Imagine farm land, rolling hills, cows grazing in the distance, pecan tree groves creating a picturesque backdrop to a south Georgia landscape. Welcome to Boston, Georgia. If you drive too fast, you’ll simply blow past this quaint small town an hour north from the Florida border.
And that’s exactly where I found myself this October Saturday morning. I had signed up for this particular half-marathon months ago. I had seen it advertised while driving one year – Boston Mini Marathon. For years, the timing was never right. We were always traveling, or doing other races, but this year the stars aligned. What I intended to be just another half-marathon soon turned into an all-out full family event. Somehow, this always seems to happen with us.
Sis and Jake decided to drive down for the race. In fact, they were planning to bike the entire course with me! It was pretty awesome. It would be like having my own little running entourage to carry water, gels, etc.
The morning of the race, the weather was questionable. It had a slight chance of rain, although it didn’t seem like the rain would come until the afternoon. I just prayed it would hold off until I had crossed that finish line.
Hubby and I arrived in Boston first. Since there wasn’t a ton of information on their website other than the start time and where to pick up packets pre-race, we got there around 7:00 a.m. just to be on the safe side. There was a couple of roads already closed, but we found a great big parking area – a giant open, field really – where there was plenty of spaces. I called sis to find out where they were and tell them of the parking lot. Let the chaos commence. I’m not exactly sure how they got “turned around” or trapped, or lost, or whatever had happened that morning, but somehow it took them a few chaotic minutes to make it around the closed road barriers and find this elusive parking lot. As always with this family, it can never be quite so simple.
Once everyone finally arrived, we unloaded the bikes and made our way towards the start. Hubby and dad were going to hang around while sis and Jake biked. Mom and other grandma were also on their way to the race and promised to be there at the finish.
Before the start, the runners lined up on the street for a prayer and the National Anthem. As we took off, I plugged in my music and ran. Sis and Jake agreed to meet me about a mile into the course.
As you leave the city of Boston, you are immediately shot out into the countryside. Gone are the houses and cars and instead you’re immediately thrust into rolling farmland. All in all, it was beautiful. Even though I had prayed for sunshine and blue skies, the clouds overheard were exactly what I needed. There isn’t any shade on these roads and the overcast day was absolutely perfect. It wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t cold. In fact, the temperature was just right.
It wasn’t long before sis and Jake caught up with me. Let the chatter and giggles begin. I put away my headphones and started running my mouth. We talked and laughed and took pictures – I even watched sis nearly run her bike a few times into the ditch. Clearly, she cannot be trusted to ride a bike and have a cell phone. I was having fun. So far, this was a great race. Truth be told, my pace was a bit all over the place and I was expending a lot of energy talking and laughing and being silly. I didn’t really think much about this until I hit mile 8/9.
The dreaded wall. It was like something inside of me turned off – just simply shut down. My energy was gone, my giggles were gone, and instead it felt a bit like torture. What was happening? This was so not like me.
Jake tried to say something where I commenced to biting his head off, saying something totally snarky, and telling them I needed some miles alone with my music. Trying not to laugh, and trying to be super patient with me, they left me alone. It was in those alone moments that I had to dig deep. DEEP. I was frustrated with myself. This wasn’t like me. I just knocked out 14 miles two weeks ago like a champ. I had trained properly. I had tapered properly. What was going on?! Maybe I had gone out too fast. Maybe I had giggled and played too much in the first half. I don’t really know. All I know is that the next four miles felt like the hardest four miles I had run in quite some time.
At about mile 11, I was able to talk to them, although they surely kept their distance, giving me plenty of space in case I decided to snap again. It might have been around mile 12 that they stopped to offer some water to a fellow runner who was sidelined with some stomach issues. As we all know from past experiences, gels with no water can equal GI disasters.
And then, there it was, Boston. The finish line was so close and yet so far away. I pushed myself up over the hill, trying to thank the volunteers who came out, high-fiving a police officer, anything to keep my spirits up. And then there was my most-amazing family – every one of them out there – cheering me on. Seeing them standing there, always my biggest fans, was exactly what I needed to push through to the finish.
I crossed the finish line much slower than I had wanted – 2:47:21 to be exact. I had been shooting for 2:30 this day. But, despite the clock time, I knew I had 13.1 miles to be proud of.
After the race, we cheered a few more of the fellow runners on, swapping stories of what each of us had seen – me, on the course; them, watching the elite runners come barreling in like the speed of light. I slowly sipped on my Nuun drink – the one magic drink that seems to help my cramping muscles like a champ – and we made our way for some food. We found a fabulous pizza joint where we snagged a table outside on the porch. From here, we had a perfect view of the tiny town of Boston and the parade that was about to commence.
Quite honestly, it was a perfect day. I sat around the table that day, sharing pizza and stories with my family feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. They had driven out there just to share this experience with me, to cheer me on and to show their love for me. And then it dawned on me – this is what racing and family is all about.
Note-worthy restaurants in the area
Buzzery: Right in the heart of downtown Boston, Ga, this small-town restaurant offers a big-city selection of pizza, classic Italian dishes and mead – yes, I said that right – mead. Pizza makes up the majority of the menu, but this great establishment also offers calzones, spaghetti, and a variety of sandwiches. So, what makes this pizza place so unique – besides the down-home feel, friendly staff, and fun outdoor patio seating? Honey is what makes this pizza special. Yep, that’s right. They put honey in their crust. And from one hangry runner to another, this pizza was simply out of this world. So, if you happen to be in south Georgia, set your GPS for Boston, Ga and give this great place a try. I’m positive you won’t go home hungry, or disappointed.