Marathoners will always persevere

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Olver_ColorWhen I heard about the Boston Marathon, I was in a state of shock. I never thought that something like this could happen.

I’d been running for just over two years when I decided to run my first marathon, the Chicago Marathon, last year. My ultimate goal was to run in the Boston Marathon, so Monday’s tragic events hit particularly close to home for me.

I was pondering attempting to qualify for next year’s race, but when this attack happened, it made up my mind for me. I am going to be in the Boston Marathon next year even if it means running faster than I ever have before.

The experience of running in the Chicago Marathon was like nothing that I have ever experienced before. People were screaming, clapping and happy. There were costumes, beer, Gatorade, water and lots and lots of granola bars. It was like a little slice of heaven for me and 39,999 friends.

To prepare for the race, I ran up, down and across Milwaukee. I splashed in puddles. I drank gallons of water, but I put the work in and I was ready for the reward.

When I woke up at 5 a.m. October 7, 2012, the butterflies were taking over my stomach. I was jumpy. I was antsy. I was nervous. But above all else, I was happy. I had put in the 16 weeks of training with renowned marathon trainer Hal Higdon.

That morning, I arrived at my uncle’s house, and we hopped in his car. The drive to Chicago felt like it took forever, but when we got there, what I saw amazed me. For the first time in my life, the streets of Chicago were empty. There was not a single car to be seen.

I pinned my bid to my shirt, made my way to the start corral and the next thing I knew the race was finally starting.

From the moment you take the first step past the start line, it is obvious this is much more than just a race.

The course is almost spilling over with spectators. Every mile there are people cheering you on, willing you to the finish line.

By the time I finally hit the 20-mile mark, I realized that I was actually going to finish the race. The last six miles were a bit of a blur. I was overwhelmed with the emotion and personal tribulations of the run. Everybody has a story, and in those last six miles they all come to fruition. My story was a simple one. I wanted to cross the finish line.

As I got closer and closer to the “Chicago Heave,” a hill at the beginning of mile 26, there was a girl down on the ground holding her leg. I debated going on, but I knew the right thing to do was to stop. As soon as I went over to her another runner also stopped, and we helped her get the side so the medical staff could treat her.

It was right there that the marathon was put into perspective for me.

It was not just about the runners, the miles or even the race. It was about a community coming together to do something amazing. Everyone had a personal reason for wanting to be there. Whether that was to run a ridiculously long distance or just be part of something spectacular, when you run a marathon you experience something indescribable.

The tragedy of the Boston Marathon will never be forgotten, but I know as long as there are marathons and people to watch them, the race will always go on.

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