WASHINGTON – I qualified to run the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Up until this past February, the plan was for my husband and daughters to make the event a family trip. They would cheer me at the finish line like they have for other races.
I have run nine marathons to date: Five Marine Corp Marathons, one Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, one National Marathon, one New York City Marathon and one Boston Marathon (2005). The 2013 Boston Marathon would be my 10th.
Registration for this year’s marathon opened up in September 2012. But unfortunately, illness struck my mother this winter, and I wanted to turn my attention to her care. I didn’t have the time to train properly the last few months and did not feel physically, emotionally or mentally prepared for the April 15 race.
So I recently decided to sit this one out. Helping my mother with her recovery during this time is crucial, and there will always be other marathons.
I admit it was tough when my bib number arrived in the mail weeks ago. And when all the participant information started to fill my inbox about the Marathon Expo this past weekend, I pined for the excitement of the event and the runner camaraderie I would be missing.
On Monday morning, my spirit was with all the runners in what is the Super Bowl of running. But by Monday afternoon, my heart broke for them, the spectators and the volunteers that were hurt by the bombings.
I know what goes into training for an endurance event like a marathon. Being a runner requires willpower, dedication, sweat, time and sometimes, lots of ice and pain reliever.
But more noteworthy is that behind every good runner is a greater support network of family, friends, race officials and volunteers who make the finish line happen.
They are the cheerleaders who encourage runners — who look like as if they are fading in the final, crucial miles — to keep going. They are the little kids with inspired faces who hold out their hands in hopes of a high-five from an obliging runner as he or she speeds by.
When I ran Boston in 2005, I was overwhelmed by the spirit and energy of the spectators. They cheered for every runner. Well-wishers offered everything from full water bottles, to First Aid, orange slices and even beer from their coolers along the sidelines. Some of the houses along the 26.2 mile course had signs offering up their own bathrooms to the runners.
I appreciated my previous Boston experience (long before I was married or had children) so much that I anticipated qualifying again one day, just to share the experience with my family.
The thoughts and prayers of this Washingtonian will be with the Bostonians, the global community of runners, their fans, race volunteers and emergency responders.
Editor’s Note: WTOP’s Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 5, she’s always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie share her go-to food and family fitness tips every Tuesday on her blog “Good to Go.”