Wednesday, April 16, 2008
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.”
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 www.RunDFMC.org.
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 www.baa.org 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: