Tag Archives: Boston Marathon

126th Boston Marathon Run for ANAD: The Race of My Dreams

126th Boston Marathon Race Report

I am going to start this race report a bit differently and share with you a paragraph from a journaling assignment my therapist made me do. It was called “A Day in My Life When I Am Recovered.” For some reason, when I woke up at 4am on April 18th (too early for my 5:50am Uber to the bus), I found it on my computer. It was quite fitting for the day that awaited me.

“I am on the starting line of the Boston Marathon. I have qualified again, I’m not sure how old I am or how long it took, because I suppose that now that I am recovered, I did not set such a rigid timeline and I did not give up because of a few subpar performances. But it is not that far off from now (oh God please tell me it isn’t). Even though I already have a bib and do not technically have to raise money, I have fundraised a ton of money for eating disorder awareness. This run is not for a personal record, it is for raising awareness and for celebrating the sweet victory of being truly free. Everyone knows now and I am OK with that. My story has helped other people not to feel ashamed.”

I wish I could say that my entire assignment was this uplifting, but the paragraphs that followed basically outlined why this would never happen, and how I would eventually be revealed to everyone as a fraud, not a real athlete or a real scholar.

I am still a work in progress. BUT reading this did remind me just how meaningful this race was, and it reminded me that I should not be focused so much on my time, but on the experience. I also, right then and there, decided to really dedicate this race to all the people who in some way or another helped me quiet the voices in my head that told me such awful things, and who believed in me.

The week leading up to Boston had me way more nervous than I expected, even more nervous than before Chicago. While Chicago was the race that proved to me that I could run sub 3:30, this race had so many people following me and tracking me. A couple of days before the race, my mom said with pride, “you have quite the fan club there!” Having so much support touched me, but also freaked me out. I feared not finishing or getting injured and not even making it to the starting line. Even harder than training for the marathon, I started sharing the story of my eating disorder recovery publicly. Of course, I am happy that I did that. Most of the feedback I have received has been positive, and I raised $4,000 for ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders). Yet, I still, deep down, harbor this fear that people look at me differently (and some really do though I keep telling myself I’ve gained way more than I’ve lost).

Although I ran Boston once before, it was on the old qualifying standards (the standards were made five minutes faster after the 2018 race) and I had hypothermia for most of the race. I was miserable and barely remember it. So, for me, this felt like my first Boston Marathon. Without overdoing it, I tried to soak in as much of the experience as possible.

On the Boston Marathon Facebook group, people constantly joked about one of the items on the Adidas website. We are still not quite sure what it is – a purple sweater dress? On a whim, I decided to purchase one for myself so people would recognize me on marathon weekend. Yes, it was an $85 well spent to make people laugh and to be honest, it’s quite cute and comfy!

My purple thing!

Bryan and I went to the Expo on Friday hoping to beat the crowds. It was still super crowded, but enjoyable nonetheless (at least for me anyway since Bryan was disappointed there were a lot less vendors than 2018). When I picked up my bib, the volunteer exclaimed that I had a great number and that I must be pretty fast. I felt so honored and thrilled. Although at the back of Wave 2, I was so happy to be in Wave 2 this time!

I am also excited to be running the marathon on the 50th anniversary of female runners being able to race. During training, I read the memoirs of Kathrine Switzer and Bobbi Gibb, and felt so inspired. It still amazes me that during my parents’ lifetime (in other words, not that long ago) people thought women could not handle running 26.2 miles. We sure have proven them wrong!

The first thing we saw at the Expo were a large basket of Spike the unicorn stuffed animals. I already have a Spike from 2018, but I instantly fell in love with the 2022 Spike. When we noticed he was wearing a shirt with a white bib, it signaled to me that Spike was in my wave. Bryan offered to get me one. I also bought a pink unicorn headband to wear during the race.

The Spikes

I met up with friends on Saturday afternoon and evening. The running community is so supportive, but many of us interact solely online for most of the year. It is so fun getting to finally put names to faces, or catch-up after having not seen each other for a very long time.

The 45s

When I was dealing with my stress fracture, I read a book called “Rebound” that helped me so much in overcoming my injury. I got to meet and have coffee with its co-author, Cindy Kuzma, which was absolutely amazing. I came out of seeing everyone feeling more confident. I kept reminding myself that all of these people were there for me at my worst, and that their pride for me now was not based on what time I will run, but that I made it to the starting line at all.

Me and Cindy Kuzma

Me and some friends from the Boston Marathon 2022 Group

On Saturday night, I finally got to see my parents, who drove all the way from New Jersey for the marathon. While I was doing marathon socializing, they spent the afternoon at Fenway Park (not exactly the place of choice for two Yankee fans, but they felt that as baseball fans, it was something they needed to see at least once in their lives). My parents bought Bryan and I Boston shirts, and gave me a unicorn stuffed animal in honor of my running Boston. It was perfect.  

On Sunday, we went to church at Emmanuel College, which is where I work. I received a blessing both from Fr. Terry, the main celebrant of the mass, and from Sr. Janet Eisner, the president of the college and longest serving female college president in the country. My parents came in from NJ and my mother brought her famous spaghetti and meatballs to help me fuel.

With Mom and Dad at Emmanuel College

On my long run three weeks before race day, I agonized over whether or not to wear my Athletes Against Diet Culture shirt. Then I said to myself, “if people don’t like what you stand for, do you want to run with them anyway?” In the end, I was so glad I wore it. First of all, it was in appreciation for everyone who belongs to the Athletes Against Diet Culture group. Second, a few people told me they recognized who I was because of the shirt. After that I decided that it was going to be part of my Boston Marathon outfit.

Flat Kate is ready!

On race morning, after reading the journal entry I mention above, I headed to Boston Common to board my bus. Thankfully, I was able to get on a private bus, and I met a lot of great folks on the ride up to Hopkinton. I also got really antsy. It is not easy to arrive at your destination at 7:30am and not be running until 10:25am. Thankfully, I kept getting a lot of text messages wishing me luck. Between answering those and making sure to continuously hydrate, I kept occupied.

The walk up to the start line was long. When we got to the area of lining up in our corrals, I saw a long string of porta-potties with tons of people waiting. I suddenly realized I had to pee. I kept looking at my watch and at the lines. Finally, I decided I could not hold it and it was not worth it ruining my race. However, the line seemed to take forever, and I kept wishing people would hurry up. It also meant that I missed meeting up with my friend Bobby who I had been doing some training runs with and who was planning on a similar goal. By the time I got to the starting line, I was in the back of Wave 2 and it was 10:31am.

