On the third Monday in April, Amy Leedham woke up in the city of her alma mater. Now a northern Californian, she returned to race on the roads of Boston and reign in a new marathon PR. An accomplished distance runner, Amy had put in the training that it takes to triumph but on this day, no amount of preparation would be enough for the type of race day that she was about to endure.
Guest Post Authored by Amy Leedham:
It has been over a week since I landed safely back in San Francisco after running the Boston Marathon and my thoughts and emotions are still at odds and unresolved. I returned to Boston this year to run the marathon after swearing 5 years ago that I would never run it again (a familiar theme as you will see a bit later)– such is the allure of this infamous race!
First things first.
The conditions for this year’s Boston Marathon were perfect! Notorious for totally unpredictable weather, Marathon Monday can be totally brutal. I joined about 15,000 other crazies on the Boston Common at 6:45 am to wait in extremely long lines to get on school buses. Yup, you read that right. The one benefit to this arrangement is that you get to meet some pretty cool people while re-living elementary school glory days of field trips in your head.
I spent the entire 35 minutes I was in the athlete’s village in line for the port-o-john which didn’t have any tp. Rookie mistake on my part; always bring your own tp!!
One highlight for me was that I was Corral 1 in wave 2 which means I actually started the marathon on the start line, which is totally unheard of! I am still scouring the internet for pictures but this is the closest I have found so far. See if you can spot the highlighter yellow shorts!
Frustratingly, I ran a really similar race to the last time I ran Boston. I am pretty sure my half split was the exact same time as in 2008. However, I managed (despite losing a minute to technical difficulties) to pull out a PR (3:19). I crossed the finish line and once I decided I was not going to die, called my husband o tell him I was never running Boston again!! Those damn hills!!
And then 2 bombs exploded killing three and injuring hundreds.
I went to college in Boston and ended up spending 7 of my most transformative years in this wonderful city. I consider Boston one of my home towns, so the events that unfolded last week were personal for me on many levels: As a runner I feel enraged that someone would attack such a positive, embracing international event. As a Bostonian, I feel deeply saddened that the city had to go through an event like this. As a human, I was moved and inspired by the incredible acts of compassion and bravery shown by so many civilian and emergency response teams. I was lucky enough to have had a good race and had left the finish area about 10 minutes before the first bomb went off, and ended up watching the events unfold in my hotel room.
After it became clear what had happened and the phones lines opened up, I called my husband and told him that I was coming back to Boston next year. At first he didn’t really understand why, but it didn’t take much explanation for him to get it. Boston is considered the Holy Grail for runners. It’s not just the storied history and prestige that give the race this elite status. The thing that keeps people coming back for more is the people along the entire route screaming for unknown strangers as if they were Olympians. It’s the high pitched scream you can hear before you can see the source at Wellesley. It’s the deafening roar that begins at Kenmore Square and takes you all the way across the finish line. It’s the high five shared between two strangers who both PR’d and are trying to put sweatpants on without falling over after finishing the race. It’s the trauma surgeon who finished the race and then went to the hospital to perform surgery for over 40 hours on the victims without thinking twice. This is the spirit of the Boston Marathon and I am planning to run next year to prove that it can’t be broken.
Please join Team IRUNLIKEAGIRL on May 11th, 2013 as we dedicate a race to the runners, volunteers, medics, supporters, race directors and all those affected by the tragedies in Boston on April 15th, 2013: https://www.facebook.com/events/536384389745917/
Pray for Boston.