Happy Marathon Monday!! Below is a guest post I wrote for The San Francisco Marathon’s blog. I’m not sure if the race will end up using it, but I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I’m posting it here. It has been so fun to track so many friends working their asses off out between Hopkinton and Boston, and I am so ridiculously proud of so many people… and the results are still pouring in! All my love to all my runnahs this morning. Boston is no joke — I know from experience — and I am just THRILLED for you all. xoxo
From everyone here at The San Francisco Marathon, we hope you are thoroughly enjoying Patriot’s Day – or perhaps you better know the third Monday in April as Marathon Monday, or Boston Marathon day. Today’s a special day for the running community.
A quick primer: the Boston Marathon is the world’s oldest annual marathon – held since 1897, in fact – and is arguably the most prestigious footrace in the world. Entrants can participate in the majestic and grueling footrace through the small Massachusetts towns of Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, and Brookline, before finishing in Boston, only by way of qualifying at a previous year’s marathon or by fundraising a substantial amount of money for a deserving charity. If you’re toeing the line in Boston this year – or any year, for the matter – congratulations on earning your spot at our sport’s most hallowed grounds. You are a big deal.
Boston Marathon Monday is important for those of us who will be anxiously toeing the line in Hopkinton, but it’s also quite special for the rest of the running community. Boston Marathon Monday mattered for the running community for the century and decades preceding the 2013 bombings, and Marathon Monday will continue to be an even bigger deal for our community forevermore, in the subsequent years since the atrocities took place.
It’s a day on the calendar, of course, one that affords schoolchildren and many businesses in Massachusetts a day off from studies and work, but for the running community, it’s a day that unites us each year. It’s one where we’re reminded of big goals and the work necessary to realize said goals, and it’s one that reminds us how utterly magnificent the running community is.
What I find really compelling about endurance events like the Boston Marathon, and even our own San Francisco Marathon (or half marathon, or ultra, or 5k), is that while our sport might be a bit individualistic on its surface level, at its core, I’d argue that running is a communal endeavor. The running community is what makes racing and training day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, so special.
I argue that running is a communal endeavor because I firmly believe it’s the running community that enriches the experience for everyone. When I think about racing, I think it is absolutely incredible that we runners – the 99.9% of us who do this stuff for kicks, just as a way to blow off stress or give ourselves some sort of physical accountability – get to run the same exact races that the pros do, the people whose very livelihoods depend on their race day performances. I will never be as fast as Kara Goucher, Desi Linden, or Shalane Flanagan, but you know what? I’ve run many of the same race courses as them. In few other sports can amateur athletes say that they played at, or participated in, the same games or venues as the pros.
That shared experience between amateur and professional in the running community – the fact that both you **and** the pro runners had to deal with subpar weather conditions, for example, or a course that was incredibly fast and flat or hilly and quad-breaking – that shared experience is what binds the running community together. It’s very cool and very humbling. Naturally, we each have to run our own races – I can’t ask Kara, Desi, or Shalane to go knock out 26.2 miles on my behalf – but the fact that we amateurs get to run the same exact pavement, on the same exact day, as the people who get paid to do this? That’s pretty cool.
You don’t have to be a marathoner to appreciate the enormity of Boston Marathon Monday because if you’re a runner – and if you run, regardless if you’re posting 5 minute-mile or 20 minute-miles, you’re a runner – you get it.
You get what it means to put yourself out there each day of training, never knowing what will happen on race day, if you’ll be able to run the race you’ve trained for.
As runners, we value and appreciate the emotional investment our running compatriots have put into their race day – whether it’s in Boston, today, or here in San Francisco, in July – and we know how quickly and easily we can find ourselves being calmly confident or panic-stricken in the days and hours leading into our goal race. Our heart skips a beat when we learn that our running friends have secured that personal best race performance they’ve been working toward for months, and similarly, our soul aches when we hear that our friends’ races did not pan out as they desired.
We’re runners; we get it.
On this Boston Marathon Monday, if you are racing across the country in Massachusetts, are in the beginning stages of your San Francisco Marathon (or half, or ultra, or 5k) training, or are just now considering lacing up for the first time, know this: you’ve got a huge community of supporters behind you.
We’ve got your back through the highs and lows of training, through the emotional uncertainty leading up to (if not also on) race day, and through the race aftermath, when all you want to do is celebrate when things went well or analyze and return to the drawing board when things went poorly.
We know what you’re going through, and we get it.
Have an amazing Boston Marathon Monday, and many heartfelt cheers and fistbumps to our community members out there rockin’ the streets between Hopkinton and Boston. Be swift like Atalanta; remember all that you’ve accomplished during your many months of training; and don’t forget to smile because you are accomplishing something truly life-altering and, in the process, are reminding all of us what it means to work our asses off to chase down our race goal unicorns.
We couldn’t be prouder of you today, Boston Marathoners.
All our love from The San Francisco Marathon & the greater running community.
Erin Mink Garvey has had the pleasure of running 25 marathons, qualifying for the esteemed Boston Marathon 13 times (including at TSFM ’14), and running Boston twice since she began running marathons in 2007. Besides running, Erin digs spending time with her husband and young daughter; writing on her blog; or cooking and baking vegan deliciousness. She and her family recently relocated to San Jose, California, after living in Chicago for more than a decade. Connect with her on her blog, runningruminations.com.