Thanks, Boston!

After 16 years you’d think it would be like, “oh yeah, here we go again.”
But each April, my trip to Hopkinton is as remarkable as the first.
Maybe that’s why people have been doing it for 112 years.
At least that’s why I’ve been coming back for almost two decades.

It’s called Marathon Monday in Boston.
If you’ve never heard of it, you really should learn.
It’s right up there with Christmas and the Fourth of July.
The major difference is that on Marathon Monday the Red Sox play Santa and the twenty-four thousand runners provide the fireworks.
Running shoes aren’t required for the experience.
Trust me on that.
I experience it from a racing wheelchair.

My first time was in college.
And I look forward to it every year.
To me, it’s a feeling and not a distance.
It’s a multidimensional thing that’s hard to put into words.
You might say it’s like winning the lottery and getting kicked in the groin at the same time.

There is more to it though.
It’s feeling nervous energy a month before race day.
It’s carbo loading with 15 family members and friends two nights in a row.
It’s meeting another runner/triathlete in the elevator.
It’s the emotions that come with hearing a happy little “Make me proud, Uncle Mike” from a two-year old the night before the race.
And it’s the tears or joy, relief and hope that flow when the starter’s gun finally sounds.

Along the way, it’s the love of family and the support of friends.
It’s the energy boost that comes with hearing familiar voices scream your name as you whizz by.
And it’s about smiling right back even when you are hurting.
There is no substitute for love on Marathon Monday.
Or on any day for that matter.
I’d argue that true love is as important as the months of training, the sweat and the pains it takes to qualify.

Whoever said that a marathon is a solitary affair doesn’t know what they are talking about.
No one ever does it alone.
We bring more than our fitness to the starting line.
We bring love.
We bring friendship.
And we earn so much more than a medal when we cross the finish line.

Be well.

PS – I’ll be back for Boston #17 in 2009. While I already had a fast qualifying time (25 minutes faster than needed from the 2007 Jacksonville Marathon), I feel equally proud to have earned another Boston qualifying time along the hilly Boston course last week. Wanna know what’s cool about it? I earned this one by 4 seconds. Tight!