I did not have to drive 1000 kilometres to race 42.2. I did not have to spend thousands of dollars on a hotel and travel. I did not have to juggle logistics of 3 dogs in a hotel room/in elevators/in the middle of a big city/chasing squirrels on the Common. I did not have to check the weather forecast 40 times and revise my race-day wardrobe choices just as many times. I did not have to endure security checks and the sardine-can experience of bib pickup and race expo in the Hynes Convention Centre. I did not have to wake up at stupid o’clock and bundle up in four layers of clothes and trek over to the Common to climb aboard a yellow school bus and join a convoy of hundreds of other yellow buses for the seemingly never-ending drive west on the MassPike to Hopkinton, listening to the excited chatter about training adventures and qualifying and past Bostons. I did not have to stand shivering on a school playing field, dressed like a hobo in throwaway layers, waiting 30 minutes to enjoy the sensory fiesta of a port-a-potty. I did not have to wait to start my run until a time of day when I am usually finishing my run. I did not have to walk a mile to the starting line. I did not have to stand in a corral, still shivering and now minus the throwaway clothes, waiting for the start gun along with thousands of others. I did not have to run shoulder-to-shoulder and elbow-to-elbow in a river of spandex and sneakers, dodging and weaving and heel-clipping and sharing a small ribbon of road for 26.2 miles. I did not have to run through the scream tunnel at Wellesley College. I did not have to get to Wellesley Centre and think ‘’Only halfway already?’’ I did not have to worry about giving high-fives to kids along the road. I did not have to listen to Neil Diamond or slightly-drunk Bostonians singing ‘’Sweet Caroline’’, nor listen to fellow runners singing it back (‘’And when I hurt/HURTING RUNS OFF MY SHOULDERS’’) I did not have to navigate traffic at water stations. I did not have to hear people yelling ‘’you’re almost there’’ at mile 20. I did not have to smell roadside barbecues and picnics along the grassy boulevards in the Newton hills. I did not have to slog up Heartbreak Hill. I did not have to ask myself ‘’where the hell is that Citgo sign already?’’ I did not have to squeeze through the Fenway crowds at Kenmore square. I did not have to scan the crowds for Tim and the dogs in Brookline. I did not have to look for my friends in the 5-deep crowds on Commonwealth Avenue.
I did not have to turn right on Hereford and left on Boylston.
Today it was just me and the wind.