Sunday, April 19, 2009

2009 Boston Marathon - Prerace

2009 Boston Marathon - Prerace
April 19, 2009
Boston, MA

I am going to tell you a little secret; I am going to let you in inside my head.

I am amidst some of the best runners in the in the world on the biggest stage in the country. For the most part, each of these athletes earned their way in through a qualification time, meaning that they truly are the best of the best. While on an easy run today, I met Ryan Hall and saw his wife Sara run past. Dink Taylor and I then watched the invitation only mile races where the high school boys and girls of the Boston area competed and the elite races featured the likes of Carrie Tolefson, Ian Dobson and Olympian Shalane Flanagan. While there we talked with a guy from San Diego who was preparing to run under 2 hours and 30 minutes. At the expo, we walked amongst many elite athletes signing autographs and 25,000 other non elites picking up their bib numbers, all whom deserve to be here.

I have every reason to be nervous, stick to my stomach and worried about running with such competition. Though I am not going to win, nor place in my age group, I feel tremendous pressure to perform at the best of my ability.

I am scared as hell.

Until you have been to the Boston Marathon, you can’t understand the enormity of this event. It is bigger than the athletes, bigger than the city and bigger than the sport. As much as I try to find the words to describe how it feels to be here, the less I have to say. I walked through the expo today and had cold chills throughout the entire experience. Though I was here last year, I feel like a first timer all over again this year. For three days, this city transforms into marathon central and every man, woman and child here knows what it means to compete at this level in the marathon. Over 26.2 miles tomorrow there will be millions of people who celebrate Patriot’s Day by making the way from their small row homes and from the remote suburbs to line the streets and cheer for people they have never met. I’ve been to many other marathons in other large cities, but the feeling that you have making your way from Hopkinton to Boston, taking a mere four turns between the two cities, is something that you can only identify with once you live it. I’ve read other people’s accounts of the race, and I’ve written my own, but you just have to be here to understand what I am having difficulty trying to say.

So tomorrow morning at six am, I will get on a bus with Dink and travel west to Hopkinton, where we will wait in large tents for three more hours before starting the race. Hopefully, less than three hours later I will be back in Boston, running along Boylston, with a smile on my face and a fist pumped in the air, celebrating my own accomplishments; the effort it took to get here; the heritage of the race now in it’s 113th running; the training partners that ran countless miles with me along the way; my support crew here and all those others than made it possible for me to be on this stage. Many of you have sent your well wishes and it really means the world to me that you will be watching.

See, despite being lost in the enormity of this event and scared as hell, I earned my entry. There are only 906 non-elites that have faster qualifying times than me and tomorrow I am going to prove that I deserve to be here too. I am going to give it everything I've got and lay it all out on the line, because I don't know any other way to run.

I’ll see you here next year and then you can tell me how this race impacts your life.