I was disappointed to be starting late, and a bit frazzled, but I quickly let it go and decided to get into gear. As some people reminded me on the porta potty line, “it’s chip timed, all that matters is the time recorded between start and finish!”

Up until the week of the race, I had been very iffy about my goals. For most of training, I told my coach that I just wanted to do Boston for fun. My coach was supportive of this. After all, I had already qualified for both 2022 and 2023 with my time at Chicago. However, he also reminded me that since I am paying him, he is obligated to always let me know what my potential is. Deep down, I think he knew that I thrive on competition and on pushing myself to the best of my ability. I also had a remarkably strong training season, not having to miss any long blocks for injury or illness and running a 5k PR twice. Sure enough, with the perfect weather, I made a secret pact with myself that I was going to “go for it.” I decided to set four goals as usual.

A goal: PR (sub 3:22:14)

B goal: qualify for Boston again (sub 3:30)

C goal: qualify for Chicago again (sub 3:40)

D goal: PR the Boston course (sub 4:02).

Miles 1-5

I start to tear up when it hits me that I have crossed the timing mat, and my loved ones are getting notifications that I am now running the race. This is it. I am running the Boston Marathon again. The first mile is way more congested than I had hoped. This is both a good thing (prevented me from going out too fast which is very easy to do on a course like Boston) but also a bad thing (I felt like I kept weaving in and out of crowds of people and trying to pass people). I am pretty happy with my pacing, and most of it is just by feel. My coach said to expect the downhills to be faster and the uphills to be slower, and not freak about it so long as my miles were not faster than 7:20s. At mile 3, I pass a group of guys and hear one of them say, “ugh come on, we are getting beat by a unicorn woman!” I just smiled to myself and said “yes, you are!”

Mile 1: 7:36  

Mile 2: 7:25

Mile 3: 7:38

Mile 4: 7:27

Mile 5: 7:37

Miles 6-10

I wave and smile as much as possible, enjoying the signs of when we enter a new town. However, I still feel like I have not quite yet found my people. I am constantly weaving in and out, and know I am not doing a good job of running the tangents. When I get to mile 10, I assess how my stomach feels. The voices are not as loud as they were during Chicago and my gut has gotten used to more fuel. I do not feel that awful bloated feeling I had at mile 10 back in October, and I continue with my planned fueling strategy.

Mile 6: 7:24

Mile 7: 7:30

Mile 8: 7:42

Mile 9: 7:38

Mile 10: 7:44

Miles 11-13

In the middle of mile 11 are two men dressed in bumble bee outfits. “Hi bumble bees!” I yell. This is what it’s all about, the spectators. I at least tell myself that I am enjoying what I could not notice back in 2018 when I felt so sick.

However, seeing two miles creep into the 7:40s, I get a bit freaked out and start to increase my speed. I also see the Wellesley scream tunnel and it gets me super motivated. Some of their signs are also hysterically funny. I do not stop and kiss anyone since I am on a mission to run this to the best of my ability and so far, I am on target pace.

I look down at my watch and see that I have crossed the halfway point at almost exactly 1:40. This is right on target for a 3:20 marathon, but I know that I have yet to conquer the Newton Hills. Expecting myself to positive split, I already feel slightly disappointed.

Mile 11: 7:42

Mile 12: 7:23

Mile 13: 7:28

Miles 14-16

After mile 13, I decide that I need to focus on savoring Boston and running by effort. I make the decision to stop looking at my watch, at least for the time being. I tell myself that I can always check it later on in the race. After all, a friend had given me a 3:20 pace band on the bus and I put it on my wrist at the last minute. I still feel really good, but know I need to save my energy. Bryan and our friend Elodie have said they will be around mile 15-16, so I get excited knowing I can start looking out for them. Unfortunately, I am still running in a huge crowd. They have a hard time seeing me, but spot me when I am zooming past them and I get to give them a brief wave.

Mile 14: 7:21

Mile 15: 7:40

Mile 16: 7:20

Miles 17-21

I brace myself for the hills, reminding myself to try to enjoy them. After all, these are the hills I have trained on the past couple of months and they are “home” to me. I channel my high school cross country coach who used to tell us to act like we were chomping up a flight of stairs and to remain calm. I also channel my friend Susan who likes to shout, “I love this hill!” Knowing that the hills were a challenge for me during training since I had a hard time keeping up with my friend Bobby whenever there was an ascent, I wonder if I may be pushing too hard. I start to feel pain in my right hip at mile 18. I search my Roo Pouch for Tylenol and cannot find it. Realizing I am not going to get Tylenol in me before I reach Boston, I try my best to block it out. I keep telling myself “You are OK. You’ve got this, just keep focusing on good form and get to the finish.” The pain keeps coming and going. This has happened before and usually just takes a good foam roll. I remind myself that it is likely not a fracture or anything awful.

When I get to Heartbreak Hill, I keep telling myself, “just get over this and the hardest part is over.” At mile 20, I briefly contemplate looking at my watch to see how I should pace myself for the last 10k, but then I decide against it. I want to enjoy this last 10k, not be riddled with disappointment that my goals are already off the table or pressure to meet them because they are still on the table. Suddenly, I hear my name being called. I look over and at first, I am confused. Then I see my friends Eddie and Kathy, and I smile and wave. After I wave to them, however, I realize I am so tired that I am not sure if I really saw them. Post-race I find out that that indeed were there (at least they say they were!), but we now have a running joke about marathoners having “Eddie hallucinations.” When I get to the top of Heartbreak Hill, I feel a burst of emotion. People are holding signs telling us that we’ve conquered it, and I feel super excited.

Mile 17: 7:38

Mile 18: 7:44

Mile 19: 7:24

Mile 20: 7:42

Mile 21: 8:10

Miles 22-25

Coming down Heartbreak Hill, I get another burst of excitement. I am still not looking at my watch, but I know the hills must have slowed me down, so I try to speed up. As a Boston College alum, running down the other side of Heartbreak Hill gives me a burst of energy. My parents have said they will be at Cleveland Circle, so I begin to look out for them. My quest to make sure I see them is keeping me occupied and able to forget the pain. Finally, at the corner of Commonwealth Ave and Chestnut Hill Ave, I see them. They picked a great spot to spectate since I can see them pretty clearly. I hear my mom shout, “I love you!” I blow them a kiss and yell “I love you!” back with a big smile.

