In late fall, an email came through that was a bit different. It began:
I see you. A little birdie told us you were running Boston this year. You are the rock star runner we've been looking for.
Um, okay. Flattery with get you everywhere.
We promise a good time.
Sure you do.
Next steps: CAN YOU COME? Send us your bib number, email, phone number, and home address.
Here's my bank routing number too!
It was signed, "Your Boston Crew"
I was fingering the delete button when my phone buzzed. It was Kat. "Reply to that email NOW!" she texted. "It's legit!"
I paused, forwarded it to Brian ("I just got this. It's from a Boston lululemon store. Not sure what to make of it") and wondered what the heck was going on. Kat and Alex both work for the lululemon store at Downtown Summerlin, so perhaps they knew something.
So I replied, gave the appropriate info, and called it a day. At that point in time, we had yet to book our hotel and flights. I was running about 20 sad miles a week. Boston seemed very far away.
The emails continued. More information was requested. Slowly, with clever wording and thoughtful advice, the picture appeared: our "Boston crew" was a group of lululemon peeps that had created a group of 80 runners from around the world. They wanted to give this group the "best Boston experience ever."
We filled out surveys with the fun questions. "What is your walk-out song?" (Try Everything by Shakira from the movie 'Zootopia'), "What is your favorite post-race treat?" (Good California Chardonnay and raw oysters), even "What size shorts do you wear?" (Um, 6...) and then best of all, "Where would you like your awesome swag sent?" (HOME ADDRESS!)
I read the emails and replied diligently, but couldn't let go of the sinking feeling in my gut. I clearly should have not been selected. This was a mistake. They must have gotten my marathon time wrong; I ran a 3:33, not a 2:33. I'm not elite; just your average mid-packer with cheetah dreams. No average runner deserves this kind of treatment.
But Leigh, our Boston contact, was quick at assure me that I was definitely not a mistake. Our group varied from 2:20 runners to charity runners, people spanning the globe from the US, Sweden, Spain, Mexico and Canada. A private FB group was set up for us so we could get to know each other. It was so fun to check in every day to see the different conditions people ran in. For example, those in flat lands use multi-storied parking garages for hill work. I'm still not sure how they avoid cars, but brilliant. (side note: thank you, Red Rock for being so hilly and delicious) I watched Canadian runners trek through long runs with spikes on their shoes while the Texas crew battled heat and humidity in February. Even after the terror attacks in Stockholm last week, a Swedish runner post that the morning after, his group had taken the to the empty streets to run a 26K.
My head spun. This was unreal. I love running and love the community that is creates, but this was almost overwhelming. To be a tiny piece of a much larger puzzle, to be bonded by a common passion is what we all aspire to. And here I was, once again by sheer luck, part of this incredible global community of like-minded individuals. I've talked a lot about how we run not to necessary beat each other, but to be with each other, and by no direct hand of mine, I stumbled into this. George Sheehan is smiling up there.
Of these relationships, one woman wrote that she would be in Las Vegas for a conference in mid-February. I jumped at the chance to meet up with her. Of course, part of me worried that meeting a random stranger on the Strip would be awkward but...there's always running. Always the perfect topic if the conversation lagged.
My fear was completely unsubstantiated. I don't think either of us took a breath during that three hour visit.
Monica couldn't have been nicer, funnier or more real. We talked about running, our families , our careers. How running makes everything more complicated but better at the same time. By the end, we were picking out lipstick colors for each other at Sephora. We took a picture at the Las Vegas sign and posted it on the board. "Clicked like Seigfried and Roy!" she stated with girl runner emojis. We giggled like old friends.
A week later, we were sending each other pictures, discussing our pedicure color choices.
Blue and yellow, obviously!
They've planned an amazing weekend complete with a tour of the marathon course, motivational speakers, yoga, a shopping day at the Boston store, lots of organized shake-out runs, and my personal favorite: breakfast every morning. Yessssss. Because 2-3 days before the marathon means one thing: carbs. YAY! Hello, Mr. Bagel.
Last Wednesday, as I laid on the couch with my calf wrapped and elevated, my mood was bleak. Pity party, table for 1, please. It's easy to get lost in your thoughts during the taper, and if you are rehabbing an injury, it's very easy for those thoughts to turn ugly. But then I checked the mail, and found a giant package. In it, a lululemon Scuba hoodie and the super soft, luxe align pants. Both in the right sizes, naturally. Yes, free swag is INCREDIBLE...but the feeling that someone is rooting for you? Priceless.
I texted Leigh right away, asking how I can ever thank her for everything. Her response: Run the race of your life.
It made me cry. Will do, Leigh.
Three days until we leave. Six days until the race.
Regardless of the outcome, at least I'll be dressed well!