Courage in the face of great odds.
Triumph over adversity.
When the prepared overcome the unexpected.
When we, the endurance warriors, toe the line at a race, this is the shared and unspoken dream we hope unfolds. We don’t train so it all goes easily; we train to be laughing at the top of our lungs when the shit hits the fan at Mach 2. If it doesn’t, we just sign up for a new race and go longer, higher, harder, and in more extreme conditions until it does. It is the perpetual pursuit of the real.
And when “the real” delivers? Ooohh man, that’s the good stuff. Ambrosia for the soul. Stripped to the core, ditching our self-imposed ego baggage along the way out of sheer survival, the finish line cleanses us in unexpected ways every time. We dig deep to get there, unearthing pockets of courage, persistence, and humility that powers us beyond our own high expectations, then cross that finish line forever changed. For days afterwards, every moment has a perfect beauty...a glow that hums from the bruises, chafe, and lactic acid-filled muscles that scream in harmony with every handrail-gripping step down the stairs. Those around us may question why we do this, but we know why. It is nothing short of glorious.
|(Runners tackling the weather at the 2018 Boston Marathon, photo courtesy of The Boston Globe)|
|(Yes, that's snow along the tent, and enough mud to soak every foot)|
|(Layered up and ready to roll!)|
As we sang the national anthem and did the final countdown, I stripped down, but couldn’t get myself to shed the warmth of the soaked cashmere hoodie cinched tight around my face. It may not be fashionable, and the sleeves were already hanging to my knees, but dang, it was comfy! So be it. My first Boston in a cinched cashmere hoodie with seal flipper sleeves. Let’s roll!
|(And we're off! Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe)|
|(Fa, fa, fa, fashion! Photo courtesy of USA Today)|
|(The ever-enthusiastic women of Wellesley)|
|(...except for that hot shower!)|
|(Only the bravest would walk...photo courtesy of The Boston Globe)|
By mile 23, my hands and feet were permanently numb, and my hearing started to go (this happens when I get super cold) so I grouped with a few more runners. “Daniel, Denver”, “Brian, Texas”, and I encouraged each other to the final stretch then went bananas for the finish line. Boylston gave us a welcome tailwind for about a half a mile, and I finished in 2:53:22 for 819th. A cold but controlled race, feeling good at the finish, so I was quite pleased with the result.
|(Des Linden decisively captures the win)|
|(Yuki Kawauchi, the nicest elite there is, takes home the win)|
|(A little pub fare to get warmed up again)|
|(A finish worthy of celebration!)|
I warmed up enough to hit the Boston pubs and relish my favorite part of the weekend, which is hearing the stories of triumph from all the other runners. The veterans among us assured the first timers that this was an epic year, and it couldn’t possibly get any worse. Or maybe, just maybe, it will! Either way, you have to come back. ;-) The tales poured out from Miami, Colorado Springs, Mexico City, Dublin, Tokyo, Auckland, Nashville, Milton (MA), all with camaraderie and a renewed sense of passion. We were all aglow.
My thanks to the great city of Boston, the race directors, and the hearty volunteers and cheering crews who stayed out there all day for us. You are the reason this is one of the greatest races in the world! Also a big thanks to inov-8 for keeping me fast, and Injinji for miraculously leaving my feet with no blisters after 26.2 miles in the rain, I will see you again next April, if not sooner!