 I thought the hardest miles of the race were the Newton Hills. I was wrong. It is definitely miles 23-25. After seeing my parents, it suddenly hits me that I am starting to struggle and that I want this thing to be over already. I feels like forever until I reach the mile 23 and mile 24 markers. However, the crowds are amazing. I am wearing my unicorn headband and people keep yelling “go unicorn!” and “yeah unicorn girl!” I try to soak in all of their love.

At this point, I assume I have slowed down and try to just focus on finishing strong. I am hoping that maybe I will see my husband soon and he can give me some sort of indication of how I am doing time wise.

Mile 22: 7:42

Miles 23: 7:47

Mile 24: 7:57

Mile 25-26

Ironically, while miles 23, and 24 seem to drag on forever, I seem to feel a newfound energy when I see the “one mile to go” sign. I also remind myself to not go too crazy since, for most people, the course ends up being a bit long due to the crowds and not being able to run the tangents. I briefly consider looking at my watch again thinking it could motivate me to move faster. However, I decide against it. What if it makes me upset?

When you see that Citgo sign…

Before I know it, I see the sign for Hereford. I actually felt like I had longer to go on Beacon St, so this is a nice surprise. I shout out loud, “Hereford!” It’s such a spectacular moment. I know at this point that I am going to finish the race. I do not even feel the small incline. When I make the left on Boylston, the finish line seems so close and yet so far away. I am so tired, but the crowds are so loud, and it is just incredible. You feel like a superstar the entire way. I consider peaking at my watch again to get a sense of where I am. I literally could not tell you my time if you paid me! However, I start to remember that this has been a longtime dream of mine. I want to feel nothing but joy when I cross that finish line. I can deal with the time later. I decide to be oblivious and just give the best finish line pose that I can possibly muster.

Nevertheless, when I get closer to the finish, I notice that there are time clocks for Wave 1 and Wave 2. Wave 2s time clock reads 3:29 something. Wow, I have to at least be under 3:30! And I know I started later than 10:25, so I have to be a few minutes faster than that at least!  I speed up really fast to make sure that I at least get my B goal. I put my hands up in a victory pose! This is it! I made it!

Mile 25: 7:49

Mile 26: 7:48

.5: 7:08

Finish line happiness

When I cross the finish, I look down at my watch and see 3:22 something. I am ecstatic. Wow, I really did not slow down as much as I thought! I feel surprisingly OK, but I have a lot of trouble walking. Another difficulty of the Boston Marathon course is that there is a lot of walking after the race.

My phone rings and I immediately answer it. “Congrats, baby! New PR!” It’s Bryan. Did I? My watch does not say so, but perhaps I have turned it off late. I will have to check the official results.

It takes a while to reach the place where they are handing out blankets and medals. For a while, I keep fearing that I missed getting mine, but then quickly look around and realize the people next to me do not have their medals either. When a volunteer finally puts a medal around my neck, I savor the moment. I have zero pictures of myself wearing my medal from the 2018 Boston Marathon due to being placed in the medical tent immediately after finishing. A nurse had to bring my medal to me almost two hours after I had already finished, and by that time, I was in no mood for happy photos. When I reach the thermal blankets, I hear screaming. It is my friend Sophia from elementary school! We have not seen each other in years. She embraces me and we pose for a selfie. I thank her immensely since she lets me have two of the blankets. By this point, I am feeling pretty cold!

It takes a while to find Bryan. A kind volunteer helps me reach where he is waiting with my bag of clothes. Instead of checking a bag, I gave my stuff to Bryan to carry. This was due to our experience of difficulty with trying to obtain my bag from gear check in 2018. The BAA was super secure (for which I am grateful) and would not allow Bryan to pick up my bag for me. It took multiple trips and phone calls from the people in the medical tent to the people in gear check to get things sorted.

When I see Bryan, we embrace! However, I also start to look at my phone and realize that my official finish time is 3:22:18. I did not PR. Bryan lied. To be fair, he was off by 4 seconds! Part of me is thrilled since it really is a better outcome than I expected. Part of me is also, I cannot lie, disappointed. I keep thinking back to places I could have surged. I wonder if looking at my watch would have helped me, especially right at the end.

With Bryan and Elodie in Boston Common

We take the subway and then the bus home, stopping briefly to get some desserts from Mike’s Pastry. I take a brief nap, and then we take my parents to dinner at the Stockyard, where I enjoy a big Manhattan and lots of delicious food.

Enjoying post- race meal at the Stockyard

Overall, it is one of the best days of my life. Some people told me I would never BQ again, and they were wrong. Even though I did not reach my A goal, I gained something really important from this race: more confidence in myself as an athlete. I thought for a while that I would stop doing marathons to focus exclusively on triathlons, but now I really feel like the marathon and I have some unfinished business. I would like to go for a sub 3:20! That being said, for the short term, my focus will turn back to tri since my next races are the Musselman 70.3 and Ironman Maryland.

Again, a big thanks to everyone who was a part of this day: the volunteers, the other runners, my family and friends.

Recovery is possible. Scary and hard, but possible and WORTH IT!

2021 Chicago Marathon Race Report

(if you just want the play by play of the run itself, feel free to skip the story)

September 28, 2019. Two weeks before the Chicago Marathon. I was having a great training cycle, and now a lot of the hard work was over. The schedule was 15 miles with 5 at goal pace. It started out strong until sudden pain stopped me completely in my tracks at mile 9. I had no choice but to call an Uber home, trying not to cry in the backseat. 

I rushed to my sports medicine doctor the following Monday. He thought it was a quad strain and that I could recover with some dry needling and rest. I remained hopeful until we got to the week of the race and I still could not run a step. In fact, I even missed the bus to work one morning because running across the street was impossible. My physical therapist, who was seeing me frequently and trying everything to get me to the starting line, had me do one last exercise. Lateral step-downs. If I could not do those without pain, Chicago was over. I could not even manage to bend my leg even the slightest.

The previous fall, I convinced my husband, Bryan, who was a bit reluctant, to enter the Chicago Marathon lottery. He did it and was accepted. It was too late to back out of the trip when flights and an Air B&B were booked. It also would not have been fair to Bryan who trained hard. On Facebook, I made the painful post that I would not be joining my husband on the starting line. I went into hard core cheering mode and was so proud of him. He finished strong! Everyone commented on what a great sport I was.  Yet, they did not witness the time I spent crying in bathroom stalls or into my pillow at night.

When we got back from Chicago, my doctor ordered an MRI. It was a stress reaction in my femur. While this news devastated me, I was also fortunate. It was a reaction, meaning it had yet to progress to a fracture and it was in a location that, my doctor explained, was more conducive to a quicker healing time. Nevertheless, it was still at least eight weeks of absolutely no running, and another three to four weeks of just run/walk intervals after that.

