The first starting point – the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. The day that changed my life and the lives of many others forever. That is the point where the circle started.
Where did the circle end? The finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon with 20+ Team Hoyt members following their inspirations Dick and Rick Hoyt across the historic line in the ultimate TEAM finish. This day will forever be branded in all of our hearts and minds! This is the story of how we, as a team, reclaimed the Boston Marathon Finish Line for all who were a part of 2013’s marathon and America.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.
But the Lord said to him, “Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.” 24 So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
As I got closer to marathon weekend I could sense an overwhelming peace blanketing me. Many people asked in the days leading to April 21 how I felt about going back. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt it was part of my journey and part of my story. God started the big circle years ago. He knew I would miss qualifying for Boston on my first try. He knew I would run a qualifying run on my second try but fail to get in due to stricter performance standards. He knew I will find the BEST team in the world – Team Hoyt…A team that truly represents HIS unfailing and unconditional love for us – by giving us an earthly example of that love through Dick’s love for his son Rick. He knew He would place me on that team for a reason…to experience the historic marathon in a way unlike any other – with an extended family!
He knew 2012 would be a great run – a hot one, but one that allowed me to slow down and enjoy the music. The music of cheering crowds and clapping hands the entire 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. He knew my mind would be focused on the experience because it was too hot to race! What a phenomenal day it was!
Then came 2013 – this was my year to run as a Team Hoyt charity runner with no pressure. I was in and my goal was to qualify on Boston’s course. I was on target…but fell short by 7 minutes or I thought I had. :) Again, God knew. He had other plans. He allowed me to finish that race 11-12 minutes before the devastation hit. He put a hedge of protection around me and around Mike. He gave us 12 short minutes to find one another…though it felt like an eternity. He protected our team. He knew we all would be forever changed! He knew we would want to come back and see this thing through again in memory and in honor of those affected. We had to do it! Yes, we did! He also knew I would be returning as qualified runner in 2014.
My beauty from the ashes was that 16 days before the 2014 Boston Marathon I turned 45. That meant I moved up an age division and gained 10 extra minutes on my qualifying goal time for Boston. So, on April 15, 2013 I qualified to run the 2o14 Boston Marathon and I was accepted to run it as a qualified runner in September. Once again I would run the streets between Hopkinton and Boston as a Team Hoyt member…but as a qualified runner who gained my own entry.
Running Boston as a qualified runner was a dream or a seed that God planted over 14 years ago. God is faithful. God has been sowing this seed for a long time. I obviously wasn’t ready when I wanted it…I was ready when He did. And He did in grand fashion! He knew the circumstances that would get me to 2014 and allow me to once again experience a life-changing event! He is so good! I am so very humbled to have been chosen to represent His feet during this monumental run.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
This year I was not only able to experience the weekend with Mike and Team Hoyt, I was also able to take it all in with Yoli and her husband Tim. Yoli is my training buddy. Her friendship is priceless! I am a better person because of her – in all areas. Running with Yoli is the reason I qualified in the first place…she is my rabbit. :) This made Boston 2014 even more special. We didn’t get to run together or really hang out on race day but we got to take in Boston and the expo together. Special memories were made!
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
Another first time experience was being able to participate in the Boston 5k with 10,000 other runners on Saturday. It was a beautiful day for a run! We lined up and took off. It was pretty much survival of the fittest as people jockeyed for position the entire 3.1 miles. I just tried to stay on my feet because I knew I needed them come Monday morning. The course brought us over the finish line of the marathon. I got to cross it twice. The Saturday run prepped me for Monday. It was a prayerful 5k. I was able to soak in the surroundings and be thankful for the journey to run the historic roads once again. It was a blessed run.
After the 5k, Mike and I got ready for a day filled with Team Hoyt fun. We had the traditional meet and greet where we got to meet all the new Team Hoyt members and reunite ourselves with the alumni. What a great time! Our team is beyond phenomenal. Not only are we led by two amazing men, Dick and Rick Hoyt, but we are made up of quality people from all walks of life. All who have one goal as the run – to show everyone Yes, You Can! no matter what you are going through. You can get out there and take that first step no matter what! One team member was told he would never walk again after he hit a moose with his car…he is now an Ironman! Another was diagnosed with a form of cerebral palsy at birth and his parents were told he would suffer with life long disabilities . He was hoping to run a 2:40 on race day but an injury slowed him down. Another team member was hit by a car during her training last year. She saw the blessing in it when she realized if she had run the race she trained for she would have been crossing the finish lines when the bombs went off. Story after story after story was told during the meet and greet. Team Hoyt is a dream team. A team of 53 caring individuals running for a purpose as one!
