Boston Marathon 2021 Race Report (Part 1 of 2): Getting to Hopkinton

What’s meant for you will never miss you, and that which misses you was never meant for you. – Unknown

Getting to the start line in Hopkinton was the hard part. I wasn’t sure if this day would ever come. After working for years to qualify, then finally qualifying in December 2019 with a 6 minute and 14 second buffer, I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about getting into the race. However, COVID related delays, cancellations, and reduced field sizes proved me wrong. I went from elation and excitement over the anticipation of running in April 2021, to riding the roller coaster of uncertainty for months.

In a strange twist of fate, instead of running Boston on April 19, 2021 (the originally scheduled date of the 2021 race) I was getting an MRI for mysterious ankle pain. In all of the visualizing I did for my qualifying race in December 2019, this was not how I pictured April 19, 2021 going.

I was not initially accepted into the 2021 Boston Marathon during registration in May 2021. After allowing myself to feel grief over not getting into the race, I was able to somewhat let go of my attachment to running it. Deep in my heart I knew I would run Boston one day. I had no idea that day would be October 11, 2021.

On August 18, 2021, I was eating lunch and checked my emails on my phone. There was one from the Boston Athletic Association that said, “Limited In Person Entries Available.” In disbelief, I said to my husband, “I think I may have just gotten into Boston!” I wasn’t sure if the email was real or not, but I eventually decided it was legit. I registered with the code provided in the email and received my confirmation of acceptance a couple of hours later. I couldn’t believe it! The Boston Athletic Association had offered entries to qualified U.S. entrants of the Virtual race as well as to athletes who narrowly missed the qualifying cut-off time. The universe was showing me that if I could trust and let go of the desire to control and attachment to outcomes, things might just work out ok.

I quickly booked a hotel and flights, and my amazing and brilliant coach put together a 7.5 week marathon build. The training part was mostly uneventful, with the most stressful part being trying not to get COVID. The fear part of my brain worried that getting COVID at the last minute might be the thing that derailed the dream. Then I realized that by worrying about getting sick I was denying myself the joy and excitement of looking forward to running the race I had dreamed about for years. 

The entire trip to Boston felt surreal. Going to the expo, seeing the finish line that I would cross, and sharing the experience with my family who has supported and encouraged my dream from the start was amazing. I had tears in my eyes when the volunteer handed me my race bib.

I woke up early in the morning on October 11, 2021, put my hand on my heart, and told my inner child, “Today we get to run the Boston Marathon!” Although a bit skeptical, she felt joy and excitement. I crept around the hotel room in the dark trying to get ready without waking my family. In doing so, I caught my pinky toe on the edge of a chair, bending it backwards. I felt the pain in my toe and tears welling up in my eyes. I examined it, iced it for a few minutes, took an Advil and hoped for the best. Although the throbbing was there for a while, by the time I got on the bus to Hopkinton a couple of hours later, it felt fine.

I made my way from the hotel room, to the bag check, to the security line for the busses. At every step of the way I was greeted by excited and helpful volunteers. They let me on a bus a few minutes before my scheduled bus time. I was on my way to Hopkinton! The excitement and anxiety on the bus was palpable. I did my best to tune out, ate my Need for Seed Picky Bar and focused on taking deep breaths and feeling so grateful for the opportunity to run.

Picky Bars = Medal Fuel

After about an hour on the bus, our driver pulled into a lot of empty busses. Other runners on our bus quickly realized that our driver was lost! Some runners were sticking their heads out of the bus window yelling for help and asking for directions while others tried to use their phones to navigate to the start line drop off point. I could feel my anxiety increasing. Although there was a rolling start, the forecasted high was in the 70s. I wanted to start running earlier rather than later in an attempt to avoid overheating. I also really had to use the bathroom! After 30 more minutes of driving around, we eventually made it to the correct drop off point.

I followed the lines of runners a little less than a mile down the road to the start area. I found the “It all starts here” sign. After years of dreaming about it, it was time to actually run the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston!

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