At 13, I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. I missed a great deal of eighth grade being in the hospital and various partial hospitalization programs. It almost killed me. My parents were told to make trips to my bedroom in the middle of the night to check that I was still breathing. I was so ashamed that I hid it from everyone, or at least tried to do so. I feared people finding out, so I made it my mission to seem as “OK” as possible. In college, I had to get the best grades. I could never miss a day of class, and I could never make a mistake lest someone think my eating disorder made me less capable, less trustworthy, less scholarly.

In graduate school, I refused to see a therapist or dietitian. I had to show the world “I’ve totally got this on my own.” Having help or support felt like admitting defeat and something that could risk my chances of getting into a PhD program or getting a job. The cost of getting treatment felt too high for a full-time graduate student and I refused to accept money from anyone for that purpose. I also had a severe mistrust of treatment professionals after some horrible experiences as a child (we’ve come a long way since 2002, even if we’ve still got work to do).

Given how careful I was with my training, my doctor said the likely cause of the injury was under-fueling. He ordered a bone density test which revealed osteopenia in my hips. I fell into a deep depression. Without running, I was not sure how to deal with my anxiety. I joined a Facebook group online called The Injured Athletes Club. I read sports psychologist Carrie Jackson Cheadle’s book Rebound. The book had a checklist of signs that a person should seek help for an eating disorder. I laughed at it at first, “there’s no way I’m struggling again at my age.” Bryan, who met me long after the worst of my battle was over, suspected something was not right and made me take it. Together, we clicked off most of the boxes. There was no denying that I could no longer do this by myself.

I had been seeing a dietitian right before the fracture, but now I had to really start listening to her instead of only doing a fraction of what she told me. She convinced me to stop looking at the scale, and to just focus on my performance. I went about the process of finding a therapist, which was literally harder than getting into a PhD program (and yes, even in a big city like Boston). My dietitian ended up recommending a woman who herself had anorexia and has now been recovered for over 25 years. At first, I was like “hell no!” I assumed that anyone with an eating disorder would be too broken or too damaged to actually help me. After all, I thought of myself as broken and damaged, which is why I had to keep my struggles a secret.

With nothing to lose and people on my back that I needed help, I e-mailed her anyway. She was completely booked, but I got off of her waitlist within a month. Long story short, I do not know how I would have gotten through the past two years without her. She taught me that I was not broken beyond repair, and that I could use my experiences to help others. She is the reason I still believe in full recovery.

 One of the exercises in Dr. Cheadle’s book was to make an anxiety pyramid. Basically, you put smaller goals on the bottom of the pyramid and larger goals on top, and you work your way up the pyramid slowly, checking things off until you get to the peak. On the bottom of my pyramid, I had “start cycling again” and “do run/walk intervals.” A bit further up I wrote “run outside again” and then even further “do a race.” Somewhere near the peak I wrote “do another marathon.” Then, in a fit of I’m-not-quite-sure-what, I wrote “run the Boston Marathon to raise eating disorder awareness and money for those who need treatment.” When I brought it to my therapist, I said, “if I qualify for Boston again, that’s what I’m doing. But I never will, so haha.” I never thought I might actually have to do it, or maybe deep down, there was a small part of me that believed.

At the recommendation of friends, I found a triathlon coach. On our consultation call, I planned to turn him down, thinking it was too much money to spend on myself. However, after an hour- long conversation with him that included me feeling comfortable enough to reveal my eating disorder history, my husband said, “he’s hired!”


Fueling myself properly seemed like an insurmountable challenge at first. There were times my husband had to talk me through eating before my workouts. There were times I thought of just giving up, and there were times I just wanted to revert back to old behaviors because they felt strangely comforting. However, it did really get easier and easier. I saw that my therapist and dietitian were invested not only in my recovery, but my athletic success and happiness, and that the two seemed to go hand in hand. Previously, as a child in treatment, I felt like everyone was against me. Sure, people told me they wanted me to be healthy, but it always seemed like being “healthy” had to come at the price of being myself. For the first time in my life, I did not have to feel afraid to be honest about my struggles for fear that sports would be taken away. I could still be an athlete and in recovery.

I became hooked on triathlons and started calling myself “triathlete” instead of “runner.” I am not going to lie. The sports world can be toxic for someone in recovery from an eating disorder (though it should not have to be). There is talk of “lighter is always better,” there is food shaming and body shaming. There are websites and groups that I have to stay away from. Yet, the training partners and friends I met through triathlon are people I could now not imagine my life without. I was shocked when I found myself telling them about my struggles, and thrilled beyond measure to have their support in maintaining my recovery while getting faster in the three disciplines.

When I could not run Chicago in 2019, I deferred to 2020. Due to COVID-19, I had the option to choose between running 2021, 2022, or 2023. When I first received the e-mail, I considered just forgetting about the marathon but somewhere deep inside, I knew I had to get closer to the top of my anxiety pyramid. I signed up for 2021, reminding myself to have very low expectations. When Bryan and I booked our hotel, I took a picture of myself wearing a crash helmet, joking around that Chicago was a cursed race for me. As many of you know, I use humor a lot as a way of dealing with stress.

For much of the spring, I was focused intently on the Patriot Half Ironman, a race I loved. In fact, I loved it so much that I considered doing another 70.3 in August. Yet, when talking to my coach, I realized that deep down, my desire to do another 70.3 right away was really an excuse to not think about and focus on Chicago. Ultimately, I decided against it in favor of doing some sprint triathlons that would not get in the way of my marathon training.

Training for a marathon again was scary. Having focused on shorter distances and triathlons post-stress reaction, I spent over two years not having done a run longer than a half marathon. My first 15 miler was humbling. I had to check in with my dietitian about how do long runs again, and this time, I had to actually do what she said, rather than ignoring half of the plan. For a while, it felt like every weekend I was posting about completing “my longest run post-stress fracture.” Sometimes while running I had to actually say out loud to myself, “you are ok. You are ok.” Somehow, the more runs I did where I did not fracture something, the more confident I became. I even ran by the spot where the injury happened, speeding by at marathon pace and giving it the finger. Nevertheless, I kept conveying to my coach how scared I was, and how this could be a mistake.

After winning my age group at the Sharon Triathlon this past August with a strong run off the bike, my coach turned to me and said, “see? Aren’t you more confident about Chicago now?” My answer was, “trust me, you don’t understand. The marathon and me, it a whole different ballgame.”

