by Wei Ma
Dashing by the Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial, with the finish line on the horizon, was just surreal. At this very moment, I could no longer feel the rain on my face nor the thundering cheering in my ears, but only the shivers sent through my body. It got me again, on Boylston Street - the longest, most painful, yet most beautiful 634 yards.
I hardly would imagine that I am running on this course with other runners from all over the world. I could barely run a 10 minute per mile pace a few years before. This course is hard and getting here is even harder. Was it worth it? Yes, absolutely yes!
I had my Boston Marathon debut last year. Out of my 7 marathons, this year, by far, is the greatest. Because this time, I didn’t put down my head while running. I didn’t do the math and think about my pace. And I didn’t look at my watch. It felt so wonderful to be immersed in everything along the course. I took it all in.
I’m not a fan of warm weather but I don’t mind rainy, windy, or even snowy races. After long hours waiting in the mist at the Athletes’ Village, at 10:25 our wave finally poured straight down from top of the hill in Hopkinton. I ran through the iconic landmarks one after another, and I knew what to expect and what to see along the course. I high fived with the kids at Ashland, hugged my coach Mark Mindel at Natick, zoomed though the scream tunnel at Wellesley and of course fought to the top of Heartbreak Hill. It was an unpleasantly cold and wet day for the spectators, but they are there at every step of the race- families, friends, and dedicated fans of the sport. They cheered you up and pulled you through, especially when it became hard.
At the finish, I was thrilled to know that my time was 3:00:46, with a 1 minute split difference between the first and second half of the race. I am so grateful that I captured every moment from the amazing crowd and fellow runners along the course. They are inspiring, incredible, and totally awesome.
The first thing I asked when I crossed the finish line was “Who won?” Then I heard that Evans Chebet defended his title, and former track star Helen Orbiri crushed the race. And Emma Bates, leading the pack at 25k, 30k and mile 20, had a strong prominent presence in 5th place at the finish. Finally, considering Kipchoge, I know it was not his day and he will come back stronger. I’m looking forward to seeing his performance at NYC later this year.
And we are on the news! After I met up with my running buddies from the Clifton Park 710 group, we got an interview with Subrina Dhammi from a NY Capital Region news channel (WYNT News 13) at the finish line. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing. I can’t believe that I was watching the live news on 4/15 in 2013, and that I am right here 10 years later. It was emotional to witness the ceremony at the memorial. The air was filled with spirit of strength, resilience, and overall happiness. In Boston, runners are coming back each year from around the world to show how we unify and celebrate - at the ballpark on Sunday, in local sports bars, and on the street. The whole weekend felt like a festival and Boston was hosting this big party.
The next day, I was shuffling along the Charles River for a after race shakeout (my legs are on fire). In such gorgeous weather, I blended in with the countless runners there. For sure, Boston is a runners’ town. They appreciate their marathon, as it has a wonderful spirit and resilience; that’s why people love to do it.
Until the Next One
To those who are trying to make it to Boston, keep trying! To those who are running Boston, don’t take it
for granted, because it’s probably the most incredible thing you’ve done in your lives. I can’t wait for the next one. Until then, be strong and believe in yourself!