Boston Strong

Each marathoner has a story, a reason why each of us run 42.195 kilometers. As I was going around the starting village, I mulled on this thought. I wondered about the reasons that brought over 30,000 of the world’s strongest runners to the Boston Marathon. 

Some run for a cause, others to pay tribute to a loved one. Some may be getting over an illness while others do it to celebrate a long healthy life. There are people who run to get over the stories in their heads and others who just want to create memories worth remembering. 

Different tales, different reasons for why we run and in this case, why we worked hard to run Boston. I have my own story and in that story I get to accomplish something worth doing with all my heart. I asked my best friend right after the race, while in terrible post-marathon pain, why I subject myself to this suffering. I answered my own question- I chose to run because it is a beautiful way to remind myself that if I focus on something, doing it wholeheartedly everyday, I can succeed. The practice to keep going no matter what is the most powerful lesson that the marathon has taught me. It fuels the desire to finish that  which I start on, giving me the confidence that yes I can accomplish something. I see it as a proof of concept, a validation of the capacity for excellence. 

The Boston Marathon is a celebration of my ten years of running. When I started, we were just practicing on top of a car park building in Makati, going round and round as we dreamed of possibly joining a marathon. I still marvel when I think about how in the course of one decade,  I have traveled far and wide to just run. I have done sixteen marathons all over the globe but it is special to celebrate the tenth year running at the world’s most prestigious marathon. There’s nothing like being Boston Strong.

This was what I held on to as I went through a tough race this week. They say that the Boston Marathon is tricky and you never know what to expect. I didn’t realize that it would be the hardest major marathon that I would ever do. It sets off as a cheery pleasant day before a wave of jetlag hits me. Then it cycles back to a happy start, I get to find my rhythm then the hills start to come, then the temperature rises. There are downhills but those start to become painful too after my body has gone through a beating, on the verge of cramping up. I feel all sorts of sensation then I suddenly don’t feel any on my toenails. I find myself in a state of flow, as if time has stopped and I am immersed in the moment and then I suddenly can’t get out of my head as I overthink things. Then I swing and go on a high, buoyed up by the energy of the crowd. My eyes well up and I start to tear up and I hear the rising roar as I approach the finish line. Such a roller coaster of emotions, a microcosm of life across 42 kilometers. 

What kept me together was that I knew I would finish no matter what. I was ready to drag myself to the finish line in whatever state I found myself in. It is this strong and unwavering belief in a heart that beats steadfastly, in a will that is unrelenting that pushed me to just put one foot in front of each other. I saw this as well in the thousands of runners who like me also run their own stories on this historic Boston path. I saw this in the energy of the crowd as they went out into the streets to support every runner. I witnessed this in the volunteers as they painstakingly made sure that the marathon was a great experience for everyone. It is the indomitable human spirit that ties our stories together. 

This is why the marathon is such a wonderful gift. It is that one day when we are one heart as we celebrate running and all that it stands for. And it stands for a celebration of life. As I stood at the finish line clutching my Boston Marathon medal and my World Marathon Majors six -star medal, I am just grateful to be blessed with this gift. I stopped and silently uttered a prayer of thanks for the privilege to be Boston Strong. 

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