I told people I was just “training for Chicago to finish the race and survive.” I even told myself that. Yet, everyone could see that was a crock of crap. I refused to talk about race time goals with anyone, and yet, somehow, people would say to me, “that 3:20-3:25 looks possible,” or “I bet you are going for a 3:20-3:25.”

During taper, I injured my hamstring. I did not run for 10 days. Part of me was resigned to “here we go again, its Chicago, what did you think would happen?” Another part of me was like “fight, fight, fight.” My physical therapist worked with me, and on race week, cleared me to toe the line on Marathon Sunday. A mixed blessing, the weather predictions helped me get my mind off of my hamstring. With a predicted high temperature of 80 degrees and a starting temperature of 70 degrees, Chicago was going to be far from ideal marathon weather.

I talked it over with my coach. The Baystate Marathon was a week later and the weather looked much more promising. I would lose my race fee, but our plane and hotel were refundable. Should I switch?

We decided against it. There was a chance Baystate could be just as hot, and there was a chance Chicago would cool down before race day. Also, Chicago was a once in a lifetime experience given the travel expenses. Baystate could be done any year. Finally, I felt it was important to not let the Chicago Marathon beat me again. I had to show that race I was not afraid! Nevertheless, I prepared myself for a slower marathon time. I made a ton of Facebook posts about the weather. It was as if I felt the need to warn everyone not to expect anything from me.

My coach refused to stop believing. Training for triathlons certainly helped get my body more accustomed to the heat. Since the run is the last portion of a triathlon, triathletes often have to run when the sun is at its hottest. For so much of the summer, I would purposely do workouts later in the morning to prepare myself. However, Chicago was not a triathlon and I had been counting on some help from cooler fall temperatures.

Boarding the plane to Chicago was an emotional experience. The flight attendant announced, “I would like to invite all people running the marathon this Sunday to board first.” My husband pushed me forward. “That’s you.” At that moment, it really sunk in and I started to tear up. I was running this year. I was not sitting out. I realized that no matter what the weather was going to bring, I was truly grateful. 

Right up to the day of the race, I had no idea what my pacing strategy was going to be. Do I try goal pace and slow down if needed? Do I just go slower and treat it like a fun long run? At the expo, I took two pace bands: one for 3:25 and one for 3:20, hoping I would land somewhere in between. That night, my husband was helping me get ready and accidentally tattooed the 3:25 band to the plastic instead of to my arm. “Looks like you just have to run 3:20, I guess.”

My coach texted me, “I know the weather is not ideal, but just do your best. I really think you are going to surprise yourself here!” Several friends from Chicago also told me they thought the weather would not feel so bad to me after a season of triathlons. Still, goal pace was a game day decision right up until the I crossed the starting line.

Thanks to my Chicago friends Richard and Tiffanie for my pre-race coffee and pep talk!

When I left my hotel at 5:30am, it was already around 70 degrees, but it felt cool. I walked to the subway with a man from Puerto Rico. When I got the starting corral, I made friends with a guy whose daughter lives in the same town as my husband and me. While online for the porta potty, I started talking to a woman from Sacramento, CA. Getting the chance to talk to people from all over the world helped ease my nerves. I texted my mom, Bryan, and my coach making jokes about not being able to find transition and not knowing where to rack my bike.

I was originally assigned to Wave 1- Corral D. Over the summer, I found out that one could qualify for Corral C with a sub 1:35 half-marathon. I submitted my 1:34:55 from the Wallis Sands Half-Marathon and was moved up to C. This was a decision I did not think about much until I found out that Corral C would only have pacers for 3:10, 3:15, and 3:20. To run with the 3:25 pacer, I would have to move back to D. Just a few weeks prior, the move to D was a no-brainer, but with the weather being hot, a few friends advised me to start in C, as the 10-15 minute head start could make a difference.


Wanting to start as soon as I could and before the weather got unbearably hot, I lined up in Corral C slightly behind the 3:20 pacer. Yet, I kept questioning my decision. Chatting with the people around me was fun but it also increased my anxiety. The woman next to me had a PR of 3:23 that she ran last year. A few of the men in front of us had PRs in the low 3:20s that they ran fairly recently. Me? I had a PR of 3:30:32 from all the way back in May of 2017 and I was brought straight to the medical tent upon finishing.

Me texting my husband asking if I should run with the 3:20 group. Also a picture of how I felt about chocolate muscle milk after the race!

I texted my husband a picture of the big 3:20 pacer group sign with the caption, “Am I being dumb?” He wrote back, “Do it!” My husband is a physicist, and one thing about him is that he thinks things over very carefully. I knew if he thought I was hurting myself, he would tell me to move back and start slower.

When it was my time to go, I started running at a comfortable-but-faster-than-easy-pace pace. Since I was told the GPS often gets messed up in Chicago, I turned off auto lap in favor of just checking my time against my pace band at each mile marker. I aimed to be somewhere slightly slower than my 3:20 pace band, and I tried hard to remember the splits on the 3:25 one.

With so many spectators and me just being in awe of the sights of Chicago, I missed the mile 1 marker. Coming upon the first aid station, it was so tempting to skip. What would it hurt, right? Who needs fuel so early on? But I knew if I skipped that one, I’d skip another and another and keep playing a game with myself. My dietitian was clear I had to take Gatorade from every fuel station (with the exception of right after I had a gel). “I am NOT going to ruin this one. I have to give myself my best possible chance.”

During the first few miles, we passed by a couple of banks with jumbo time and temperature screens. 74 degrees read the first. 75 read the second. “Ignore. Ignore. Block. Block. Keep going.”

At mile 3, I looked at my pace band. Right on target for 3:20, almost exact. Fabolous’ song “My Time” came on (I decided to run with headphone but on low enough I could also hear the music from the crowds). Tears began to pool in my eyes, I started signing out loud but softly, “it’s my time, my time, my time.” Shortly after that, I saw Bryan with a “Kate 2.0 sign.” My heart melted.

For those that do not know, when I met with my dietitian for the final time before the marathon, I had serious doubts. “I’ve always screwed up with my nutrition in all my previous marathons!” She told me that instead of thinking about the past, think about this marathon as the first one where I would get things right. Somehow, somewhere in that conversation, we jokingly came up with “Kate 2.0” and it ended up sticking. I wrote Kate 2.0 on my arms that morning.

