Running In The Marathon And Out Of The BC Bubble

On weekend mornings this semester, Commonwealth Ave. has been transformed by teams of runners training for the Boston Marathon. Hundreds of people have been running by Boston College every weekend and, unless you’re a morning runner or happen to live on Comm. Ave., you would have no idea this is going on.

This semester, I am training for the Boston Marathon and hope I’ll be able to bandit the race with the Campus School marathon team. Due to a time conflict that made me unable to attend the regular Sunday long run with the rest of the marathon team, I set out to run the 7.5 miles of the route before BC, and back, by myself.

 Unknowingly, I had run into a team also training for the marathon. Hordes of runners were coming up and down Comm. Ave. Cars and tents were set up at various points along the route, with tables of water in cups for the runners. The Heartbreak Hill Running Company’s mascot, a man in a gorilla costume, was standing on the corner outside the store giving runners high-fives.

As I started my run, most of the runners were already heading back up Comm. Ave. as I was heading down it. I saw their struggle mixed with fierce determination as they battled Heartbreak Hill. I saw the optimism of knowing they were almost done with their half-marathon.

What struck me most was the diversity. Being on such a homogenous campus, it’s always shocking to break the “BC bubble” and witness the vast differences in a normal, population. I saw runners that ranged from guys who looked like they just stepped out of an Under Armour catalogue, to the younger girls who were training at a slower pace and just having fun, to the older runners who clearly had families of their own at home.

As I turned left onto Washington Street, I began to catch up with the stragglers of the first marathon team. I remember passing two women: one close to my age, the other older, maybe in her 40s or 50s. Despite the vast age difference, there was an equal determination in both runners that I found so inspiring. They were only halfway done, but they weren’t about to give up.

The camaraderie among runners is unparalleled. As I ran down Washington Street and back up Comm Ave, I was encouraged by the second and then third marathon teams that were following me. All of us shared a common purpose. Around mile eight or nine (the most discouraging miles in a half marathon), a runner coming toward me shouted out “Yeah, go Eagles!” after noticing my BC headband and jacket. Maybe he was a recent alum, maybe he was just a fan of BC, or maybe he was just trying to spread some motivation. Either way, he made me smile and gave me the encouragement to keep on running.

As I came up Heartbreak Hill, I felt honored to be able to share this incredible journey of training for a marathon with other runners. No, I don’t know these people, and probably won’t ever see them again, but we shared a special struggle and achievement that morning that in some ways is deeper than any sort of relationship.

And I had something more. The sight of Bapst, rising up at the top of Heartbreak Hill, was the final motivation I needed to know that I was home-and I know BC will be my main motivation during the full Boston Marathon.

There is so much struggle, elation, and camaraderie on Comm. Ave. every weekend, and the majority of BC students miss it. Even BC students training for the marathon, who only run with the Campus School team on Sunday mornings, are perpetuating the BC bubble. I encourage all students training to do one long run by themselves-you never know who you’ll see and what you’ll learn.


February 23, 2014