As a team we then went to listen to our inspirations share their story at the Boston Marathon Expo. Inspiring…once again. It never gets old listening to Dick and Rick share the reasons why they run! Yes, You Can! The evening finished with the Team Hoyt Pasta dinner. As a team we heard inspiring words from our two coaches, Uta Pippig -3x Boston Marathon winner and Varinka Ensminger – Army National Guard Marathon Team. It is such an honor to call them friends and coaches! They are both a wealth of knowledge and such inspirations!!! We had an amazing musical surprise…check this out: http://youtu.be/PzHTir1PNmo
We closed the evening with fun photos of the team. We were ready to bring our team together on Marathon Monday and reclaim the finish line for Boston as a team. We were and are TEAM HOYT! As one of the runner’s daughter’s posters said…”How do you spell HERO – H.O.Y.T. – TEAM HOYT!” We were inspired and ready to do this!
Sunday was Easter…the day we celebrate our Lord and Savior’s RESURRECTION! We attend Park Street Church right on the border of Boston Commons. This is the park where the 5k started on Saturday and where the runners would be picked up on Monday morning and taken to the start line. It is a beautiful park….full of life! Life is what this day was all about. We enjoyed the traditional Easter service in a church away from home. We missed our home church but were thankful to be surrounded by others singing praises and thanksgiving to our Lord for sending His Son to die for our sins! He defeated death and gave us eternal life! This was a very special part of our journey.
After church, we explored Boston. The past two-years we wanted to take a trolley tour and it never worked out. This day was the day. We enjoyed a trolley tour, lunch at the Chart House – in the old Gardiner Building – the restored 18th-century offices of American Patriot John Hancock, and a harbor cruise. It was a grand day. God is so good. He gave us great weather and a wonderful day to soak in HIS goodness. We finished our evening up with Yoli and Tim at the infamous Cheesecake Factory. We carb loaded and added some extra fat in the form of cheesecake…Godiva Cheesecake…just in case we needed extra fuel on Marathon Monday. It was a fabulous ending to a blessed day!
Throughout these two days, no fear was present. We felt the comforting hand of our Lord around us sent by so many prayers. We were surrounded by love from afar and it made all the difference in the world. We knew He had come before us and was with us every step of the way! Next up was marathon day!
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
No fear was present only peace. Peace from above! HE ordained the perfect day with His many angels from all over the world praying for us! The day was almost indescribable. It has taken me almost a week to sit down and attempt to pen it. I will not and cannot do it justice. It was surreal.
The day started early. 5:00 a.m. to be exact. We had a bus to catch…a team bus. This year we were still able to roll to the start line as a team but we were unable to go to our Team Hoyt house. Our home was the charter bus we rode on…not too bad considering all the other athletes had to ride school buses, get off and sit in the grass with 30,000+ other runners. We had our own reclining seats, our own bathroom and are own area to just chill for the 6+ hours some of us had to wait. :) Before loading the bus we took the race day morning photos…bright eyed and bushy-tailed for sure! Then we were off….
As we arrived at the school where we were to hang out until 11:00 or 11:30 a.m., we noticed the police presence. They were everywhere. We parked next to a Vermont Bomb Squad vehicle. Looking around you were able to see armed officers everywhere. We were definitely protected.
The 6+ hours of waiting were fun times with our teammates. We chatted…we laughed….we went to the bathroom…some slept…we took photos…we made race day plans…we ate…we went to the bathroom…we waited….we went to the bathroom….we waited…
Slowly our runners would leave based on their wave. There were four waves this year in order to accommodate the 9,000 extra participants. I was in wave 3 along with my friend Joann. We didn’t start until 11:00 a.m. It was a cool morning. Perfect running weather or so we thought. :) Our race day plan was to keep it at around a 9:00-9:30 mile and catch up with Dick and Rick. My plan was to finish with them. Joann was going to see how she felt and then decide. The day started to warm up and by the time we made it to the start line we had shed all of our warm clothing, donating it to the shelters in Boston. As we made our way to the start we were corralled through security. No bags, nothing extra at all! We were wanded from head to toe and sent on our way. They were not taking any chances. Hats off to all of the officers present to keep us safe. WE felt it!
As we towed the start line we were ready. Joann said this is our day! We were smiling and joy overcame us! This was a day to reclaim what they tried to take away last year. Joann didn’t get to finish. She was stopped shy of the finish line. I had finished but felt something was ripped away. We were ready to get it back! Let’s do it!
Off we went! The first couple of miles flew by. We were having to watch our pace and back off because we were getting caught up with the excitement. People were cheering us on by clapping, yelling, holding signs. Several told us thanks for coming back. There were so many spectators. The towns were electric. We had kids and adults giving high fives. We had people holding signs that said “go random stranger go!” Love it! It was magical the entire way…or so we thought! We hadn’t even experienced half of it yet. The best was yet to come!
As we approached mile 8 we knew Joann had friends waiting. This was where one of our team members family hangs out. They have cheered Team Hoyt on for their 32 years running the Boston Marathon. They can spot them from way off. Joann’s friends teamed up with them and we had a grand welcome to mile 8.4. It was truly awesome. We received hugs, water and encouragement. Just what we needed to keep on going!
Then as we rolled up on mile 10 I thought I heard someone calling my name…TRISH, TRISH! I did! Emily from Alabama (originally from Massachusetts) was standing off to the left-hand side with a sign that said GO TRISH.
