The wind was miserably COLD as me and 20+ thousand other runners waited for our race to start. My nerves were getting the better of me as I wondered if the increased downhill would do me in. I tried to quell the apprehension with the reminder that I would take it easy and savor the race. But, I couldn’t help but question whether I was prepared for this race or not.
After dropping off my bag, I joined the crowd and we walked toward the start. Although it remained blisteringly cold, the sun shone bright and energy was high. I held back my tears as I thought about what a long journey it has been to get here. Approaching the start, I looked all around me. Along side, in front, and behind were runners from all over the world. Lining the course on either side was a sea of spectators. They were hootin’ and hollering for us!
My eyes began to well up again, and once again, I pushed back the emotion. It would not be the last time I’d hold back the flood of emotion. This occurred many times along the course.
Reflecting on all that I’ve been through in the past 9 years. A combination of good, bad, and ugly…a new home, numerous injuries, and dying loved ones. And through it all, I somehow managed to continue on.
The heat from the sun and the warmth of the spectators helped me leave the chilly feeling of the morning behind. The tearfulness continued to pop up here and there: In the scream tunnel of Wellesley, while leaving the hills of Newton, when the famed CITCO sign came into view, and as I made the final turn onto the straightaway to the finish. Different from the tears of marathons’ past, these tears, brought on by the cheer of the crowd, were tears of a different kind.
All through the journey from Hopkinton to Boston, I fought back a mixture of sadness and joy. When I finally saw YaYa and Kurt, standing front row just 50-100 yards from the finish, I lost it for a minute. YaYa’s hug, as it always does, helped me to pull myself together so that I could continue onward. That’s what this is about anyway: continuing on the journey of life.
On the course, whenever my emotions would rise to the top, I would tell myself “Not now, Julie. Not now” I knew that sooner or later, I would have to let those tears come, for there would be no holding them back. Thankfully, that time did not come until I was sitting on a dark plane, beside my slumbering son, with my head down. It was then that flood gates opened and an endless flood of tears came pouring out. Along with the tears came a flood of painful memories. In full surrender, I let it all come.
At some point, I fell asleep. All signs of my tearful ending to an amazing journey to Boston (and weekend) were gone by the time the plane’s wheels had touched down and the lights were turned on. I woke YaYa, gathered up my belongings, and walked off the plane. I was greeted by a handsome man waiting with flowers and hug for me. Once again my eyes welled up but, these tears were not held back. These tears were ones of a joyous and happy ending — or beginning (depending on your vantage point).