I continued to check my pace band at each mile marker, remembering each of my dedications. It was a great way to pass the time. I was also surprisingly right on pace with 3:20, even though I felt like I started a bit behind the pacer. At the 10k, I ran by an announcer, “3:20 group looking good.” Wow. I was with them. “Can I maintain this for another 20 miles?” I quickly erased that thought from my head. Thinking about how much I had left was not going to help. I grabbed my Gatorade and told myself, “this is just a fun long run.” In many ways, I was not lying. The course was beautiful and flat. If I wasn’t racing, I wouldn’t be feeling all nervous.

At mile 9, Bryan screamed to me. I almost missed him and then caught a quick glimpse of him with his second Kate 2.0 sign. “I love you babe!” I yelled. At mile 10, after my second gel, my stomach started to feel like it was going to explode. “I’ve consumed more than I used to consume for an entire marathon in just the first 10 miles of this race.” I skipped a Gatorade station in favor of just water.  I also started taking extra water to pour on my head and in my sports bra. The heat was not really bothering me yet, but I did not want to it start.

After telling myself, “this is so much better than bonking from being hungry” and “hey, you are still on pace, aren’t you?” my stomach calmed down. I returned to the plan with the exception of taking my third and fourth gels about a mile later than scheduled to space things out a little more. At the halfway point, I was literally right there with my 3:20 pace band. I was not feeling good enough to speed up, but I was feeling good enough to not slow down. “Just maintain and see how things feel in another couple of miles.”

 I was warned that miles 14-16 could feel pretty lonely, but I was so focused that it did not really bother me. As I crossed the mile 14 mark, Andra Day’s “Rise Up” started playing on my headphones. I start to tear up again. Back in 2019, this song helped me get through my injury. So much felt hopeless and out of control, and this song gave me comfort that somehow, someday, I would get back up and run again.

Inspired by the song, I start to remember the importance of feeling grateful just to be racing. So as not to get too obsessed and to stay focused on listening to my body rather than my watch, I decided from then on to only check in with my pace band every couple of miles, rather than every mile. At mile 16, I was still on pace. At mile 17, I heard a few men near me talking about prayer lists. Since I like to pray for people at each mile, I jumped into the conversation and told them I am a theology professor. One man asked me my name and said I was just added to his list. I asked for his name back and added him to mine. It was just the right confidence boost. One thing I love about running is that I thrive off of the energy and support of everyone around me.

At mile 18, I notice myself running with the official Nike 3:20 pacer. “Wow, how did I get up here?” Two men inform me that they are running 3:20s as well. For them, it’s a C goal due to the heat. Trying not to let their words scare me, I pipe up, “this is my big reach goal. I can’t believe I’m still here.” They tell me I am looking good. One of them says, “just believe in it. Believe in the 3:20. And whatever you do, don’t make a move until mile 25.” Shortly thereafter, I lost them in the crowd but I remembered their advice (and seriously wish I found them after the race to say thank you). Sadly, at mile 18, I also noticed that my left leg was hurting right where my stress fracture was. “This is just in your head.” I kept listening to my music and trying to forget about the discomfort, so long as it continued to stay below a two or three on the pain scale (which it thankfully did).

At mile 19, we enter Pilsen. A Mariachi band is playing, and I am loving the music.
“This marathon really is enjoyable and a once in a lifetime experience. Even if I slow down, I have to soak it in until the very end.”

Mile 20 is also emotional. In all of my previous marathons, mile 20 was the point where I would hit the wall and crash from intense hunger and nausea. This time I am not feeling that way. I am tired, but I have more left in me. I take my fourth gel, and notice I am now slightly behind 3:20 pace but not by much. I am still happy and hopeful. After all, my goal was sub 3:25!

Mile 21 is Chinatown. I look for Bryan, and for my sister and brother-in-law but do not see them (I find out later they were screaming for me and I missed them!). I am disappointed, but I quickly remove the thought from my mind. It’s time to really get down to business here. My legs start to really cramp up, and it’s the first time I notice the heat. I start to worry my sub 3:25 is in jeopardy and I just want the race to be over. Suddenly, I hear a noise- “Kate! Kate!” It’s my friend Richard who is volunteering as a course marshal. I yell “Richard!” and I feel a sudden burst of energy and I pick up the pace. No way am I giving up! It is the boost I need to get to the end, where I plan to look again for Bryan, Renee, and Alasdair.

At mile 22, I notice I am now again behind the 3:20 pace by a minute or two. I start to freak out and my mind starts to play games with me. “Kate, come on, you knew this was too ambitious. There was no way you were getting close to 3:20, or even breaking 3:25. Hah!” Then I start to think, “just skip the Gatorade, you aren’t going to make it now anyway.” I start saying really nasty things to myself, and I have to fight it. “No, no, you are not going to ruin my race!” I have to give it my very best shot, and that means taking in my nutrition and continuing to run as hard as I can. I decide at that moment to completely stop looking at my watch. Instead of keeping track of pace splits, my strategy becomes to pass people. I start picking people one at a time, and once I pass someone, I pick a new person. Guy in blue shirt. Lady in pink shirt. Dude in yellow. It distracts me and suddenly I am at mile 23. “Come on, Kate. You can do a 5k in your sleep.”

At mile 24, people are screaming. “2 miles left! 2 miles left!” I take double Gatorade, really feeling the heat. All of the screaming makes me want to speed up, though I am careful not to go too hard until I get closer to the finish. The volunteers and the crowd are so helpful and so kind. I then hear “1.5 miles left!”

Shortly after the mile 25 marker, I see a big sign “1 mile left!” At this point, I am hurting so badly but I know I am going to finish and that I am going PR. However, just by how much is still to be determined, so I know I cannot give up. I look for Bryan, Renee, and Alasdair but do not see them (they were apparently there too screaming super loud). At 800 meters to go, I kick it up another notch but am cautious. My legs are really bothering me, and I do not want to burn out before the finish. I am so grateful for all of the signs, especially when we make the final turn to run up “the hill.” I put “the hill” in quotations since it really is not that big of a hill, it just looks like a mountain because it appears at mile 26.

I give it everything I have as I make it up the small incline. 400m to go. I look at my watch and see 3:20 something. I know at that moment I have not completely stayed on pace, but the disappointment is so brief it can barely register. I am STILL IN THIS! 200m to go. I sprint. 100m to go. I start putting my hands in the air and I scream “Yes! Yes! Finally!” It is the moment I have been dreaming of for years, finishing a marathon happy and qualifying for Boston on the new standards. I am not going to let anything get in my way. It is not going to be 3:20, but it is going to be the fastest I can get today, everything I have.  I say to myself, “I promise, if I make it across this finish line and qualify for Boston, I am going to go for it. I am going to share my story and I am going to raise money and awareness.” I cross the finish in 3:22:14.

