now run two marathons that were touched by terrorist attacks and how important it is to not be afraid. And I knew I had to be there in 2014 to heal my own invisible wounds as well as to run for those who can no longer run.
So I clicked on the register button and signed myself up. I felt fear creeping into my heart and the old feelings coming back as I did so and found myself immediately doubting my decision.
But this time around -- and my goals as I'm heading into the coming year -- could not be more different than a year ago. A cartilage issue with my knee has kept me from running for months and has made me realize that running is so much more to me than chasing PR's or comparing myself to others or even comparing myself to my former self. It is a part of me and of who I am. It is my therapy and my best friend and my exercise and my confidence-booster all in one. It is good for my body and for my mental health and for my kids and for my marriage. I am lost without it.
Assuming I am able to run again shortly and start building a running base, I hope with all my heart that I will find myself on that starting line in Hopkinton again in 2014. I expect there will be anxiety and tears and a lot of nerves but I also am hoping for peace and healing for all those involved. It is a great honor to be able to participate.
For me personally, this will almost certainly be my last Boston and possibly my last marathon. I look forward to going out like a lamb...full of peace and freedom from strife.