I’ve found myself incredibly nostalgic these last few days. I’ve been watching every Boston Instagram story, every Runner’s World and BAA update and post race story and woke up in the middle of the night to check the results. I’ve been overjoyed and thrilled at the spirit and happiness that everyone exudes at the race, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit sad not to be there.
This time last year, I had just run the Boston Marathon. I was on this incredible high, basking in this glory, excitement and pride at having had the opportunity to run such an incredible race. And while I’ve been trying to look ahead to next year, knowing that I will be back, and to not get down over seeing it all unfold from afar this year, once you do Boston, it holds this special place in your heart. It pulls at your running heart strings a little differently, it tugs at your running soul a little more and it plants this unforgettable image and experience of what running is really all about.
Nothing will ever be like Boston. No race will ever have the same atmosphere, the same energy, the same expectations, while simultaneously having no expectations at all. I remember last year in the days following the race, I read this by Tina Muir:
You only have one first time at a new race, and I think there is something special about that. When you return to a race, you can still enjoy it, but it just does not have that same magical superpower.
It resonated with me so much because I was so in awe of my first Boston experience. In the days afterwards, as my high and the endorphins wore off, I fell into this same, kind of sad, kind of depressed state, and I wanted to do it all over again so badly.
And now, as I end up back there again, I try to not be sad about any of it, but rather grateful for what running has given me. Grateful for the experiences it has provided, the lessons it has taught, the strength it has helped me achieve. Grateful for the fact that I can push myself to those limits and do this seemingly simple task of placing one foot in front of the other every single day.
Running has taught me about gratitude.
Gratitude for experience – It’s funny trying to explain racing and running to someone who is not a runner or who has not experienced a race before. They just don’t understand that energy, that emanating excitement, that atmosphere that drives you and pushes you to achieve things far beyond what you believe. But this experience is what running is. There is very little tangible or materialistic about running and when you love running, you love experience. Running has allowed me to be so grateful for experience and moments of pleasure and joy that you don’t get again, you can’t really explain and that may only ever be relived the same way in your head. Sometimes the best things only happen once.
Gratitude for empowerment – Running makes me feel strong. Running makes me feel capable. Running makes me feel like I can tackle challenges, take on struggles, overcome hurdles. Running makes me feel powerful over things that come up in my life that I think are hard or make me doubt my abilities. And then I hear that little voice in my head that says, “yeah but you finished that marathon. And how hard was that?” And I am empowered.
Gratitude for exposing my limits – Running teaches you your very bitter end of what you are capable of. It pushes you to the breaking point and then pushes you further and expects more. It makes you question your ability, question what you want and ask yourself how bad you want it. It beats you down, turns you raw, but then in the same way, makes you dust yourself off and get back up again. It lets you see how far you can go and exposes all your weakness and the limits that you, in many cases, have set on yourself. And it gives you all the time you need to break them down and improve and get better. Running is about constant improvement.
Gratitude for challenge and change – I am not afraid of challenge or change. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t sometimes scare me, but I don’t shy away from it. I embrace it. I tackle it, I seek it I thrive on it. Because running is about challenge and change. It is about running a race that goes badly and then figuring out what to change to fix it for next time. It’s about running this race that you thought you could never accomplish, like a marathon, or a Boston qualification and then afterwards wanting to take on more, climb higher, reach farther.
And how can you not be grateful for all the amazing sunsets, sunrises, landscapes and places that running lets you see?