When I was in 8th grade, I had the kind of best friend whose family is also your family. My friend was skipping school to go watch her mom run the 101st Boston Marathon, and my mom said I could go too. I vividly remember standing on Commonwealth Avenue, in the tracks for the Green line train, waiting for “my other mom” to appear. My friend and I were both on the track team and had worn our running clothes to jump in and run a bit with her if she wanted us to. When Pam appeared, she was walking. She had hurt her knee but was determined to finish. So, we walked with her. Pam told us about how amazing it had been talking with everyone on the course, and how you saw people who were sick or hurt and how everyone was just supportive.
I could feel that in the crowd. Walking the last few miles of the marathon was magical. I decided that I would run The Boston Marathon someday.
“Someday” is a very vague goal. My running in college was consistent but had no real plan or form to it. I joined the Peace Corps after college and couldn’t run where I was; I missed it terribly. When I moved back to Boston I started running before going to work teaching ESL at a private language school.
The company I worked for was not based in Boston, so we had school on Marathon Monday. My coworker and I decided to take the students to the “cultural event” that was happening. We got to the finish line early and saw the winners, then stayed to cheer for everyone else. One of my students was a woman just a few years younger than I was, who had a terrible incident happen to her while going home one night. After a few hours of cheering she turned to me and spoke about the amazing strength of the people we were watching, and how inspiring it was. I told her that one of my goals was to run Boston one day, and she said she wanted to be there, and maybe run it herself.
After Boston, I moved to France, and then New York, where I ran my first half marathon. Cheering for the New York Marathon only made me miss Boston, and my training became more consistent. I ran two marathons before qualifying last year in Chicago and I’m ready to fulfill that promise I made to myself back in 8th grade.
I’ve turned into my friend’s mother in many ways. I’ve run races just to have the shirts she wore and get up to work out before school just like she did. In just a few days, I’ll run Boston just like she did too.