My friend Andrea was the one with the idea. I mean, why wouldn’t I a marathon when I have been running for so many years now?….even though I have never ran more than 7 miles my whole life. However, the moment she mentioned “bandit-run,” something in me said “Oh fuck yeah!”
It was a week before the race, and I was in bed, skipping class and calling out at work because I was so sick, I even thought I had mono.
Nonetheless, I was still texting Andrea telling her I was excited for Monday’s race (Yes, I was in my death bed a week before the race), and that I couldn’t wait to run the Boston Marathon as bandits.
She kept running and training that whole month, while I ran occasionally 4 or 5 miles once a week or so. I didn’t have time to go on longer runs the whole month because I had so much to do and so much on my mind.
The night before the race, I was still sneezing and coughing and blowing my nose every three seconds. We went to California Kitchen Pizza that Sunday night, and I remember ordering a whole pizza and pasta to myself. While we were eating, we kept laughing at how we should run the whole thing just to burn the calories we were stuffing ourselves with. That night, I wasn’t laughing at all though. I kept reading articles on how people who didn’t prepare for even half-marathons had suffered strokes mid-race. I was panicking. My mom said that I could just walk and run 13.1 miles and that I shouldn’t pressure myself too much. Everything would be alright she said. My aunt in Mexico has been a runner and Iron Man competitor for years now, so I called her for last minute tips. She eased my mind even more.
Monday April 16th 2013, 6:15 a.m.
Andrea knocks at my dorm door. We are ready to take a commuter rail to Framingham.
We were at South Station, and I stopped at Dunkin Donuts just to get napkins because of course, I was still sick.
We see other bandit runners take the same train we did. We looked at each other and smiled, knowing that we were about to do what we had always dreamed of as newbie runners: Run our first marathon.
Oh yeah, I said marathon, Andrea and I decided last minute to start in Framingham and run the whole thing. (Well, 10 km into the race I mean, as bandits we weren’t allowed to ride the bus that took you to the starting corrals)
We stretched in the parking lot near a Brazilian restaurant. We were nervous; we kept looking around to see where the police officers and spectators were standing. Because it was Framingham, there were no fences or anything by the sidewalk keeping us from stepping into the actual race. At that time, we were “lucky”.
When we heard the screams, claps, and music, we knew the handicapped and lead men and women were on their way.
At that moment a rush of adrenaline swept through my whole body. I was about to jump into the Boston Marathon. The charity runners started showing up, and Andrea and I kept arguing when to jump in. I turn my iPod on, and set up my Nike+ run: Marathon mode. I chose the 4-hour-long playlist I made the night before. Andrea kept screaming, “Now Alejandra, we should jump in NOW!” I looked at her, smiled, and pressed start. “Beginning workout” my Nike+ said.
Andrea and I were at the same pace; we loved life, and felt fulfilled to a point that we couldn’t explain. The perks of starting at Km 10: people were already tired. Andrea and I were just starting. We had 32 Km ahead of us. I had nothing on me but my iPod and my gear. I was completely ID, money, and key-less. I was a human running from rural Massachusetts to the city of Boston in a state I was not acquainted with, and I LOVED it.
I think that was the reason I kept running, I couldn’t stop, if I stopped I was doomed. My rhythm would be interrupted and I would have to walk all the way home…
Around our mile 9, Andrea had to make a technical stop at the restroom; I was in-synced with my music and the atmosphere that I couldn’t stop with her. I told her to find me that I would be running at that same pace.
To my surprise, I didn’t see her for the rest of the race. Andrea had my ID and my money, so I was even more forced to make it to Copley and wait for her to go to the dorms together.
Around my mile 21, mi iPod died. I had no music but the cheers of everyone around me. I forgot to say, the cheering and people involved in making posters, water stations, etc, were the reason I made it throughout the race. The people in every town, from Framingham to Wellesley, from Wellesley to Natick and Boston were AMAZING. Their compassion, energy, and love towards the runners were immense and energizing.
And so, I kept running, iPod and headphones on my hand, with nothing on me but my utter will and mental picture of myself crossing the finish line in Copley.
I passed the drunken college students from BC, and they gave me even more of a reason to run faster ( I mean they were HAWT!)
I got excited to start seeing Boston and familiar streets. Everything around me was happiness and inspiration. I was in a state of euphoria that I can’t really put into words.
I reach the sign that says Last Mile. I was exhilarated, I couldn’t believe I had ran 32 Km. I started speeding up my pace, commonwealth couldn’t looked better to me.
Until I started seeing runners and spectators merge into the race and come to a complete stop.
At that point, I wasn’t connecting the dots. I had just ran 22 miles for Christ’s sake!
The first thing that I heard was “They are not letting us finish the race,” at that moment I asked some girl what was happening, and she said something about a “bomb in the Copley station.”
I was numb, LITERALLY. My body was aching in a way that it had never done before. My abs were engaged and sore, my calves were completely contracted. I was cold and I could taste and feel the salt from my face.
Everyone was just standing, and I was walking among the runners (registered and not) trying to pass them so I could get out of there. I am not good with crowds of people, I freak out.
I was stopped .65 mile away from the finish line. The bombing had taken place, and I was left with a bitter/sweet numb-like feeling as I slowed down to gather around thousands of people who, like me, didn’t know what was going on, or why we couldn’t finish what our minds and bodies were challenged to do.
A stranger gave me his medal, given that he was able to finish the race an hour before, telling me that I was a champion, and that I deserved it for running my first race ever.
I believe in the power of the mind and how far it can take the body. Therefore, I believe that running, to me, is more than a sport or a temporary challenge. Running is a lifelong method of fueling hope, motivation, and everyday inspiration. Without any of those, I wouldn’t be able to call myself human.
I am going to keep running, registered or not, as many marathons as I possibly can; because to me, that’s living.
No preparation, no registration, no system. Just humans being humans I guess.