Two hours ago I took the last jog before my big 8am race tomorrow: 13.1 miles through the heart of Boston. As I was lightly trotting for 2 miles, I thought about high school field hockey and a coach, Ellen, who pushed me to increase my speed and endurance (especially important for me as a mid-fielder). After running a grueling 1.8mi loop around Larz Anderson Park, Ellen would stand there, pencil and paper in hand, threatening more loops if we did not run a second lap quicker than the first. If I had not decided to try a new sport at 14 years old, I probably would not have come to love running, nor would I have experienced the satisfaction of disciplined training that I'm bathing in as I now write this.
The 20km race will be twice as long as any other I have competed in. For the past two months I have stuck to a 4x/week training schedule, missing only two runs. In Argentina and especially on the Carribean coast in Colombia, where temperatures were often 95˚ upwards , getting my runs in was sometimes challenging, but today I could not feel prouder or stronger for sticking to my plan and making my hopes come to life.
When I was younger, running was often about fitness and weight loss, but now it has shown itself to be something more important for me, a teaching tool to show what I am capable of with self-discipline. Running involves but myself and a pair of too-expensive shoes, so I never had the option to put the responsibility of training on anything or anyone else.
Training during the last past 8 weeks has been about my experience, and tomorrow will be the same, though I will of course hope for the best for the tens of thousands running next to me. This means that I will not look to those next to me to determine my pace. While the finish line will no doubt pop up in my head, I will appreciate the 13 miles of beautiful riverfront and city that I have come home to. I will celebrate with my brother and his friends at the finish line, and we will cheer for the other runners as they approach the finish line and realize what will no doubt be tens of thousands of achievements, many just as significant or even more so than mine. Tomorrow we will be more than just a swarm of people tied together by our love for the Red Sox. While we will run in separate spheres, we will be united by the common purpose of being just a little bit better than before, not measured by anyone else, but by our individual authority.