We.did.it!… That’s what went through my head while crossing the Boston Marathon finish line last week. It was a memorable moment which seemed to go in slow motion as I smiled, gave a thumbs up and soaked in the sounds of thousands of people cheering for runners. I beamed from ear to ear as a volunteer put the finishers medal around my neck and I thought about an unforgettable 26.2 mile journey.
This was my first time running Boston. While my friends had told stories about the excitement surrounding race day it was something I wanted to experience for myself. On Patriots’ Day, I woke up not really knowing what to expect. I headed to the hotel lobby in my pajamas to grab coffee and was greeted by high-energy runners already dressed and ready to go. I wiped the sleep from my eyes and prepared to put my game face on. By 7:30 I was caffeinated, energized and fully clothed (sunglasses included). I returned to the lobby to catch a shuttle bus to the “Athletes Village.” On the bus were people from Chicago, Pennsylvania, Germany, China and other places. Many of the conversations started the similar questions “Is this your first time running Boston”, “Where’d you qualify”, “What was your BQ time”, “What pace are you running today.” Each runner answered with pride.
Me: First time… D.C. Rock & Roll… 3:33:24…I’m taking my time with this one, planning to enjoy the run.
We arrived at the Athletes Village around 8:30 am. You could feel the excitement in the air as nearly 13,000 athletes waited to run. The area included music, food and what seemed like a sea of portable bathrooms which is a relief for well hydrated runners. The first wave of runners started around 10 a.m. I was in Wave 3 which took off at 10:50. Once our wave was called we walked roughly one mile from the Village to the start line. Along the way people stopped to apply sunscreen, remove jackets/outer layers (which were donated to non-profits) and shake off any jitters.
And we’re off…
When the gun went off, thousands of runners cheered while taking off down the streets of Hopkinton. It was a warm day (60’s) so I made sure to keep a slower than normal pace and properly hydrate to help prevent leg cramps. It was amazing to see people of all ages cheering, handing out orange slices and giving hi-fives to passing runners. Volunteers lined up at each mile to provide water, sports drinks and energy gels. I was having a blast running the race and was taking pictures and shooting cell phone video to help document key moments such as Wellesley College students kissing runners as they passed by. The historic course went through Natick, Newtown, Brookeline and other areas before ending in Boston.
The fruit of your own hard work is the sweetest. – Deepika Padukon
The last mile of the race almost seemed like an out of body experience. My legs were tired from conquering Heartbreak Hill and the previous 25 miles. Knowing the finish line was near, I picked up the pace, digging in to find any energy I could muster. Heading left on Hereford, right on Bolyston (less than 1/4 mile from the end) I heard a familiar voice among the thousands screaming. It said “Go Brie, Go Brie.” I looked to the sideline where I saw my dad waving like a proud Papa. Seeing him gave me a boost which helped to carry me across the finishline with an official time of 4:21:23 (about 50 minutes slower than my BQ time for those keeping track). Getting to this point took dedication, several attempts to Boston Qualify and countless miles training in varying weather conditions (rain, sleet and yes, SNOW!) In past races, I focused on the finish time (PR’s) but for the 121st Boston Marathon my goal was to celebrate the finish. It was an accomplishment I worked hard to achieve so I wanted to appreciate every moment by taking in the sights and truly enjoying the experience.
For me, qualifying for and running the Boston marathon was a dream that took a long time to achieve (3+ years). Finally reaching that goal was a rewarding experience. Not only did I feel a sense of accomplishment I also learned about the importance of perseverance, persistence and hard work – keys to success. I hope this journey encourages others that no matter what, never lose sight of attaining your goals.