Runner: ‘It was Boston Strong everywhere’
Published 10:12 am Thursday, April 24, 2014
Surrounded by thousands of other runners in the Boston Marathon, Elizabethton’s Holly Street proved Boston Strong on Monday, running a personal best despite unexpectedly warm weather and crowded conditions.
Street finished with a time of 3:20 for the 26.2-mile course, which she noted was faster than the time she qualified for the marathon with at 3:33.
“It was a personal best for me, which was really exciting,” she said.
Street finished 6,683th out of 35,761 participants in the Boston Marathon. She was the 1,013th out of 16,092 female runners, and 799th in her age division of 7,814 runners.
Street said her personal best time was a little unexpected because of the weather conditions.
“It was considerably hotter than when I was training,” she said. “It got up to 70 degrees. The sunburn is worse than any of the leg pain I have right now. It was unexpected, but that is just part of it.”
She described being a part of one of the largest groups to ever run the marathon as “surreal.” She said marathoners were encouraged by almost everyone they met and that everyone was welcoming and wished them luck.
“It got everyone super-pumped and excited,” Street said. “It was Boston Strong everywhere.”
Street had to report to the Athlete’s Village at the starting area hours before her “wave” of racers started at 10:25 a.m. She said she had not been looking forward to the wait but the time passed quickly while getting to know the other runners. Even though approximately 10 runners from the region went to the Boston Marathon, Street said she didn’t see anyone she knew once all the runners were brought together.
“The waiting that I was dreading went by so fast and then I couldn’t believe I was ready to start,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is going to be over before you know it.’ It is a moment in life that not too many people will get to experience.”
An estimated one million spectators lined the marathon route, turning it into an “endless stadium” cheering on the runners as they passed. Street said the encouragement from the people on the sidelines helped keep her energized when pushing through the harder parts of the course.
This year’s race was heavily watched after last year’s bombing, which killed three people and wounded hundreds near the end of the course. In response, this year’s race drew the second-largest field in the marathon’s history, second only to the field for the race’s 100-year anniversary.
“From mile 23 to the end was the hardest part for me, but I never thought of it because of all the people,” she said.
Having 36,000 compete in the race meant there were more runners on the course at once. Street said the racers never thinned out during the trek from the starting line to the finish.
“We were constantly surrounded by people,” she said. “Usually in a race, the field spreads out and there are gaps and it doesn’t stay so crowded. There were no gaps. When we were running, it was kind of like weaving through traffic. You always had to constantly pay attention to what the person in front of you was doing.”
The most emotional moment for Street was when she turned the corner and was heading toward the finish line.
“The biggest moment for me was when I turned on Boylston Street to cross the finish line,” she said. “I crossed it and they put the medal around my neck. I completely broke down. There were just so many emotions. Everyone was hugging everyone, complete strangers. It was something to be in one of the biggest crowds to have run the marathon. There were tears, and excitement, it was a surreal experience.”
Now that she has run the marathon, Street is taking some time to rest and think about what race she will be doing next.
Because she ran this marathon and finished under the qualifying time, she has a place in next year’s Boston Marathon if she wants it. Because her time was an improvement from her first race, she said she should get to register earlier than she did this year.
She said she hopes to run the next year’s race with her husband.
“I look forward to bringing my husband next year and letting him experience that,” Street said. “You feel like a superhero when you finish. I have no regrets. It was a great race and I look forward to next year.”