Tomorrow I'm going to run from Hopkinton to Boston. Nope, I'm not running the marathon. I won't say that. I'll gather with thousands of other people, behind the corrals, without an official number and wait to run the course. Well, most of the course.
Those of you that read this blog know about Rebecca. Months ago, I agreed to train with her for her ninth Boston. A few weeks into the training, she asked me if I'd pace run part of the course with her. The original plan was for me to jump in somewhere in Wellesley and run the second half. As our training cycle progressed, we talked of our goals for the year. Of course, ultra running and the Vermont 50 came up. We figured that the marathon training was a good base for jumping into ultra training in the spring, so why not make it a full marathon in Boston. So, I agreed to run the whole thing - to bandit.
Race day approached and I started to think a lot about what it means to me to run Boston. What it means to nail a qualifying time after years of hard work. What it means to just miss that qualifying time, and go back to the well, again and again, chasing that mythical unicorn. What it means to run for a cause much bigger than a personal best - to help others through running. Imagined what it would be like to turn down Boylston and move through what must be one of the incredibly intense experiences one can have in their running life.
I thought about all of this, and decided not to do it.
I won't dishonor those that have earned the right to cross that line, by qualifying or through charity, by crossing that line as a bandit. Being in Boston yesterday just solidified my decision. The air is positively electric. There is a tangible energy in the city just waiting to explode as thousands of fans crowd the streets to carry those weary souls across the finish line. Someday, I will proudly count myself among those tired warriors, but tomorrow will not be that day.
Instead, once we approach Kenmore, I will bid farewell to Rebecca as she moves through the final mile toward that special stretch of Boylston street that is the stuff of dreams for many runners, myself included. My brother is set to meet me and we're going to head out toward the Charles and run a few loops along the water. The goal is to hit the 50k mark. Afterwards, we'll make our way back over to find Rebecca, family and friends, to celebrate the day.
Isn't that what it's really about? Celebrating life with the people we treasure?
So in less than 24 hours, I'll be running to Boston. There will be no medal. There won't be a jacket. There won't be help from the aid stations (I plan to carry everything I need). There won't be streets lined with screaming spectators cheering me down Boylston. But they'll be there for her. I smile simply thinking about it. If that makes a bandit, then so be it.
To everyone that I know running in Boston tomorrow, I wish you nothing but the very best. Please know that each and every one of you are awesome. And remember - don't go out too fast.
Run, run, run.