The Boston Marathon is a very special race for me. It was my first marathon in 2003 and I have trained on the course for every marathon I have run since. After completing the race in 2011 I decided to branch out a bit. I had proudly completed the Hopkinton to Boston route 8 times and wanted to try other spring races.
The two years I did not run, I found ways to still participate in the weekend. I ran the BAA 5k giving me an excuse to attend the race expo and cheered the participants on at the 30k mark with the Somerville Road Runners. It was ideal for spotting friends as they headed toward the famous Newton Hills.
In 2012 the temperatures reached 88 degrees, much too warm to run 26.2 miles. The heat was predicted to be so severe that runners were offered a deferral option so at the SRR tent, we handed out cold wash clothes and sponges to the runners to help them cool off. Even with the extreme conditions I couldn’t help being envious of the runners who would be running that amazing course.
This past spring, I once again raced in the 5k that takes place the day before the marathon and went to the Boston Running Film Festival hosted by my friends at Race Menu. The weather was predicted to be perfect for the race and once again I was consumed with disappointment that I wouldn’t be lining up in Hopkinton. Still, I was looking forward to a great day back on the hills with SRR and had a special role to play escorting Rich ‘Shifter’ Horgan from mile 18.5 to mile 22 celebrating his 20th consecutive marathon with the Dana Farber Marathon Team.
And then…the unthinkable. Approaching mile 22 with Shifter we were told that runners were being stopped due to a bomb at the finish line. At that moment, my whole world stopped and flipped upside down. My post summarizing the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing: Heartbreak on the Hill.
The bombing was tough on everyone and reminders were everywhere you looked. I have to believe that for Boston’s running community, we were affected in a very special way. It felt as if something very sacred to us was stolen and while the support and love from the world was comforting we may never see our special race the same again.
After a week of uncertainty and a day of lock down while they caught the men responsible less than two miles from my home, the healing began. I had the Vermont City Marathon to look forward to and the city was ready to run again. A group from the Alzheimer’s Association invited me to a 12 mile out and back run beginning on the hills in Newton and stopping half way at the memorial set up at Copley Plaza. It was a powerful experience and as we left the memorial to finish up a man said ‘You runners, we are happy to see you here. Please keep running’. We smiled at him and promised him we would.
And we did. I completed the Vermont City Marathon in May with almost every participating runner wearing a Boston Strong ribbon. The BAA 10k was held the last weekend in June and being the first BAA event since the bombing it was very special (and also very hot). I began training for two fall marathons – my first attempt at back to back marathons. The Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon with the Saucony 26 Strong team (10/6) and finally the NYC Marathon (11/3) which will be an amazing event since the race was cancelled due to Super Storm Sandy last fall.
Even with all of those running commitments on my mind I still couldn’t help but think about one more. Will I run Boston in 2014? I may have tried talking myself out of it a couple of times (4 marathons in 12 months?) but there was never much doubt that the answer was …
Yes – Boston 2014!
Last week I was officially offered a space on the American Liver Foundation’s marathon team and I eagerly accepted committing to a fundraising goal and running my 16th marathon.
The energy and spirit of this race will be like no other. I will be part of one of the largest Boston Marathon fields in its history, 36,000 runners – the largest field for the race since the Centennial year in 1996. I’ll be joined by the most elite runners in the world, the runners who raced their way to a qualifying time over the past 12 months, the 4500 runners who were stopped before the finish line last year and the charity runners who will represent local non-profits raising money for these worthy causes. The city will be bursting with pride with the return of our Patriots Day Celebration.
Most importantly, we will have an opportunity to replace the images of violence, terror and evil with ones of celebration, honor and victory.
Don’t get me wrong…this won’t be all about happiness and high fives; there is a lot to be done before April 21st. My body will be tired after a packed season of racing but I’ll be training with the Run for Research team who meets every Saturday morning to run together. The camaraderie helps the miles go by quickly and there is always strength in numbers.
I have also committed to a fundraising goal of $6000 to the American Liver Foundation New England Chapter. The funds raised by the team support the ALF’s mission to facilitate, advocate and promote education, support and research for the prevention, treatment and cure of liver disease. Since 2005 I have been an active supporter of ALF and through the years have learned a lot about liver health and liver disease. I hope to use Run Like A Girl throughout the season to educate my community about why the cause is so important. I also plan to share stories about why the cause is so important to me and why I run in memory of Laura Linehan and in honor of Jack Morea.
I’ll need your help to reach this ambitious goal so please consider making a contribution to my campaign. You can easily make a donation by visiting my fundraising page.
In all my years of racing and marathon training, this may be the most powerful yet. I’ll look forward to sharing the journey with all of you.
Boston 2014…It’s On!