Words simply cannot describe what it’s like to be a part of the Boston Marathon in any given year, but 2014 is different.
Along with the increased security, there are more people and more news reporters. There are also more hugs, more tears and more energy. Random strangers see my 2010 marathon jacket and the race bag hanging from my shoulder and wish me luck in the race.
Stepping off the Green Line train and making my way to Boylston Street, I was met with throngs of people, runners and spectators alike. The 2014 Boston Marathon jacket is neon orange, and jackets dotted the gray landscape like buoys on the ocean.
An ambulance drove by and I stopped in my tracks.
A sense of anxiety overtook me for a brief moment as I remembered the seemingly endless line of ambulances (we stopped counting after 50) on Columbus Avenue when we finally ventured out from our safe haven following last year’s bombings. The ambulances were stopped on the side of the road, waiting. Waiting for what? More tragedy? I tried not to think about it.
The Boston Marathon Expo this year was bustling with activity, with some few noticeable differences. For one, there was heightened security upon entering the John Hancock Convention Center. All bags were searched before entering the building.
Most of the official Boston Marathon merchandise was sold out by the time I arrived at 4:00 pm, and I ended up ordering my neon orange jacket online at the Expo. Everyone wants a piece of Boston 2014, including me.
I ran into my friend Megan, who was working at one of the Expo booths. She wished me luck and asked how I felt. I didn’t know how to answer her and just kind of stood there, unable to put into words how I felt. What I wanted to say was that I feel wonderful, scared, overwhelmed, confident and excited all at the same time. A mix of emotions were bottled up inside me.
Leaving the convention center, my boyfriend and I crossed the street and made our way to the same restaurant we ate dinner at last year, less than a block away from the finish line. We didn’t have reservations, but as luck would have it we got a table in the bar right away and ate the requisite pre-race pasta dinner.
After our dinner, we ambled over to the finish line. There were a lot of people milling about, but it was eerily quiet. A makeshift memorial was set up near the finish line, close to where the first bomb detonated. Some people took pictures of the memorial while other people hung their heads in silent prayer. I thought again about how lucky I was a year ago, and how so many others were not.
Now, safe and sound in my aunt’s apartment, I am preparing for race day.
I have packed my small bag, gathered my water and granola bars and lined up my running clothes. The weather reports are favorable and I know the crowd support will be amazing. I am as physically prepared for this race as as I could possibly be.
I can only hope my mental fitness will carry me across the finish line on a day filled with emotion.