Or do I? “Wait a second, did that happen?”

It seems too good to be true. I keep running. What if I didn’t go over the mat? What if I stopped too soon? Finally, I notice that the people around me have started walking and a volunteer tells me I have finished. I start to cry. I do not care how weird I look! “We’ve made it! We’ve made it to the top of the anxiety pyramid!”

I start making the long walk back to the family waiting area. I run into the man who was praying for me. He finished in 3:11, and we have a great conversation. Tired as I am, I am enjoying the trek. It seems like everywhere I look, I am being offered something new. My medal. Pictures. Chips. Bananas. A blanket. A wet towel. Beer. Muscle Milk. My phone starts chiming, and I have a ton of messages from people who have clearly been tracking me.

It takes a while, but I finally meet up with Bryan, Renee, and Alasdair. They have the most amazing signs, and I almost start to cry again. It is one of the happiest moments of my life- definitely on the top five. My legs are incredibly sore, but I smile the entire subway ride home, even when going up the stairs. I love Chicago!

Many people have asked me what my next goal will be. The answer is that beyond the 2022 Boston Marathon, I am unsure. To be quite honest, running a marathon again has taken a toll on me physically and emotionally, even though this one went well. I wrote out this report because I felt it important show others that fighting the voices of anxiety, an eating disorder, fear, or addiction do not make you weak, they make you a warrior. I used to think “I shouldn’t have these thoughts,” but now I say, “I sometimes struggle, but I am a badass who fights.” And even if I, or you, have days that you cannot fight the thoughts or the pain, or that you need extra help fighting, that does not make you any less of a warrior. Recovery is not perfection.

That is why I am running the 2022 Boston Marathon for ANAD. ANAD provides free support groups for people struggling with eating disorders regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or size. I have been a proud volunteer with ANAD for the past few years. Everyone deserves support, and I will not shut up until that is recognized.

Err on the Side of Love, Caution and Sensitivity: Having An Anti-Diet Culture Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, let us work together to challenge our biases regarding weight and size, and to eliminate body and food shaming as much as possible. Comments that might seem silly can really hurt someone. Also, remember that people often struggle in silence and not all struggles are physically visible. Thanksgiving is already a very difficuIt holiday for many people struggling with an eating disorder, or who have been harmed by diet culture. It ALWAYS makes sense to err on the side of love, caution and sensitivity in your interactions.

Stop commenting people’s body sizes

A person’s change in weight could be due to an eating disorder, cancer, gastrointestinal issues, depression, and various other struggles. Complimenting someone on something that is a result of mental or physical struggle is extremely harmful. Furthermore, a person may already be sensitive about their bodily changes and they do not need to hear from you. Compliment people for other things.

“I love the dish you made.”

“Your new haircut looks really nice.”

“You always know how to make me laugh.”

“I’m proud of how well you did on your math test.” 

These things are a lot cooler than weight too!

Define being “good” or “bad” by how you treat others, not what you or others eat

You are not “bad” for having another piece of pie. You are not “good” for skipping desert, and you are not better than the person next to you who desired some pie. If you want to be “good,” bring food to a homeless person, spend time with someone who is lonely, send a gift to someone who could use some cheer. Those things actually make the world better.

Stop talking about food as if it needs to be earned

If you do a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning because you enjoy it, great. I am doing one myself, provided I come back from my academic conference feeling OK. Share fun pictures of yourself running in costume or talk about the beauty of the course, or how proud you are of finishing, but please avoid comments about earning your turkey or punishing yourself for pie. Thanksgiving is there for all to enjoy regardless of what they did that morning or plan to do the next day.

Do not make derogatory comments about ANYONE’s body

Just as it is not OK to make racist comments just because you assume there are no people of color in the room, it is not OK to poke fun at the bodies of people who are not at your dinner table. Remember that when you call a person of a certain body type unattractive, undisciplined, or any other name, you are not just insulting them, but anyone who is of a similar size. You are also sending a message that a person becomes less loveable if their body changes.

If you are concerned about someone, approach them calmly and privately and focus on their behaviors and emotions, rather than their size/appearance

If you do suspect a loved one is struggling with food, approach them in a calm, non-judgmental manner when you are away from the dinner table. “I notice you seem to eat very little and I worry you are struggling” or “I notice you did not seem to enjoy the same stuff you did last year and I am concerned” will be taken better than “you look awful” or “you look like a skeleton.” Focusing on behaviors will also tell the person that your concerns are not superficial and reassure them that they deserve care regardless of their size (a big fear of many people with eating disorders is that if their appearance changes, they will no longer be deserving of support).

Set boundaries for yourself and your loved ones

Remember that not everyone is aware of the harm of certain comments or behaviors, so, at first, it is always best to take a gentle approach. “Please do not remind us of the calories in everything.” “We do not believe food needs to be earned at this table.” “We would appreciate it if you would not comment on people’s body sizes.”

Some will be happy to learn and will want to be sensitive to your concerns. Sadly, some will not. It is also OK to set boundaries if someone continues to intentionally (the key word here is intentionally- we all make mistakes from time to time) cause harm to you or a loved one.

“I really love your company, but I will not be able to invite you back if you insist on commenting on my child’s weight.”

“I know you are on a diet but talking about it constantly in my presence is triggering and I need to ask you to stop.”

“Your comments really hurt my friend’s feelings and she is important to me. I will not tolerate her feeling bullied at our table.”

“This conversation is tough for me to listen to, I am going to step outside for some space.”

Advocating for yourself can be really hard, which is why, if you are the loved one of a person who is struggling, STAND UP FOR THEM!

A Real Athlete

When I was able to run cross country in high school, I was not a “real athlete.” I set out to prove I was and I worked hard to lower my times, but by graduation, I was still not a “real athlete.” When I started winning age group awards at races, I was not a “real athlete.” Even when I got into the top 3 female runners at races, I was not a “real athlete.” When I finally decided to train for a marathon, I was not a “real athlete” and certainly not when I qualified for Boston on my first one because it may have not been enough to make the cutoff. Yet, even when I ran my second marathon and knocked off a few minutes to be safe for the Boston Marathon cutoff, I was not a “real athlete.” Then when I ran the Boston Marathon in the some of the worst weather in Boston Marathon history, I was not a “real athlete,” nope not with my time! And then when I decided to do triathlon, even with three sports, I was not a “real athlete.” And then when I noticed that I was getting injured more often and not feeling so great, I did not reach out for help as soon as I should have because I was not a “real athlete.” When I got diagnosed with a stress reaction in my femur that kept me out of the Chicago Marathon, I was in denial because those injuries only happen to “real athletes.” I felt like I did not deserve a coach, physical therapist, or nutritionist because those are for “real athletes” and I felt like everyone would just give up on me to go work with “real athletes” (they didn’t and they tell me I’m a “real athlete”)

Yet, as I sit here, struggling with anxiety and slowly returning from an 8 week lay-off, I realize that even if I had qualified for Boston again after running it in 2018, I would not have been a “real athlete.” Even if the injury never happened and I ran Chicago and achieved the goal I was working so hard for, I would not have been a “real athlete.” I would have found something to make me not a “real athlete.” Because being a “real athlete” has nothing to do with your times or your endurance or your experience, it has to do with your heart.

