I did not run the Boston Marathon. I never have, and it’s possible that I never will. That information doesn’t tell you anything about how I feel about this day, though. All I can say is that I love the Boston Marathon. I admire all the athletes who train for months to participate and the hundreds of volunteers working to make the event possible. I love the fact that people run this race in banana suits and Elvis costumes. I love the beauty of people running in memory of loved ones. I love the sense of tradition and the spirit of togetherness. There’s nothing like it.

Hannah and her friends waiting for the runners of the Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon marks my one year anniversary of running. Last year, I ran alongside my dear friend for a precious few miles – the first miles I had ever run in my life. It was one of those defining moments that I know I will remember forever; I felt so proud to be a part of the day. And not to sound dramatic, but those miles changed my life. I trained hard to be able to run alongside my friend, to be there to support her. The Boston Marathon Expo is the exact place that I decided to train for my first half. Those few miles made me believe that running was the sport for me – the Boston Marathon made me believe that I could be an athlete.

Somebody recently told me that he believes in the power of connections between people. I stood outside today, cheering on both friends and complete strangers. My friends and I stood on the sideline in Coolidge Corner for 6 hours, cheering on the wheelchair racers, the elite runners, the qualified runners, and the charity runners. I screamed myself hoarse and made my hands raw from clapping. It doesn’t matter that I’m a spectator today – I felt as if I really shared something with thousands of people. I was a part of this day, and I connected with those runners. I’m glad I stayed to the bitter end to support the people who really needed a little encouragement (let’s face it, if I ever run a full marathon, that’s going to be me behind the street sweepers). Whenever you call out the name on somebody’s shirt, or yell something as simple as “good job blue shirt, you got this!” you can see the change in that person’s expression. Even if they don’t say anything back, they run a little taller, even if just for a moment. One man held my hand as he limped past me, and when he let go, he picked up his head and started to run.

I love how I feel at the Boston Marathon. I feel connected to this massive, world-wide community of athletes and people who care about the accomplishments of total strangers. I love that a race like this could push somebody like me to believe in herself. I love that I could share this day with some of my closest friends and running buddies, and simply appreciate the beauty of the challenge and the magnitude of accomplishments.

I love this day.