Saturday, February 15, 2014

Yes, I Will Finish, and So Will You

I was standing in line for the bathroom at the Dunkin' Donuts by Boston College this morning, after a 15-mile run along the course route in Newton. A woman approached me and, recognizing my 2013 Boston Marathon jacket, asked, "So, did you finish?" This isn't the first time this question's been asked of me. A few weeks ago I attended a DFMC team meeting and met a couple of people, each of which posed the question within seconds of shaking my hand. It seems that everyone I talk to about the 2013 Boston Marathon has a burning desire to know the answer to that question, and I'm really tired of answering it.

In my first blog post of the season, I mentioned that my decision to run again in 2014 wasn't an easy one, and there are a number of obvious reasons:

1) Training during the winter can be tough. Yes, I'll take 20-degree temps and snow any day over the hellish heat and humidity I experienced last summer training for New York. But make no mistake, it can be a bit of a grind.

2) Fundraising takes a lot of time and effort. I had been hoping to scratch some things off my To-Do list this winter, but that hasn't happened, and fundraising-related activities are one reason why.

3) Last year's experience was a traumatic one.

But I keep coming back to this "did you finish" question, as it embodies a couple of issues that I've been thinking a lot about lately...

For one thing, I really, really don't want to relive my experience of April 15th, 2013. Yes, I finished that race, but as I get closer to this year's, I feel like people will continue to ask me about last year. To this day, I sometimes have a difficult time thinking or talking about the experience, and while I know that there will be significant undertones to this April's event, I want it to be like any other Boston Marathon: unique in its specialness for no other reason than its tradition, the spectacle, and the glory found on Boylston. That's what my race was about in 2013, and so it will be again this year.

The other is that my answer to that question alienates me from a large number of others, including many friends. With other participants, my answer is always, "yes, did you?"  The answers from those I met at the DFMC meeting, as well as the Dunkin' Donuts lady: "no."  When I left Dunks and headed back up the hill to my car, I passed my friend Lisa running in the opposite direction, who saw me as I passed and ran back to give me a big hug and wished me well on the end of my run. Upon reaching the top of the hill, I saw my other friend Carey-- more hugs, more well-wishing. Both Lisa and Carey ran in last year's race, and were stopped short of their finishes. Yes, I finished, but the race ended prematurely for them.

I guess I just don't want there to even be a question, so let's stop asking it, please? If you see me wearing my 2013 jacket, or hear that I'm running this year and learn that it's my second Boston Marathon, ask me if I'm excited.  Ask how my training's going. Ask me about my fundraising activities. Ask me if I know anyone else running. Ask me who's going to come out to cheer me on.

The tendonitis in my knee continues to slowly improve, and I'm feeling pretty good in my long runs again. My friend Jack is also running in this year's race and it's really nice to be training with him again. Today was awesome - so many runners out getting in their long runs in the hills before the latest storm started dumping snow on our region again. Kristen and I made some amazing chocolates last week, with much-appreciated help from our friend Laura, raising another $500+ towards my goal of $10,000 for DFMC.

Things are good, and while there are still a lot of miles to log, dollars to raise, and likely snowstorms in my near future, I'm starting to really look forward to running the 2014 Boston Marathon, with so many of my friends.

I'm also excited about finishing the race, but not nearly as much as I am about congratulating Lisa, Carey, and my other friends on their finishes.

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