Marathon Monday, the 3rd Monday in April has become my favorite day of the year. Nothing comes close, not my birthday, not Easter, nor Christmas. The atmosphere in Boston on Patriot’s Day is unmatched. No matter the weather, the Boston faithful line the course, cheering rambunctiously for 26.2 miles.
For the past four years, I have lined up against the most dedicated and talented runners in the world. Those who have arduously put in the miles; the hill repeats, tempo runs, and interval work outs during perilous winter weather across the country. I am truly blessed for the opportunity to compete on Patriot’s Day, and I consider it my duty to run to the best of my ability on that given day, and Patriot’s Day 2016 was no exception.
Unfortunately, my preparation for Boston was hindered by a devastating ankle injury, which left me sidelined from the middle of December until February. As a result, I had a shortened, 8 week training cycle to prepare for the daunting marathon cross.
Come race day, I felt fit, but I knew I was not in shape to run a personal best. The weather was very warm for a marathon, with a starting temperature around 60 degrees.
However, we have so few opportunities in life to race marathons, few (including myself) can handle more than two marathons a year.
With the knowledge of my limited fitness, I threw caution to the wind and went after a personal best. Although I charged out faster than I should have, hundreds around me also started far too fast, succumbing to the fast downhills over the first five miles.
By mile 10, I became concerned and felt the lactic acid building in my legs. Yet, I remained confident and maintained my tempo, gaining strength by passing others who had gone out far too quickly.
As I descended the long downhill into Newton at mile 16, I made a conscientious decision to attack the hills. The wind had turned into our faces, and I knew those ahead of me were teetering on the brink of destruction, paying for flying out too quickly in the opening miles. I saw the whites of my opponents’ eyes and fired.
Charging up the hills, my mantra was “Burn and Bury.” My confidence grew as I scorched the earth beneath my feet, leaving my competitors in my wake.
Unfortunately, while climbing the hill through mile twenty, I became anaerobic. My legs tightened, a stiff breeze blew, and I lost momentum. By Heartbreak Hill I was unraveling.
After cresting Heartbreak, I willed myself to increase the pace on the downhills. The crowd was deafening and I attempted to remain resilient. However, my pace slowly faltered. I had pushed the red line too early and faced a challenging last 5k.
The last overpass by Fenway Park dealt the final blow, as I was now running on fumes. Time slowed, the pain amplified, and my comrades I had burned past over the hills came back with renewed vigor. It was my turn to be burned and buried.
Ultimately, I crossed the line with tears in my eyes.
On Patriot’s Day, I endured for those who could not compete.
On Patriot’s Day, I suffered, I tested the limits of my mind, my body, and my soul.
On Patriot’s day, I fought the good fight, I finished the race, and I kept the faith.