If you've lived in Boston during the winter, you've seen them... lycra-clad shadows coming out of the woodwork early on weekend mornings. Not a deterrent exists in their world - not cold, not wind, not sleet, not snow, not rain. They take up space on the road when the sidewalks are covered in ice and travel in packs, practicing their sadistic Saturday ritual trudging through Newton, Brookline, and Boston. Bundled up in hats, scarves, mittens, yet leaving little to the imagination in body-clinging spandex, they are Boston Marathon trainees.
For years I would look out my window during snowstorms, cursing the psychotic runners slipping and sliding along the unplowed roads. "Jesus Christ, just take a break!" I'd say, climbing deeper into the pillows and blankets in my bed. Why would anyone ever want to train in the miserable New England winter weather, with their eyes bloodshot from the whipping wind, hands blue from the cold, so far from anything warm and cozy.
But, suddenly as the flip of a switch, I turned 24 and I felt envious. I wanted what they had - drive, ambition, a goal. I wanted to run down Boyslton in mid April, exhausted, trembling, my winterized legs exposed in the early spring day, so typically Bostonian - glistening white from months of hibernation.
I've joined the cult. Now it's me, running down Beacon street at 8:00 a.m. on Saturdays, one amongst the pack, nose red, breath steaming. There's something inside pushing us, tricking us into thinking a 7-miler isn't enough of a workout. It wakes us up in the morning, pushing us out the door and down the street. It starts the fire inside at mile 13, causes the anxiety at a missed workout, leaves us wanting more. It is pure masochism. We are sick, sick people, looking forward to weekly bouts of self-invoked torture. And all the while, we do it with a smiling eyes.
So here I am, in with the cold, the pale, and the ugly and looking 26.2 miles ahead.