Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Boston Marathon

There are only 5 days left until the race. Every time I think about it, my stomach drops into my toes and my heart skips several beats. I am so excited, but as excited as I am, and I equally nervous. After all of these months of training, and these MILES of running, what if I get sick, or my knees give out, or the weather is atrocious? I feel pretty certain, that no matter what happens I’ll be running on the 21st of April, but what if???

The boys and I met Michael after work yesterday to join him for dinner. He works downtown in a beautiful building in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay. There is no way to be in Boston and not be aware that the marathon is fast approaching. Adidas is the main sponsor for the race and they have larger-than-life size ads everywhere you turn. They are photos of previous runners with their bibs, their number and a quote scribbled across the front them. Just seeing them triggers the aforementioned stomach-heart reaction.

Several of my favorites are:
A girl, her blonde hair pulled back, she has a white jacket on (it must have been a cold race day), she looks like she was struggling. Her bib said “my legs were screaming, but the crowd was screaming louder. Impossible is Nothing.”
Two men with white shirts on, both look filled with fatigue. “We started together, we ended together. Impossible is Nothing.”
My favorite:
Two women running, their brunette hair pulled back, black jackets on. They must be close to the finish line because they are holding hands and they have a look of relief on their faces. The bib reads: “Make sure your friends are right where you need them. Impossible is nothing.”

For some reason this ad always evokes so much emotion in me. I can’t pass it without welling up with tears. I can just imagine the fatigue I will be feeling after 26.2 miles. To know that my family will be at the end to strengthen and support me is a little overwhelming. My parents are arriving on Thursday with my sister Kristen and her son Tyler. Michael’s parents are flying in on Saturday night. And there’s Michael. Michael has been amazing during these last 8+ months of training. He’s never once complained about my Saturday runs that consume the entire morning, or the naps that I love to take after them. He has been so encouraging and accommodating.

If you’ve never watched the Boston, let me try to paint a picture for you. This is the most prized marathon in the nation. This is one of the only races that you have to qualify for . . . and the qualifying times are rigorous. (Unless you are running as a charity runner like I am. There are only a small percentage of us and we’re going to be bringing in the rear!) Imagine 25,000 runners. And then, imagine ten times that number of spectators lined along the course—the entire course—all 26.2 miles of the course to cheer, support and encourage the runners. I hear that there isn’t a quiet moment the entire run. I’m so used to hearing my heart pound and noticing the rhythm of my breathing. I doubt I will even be able to hear those over the roar of the crowd. I hear it is magical. I hear that near the end you experience one of two emotions: you are so exhausted that you don’t want to finish the race, the fatigue is so great that you will gladly give up all the months, hours, and miles of training to just stop running; or you are so exhausted that you just cry for the last 5 miles after ascending Heart-break Hill.

No matter the emotion, I am determined to finish this race. In September of last year I started training for the Boston because of my friend Catie Stubben who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma. This is a rare disease in which cancer cells are found in the bone or in soft tissue. Catie was 22 weeks pregnant when she was first diagnosed and because of the progressive nature of the cancer, it was imperative that she begin chemotherapy immediately. It overwhelmed me to imagine being in her position: a mother of two and pregnant with her third with seven months of chemotherapy, doctors appointments, surgery, and radiation ahead of her. She and her husband Steve were incredibly courageous and optimistic through the whole process.
Because of our concern for Catie, Michael and I became involved locally with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. It was through this involvement that I received an invitation to race in the 2008 Boston Marathon with the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge (DFMC) team in honor of Catie.
To support DFMC, we have been raising funds for cancer research. With many generous donations, we have nearly reached our personal goal of $7500. If there are some of you who would still like to donate to this wonderful cause, we are allowed to accept donations until May 21, 2008.

Here's how to donate:
By following these instructions, any donations will be applied to the DFMC fund-raising goal.
1. Click on
2. On the left side of the page, click on the "Support a Runner" button.
3. Enter my first and last name: Jennifer Smith, and follow the prompts from there.

In case you wanted to track me on race day:
On April 21st, go to and put in either my name or my bib number: 22210
The race starts at 10:30 am east coast time.

Here's a really cool site with an interactive map of the coarse:


Danielle said...

Jen- I will be cheering for you all day on Monday! I can't wait to track your every will do great! I am so proud of you and your family for this great accomplishment. I'll be with you in spirit, so keep your chin up during those tough miles! Love you to bits! -Danielle

Dave and Mandy said...

Jen - I too will be cheering for you from afar. I would give anything to be at the finish line. I know you can do it - like Catie, you inspire so many of us! Good luck - you'll do great! Love you, Mandy

Sarah said...

Good luck Jen! You are incredible. We will be there cheering for you! love you

Kimball said...

Jen...good luck on the race. Please note that this is coming from a guy that once walked the last 1/4 of the Rex Lee 5K! :)

Katy said...

I just wanted to tell you how inspiring to me it has been to read about your training and preparation for this race. Even more inspiring now is learning the driving force behind your decision to run the race! I wish you luck as well as strength and endurance and I can't wait to hear how it goes for you!

JT & Lizzie Davis said...

I honestly cried when I read this post. Absolutely incredible. I will be cheering for you and your friend who was diagnosed cancer (in life and in the race). Love.

Mimi said...

I have been thinking about you a ton lately and wondering how you were feeling with the marathon just days away. Thanks for posting your thoughts. We are cheering you on and are excited for you to finally attain this goal.

Ryan and Amy Nelsen said...

Good luck!! You will be amazing! What an opportunity you have to run this! I am so jealous...I think I would be more motivated if I knew I could run Boston without having to qualify for it! That website is cool...I will be watching you! You will be so great!

Regan said...

My Hero! I'm going to be thinking of you all Sunday and Monday (a little of Maggie too, seeing how it is her birthday). I'm so proud of you! You're going to do great, and even though I can't be there in person, know that I'm there in spirit! Love ya.

Stephen said...

Good luck, Jen!! You must be SO proud of yourself! I can't imagine how proud your family is... We'll be cheering for you! Thanks for your dedication to helping others...

Ashlee Macdonald said...

Macdonald are cheering for you Jen! You are a superstar, you can totally do it! Great hard work thus far!

Lauren said...

Good luck Jen! What an accomplishment to run the race and raise all that money for your friend!

Melanie said...

good luck, jen! we'll be looking for you! you're AMAZING to be doing this!

Wing & Alli said...

You are crazy!!!! Okay, I'm actually really REALLY impressed because I could never do it. GOOD LUCK!! You are going to do great! We'll definitely be cheering you on!

Toria said...

Good luck Jen- you amaze me! I cn't wait to read/ read all about it!!!

the smoots said...

YOU DID IT!! 4:15, right?? Way to GOOO!!!!