Let me first by stating if you are reading this, it has taken me over 6 months to write this blog post because the Boston Marathon was the best memory and achievement of my life for a race AND also the biggest disappointment and sadness at the same time.
About the Boston Marathon
The Boston Marathon is considered more significant than the Olympics for a runner. It’s almost impossible to run because you have to qualify a crazy time and then enter into the following year with the chance of being accepted in. IF you don’t get in the next year, then you have to restart the process over. The alternative is then to be accepted to raise funds for a non-profit and work towards achieving raising funds for it. Typically the fundraising is at least $7500-$10,000. Either way, it takes work a lot of it, and it is respected as such.
My Boston Marathon Journey
For this year, I had the honor of raising funds for the national black marathoners association, which is the largest and oldest non-profit dedicated to increasing the number of black runners. I have been a member almost a decade and worked a lot behind the scenes in speaking, event management and much more.
So my experience for the Boston Marathon is a bit unique because as a black marathoners
1) We aren’t thought of to be distance runners
2) it’s very few of us …. To find a black marathoner it’s roughly 1 out of 67000 %. Yeah. Like a needle in a haystack. But thanks to the organization I am surrounded by those who have achieved not only being a marathoner but also completed Boston – multiple times. This is so empowering to see it can be done and has moved me to do so as well.
Additionally, I had a lot of pressure stacked against me. I had only two marathons in my experience before and I was coming off one of my worst ones in New York. I had a lot of training because the time limit is a lot shorter for Boston and I couldn’t half step. But I made it happen and once I arrived I made the most of the experience no doubt! You can check out my journey via the gram on the hashtag #AlexBoston2018
Friday – Arrive Happy & Run Happy
Friday is fantastic as I got a chance to hang out with my Brooks Running family in person. I got a to meet other Brooks Run Happy Ambassadors and attend their Beat the T event. This includes hanging with Desi who ended up winning the race just a few days later.
There is a lot to do in the city, and they cater a lot of the runner so use this day and time to get all the freebie stuff from phone cases to books and shirts. So use this day to get situated and enjoy the city.
Saturday – 5k, Bib Pickup & Expo Day
If you know anything about me, it’s one thing. I hardly run 5ks. For me to run a 5k it takes a lot because they are so expensive and often not worth the time and money. But the Boston 5k is unlike anything else. Let me first say this is not only a 5k I enjoyed but also it’s the only one I would do over and over again. It was epic! I shouldn’t have done the 5k looking back at it because I was there for the full marathon but it gave me a chance to get all my photos of the finish line and last mile out the way. LOL This helped me stay calm before the race and envision the the finish line. the 5k was also a cool meetup with others who were here to cheer and also hang out.
After some time hanging, I had to head over to the expo and grab my bib for the race and walk around. The day is filled with time at the expo and panels from every company. I got a chance to hang out and meet some folks I hadn’t seen in forever or only digitally. It was a great time!! I also attended the expert panel to hang out and support Meb who had won the Boston Marathon right after the Boston Bombing. I wasn’t feeling so well, which my allergies were taking a toll on me big time so I doctored myself up big time in the evening and through out the night.
Sunday – Pre Race Day & Meetups
Sunday, I was able to shake off a lot of my allergies and nerves by attending the Black Marathoners Meetup. This meetup included so many friends and families, but it also is probably the largest gathering of Black Boston Marathoners. Thanks to the efforts of the Black marathoners, Boston Marathon Chair and the BAA, this was the largest meetup to-date with over 100 attendees. My Aunt & Uncle made the trip down that weekend and supported me in not only my quest for running the Boston Marathon but also the organization I help a lot with.
After that, we went over to the pre-race pasta dinner. It was sooo cold, but we made it work. It definitely was an experience as we ate paste and meet others. The food was okay, and it was an experience. I probably would skip it and have a different dinner, but I made it out.
Monday – Patriot’s Day AKA Marathon Monday
The Boston Marathon is held on Patriot’s day. It’s a massive event for Boston that is held every day, and thus the Boston Marathon is a part of the celebration of Patriots day. Unfortunately, I was bombarded with a crazy amount of whether this race day. I honestly wasn’t scared, and my running coach kept me on track as to what to do every step of the way. The weather was TERRIBLE. We had hail, rain, crazy wind and much more during the entire race. I had practiced and trained in pretty bad weather but nothing like this. I won’t go into details of what happened, but I will say, I didn’t make it after mile 7 and was pulled off. I don’t remember much except telling… “Don’t call my mom. Call my coach. If he says quit, then I will.” I was crying – I do remember that because it was almost a year of preparation and a full, perfect weekend going down within seconds.
I was packed up and sent off to the ambulance, which was cold and without heat. The terrible news is that they couldn’t even get my blood pressure and I had been going in between moderate and server hyperthermia at that point.
My mom had some “feeling” instead of meeting me at the mile I wanted but to meet me at mile 9-10. I went down right before this so truly God already knew what was going to happen. *TEARS* She was the first to arrive and was pretty calm. My brother was more concerned than her. I looked a hot mess yal and was crying nonstop. Also, it wasn’t making it any better because I was STILL COLD! After about 30 mins of sitting in the hospital that was overflowed with other runners, my mom put my brother on the bottom part of my body to help warm me up. Mother’s know best!! LOL, It worked. Finally, I started warming up, and he kept me laughing. Case in point!
I tried to keep things under wraps but due to everyone and they mommas tracking me and my pacing being so even — everyone was blowing up my phone, my mom’s and even my coach. I ended up putting a post out that most of you all saw. I was crying when writing it but I truly appreciated all the love and concern. I was still here alive and learned a lot through the process of my determination.
I learned so much more… I really did. It just took awhile for me to see understand and see this.
DNF – Boston
I slept the night away and felt betterish the next day physically. I went to go retrieve my items from bag check and ran into so many people who said they would see me next year. LOL, I took that as a sign I needed to come back and will do it. As a result, I took my mother and brother around the downtown finish line area as they didn’t get a chance to see it. My brother had learned some history about Boston, so he was able to not only look at the things he had learned about but also share it with me. It was a great time.
So how do I feel? Emotional it was a wreck. As I look back, I have no regrets though. The only thing that I was upset about was not going to finish line and getting my medal. But if I got the medal, I wouldn’t have the experience of seeing how impactful I was and folks following along the journey. Additionally, the following day with my mom and brother was probably the best moment of the weekend for real. IT really really was. (FYI: It took me about a month to actually heal up from this race as my doctor sent me home for a week with a bunch of meds. Additionally, it took me everal months for me to actually get over running outside in the rain let alone run again. No lie!)
I am glad because just less than two months later my mom unexpectedly passed away and this was the last photo and race we had together. I cherished it then but even more so. Like when I went down, when she went down I was the only one there too.
So what’s next.. I am still wanting to achieve being a 6 star finisher, which means I have go back and run Boston again. Oh for those of you who don’t know a 6 star finisher is a person who has completed all 6 Major Marathons. Below is the list of Major Marathons and my plan.
- Chicago – 2019! Yippie!
- Boston – 2018 But Gotta Redo so not sure yet
- New York – 2017 Done
- London – Applying for 2020 Lottery
- Tokyo – Applying for 2021 Lottery
- Berlin – Applying for 2020 Lottery
Honestly, I could continue to run Boston again and again because it was epic and amazing! I am still running around the country and still pushing. I have learned a lot more about being a runner and how I am determine to still get back up and achieve. :-)