In May of 2012, I met one of the most inspirational and positive people I've had the pleasure of meeting, Steven Xiahros. He's the current Chief of Police in Yarmouth, MA the town next door to where I grew up and home of my high school. He is also the father of Nick, a classmate a few years younger than I, who joined the Marines after high school. He was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2009 at 21 years old. Steve told me about the Marine Corps Marathon he ran the year after Nick was killed. He spoke so highly of the experience that I couldn't help but take him up on his offer to run as a part of his charity team, team Big Nick. That October, I flew into DC while hurricane Sandy was on her way north, and in spite of the impending hurricane, ran my first marathon in Nick’s honor. Steve was right. The feeling of pride and accomplishment running in the Nation’s capital surrounded by Marines, historical places and monuments with other runners was unlike anything else I've ever experienced. I was truly humbled to run for Nick, Steve and all the other fallen soldiers and their families.
On April 15 when the Boston Marathon bombing happened I was home visiting my parents on the Cape and heard the horrific news from friends in the area. I was working at Brigham and Women's at the time and in the days following went to work with armed guards at the front entrance. I couldn't stop feeling completely baffled and saddened at why someone would do such a thing to people who are so innocent!? It hit closer to home because not only did I live and work in Boston like many others, but the emotions of just finishing my first marathon were still so raw. I knew the discipline, time and sometimes pain that goes into training for a marathon and just couldn't fathom why anyone would go after people who willingly chose to endure such a feat of athletic endurance? I felt so much pain and sympathy for the families that lost loved ones, for all the people injured that were innocently cheering on a loved one, for the runners who didn't get to finish after so much training, and for the fact that the Boston Marathon will be forever changed. I decided that week that I would find a way to run the Boston Marathon in one of the upcoming years. I wasn't going to let the evil people in the world scare me away from something I love.
This fall I was hired at Newton-Wellesley full time and remembered there was a Marathon raffle. One of the girls in my department ran for NWH last year, did not get to finish and is running it again this year. She and I were on the lookout for the Marathon raffle email and I entered as soon as it opened. Waiting to hear if I was accepted felt like waiting for college acceptance letters all over again; totally out of my hands but a lot riding on it. I was and still am beyond excited to have been chosen.
I'm currently on my sixth week of training and am feeling stronger each week. My training plan is based on timed running rather than miles three days a week, sprint training once a week and Crossfit workouts twice a week to hopefully avoid overuse injuries (and add some mental variety). So far I've done all my running outside even with the snow and frigid temperatures because I have no desire to run on a treadmill for hours on end. I am making a point to run lots of hills and in a few weeks will move my sprint workouts to hill sprints. My only concern running Boston for the first time is the hills! You always hear about Heartbreak hill, the Newton hills and how hilly the race is in general. DC was relatively flat in comparison so I'm sure my legs will fatigue more quickly if I don't get enough hill work in.
Marathon training hasn't seemed to affect my personal life much at this point in time besides the need to plan ahead. I need to know if it's a running or Crossfit day and pack accordingly. On the weekends if I'm planning a long run I try to be in bed early the night before and keep any recreational activities to a minimum ;). I'm so excited for this opportunity that I enjoy my training. I also try to keep some prospective in that I won't be winning the race so my training doesn't have to be perfect all the times. As much as training is a top priority, I still go on with my daily life and do the other things I enjoy because at the end of the day we all need balance.