A few weeks ago, I wrote a post called Surrender to the universe. With an injury in my knees and 18 weeks of training behind me, I told myself I had to accept that Boston was not going to be a PR. Instead, with your considerable and persuasive support, I decided to run it to smell the roses, to celebrate how far I’ve come with running and to celebrate the history and traditions of this most prestigious of marathons.
However. I may have told you before that it takes me a while to “get” things. I had to try 5 or 6 times to give up smoking before it stuck. I was on diets for 10 years before I actually lost the weight I was trying to lose. I tried to incorporate exercise into my life for about 15 years before I actually stayed off the couch of doom. I am very goal-focused but often ignore the glaringly obvious in my blind-sided quest for whatever it is I’m going for. And focus is great – you need it to achieve. But I do tend to overlook things while I’m focused. OK, where am I going with this? Well, this surrender to the universe bit obviously hadn’t really been pounded into my brain as it should have done. So I had to learn it again, and take note this time.
By now you will all know that most flights from the UK and Northern Europe have been grounded since Thursday lunchtime. So far they are grounded until tonight but the status is constantly changing. I was booked onto a Friday morning flight to Boston (16th August). When this was canceled, I was rebooked for Saturday. This flight was also canceled and the first available option for me to fly out now was Monday. To arrive after the marathon. So I am not going to Boston.
I can’t begin to tell you everything that has gone through my head in the past 36 hours. Disbelief. A volcano? Affecting us in England? For days and days? All planes grounded? No means of getting to the continent? Anger. I have worked my buns off for this. I have run in the snow, in the dark, in the rain, in the wind (don’t talk to me about the wind. There is now, apparently, no wind. I have never had such a windy training cycle. Don’t talk to me about the wind). Grief. Yes, well, I have cried. I wanted this so badly. Enormous disappointment. I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to it all. To running this race of races. To celebrating with Emily and Jill and Meg afterwards. To meeting Greg and to walking the freedom trail and mooching around Boston, to meeting Jeanne (who traveled up from Washington DC for this) and going to the ballgame on Sunday and watching nothing but talking, talking, talking about our lives and our dreams and all that good stuff. It has not been an easy year for me or my family – while we, thankfully, have our health and our jobs, we have faced some pretty major business, financial and personal challenges. Countless times I have headed out the door on a stressful morning and thought “at least I have Boston”. Boston was to have been the icing on the cake of years of running and fighting my self-doubts, of the past year of major challenge.
But, amazingly, I also feel some resignation. Had my flights been canceled due to terrorism (I was last in Boston in September 2001 and was stuck there then when all flights were canceled) or strikes (I purposefully avoided booking BA flights) I would have had someone to be angry with. But this? A volcano? Talk about the universe setting me straight on who’s really in charge. What can I do? The planes are grounded. The trains and ferries off of this island are full. The airports in Europe, assuming I could even get there, are closed.
Oh and somewhere in there, there is also gratitude. Talk about learning who your friends are. My BFF Dawn took me under her wing as soon as it became clear that I was going to be stranded in London for some time. There was coffee and sympathy and understanding. This woman has a knack of always being there when I need her. It’s uncanny but I’ll take it – a friend like Dawn comes along very rarely. And you people. Sheesh. If anything can make me cry it’s you lot. From all the FB updates and text messages and posts asking for wind, for blowing, for good vibes. From all of your incredibly sympathetic text messages and comments while I was waiting. From all of your enormous and sincere sympathy when I realised, late yesterday afternoon, that I was not going to be running Boston this year. From a post dedicated to me. Even from the BAA, who seem likely to be offering those of us who are missing Monday a deferral for 2012. I really feel I don’t deserve all this warmth and feeling – it’s just a race, right? – but I have soaked it up and it has helped.
I am just sitting here, right now, back in my own house, feeling weird. I’m not sure what I feel. Pretty sad, mostly. Woke up at 5 this morning with that awful feeling where you know something’s happened but you can’t remember what and then 5 seconds later it comes to you. Oh yes. That. I can’t say I am constantly as sanguine as I might sound. Because I’m not. But I will get over it. I know that too.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Some have suggested my running a marathon in the next few weeks. I might. I need to find out whether what I have in my legs is a marathon, or Boston. And the only way I’ll know that is by going out for a run. So today or tomorrow I will be doing just that. Maybe I’ll get a better handle on where I am mentally.
And then, on Monday, I will be following the progress of all of those I was hoping to run with – run it and enjoy it, peeps! Warm the course up for 2011!