We fired up our watches, exchanged some last minute good lucks and took a minute to soak it in. This was it – we were lined up to start the BOSTON MARATHON! I think one of us said, “Well we made it!” Or maybe I just said it in my head? Anyway, it felt like a huge victory to have gotten to the starting line and I was ready to pour my heart into it all the way to the finish…
The hose/sprinkler/fire hydrant/misting stations had started early and we took advantage of every single one. It was hilarious to watch hoards of runners darting from one side of the road to the next for an instant of cold, refreshing spray but it was so worth it! For a moment, I would feel completely cooled off and refreshed – unfortunately, each time it would be short lived. I was so grateful to everyone who was out there doing what they could to help us endure the grueling heat and sun.
One guy was even dunking sponges in a bucket of water and squished it on my head and back as I ran by. Amazing!! Of course, our clothes were heavy and sopping wet and our toes were squishing in our shoes from splashing through puddles all over the road, but that didn’t bother me one bit. (Miraculously, my toes survived the race free of blisters!)
As we continued on, the crowds were thicker and louder (and started smelling more like beer…). It had cleared out enough for more people to read my arm and I heard my name or “Oh Canada!” called out often. It’s amazing what a boost it was to have a perfect stranger cheering me on. The crowd interaction was truly incredible. I found that people would make an effort to get my attention, locking eyes and making me feel like I was the only runner out there, saying “YOU’VE got this. YOU are doing amazing. YOU are almost there.” They really made me believe it and while I wanted to scream “HELL YEAH” I could usually only manage a nod, a smile or a thumbs up.
Newmarket, Ontario, Canada
The complete story of Marlene Sykes’s 2012 Boston race can be found here on her Marlene on the Run blog.]