“If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.” –John Bingham
Running is a unique sport. Perhaps that is why more than thirty-two thousand people will toe the starting line of the 119th Boston Marathon in a few short weeks. For most of those runners, their goal isn’t to win. Some may be there because they genuinely love of running. Others may be running in support of a family member battling a disease. Others may simply be there because their crazy friend talked them into running a marathon. However, deep down each individual decided to take on the daunting task of running 26.2 miles for the same reason: to prove that nothing in life can hold them back.
Training for the world’s oldest annual marathon presents several challenges ranging from preparing for a hilly course, to the challenges that come with training during a cold New England winter. When snow starts to accumulate and Boston freezes over, many people clamor into hibernation or simply resort to treadmill running until warmer weather arrives. But, there are a few brave souls like myself that continued to trudge along the cold, wet, slippery roads five days a week for what ended up being the worst winter in Boston’s history. Aside from a few bumps and bruises due to two falls outside of my apartment, both of which occurred while I wasn’t running, I made it through in one piece. Although my body was unfazed by the inclement weather, Boston drivers abhorred me. I couldn’t even begin to count the amount of times I almost became a tattoo on an automobile bumper. While doing a hill workout the day after winter snow storm Juno, a woman got out of her car to inform my girlfriend and I that it was not safe to be running outside because the cars didn’t have good traction. We wished her a safe drive, but explained that we were about three miles from home and thus would need to run back there. Karma came back to bite me shortly after when I got up close and personal with a mail truck making my way across an intersection at the end of an eighteen mile run. From that point on I figured I should avoid any hospitalizations as part of my training regimen.
All kidding aside, this winter challenged each and every one of us in some way shape or form. For those running the Boston Marathon, it added another hurdle and made training that much more difficult. It was only fitting that when thousands took to the course the morning of Saturday March 28th for their final long run, a blanket of snow once again covered the streets from Hopkinton to Boston. Fortunately, when the race begins at ten o’clock on Patriot’s Day, it will all be worth while because, as the slogan for this year’s marathon states, there is only one Boston Marathon. Only one marathon that brings hundreds of thousands of spectators. Only one marathon with a scream tunnel. Only one marathon with hills that can break your heart. Only one marathon with so much history. And only one marathon that defines a city. Boston.
Nicholas Panarello is a 21-year-old running convert from Barrington, Rhode Island. As a baseball player growing up, Nicholas turned to running when he moved to Boston to attend Northeastern University, where he recently completed his degree in Behavioral Neuroscience. During his short “running career” thus far, Nicholas has completed two Tough Mudders, a half marathon and a full marathon. The 2015 Boston Marathon will be his second marathon and first Boston. Nicholas currently works at Marathon Sports and will be attending Tufts University School of Medicine in August.