BOSTON – The Marathon: Heartbreak Hill

Making it to Heartbreak Hill was a fantastic feeling.  I could hear the crowd in the distance, and the steady beat of a drum calling the runners.  We made a slight turn and the hill became visible.  Others had told me the hill “wasn’t that bad,” and I could tell it wasn’t as daunting as the first Newton Hill had been, but because of the way the hill disappeared into the trees and you couldn’t see the top, it was impressive enough.  I stopped at the bottom of the hill and looked up, seeing for the first time the sight that I had only imagined these past six months.

I was snapped out of my awe by a male voice yelling, “Hey, Pretty in Pink!  Get moving!  You can do it!”  I smiled and nodded, gave a wave, and took off up the hill.  A loud cheer went out from the side of the hill, and I understood for the first time that day why so many people came out to cheer us on.  I think they realized we runners were all doing something they couldn’t, and they didn’t want us to fail.  It gave them hope that one day they might need to push themselves to their own limits, and seeing us do it let them know that they could do it as well.

Other than crossing the finish line, Heartbreak Hill was my favorite part of the race.  The hill is very pretty, in a neighborhood lined with homes and families, and the trees seem to bend over the road ahead.  For some reason I really connected with the crowd at Heartbreak, and I used their support to help me up.  Everyone was struggling at this point, but it was inspiring to see so many runners who refused to give up.  There was a lot of heart on Heartbreak Hill, from both spectators and runners.

I started looking for Michael and Dominique on the sides, and was irritated to think they might have decided to wait at the top—where I didn’t need them as much.  Thankfully, they were somewhere in the middle, and I finally saw Michael’s bright yellow jacket and my daughter jumping up and down, screaming my name.  I made a beeline for them, oblivious to anyone else around me, and hugged them both.

It would’ve been so easy to break down crying, and I think I did shed a few tears.    I told Michael I didn’t know if I was going to make it.  Dominique kept telling me how proud she was of me, that I was doing great, that I was amazing, but I could tell Michael knew how much I was struggling.

Michael suggested we keep walking up the hill as we talked, and he grabbed a cup of water for me.  He was concerned when I told him I wasn’t able to urinate, but I told him I thought I would be okay and wouldn’t put myself in any danger.

Michael told me the hill went up just a little further, made a dip, then went up just a little more and was done.  We hugged again and said our goodbyes, and I kept going.  A few seconds later Michael came running up next to me and said he would run to the top with me.  I wanted to cry again!  When we reached the top, he told me I might make it to the finish line before they did.  I scoffed and thought “yeah, right” because the finish line still seemed so far away.  He veered off and was gone, and once again I was on my own.  Only five more miles to the finish.  I knew I would make it.

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