Like everyone else five years ago, we watched in awe as Kara ran Boston for the first time. Oiselle was a speck of a company, with a rented conference room down the street, but we already knew and felt our connection to this rising marathon star. We yelled at our TVs. We cheered and gasped - amazed at what she was able to accomplish with a 3rd place finish, even as we knew she struggled to embrace the result.
To be where we are now, with our marathon sister hero running for Oiselle, is still completely unbelievable. And it's an honor to hear her story…as she looks back on not one or two, but THREE Boston marathons. Read on ...
With the Boston Marathon now less than a week away, the excitement around the running community is growing daily. We have all looked forward to this race for a year. A chance for Boston to show the world that running can unite us all, showing our resilience and strength. It will be such a healing moment for the entire running community. I did not originally plan on being at Boston this year, but I am happy to be going and celebrating this weekend with my fellow runners.
I have run the Boston Marathon 3 times and it owns a little piece of my heart. The first time I ran was in 2009. It was only my 2nd marathon, but I was determined to end the drought of an American victory. I lived and breathed Boston. I traveled out to train on the course, and visualized where I would pull away to win the marathon. I immediately fell in love with the city and the history of the marathon. I read about past races and wanted desperately to be a part of the Boston Marathon history. As for race day, Boston sort of broke my heart. I raced as best I could, with the city fueling me with their support the entire way. And with a mile to go I was in the lead, desperate to win for all of the people who believed in me. But it wasn’t meant to be. As we ran down Boylston Street my dream faded away as I finished a close third. I was devastated, feeling that I had let everyone down. But Boston supported me for giving my all. I vowed to come back and get it right.
In 2011 I ran Boston again. This time I had a 6 1/2 month old son! I was strong, but not sharp. I was nervous that I wasn’t really ready to run a marathon, but I knew that Boston would support my efforts. It was the year of the tail wind, but I felt none of it! I ran a solid race for 5th and a PR of 2:24:52, but I was well out of the win. Fellow American Desiree Davila Linden came the closest any American has come to ending the streak of a non-American victors. She ran a blazing 2:22:38 and was less than 2 seconds out of the win. Not only that, but she showed incredible character as she passed me and encouraged me during the race. Boston 2011 was a solid return to the sport I love and Desi’s performance solidified my belief that an American would eventually win.
Last year I entered Boston a little off my game. I had been dealing with injuries and was behind in fitness. But my training partner at the time, Shalane Flanagan, was on top of her game and ready to go. I was excited to be in the race with her and felt confident in her abilities to win the race. I was able to really take in and enjoy the race. A slow pace up front meant I was still in the lead pack at the 22 mile mark. Right at mile 22 Rita Jeptoo switched gears, and I was unable to match it. I watched 5 women in front of me run away and fight for the win. I finished in 6th. After the race I comforted Shalane who was sad to have missed the victory, I knew what she was feeling. But I knew she would recover and be ready for the race in 2014. After the press conference and drug testing, I returned to my hotel room to have lunch with my family. And then it happened. And immediately my race in 2014 had no significance. I only cared about the people who were harmed and the families that were devastated.
Boston has always been a very special place to me. I felt embraced by the city and the race itself. Last year, the loss of innocence was a feeling I struggle to deal with. But this year will be about strength and perseverance. And a healing race for so many people. I am honored to be there and to support the race I love. I’m looking forward to having a chance to be a spectator and cheer for all of the runners on the course. I can’t wait to see the Americans race with pride and hope. And I can’t wait to get back to the city that has a special place in my heart. See you all there.
And for people in Boston this weekend, we hope you'll come see me, Lauren Fleshman and Sally Bergesen at the CitySports/Oiselle expo booth from 11 am - 1 pm on Saturday. Our full schedule.