What a beautiful day! And, what an emotional day!
On Saturday I ran the B.A.A. 5K with my husband J and our oldest son. It was a beautiful morning for a run – a little chilly, but picture-perfect clear blue skies. Because there were going to be so many more runners this year, we decided to park a few blocks from the start and walk over. Not only did it make a breeze to get in and out easily – but the parking garage also had a very nice lobby with clean bathrooms! (Always a score to avoid the porta-potties!)
As we made our way over I could tell my son was a little nervous but excited. This was going to be his second 5K and with a much bigger crowd than the local race we did last summer. And there were so many runners – in an effort to let more people participate in Marathon weekend, the BAA had increased the field of the 5K from 6500 to 10,000. (8,640 actually ran – but still an awful lot of people for a 5K on Boston’s narrow Back Bay streets!) Given the chilly temps and crowds, we decided to keep our extra layers on and skip the bag check. We snapped a couple of quick pics and then heeded the call to head to the corals.
The corals were jammed and it was a challenge to stay together and find anywhere to slide in. As we stood waiting you could just feel the energy – I mean obviously runners are always pumped up at the beginning of a race, but this was different. We chatted with other runners and many joked that there were so many of us that the elites would be finishing before we crossed the start. Well in fact that almost did happen!
As we shuffled our way to the start, the announcement of the lead man’s first split was 4:3X. Yes they were flying…and we were soon going to be in the way! No sooner was the announcement made than volunteers started moving corral barriers to open up the street and get us moving faster to the start – so much for self-seeding! It was chaotic but we were finally off.
We tried our best to stay together while also trying to find some open space to run – at some point I ended up ahead of J and my son and pulled up to wait for them. They caught up but my son wanted to take a walk break so they urged me to just keep going so I ran on. I knew even before we started that this was not a day for chasing a sub-30 – this was a day for taking in the moment and I did. I thanked volunteers, marveled at runners with prostetic legs gutting it out and enjoyed the spectators chanting “Boston Strong” along the course. When we reached the turn-around, runners were hooting and hollering and high-fiving – we were all just having so much fun! I came across J and my son – he was slapping hands with so many runners. It was great to see him see the running community at its best!
The route took us on the famous “right on Hereford, left on Boylston,” and as we reach the corner of Boylston there was an enormous American flag hanging over the course from a firetruck ladder. As I turned on to Boylston it hit me, I hadn’t been back here since the bombing…consciously or unconsciously I hadn’t been back here since I ran last year’s 5K – before everything that happened happened. I wasn’t prepared for the rush of emotions that only got stronger as I passed the Forum, site of the 2nd bombing. I’m not sure I can even put into words what I was feeling as I ran down Boylston and across that famous finish line – it was a lot to process. Soon came the final turn back onto Charles Street and the finish line. The finish area was more chaotic than the start so unfortunately I missed seeing my husband and son finish but heard the race announcer give them a nice shout out as they came across the line! We collected our medals and race shirts and, at my son’s urging, headed off to breakfast.
All-in-all a great morning – the B.A.A. does such an awesome job (though I do hope they return the field to its original size next year)! It was a great event to be a part of and I especially loved how in awe my son was of getting to cross the Marathon finish line. He’s already talking about running it again next year – and that’s just fine with me