by Lauren Carnahan
In 2020 and into 2021, most large races were canceled. Many of us have been lucky to have participated in local events (thank you!). Although some of these large events were canceled, running was not. I will say that throughout 2020 and 2021 my mileage increased, and this was just to burn off the crazy. Sometimes when you do that, injury occurs (hand is raised). Moving onward, we come to the first large race that I’m able to participate in…Boston 2021! In 2020, Boston was a virtual experience, my first virtual race and my third Boston. Trudging into 2021, I was excited for my fourth Boston and a real experience!
As I began to talk to others, I was not the only one recovering from an injury or injured. This meant only one thing for me, take the race nice and slow and just enjoy it for once. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. That was the plan and that’s what I did.
Boston was very different this year, in everything from the expo to the start. I will say that the expo was lacking. The atmosphere was unlike anything before. It was the first time we were all together as one since the pandemic had begun. The anticipation and energy were so thick you could feel it everywhere you turned. It was amazing to see familiar faces and new ones as well!
On race day, I boarded the bus with my dearest friend, Libbi. Our plan was to stay together, walk/run, interact with the crowd, and enjoy the course. It seems as if every time I race, that is one thing I lack, paying attention to what is really going on around me. My focus is on pace, miles, and time. Libbi and I stepped off the bus, gathered ourselves and walked to the start. This year it was a rolling start. It was amazing. There was no rush or worry about using the bathroom, sitting in the cold, or missing your start time. We used the bathroom, met with a few friends, and invited them to join us if they desired.
Libbi and I began to run. The weather was so perfect for a Fall day and for a marathon. The crowd was so intense in areas that it reminded me why I do this. As Libbi’s injury began to bother her, we had to walk more. Not an issue. This day was not about time. It was about us having a good time, sharing conversation, laughing, and embracing the crowd. We did. As we went along, there were struggling and injured runners who we stopped to assist. Libbi encouraged so many people as we went along. It made me so happy.
When we made that turn to the finish, the energy grew. I felt it even more this year, because we walked it. It was such an incredible feeling. The people of Boston, family, and friends showed up. The intensity went through your bones. Libbi and I crossed the line hand in hand, claimed our medals, and went to our loved ones. The night was a great celebration with many friends from near and far --the way it should be. I’m so grateful to have shared this experience with my dear friend and others. I learned to step back and just enjoy running more. Sometimes running and racing is not always about winning and being the fastest. It’s about being around wonderful people, looking at your surroundings, and interacting with the crowd.