It’s More Than Just The Race…

Lindsay Willard’s experience shows us all that the journey leading up to it is just as much a part of it.

Guest blog by Lindsay Willard

boston marathon blue ribbon 4.16.13Today I am writing my account of Monday, April 15th as a participant in an event that will forever be stamped on my timeline. This is my viewpoint as a runner, a team member, and a Massachusetts native. I am not special, but this day was special to me for so many reasons. Marathon Monday is as much of a holiday to me as Patriots Day represents. It is a day to be honored that celebrates heroism, sacrifice, and a battle of emotional and physical hardships. The Boston Marathon is the ultimate goal after more than 16 weeks of grueling miles, early rises, weight room sessions, speed intervals, hill repeats, frozen fingers and toes, physical therapy appointments, carbo-loading, and hydrating… all in hopes of seeing that beautiful finishing time on the clock by the grandstand on Boylston Street.

My training cycle was marred with many setbacks, several injuries, and several instances of possibly giving up before the actual starting line. I have battled IT Band strains, Plica Band Syndrome and Bursitis on the knee, Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica too… and finally the decision to get minor surgery this April. So many things get in the way of a runner making it to the starting line healthy, and I honestly can’t think of a Marathon where I was at 100% - but can anyone else? I worked with a chiropractor, a massage therapist, and an orthopedist to get me to Hopkinton on Monday. I knew it was going to hurt a lot more than just because we were about to run 26.2 miles, and faster than we had ever done on even the most intense training runs. But my biggest fear was being left out of it all.

There was so much to look forward to if I could possibly rally and have a good day on that knee. I would cry so much more over missing the experience to try, than over the pain itself. I would have all of this to look forward to:

Get dropped off in Copley at 6:45am, find my seat on the team bus, sit with friends and nervously go over strategies, eat weird mealy protein filled sports bars, listen to pump-up songs in my iPod in the highschool gymnasium, tie team colored ribbons in my pony tail, make 6 trips to the VIP porta-potties, pack 3 GU gels into my sports bra, rub Body Glide all over my inner legs and arms, tie and re-tie my racing shoes 4 times, take that long walk to the starting corral, size up the competition in the pack around me, waddle towards the sounds of the announcers, start my watch as I look down at the blue paint in the masses of the town square, calm myself down over the downhill first mile, complain about my knee for the first 5K, check my form in the store windows in Framingham, ditch my gloves to a cheering friend, accidentally pour Gatorade down my back instead of water, give high-fives to all the girls outside Wellesley College, say screw it to pacing for a few miles - this knee seems ready to go now, wave and blow a kiss to my parents at mile 14, wave to my friend Jen as we cross I-95, smile at my co–workers by Newton Wellesley Hospital, start having the dry heaves at the Newton Fire Station, cramp up and start crying over stomach issues in the second hill, tell my buddy Jason to leave me behind, contemplate walking up Heartbreak to make the stomach stop turning over, wonder what the hell I ate, try to rally as I turn at Cleveland Circle, grab my sides to work out the cramps through Fenway, smell the sidewalk BBQs of BU students, realize that my quads are shutting down from those early downhill miles, debate whether to put any more water on this fire in my belly, cry again as I see my goal time slipping away on my Garmin, hear the roar and the cowbells of the crowds as I turn onto Hereford, stop staring down and look at the balloons that seem so far away on Boylston, feel like I am running vertical – desperately trying to beat the 2:50, reach for it, reach for it, suck it up and raise my arms high for a good picture under the clock, come to a complete stop on the blue mats as the knees buckle, get wheeled into the Medical, and finally… get that tin foil blanket and finisher’s medal wrapped around me.

That was my adventure, or so I thought. That was my Boston Marathon 2013. That is something that can never be taken away from me. What ensued in the hours following my finish were tragic and devastating. The innocence of a city has been lost. Lives were taken. Men, women and children were gravely injured. Fear was brought to the masses, and thousands experienced tears of terror instead of tears of joy and accomplishment.

I was lucky to have finished, to have my health, and to have my family and friends safe. I was fortunate enough to be a safe distance away when the explosions went off. I was in the company of my parents in the Prudential when firing went off… the building shook, alarms went off, stampedes broke out, and we were put into lock-down for several hours. The scare we faced inside the shopping plaza was nothing in comparison to what was happening out on the streets. What I saw out the windows was unreal. I don’t understand it. I can hardly believe it. It makes me sad. It makes me terribly angry. But thankfully – it does not deter me in the least of wanting to be here again next Marathon Monday. I don’t want to keep re-living it, but I will never forget it. And I am so proud of the signs I see everywhere “Boston Strong”.

I saw Paul Hammond (aka Goose) at the expo on Sunday and he expressed concern over the status of Lindsay’s knee. We should probably stop worrying about that since she appears to be some type of running cyborg. You don’t win the USATF-NE Grand Prix series and Runner of the Year awards by being soft. A big part of the allure of the marathon is the journey, the peaks and valleys one goes through on their way to the starting line. Lindsay fought her way through the peaks and valleys and then through a physical ordeal during the race. For that, we tip our collective cap to her.

Marathon runners are a tough bunch. They are people that choose to deal with pain and adversity on a regular basis and come out the other side stronger. And so we will here, together. We are including the link below on all posts for the foreseeable future for anyone who wishes to give.

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One comment on “It’s More Than Just The Race…

  1. Joshua Grzegorzewski on said:

    I love this road running warrior chick! I miss the days, years gone by now, when we got to run together and talk about all the things one talks about on an 8ish mile run, back when I could keep up with her. I am thankful for having directly shared in the first 10k with Lindsay on Monday before our “paths diverged” and I count myself lucky to be a part of something (New England running community) that truly is exemplified by the 2012 Runner of the Year.

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