If you are running the Boston Marathon today, don’t waste your time reading this column. You have a long day ahead. Start stretching.
I have spent a lot of my career on the road, sometimes in arduous situations. I have peeled leeches off my feet after going barefoot on a mountain in Thailand. I have suffered near frostbite by exposing my bare hand to minus-30 degree weather in the Arctic. I became exceptionally agitated when I temporarily lost sight of my Arabic-speaking driver at the Syrian border last year. And five years ago today, I ran the Boston Marathon.
Only this last effort still sends shockwaves through my entire system.
When the race is over, there will be talk of endurance and determination, of personal bests and getting past the proverbial wall, of Heartbreak Hill (it’s actually a bunch of hills — there is no forgetting that) and the finish line. Visitors will praise the hospitality of this city whose residents pass around water and cheer athletes onward.
That’s all true and, as a fan of running sports, the city of Boston, and the state of Massachusetts, I should be sharing in the warm fellowship of those who even once finished running the 26 miles and 285 yards. But looking back, I have to admit it really was horrible. Painfully horrible. I don’t remember most of it, and I have blocked large chunks of it out. I had never run Boston before, and I haven’t run a marathon since. I have no desire to do it again.
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