YES Marathon Runner, Sayles Day, Recounts Her Boston Marathon Run
If you saw any news about the Boston Marathon, you know that the temperature was near-freezing, the rain in sheets, and the headwind around 20 mph. My favorite headline was “The 2018 Boston Marathon Was Perfect Chaos.” It was incredibly exciting to be a part of it because it was so extreme.
The athlete’s village before the starting corrals was a slip ‘n slide mud bowl, and under the large party tent were hundreds of muddy, wet people wrapped in plastic garbage bags and old clothes that they were planning to discard along the race. It was a funny scene, full of strangers connecting over “How many Bostons have you done?” and “I can’t believe this is happening.”
I went to the start with friends from BC, but we each ran the race separately. Mentally, the earlier miles were harder, knowing that this was just the beginning and only so much was in my control. Unlike training, which is full of decisions about distance, pace, hydration, clothing etc., there were no choices to make except to settle in and run. There were many creative signs along the way held by spectators (and also a golden retriever) braving the weather. From Ashland to Framingham to Natick to Wellesley to Newton, the route was filled with encouraging families watching and generous volunteers handing out Gatorade and water.
At the edges of Newton, the route became familiar because it was getting closer to Boston College. The best surprise was at mile 18, where my mom and sisters were waiting with family friends. I had not been expecting them until later in the race, so it was an energy boost to get to see and hug them. After seeing my family and looking forward to BC, miles 18-21 were a smooth and happy segment (which is nice, because those Newton hills are traditionally the hardest).
Heartbreak Hill was rowdy and crowded. BC at the top was the highlight because my friends were there with homemade signs, yelling and running along with me. Family and more friends were at the bottom of the hill, and it was a frenzy of shouting and high-fiving and hugging that is still a blur!
Miles 23-25 were very difficult and I “survivor shuffled” along. The rainwater flowing down the street was inches deep. Then the final stretch was lined with roaring spectators, and the ground was covered in a rug of multi-colored plastic bags that runners had discarded before their finish. As expected, finishing was powerful and emotional and a huge relief! Campbell and my best friends met me at the finish and we warmed up in a hotel lobby before heading back to BC.
Luckily, recovery was quick (I think because I went in the sauna the next day—that did the trick for sore muscles and joints). It’s funny how quickly we forget physical pain. During the race, I could not imagine the willpower it takes to train for and run marathons over and over again. Not to sound naive, but the race was definitely harder than I had anticipated so I felt humbled! (And I finished near a lady who said this was her 58th marathon). But it only took a day to start thinking about how this will inspire future athletic challenges.
There were four of us on the YES marathon team, and we all finished. For all of us, it was our first time running Boston, and for half of us it was our first marathon. We loved our neon orange jerseys! The executive director of YES is a race official, so he met us all at the end.
There are lots of inspirational stories about this year’s marathon (if you haven’t read about the winners, you should!). The most uplifting one is about the winner, Desi Linden, who was planning on dropping out of the race and only stayed so she could help her teammates. Ultimately, she pulled away and won the whole thing—the first American woman in 33 years.
The Boston Marathon is an exceptional race where you can viscerally feel the spirit of the city, and the resilience and pride it represents with Boston Strong. Ever since watching as a freshman, it was my dream to run the Boston Marathon my senior year. Getting a bib and being a runner is not an easy or straightforward process, and I was incredibly lucky when I was able to join Youth Enrichment Services’ marathon team. Committing to raise $10,000 was a daunting and ambitious task. But from the beginning, YOUR generosity has been astounding. I felt so supported the entire time, from donations to advice to encouragement to just checking in. I did not and could not do this alone, and want to express my sincerest gratitude to all of you. THANK YOU for supporting me to have one of the craziest and most formative experiences. And more importantly, thank you for donating to a cause that is making serious change for deserving youth. At YES’s recent annual gala, two YES teens spoke about the transformative ways in which YES has shaped their personal and academic lives. One of them said: “YES has made an incredible impact on my life, allowing me to conquer my fears by showing me how to be brave.” Both teens were proud to announce that they will be attending college next year. If you want to make a donation to YES any time until May, or share this fundraiser with family and friends, the link is http://yeskids.org/sayles. I cannot say thank you enough, or emphasize how much your support has truly meant to me. I am eternally grateful.