May 052011
Authors: Jason Pohl

I slowed slightly to encourage another runner to finish strong, and as I rounded the corner onto Boylston Street everything came into focus.

I made the left turn onto the final stretch of course, and I saw that the number of spectators had increased over the duration of 26 miles. Thousands of people lined the street screaming and cheering frantically, encouraging everyone to finish strong and not allowing anyone to give up –– not at this point.

600 meters … 500 … 400 … I was sprinting all out at this point and simply looked straight ahead at the finish … the very sight I had been dreaming of for the whole race. For the entire training plan and ever since I began dreaming about running the Boston Marathon almost 2 years ago, I had envisioned this moment.

It seemed surreal at the time, and it seems even more surreal now to think about what it took to get into the 115th running of the annual Boston Marathon. Getting into the world’s oldest annual footrace is something that many try for years to accomplish –– something that I was fortunate enough to do on just my first marathon last May.

It seemed unreal at first. To think that an average college kid who just ran to get away from the world for an hour or two every day and to have fun could have possibly qualified for the same race that the world’s most elite runners participate in.

Two hundred meters away from the banner draped across finish, I continued to focus on ending with a strong kick. I was giving it everything I had left, which after 26 miles was not much. I felt like vomiting and felt dry heaves daring, but I was determined to not let that happen … at least not yet.

Once someone runs a qualifying time for Boston, it does not mean they are guaranteed entry into the race. For this year’s race, registration opened up on October 18, 2010. It closed 8 hours later when the nearly 27,000 spots had filled to capacity.

100 meters … everything left in the tank was being utilized now as I surged and weaved between dozens of other runners struggling to finish. 50 meters … 30 … 10 … and then I was so overcome with emotion and pain that I threw my hands into the air for both a great finishing photo and to cap an end to an amazing experience.

The Boston Marathon is more than just a race; it is an experience. I treated the weeklong journey as a vacation and a much needed getaway from the chaos of the world we as students too often immerse ourselves.

You can discover so many things in textbooks and with others, but when you run alone, you discover the most important things about yourself down to your core.

During my time in Boston, I saw some of the most historic sites our nation has to offer, traveled up the east coast into Maine and even did my final training run at Walden Pond.
As I trained for the six months leading up to April 18, 2011, I put myself through some of the most demanding physical and mental tests of my life. Twenty mile training runs and day after day of logging miles utilized every piece of will and fortitude in my body.

It all paid off.

Looking back, it has been weeks since I crossed the finish line and heard that the fastest marathon ever run had happened in the exact same race I was in.

Running the world-renowned Boston Marathon while in college was the culmination of hundreds of miles of training runs, of sweat and of pain.

Some call it crazy. Others call it suicidal.

Regardless, you can be certain that I will be back there in the not-so-distant future. A summer of backpacking and 14er adventures will be mixed with hours of training runs in preparation for races in fall.

After all, a time of 3:13:14 over 26.2 miles of painful, rolling hills back east has potential to go under 3 hours: a goal worth striving for.

Staff writer Jason Pohl junior journalism major. He can be reached at

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