One of Eastbay’s own tackled the 2016 Boston Marathon. Here’s a look at her racing experience.

Boston Marathon Athlete Village

By Amanda Murphy

Tears of excitement and joy filled my eyes as I entered Athletes’ Village.  In three short hours, I would toe the line in Hopkinton and take off towards Boylston Street to complete my third Boston Marathon.  Volunteers cheered on the athletes, helping us get excited for the 26.2 miles ahead.  All around, I could hear friendly conversations about where runners were from and how many Bostons they had run.

That’s one of the greatest things about the Boston Marathon: every runner has a story. A story about how they got there, why they run, and where they come from.  As I waited for my wave to be called to the starting line, I exchanged those stories with the runners around me.  There is something about the Boston Marathon that brings together some of the best — and also the friendliest —competition.

It was a clear morning, and the sun was beating down on us as we entered the starting corrals.  I felt nerves come over me as I worried that the conditions were a bit warm to start, but I quickly reflected back on my months of training and all that I had done to prepare for this race.  I was ready to run.

The gun went off, and the race started.  I could hear cheers, music, and cowbells along the entire course.  Children stood with their arms outstretched, offering up high fives.  Signs decorated with encouraging words and humor were everywhere.  Spectators handed out wet towels, ice cubes, oranges, and popsicles to keep runners cool and offer up additional fuel.

As I approached the halfway point, I could hear the infamous shrills of the Wellesley girls before they were even in my sight.  I felt a surge of energy as I ran through the Wellesley Tunnel, high-fiving so many of them along the way.  Again, as I approached the Newton Hills, the cheers got louder as the spectators cheered runners through the tough inclines.

I could feel myself tiring, my legs getting heavy as I climbed the hills. I started worrying that I had started too fast and overhydrated, but I kept pushing through. I thought about all my training runs and the even bigger hills I had run. I knew I was capable of this. Of my 11 marathons, there was only one where I overheated and had to walk, and I knew that if I stopped, it would be too hard to start back up, so I kept pushing.  For me, success comes from keeping a positive attitude. So, I kept thinking about my training and all my friends who were at home cheering me on, telling me to dig deep.

Boston Marathon

To fill the 26.2 miles, I wore headphones and listened to music, but sometimes I would turn it down and listen to the crowd, just taking in everything around me. Again, I thought about friends and family and how I have so much to be thankful for. I also thought about my high school coaches and teammates, how my cross-country coach used to say, “You’re a machine, Murphy!” or my track coach would say, “Git, git!” Another track coach used to quietly call out my splits and tell me to pick it up or settle into pace. Even years after graduation, I still hear those positive words every time I run. And they helped me through the harder stretches of Boston.

I used the downhill and let the cheers of the crowd propel me into Boston and push me toward the finish line.  Around mile 25, I started looking for my boyfriend in the crowd. As soon as I spotted him, the feeling of heavy legs and tiredness vanished.  I gave him a high five and felt a burst of energy that carried me the last mile of the marathon.

Boston Marathon

As I rounded Hereford Street and took a left on Boylston, I finally had the finish line in sight.  The blue line guided me down the street, and with hands in the air and a smile on my face, I crossed the finish line.  My One Goal was to give it my all and leave nothing on the course.  I had done just that.  My time was a course record for me — my fastest Boston yet.

Volunteers congratulated all of the runners, crowning each of us with a medal.  While I had completed the 26.2 miles in record time, what made the race truly memorable were all of the spectators, volunteers, family, and friends who encouraged me along the way.