So here’s the continuation of my Boston Marathon story. If you didn’t already ready Part 1, you can find it here.
When the race finished I eventually met up with the whole crew. We hugged. We laid on the cement. We lamented. And just when I thought Brittany and I would head back to our airbnb and I’d take a nice hot shower, Jenna suggested going for drinks instead. If you knew Jenna, you would see how impossible she is to resist. All I wanted was a shower and a nap and maybe a good cry but somehow Jenna convinced me otherwise.
We went to a nearby seafood place, ate lobster rolls, shared a bottle of champagne and I thought we’d call it quits after that. Instead, as we were leaving, Sheri coaxed us to go to a nearby hotel where all the elites stay. She wanted to introduce us to her friend Wayne Levy. I knew all about Wayne and his amazing athletic feats as well as what an incredible human he is thanks to Sheri, so of course I wanted to meet him. Just one more stop. We could do it. Then I could shower and rest.
We walked into the hotel and immediately I spotted Desiree Davila (Linden). I pointed her out to Sheri and we couldn’t resist saying hello and taking a photo. About 30 seconds later we spotted the third place finisher and got a photo with her as well. It was pretty surreal. Eventually Wayne came down and we chatted and he shared his race experience with us. He was set to run around a 2:40 and he ended up having to walk the last 6 miles. It was not his day either.
As we were wrapping up our convo with him, at around 6 or 7pm at this point, he asked us to come upstairs for a few drinks with his friends. We politely declined but when he asked again, we obliged. When Wayne Levy, the mayor of the BAA, asks you to drinks, you just don’t say no.
We headed upstairs where drinks and food were “on the house.” We sipped some more champagne and I tried to ignore the fact that I could actually smell myself. I had run a marathon and still hadn’t showered five hours later.
We got to talking with one of Wayne’s many friends who ended up being the marketing guru behind Bobbi Gibb’s artwork. I don’t know about you guys, but prior to this year, I’d never even heard of Bobbi Gibb. How is that even possible? (Here’s an article on ESPN about Bobbi if you want the full story.)
We learned that Bobbi is a pretty private person and she’s always kept her artwork primarily to herself. She never really thought to sell it or promote herself, until this woman came along and agreed to take her on pro-bono. She started to get Bobbi’s story out there and she was the one who orchestrated the whole event at Tracksmith. Sheri and I told her how inspired we were by learning her story and seeing her exhibit and we told her a little bit about ourselves and what we’re doing in our local running community. Before we knew it, she had run off to get us some signed copies of Bobbi’s book, “To Boston With Love.”
When she returned, she told us Bobbi was on her way down. She was staying in that hotel and she’d convinced her to come down and meet us. I was suddenly flooded with nerves knowing I was about to meet a female running icon. I smelled like sweat and the streets of Boston and I was about to meet my hero!
Bobbi walked in shyly looking quite exhausted from a whirlwind weekend of non-stop events and being the grand marshal of the marathon earlier in the day. We got her to take a seat and soon she was sharing the details of being the first woman to run the Boston Marathon.
Bobbi came of age at a time when women were meant to find a husband, settle down and stay at home all day. Running was completely unladylike and it was believed that women would literally die if they tried to run that far. Literally. But Bobbi was intrigued by the marathon. She saw the marathon as an incredible feat of pushing your body to its physical limits and she wanted to experience it.
She told us about her training and how she took the family’s VW bus and their Malamute husky and drove out West. Every day, she would drive and run. By the time she got to the west coast, Bobbie could run up to 30 miles in one stretch! And contrary to popular belief, she didn’t die. Running shoes didn’t even exist for women so she ran in nurse’s shoes.
“Something inside of me said, ‘I’m going to run this race. It was the ultimate challenge. I didn’t know if I would physically be able to do such a thing. It wasn’t until later that I realized I was going to be making a social statement.”
Can you even imagine being a woman at that time and running despite the notion that it would kill you? Talk about a fiercely determined and brave soul.
Bobbi got into the details of that first race. Her parents thought she was truly insane and never thought she’d be able to do it. She got herself to the start in Hopkinton and hid in bushes as all the men lined up to start. She waited for a big enough crowd to pass by before jumping in with a hood hiding her face. Even with a sweatshirt on the men could tell she was woman. But they didn’t push her off the course. Instead, they said they would protect her if anyone tried to take her out. This part of the story surprised me.
She eventually let her sweatshirt go and word spread fast that a woman was running the race. The crowds were ecstatic and moved by what she was doing. She was wearing a brand new pair of nurse’s shoes and her feet were blistered and raw by the time she got to the finish. But she did it. She finished. Despite the pain and in spite of the belief that women couldn’t possibly run 26.2 miles.
When she got home that night, she said her driveway was full of cars and she thought someone must be having a party. In actuality, her house was full of reporters waiting for her arrival. Her father said to the newspapers, “we knew she could do it!” Ha! Then the reporters asked her to put on a dress and stand in the kitchen for photos. They wanted photos of her doing “womanly” things. We all laughed out loud as she shared this part of the story – it’s just so absurd.
When Bobbi finished her Boston Marathon story, we asked her what she’s up to these days and we quickly learned that she is so much more than a running icon. Being the first woman to run Boston is like .05% of who she is and what she’s accomplished. She’s very politically involved, she’s a huge environmentalist, she’s a former attorney and she’s even written a book on economics! This woman is truly my hero. She believes so strongly in equality and kindness and living as authentically as possible. Her message is one for the masses. If her vision for the world came to life, this world would truly be a better place. I know that for certain.
Lucky for me and Sheri, Bobbi spends a lot of time in Del Mar and she has our e-mail addresses now. Sheri actually spotted her working on her laptop in Starbucks awhile back. We’ve already convinced her to let us take her to brunch and on a run the next time she’s in town. We will hold her to it. 🙂
I am so grateful for the time we got to spend with Bobbi in such an intimate environment, hearing her story firsthand and her vision, ideas and views on the world. She is a beautiful human being and a visionary. Her mind is so unique and forward thinking, and everything about her inspires me. Sheri and Jason talked about buying one of her beautiful paintings. I’ll be reading her book and taking notes.
So that’s the end of my 2016 Boston Marathon story. I may one day forget that race and I’m sure I’ll forget the time on the clock, but I will never ever forget that night. I have chills as I type this and relive those moments. I can still hear her calm voice and the soothing way she talks. I could honestly listen to her talk all day. It was better than any lecture I’ve ever attended and more impactful by far. It was like a little TED talk happening right before our eyes. Thank you to Sheri for dragging my butt out just a little bit later and for always being a “yes” to things. I only wish our whole group could’ve been there because it wouldn’t been that much more special.
Cool story, right?