Victoria Dugger, left, wrote on her Instagram Account: "This was an experience of a lifetime. So happy and grateful to finish it hand-in-hand with @mckrunnamotha (McKenzie Smith) ! Amazing energy on the course. Just unbelievable."
BOSTON — And just like that, 18 weeks of hard work and dedication culminated with the crossing of a Boston Marathon finish line and a medal around the neck. It might seem like a simple wrapping up, but the journey that carried me 26.2 miles involved much more than mere distance.
Within the race was a series of battles that were fought by both body and mind, with the mind willing the body on when it really just wanted to say, "No thanks. Let's sit down now, shall we?"
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Monday morning started with a 7:30 cab ride to Boston Common, where my best friend and running partner McKenzie Smith and I boarded a 48-passenger school bus, one out of about a hundred, and took the hour journey to Hopkinton. People lined the street even at that early hour and cheered our exit, waving and honking horns as the buses pulled out.
Athletes' Village in Hopkinton was a mass of running humanity. Thousands wearing mismatched clothes to be cast off later lounged and stretched on blankets, yoga mats, and Mylar heat sheets. Our wave was announced and the mass abandoned the mats and clothes (they all go to charity), and proceeded to the start line. At 11 a.m., and with the pistol start, we were off.
I'd need a computer for a brain to be able to remember every clever and touching thing I saw along the course. Spectators lined the course throughout the race — it was unlike anything I've ever seen. "This Is Easier Than Growing Out Bangs," "You're Running Faster Than The T," "Worst Parade Ever," and "Pain Is Temporary, Internet Results Are Forever" were some of our favorite motivational signs.
We had a couple of race-day goals, which we re-evaluated on the course after sweating in the mid-60 degree temps. After having trained all winter in Toledo's sub-zero polar vortex, the strong sunshine and warm weather was a shock to the system. McKenzie and I both developed side stitches at different times, which ultimately slowed us down.
After that, we just decided to have as much fun on the course as we could and soak up the atmosphere. High-fives were the order of the day — everyone from grandmas to the littlest Red Sox fans.
We were energized by the "Scream Tunnel" at Wellesley College and delighted in the clever "Kiss Me" signs created by the co-eds. We gutted our way up the Newton Hills — Heartbreak Hill comes by its name honestly — and slapped hands and turned down offers of beers from enthusiastic Boston College students. We saw the Citgo sign from Kenmore Square and knew the worst was over. We turned from Hereford Street onto Boylston and the tears came hot and quick, knowing we had trained so hard to get the opportunity to be part of the group that would help restore the joy of the Boston Marathon to the city that has shown it's not just Boston Strong, but Boston Stronger.
I ended up with a 4:06 finishing time. It wasn't my best time, but it's certainly not my worst time. It will always be a time I remember for a lifetime.