Monday, April 28th I ran the 120th Boston Marathon. It was my third Boston Marathon, my 7th marathon ever, and my first after losing Kate.
It wasn’t a great run. It was hard from the very beginning. My legs never felt right, and quickly became cramped and tired as I ran the challenging and hilly Boston course.
My plan was to enjoy this run. To take it all in. To feel Kate’s spirit and strength guiding me and propelling me forward. And I did ‘take it all in’, as best I could, but crossing the half-maraton point, I struggled and the last 5-6 kilometres were simply about finishing and putting one foot in front of the other. I couldn’t even feel disappointed about the pace I was setting, or stress about the time slipping away on my watch. I was in survival mode and focussed on doing anything I could to get to the finish line.
It was painful. It was a matter of reminding myself that my mind is stronger than I think it is. It was tricking my body to take one more step and distracting myself from how bad my legs felt.
It reminded me of all I have been through.
It reminded me of all Kate has been through.
It was too much, but I had no choice but to push through. (Really there is no other way to get to the finish line).
Many people had a challenging run at Boston this year. Even the elites posted times slower than usual. It was warm and there was a slight head-wind. I don’t think I can blame my performance on either. I knew I was slightly under-trained going in to the race. Grief is not a good companion to marathon training. But I did put the work in that I could. I did get out the door all winter – and I logged the miles – ran the hills – did the pick ups and tempo runs. I just didn’t have it this year.
As many of you know, I’d be typically disappointed with not reaching the goal I had set for my finishing time. This year, I was fine with what happened and how I did. I felt proud.
I have no idea what my future holds. I have no idea when I’ll find peace again. I have no idea when I will no longer cry every day, or wake up every morning thinking of Kate. Maybe never.
What running has always taught me. What sport has taught me, is that I am strong. I can achieve what I set out to do. I can suffer and recover. I can push through pain. I can persevere. I don’t back down from adversity.
These are also lessons Kate taught me. She also taught me not to forget to smile.
I crossed the finish line at Boston and I did just that – smiled and threw my arms up at the air.