I’ve always wanted to run a marathon. Scratch that… I have always wanted to be someone who has run a marathon. Subtle difference, perhaps, but I don’t necessarily like running. Running is pain.
I’m also not much of a “because it’s there” kind of guy. The idea of running 26.2 miles “just because” isn’t very appealing. I’ll run as part of a team, I’ll push toward a goal, achieve something… but “just because” isn’t very motivating.
The last time I ran with any regularity, I was in grade school, playing soccer. We probably ran two or three miles per practice, maybe more. I played defense. My objective was to keep Jason, my goal tender, from ever having to touch the ball. We played together for just one season; Jason would succumb to Leukemia within a year of our last game together.
On April 15, 2013, when the Boston Marathon was attacked, there was a small voice in the back of my head asking, “What about running Boston someday?” The rest of me knew that voice was insane, so I ignored it.
I was 42, and had gained 5 pounds a year since moving to New England five years prior. At five foot eight, I was tipping the scales at 205 pounds. A BMI of 31. I’d had foot surgery the year before on the tendons of my right foot, and my left ankle had become a mobile barometer, telling me any time the weather was changing. I was still months away from a Bursitis diagnosis or learning that I have developed bone spurns in my left heel. I had become sedentary.
Right around that time, a competition was kicking off at work. It was a “race” to a million steps. My company handed out pedometers, and all you had to do was record how many steps you racked up on a weekly basis. I’m pretty competitive, and really wanted to win. I was in third or fourth place when I got sick, and by the time I got better a week later, I had dropped out of the top ten. The steps were simply taking too long to accumulate; long walks weren’t going to do it. I had to start jogging to keep up with my competition. I climbed back into the top ten, and finished my million steps in 75 days.
The next opportunity for some extra fitness came with a “Cube to 5K” program, also at work. Coach Lee from the Beverly YMCA came by once a week and a group of 15 coworkers would go stretch and run together. By the end of the program, I was running four or five times a week. Three days before the 5K, I managed a slow 10 mile run on the treadmill. No hills, but still not bad. Further than I had ever run, treadmill or not. By this point, that voice in my head was starting to get loud.
“So… Boston… How about it?”
I knew I would never qualify based on my speed. I started to do some research, and saw that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has a team that runs Boston. Right away I quit looking. I knew I had my team.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society hasn’t chosen their team yet, but I believe that positive thinking leads to positive results, so I’m putting this out there now. Applications are still a couple of weeks away, and I’ll be among the first to apply. I’m going to be raising money to support both research and patient services for those afflicted by these terrible diseases. [Edit: I wrote this before I made the team!]
I’m running Boston. I’m running for Jason. I’m running for Jason’s Dad, who was our soccer coach that year. I’m running and raising funds because if even just one fewer father will know what it feels like to watch his child get sick from within, then we’ve done something worth doing.
This is a fight worth running for. When I wake up in the middle of the night, the voice no longer asks me if I’m going to run Boston. It’s quieter, now, too. It whispers, “You are running Boston.” I think of Jason, his family, and what he means to me. I smile to myself, agree with the voice, and go back to sleep.
Physically, I’m making great progress, logging over 20 miles a week. Last Saturday, I completed a half marathon distance in my neighborhood in just under 2:32. I’m running the Loan Gull 10K in 19 days, and my first official half marathon in 25 days (Salem Wicked Half). I’m increasing my distances slowly; one to two extra miles a week. I have seven races and over a thousand miles of running planned over the next 237 days.
On race day, I’ll be ready.
I hope I can count on your support. I know you can count on me finishing the race.