What a nice surprise! How in the world she spotted us and I heard her…I know how…God put her there for us! It was awesome! I just met her at my Run with Trish 5k for Team Hoyt in Chattanooga. She read about it and came out to support us. Being from Massachusetts she was familiar with Team Hoyt and wanted to supported them and our run. Then she did it again at the Marathon…how cool is that???
After this point I was energized but my legs were heavy. It was getting warmer. We were running a marathon…it is not always easy. :) Joann encouraged me to keep on keeping on…as we both did. I thought about our team and what it stood for…yes, you can! Another time I was feeling heavy we came across a young man running the marathon on crutches. Boy, I knew I could do it if he could. One step at a time. Joann pulled me through. Our goal was to make it to Dick and Rick we could do this! Yes, we could!
As we ran my eyes continually glanced ahead of us looking for red jerseys. I knew we should find the team soon. One lady told us that they had been there recently and were walking. We weren’t far behind. Yay! Then we saw them…or should I say heard the roar. Check out the videos:
These just give you a small taste of what it was like…truly amazing! Indescribable!!!! Once we caught up with this dynamic duo we walked the last nine miles with them and just took it all in. I really can’t put it into words. There were several very special moments along the course. Two different times Dick and Rick pulled over to speak with a young girl and young boy in wheelchairs. The parents were so very honored that they took the time to stop. It was so moving…this is what they are all about….inclusion! Yes, You CAN!
Photos taken by a team member – Dave – thanks for capturing these priceless moments DAVE!
Then at the top of HeartBreak Hill, where we are all tired no matter what, we found MIKE! I was overjoyed. He is as much part of our team as I am. They were all so glad to see him. This was the encouragement and boost we needed to make the last 5.2 miles. They all hugged him then it was my turn. I got a hug and a kiss. :)
What a day it was turning out to be!!! We had the best waiting on us. The last mile from the Citgo sign on to Boylston Street! We were ready to reclaim that finish line together….Team Hoyt STRONG and Boston Strong! Joann went on and attacked Heartbreak Hill. She did great!
Around mile 24 we picked up our three-time Boston Marathon winner coach – Uta Pippig. Joann was waiting with her to finish with all of us. She was so very excited to see Dick and Rick and the whole team. We were now ready to finish strong.
Off we went! We rounded the corner next to the Fire Station who lost a member of their unit not too long ago…he was supposed to be running the race. It was moving in itself to see the signs for him and hear the cheers. Then the final turn toward the finish line. It was remarkable! It was beautiful! It was magnificent! It was surreal! Team Hoyt’s leaders – Dick and Rick Hoyt led the charge for the finish line. This would be the last time Dick and Rick Hoyt would cross the finish line together. This was their chance to reclaim what was taken from them last year. The roars continued to erupt along the course as the team got closer. It was unreal!! You could sense the respect the crowd have for these two who we call Team HOYT! Their 32nd and final Boston Marathon finish. This was it. The crowd was gong to make sure they had a proper farewell. And that, they did!!!
The crowd said thank you. They showed Dick and Rick that they were as much as a part of the marathon as the marathon itself. Dick and Rick showed the nation that they were Boston Strong and Team Hoyt Strong and no one was going to keep them from doing what they set out to do last year…finish their 32nd Boston Marathon! They did it with many of their team members by their side and others there in spirit. Team Hoyt will continue with another team member pushing Rick along the streets in the future. The Yes, You Can spirit will live on!
It was a day for the record books. It was a day forever etched in my heart and in my mind. God knew what He was doing so many years ago. He knew He was giving me a story to tell. A story of His love and grace. A story that shows good triumphing over evil. A story that will forever show HIS true spirit of unconditional love through two amazing men – Dick and Rick Hoyt. Dick has given Rick the opportunity to live life to the fullest through different sporting events. He loves his son so much he is his legs. They say Dick is the arms and legs and Rick is the heart. This is a real-life love story of a father and son that is hard to top.
We have a heavenly Father that wants to do the same for us! He can give us life that we can live to the fullest as well….He can push us through our journey and carry us through the tough times. The finish line is eternal life with HIM as long as we believe. He is there waiting!
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
I am truly honored and humbled to be given this story. God has been so very good. He has blessed me beyond what I deserve. He has been with me every step of the way even when I have stumbled…when I have fallen…when I am not worthy…which all of these happen daily! He has given me a story! An amazing story! I want to shout it from the mountain tops…that is why it has taken me over 3500 words to get it out. The event I thought was indescribable was far from it…I could keep on going but I won’t!
Last words – I am just so very thankful for the Lord allowing me to come full circle…full circle from the time I stated I wanted to run the Boston Marathon so many years ago AND most importantly coming full circle from last year’s horrific events to this year’s joyful and peaceful events.
God is good all the time and all the time God is good!
Thanks to all of you for your prayers, your support and your love! This journey is as much about you as it is me. We have to live life to the fullest and help others along the way!
This post, about this remarkable day, is dedicated to my amazing husband who follows along on my many running journeys – He supports me no matter what and loves me all the way to the finish line. I would never want to do this without him. He makes it worth it all….