Stories From This Year’s Boston Marathon

In 2007, I ran the Boston Marathon. It was a cold New England winter, as usual, and I was a single Mom at the time finding help from the village I counted on to get my long runs in. Most of these I ran on my own getting back in time to play with my then 7 year-old son for the rest of the weekend.

I practiced great nutrition (come on, it’s me!), hydrated, and fund raised for Mass General Hospital for Children reaching about $7,000. I had a patient partner, also 7 years old, who is still in remission from his leukemia. It was an awe-inspiring event. My time was a 3:52:43, which meant I didn’t qualify to run again, but I did break the ubiquitous 4-hour mark.

Below are stories of 5 folks who ran the marathon this year. They are all different and inspiring.

I spotlighted Stephanie in January of last year as she and a friend ran 15 races in 2015 to prepare for her training to run her first Boston Marathon. These are Stephanie’s words from this year after running her 2nd marathon:

“I embarked on training for my second Boston Marathon at the end of January. For the second year I ran for my little buddy, Alex, who was diagnosed with Segmental Neurofibromatosis (NF) almost 2 years ago. The training is grueling and most Sundays I am away from family for the majority of the day on long runs on the course from February – March.

It is amazing to set out on your first 4 miler and see the transition of your body and mind and being able to run the longest training run of 21 miles about 12 weeks later. I never thought I could do the marathon but with proper training and nutrition anyone can.

I stuck to a routine breakfast of yogurt and cereal throughout the week and added whole grain rice (and sometimes pizza) at dinner leading up to my long runs. I had a difficult time eating after the long runs as I always left nauseous, it was recommended I have a protein shake and banana within the half hour of finishing and that had made a huge difference.

There is no feeling like crossing the finish line of Boston Marathon and I am so happy I was able to remember it this year!” Stephanie ran the marathon this year in a time of 4:59:21 and raised $6251. She is still hoping to raise $7500.

Kate ran Boston and qualified – again! She ran with me just because (without a number – who does that?!?) when I ran in 2007. Kate thinks she has ran the Boston marathon 10 times with a number (and that’s just Boston!). Here are her words about this year’s marathon:

“I qualified for Boston by running a 3:20 in Chicago in October. I decided that the purpose of running Boston isn’t for me; it’s for the bigger purpose. My friend’s daughter was severely injured in the marathon bombing and she started an organization called Stepping Strong to support victims of this trauma.

I raised $2000 and was part of a special group. With a goal or purpose to exercise, it makes the friendships stronger, the nutrition more purposeful, and gives you momentum. I finished Boston in a 3:28 and felt proud to run in honor of my mother in law who passed away suddenly a month ago. I’m humbled by the gratitude I feel to have my health to just finish.”

Britty ran her first Boston marathon this year after qualifying running another marathon. These are her words about her experience:

“The marathon was amazing! So much energy, enthusiasm and support. I had my name written on my shirt so I would frequently hear, ‘GO BRITTY’.

It was definitely encouraging. I did not fundraise (unfortunately) but if I had I think I would have felt very accomplished! Running in general felt great. It was very different from training because the crowds and runners provided so much support, which propelled me forward and took my mind off any sore muscles or joints. Support was present every step of the way– from Hopkinton to Boston.

This was a different vibe from my previous marathon, where the course was essentially barren. I had a great appreciation for the spirited support. Training for the marathon improved my fitness because it kept me on a schedule. For me, Boston was the ultimate goal so crossing the finish line was certainly a self-esteem booster– I finally did it! All around– fantastic experience.” Britty finished in a 3:39:15.

Another friend, also named Kate, shares her experience running her 3rd Boston Marathon and this year for UNICEF raising just over $5000:

“I was definitely more mindful about my overall health while training for the marathon. I tried to eat healthier, sleep more, and organize my day to fit in my daily runs. The latter was the most stressful for me as I didn’t always have the time to devote to this.

On weekends, I would do my long runs. This was physically demanding as the runs literally took hours away from my family. Afterwards, I was too tired mentally and physically to do anything for them!

However, no matter how tired I was, I felt happy and proud of what my body could accomplish. When training for the marathon I felt invincible – strong, healthy, and accomplished. It is hugely gratifying crossing the finish line knowing that I gave 100% to this effort and all my hard work did not go to waste. I can take that feeling and apply it to any demanding task asked of me.”

Josh ran his 2nd marathon this year with a time of 4:03:20. He wrote “Disclaimer: I was planning on breaking 4:00 but the 70 degree temp at the starting line had other ideas. I raised money for Dana Farber and this year the total was over $9000 bringing my two year total (2014 and 2016) to over $22,000.

The experience of running Boston is simply unmatched (especially as a Dana Farber runner – Boston loves Dana Farber). The pride from running Boston at the same time as raising money for such a worthy cause is life changing.

Every mile we run and every dollar we raise brings us one step closer to a world without cancer. The training season can be grueling (although not this year with the mild winter) but the fitness that comes with the training is great. The race itself is the victory lap to celebrate all the fundraising and training!”

If you’re not inspired to get out and move your body, I haven’t done my job in writing this month. Five stories from different people in various stages of life and they all found an activity and cause they enjoy. Exercise and positive nutrition choices do take time, but they can be yours based on your likes, dislikes, and literally, what moves you.

For some it’s running – for others Zumba, Barre, Tabata – and for folks like me it’s a combination of many activities and foods.

Keeping exercise and balanced nutrition a part of your life is a commitment and one that has significant rewards. #BOSTONSTRONG