To all of my friends, you are a “real athlete” from the moment you choose to dedicate yourself to a sport you love.

 

No photo description available.

2006, the year it all began

Loco Marathon 2018- The Comeback Race and the 2 minutes that almost broke my heart

“And I won’t let you, get me down/I’ll keep getting up when I hit the ground/Oh, never give up, no, never give up, no no, oh”

I write the race report for my 4th marathon with quite a bit of emotion, swaying back and forth between feelings of immense gratitude and disappointment. Originally, I was supposed to run the Charles River Marathon on September 8th to go for a 2019 BQ. Shortly before leaving for my honeymoon (about a month before the race), I broke my toe on a piece of luggage. While I swam, biked, and walked through it, I could not run for three weeks. When I finally returned to running, my gait was seriously messed up and workouts that once felt easy, felt awful. I made the decision to not start the Charles River Marathon when, one week before race day, I had trouble maintaining marathon pace for just 2 miles. In order to remain a part of race day, I paced the 3:52 marathon group for the last 18 miles, which was a fun and rewarding experience, and made for a great long run.

Since the Loco Marathon was my first marathon, it holds a special place in my heart. My husband and I decided to set our sights on that, even though it would be too late for a 2019 BQ. Unfortunately, the toe was stubborn and things were iffy right up until 4 weeks before race day. I got another x-ray revealing that the toe was 90-95% healed and my doctor said to just “go for it and see where you are.” That was a scary prospect. My doctor, who jokingly says that he doubles as my running coach, made me promise that I would not freak out if I ran quite a bit slower than my PR. I kept training. After a successful marathon pace tempo run (that still did not feel as good as it used to), I decided to sign up. My husband kept reminding me that if this race did not go as well, I should not panic since we plan to get me (and possibly both of us) a coach and sports nutritionist for this spring.

Knowing the rough training cycle I had, I decided to set three goals.

C goal: to finish under 4 hours and not get hypothermia, making this at least better than Boston 2018.

B goal: qualify for the Chicago Marathon, which for me, needed to be sub 3:40 since I will be 30 by race day.

A goal: sub 3:30, PR and 2020 BQ on the new standards (for those of you that do not know, the BQ time for my age group was 3:35 until this September when they lowered all standards by 5 minutes. This explains why I BQed twice but never broke 3:30)

Looking at the Chicago Marathon, I started to get excited and the sub 3:40 felt more like a more doable goal, though still challenging. I feared I was not in 3:30 shape like I used to be, and said to my husband pre-race, “should I just go out with the 8:10 pace group to go for Chicago?” Bryan would not hear of it. “You can do a CQ, but go for the BQ.” So, I tapered better than I ever did before, just telling myself “you can do this.”

Prior to the race, I had really bad calf pain, a compensation injury from the toe. My wonderful doctor and physical therapist were kind enough to respond to an emergency freak out e-mail to them two days before the race. The pain never subsided but they assured me it likely was not bad enough that it would tear in the middle of the race, and Bryan, per doctor’s instructions, massaged the muscle twice a day for me to relieve some of the tightness. I still kept saying, “maybe I should go out with 8:10 or 8:20, because what if I blow up and don’t even get Chicago?” Bryan would not hear of it. “You go out with 8!”

When we arrive at the race, my calf is still hurting but it eases up with a warm-up jog. The day before the race brought a Nor’Easter to New England. It is five degrees cooler at the start than expected and the ground is super muddy. I am already panicking since I brought a race outfit for 45 degree start, 50 degree finish and am now faced with 38 degree start, 45 degree finish. I keep reassuring Bryan and myself that I will be fine, but at the last minute, as we are lining up, Bryan takes off his ear warmers and his extra gloves and puts them on me.

“I don’t need these.”

“Yes, you do. Trust me.”
“But you need them. It’s my fault, I should have packed mine. I’ll be fine.”

“No, you have an extra loop than me.”
I take them and am grateful for them when the race starts and my hands and head are warm.

I line up with the 8 minute pacer, figuring I will see how that feels. If it’s tough, I will slow down to 8:10 and if it feels good, I will try to speed up to 7:50 later in the race. Bryan does not like running with pacers, but places himself near the 8:55 pacer to aim for sub 9s for his half.

Before the gun goes off, I already like the 8 minute pacer, Karen and she inspires me. She says she ran her first marathon at the age of 40 with three children under the age of three, to which I replied, “so like a year ago?!” She tells me that she is 55. Also lined up with us is Liz, a buddy from online. She ran a 3:22 a few weeks ago and is running this marathon for fun, seeing how long she can stick with the 8 minute group.

The gun goes off and I stick to Karen like glue. A few minutes into the race, I realize my watch never started (for those of you who follow Strava, this is why it says I only ran 26 miles). Everyone tells me not to worry, that they have me covered. I actually think it might be a blessing. Since I know my time is off, I cannot obsessively check my watch. Karen is amazing with the pacing- the splits stay in the range of 7:47-8:05. I am feeling surprisingly good. I want to speed up, but the course has a lot of rolling hills and I know I need my energy for the second loop.

At mile 7, I start to get worried. I am supposed to take my first GU but my stomach still feels uncomfortably full. In my first two marathons, I bonked really badly from not eating enough. This time, I think I added pre-race fuel that my body was not yet ready for, even though it may have been the ideal amount. I vow to see a nutritionist when the race is over, and decide to skip my first GU. I know my body will reject anything except water right now.

Mile 9, I am still feeling great cardiovascularly but I still cannot stomach the GU. At this point, we make our way to the rail trail, the last 3.5 miles of the course. The rail trail is supposed to be fast and downhill, but due to the mud, it does not feel that way.

With no GU in my stomach by mile 12 and knowing that the 8 minute pacer is only with us for half of the race, I start to contemplate going through the half-marathon shoot. I am really worried that I am not going to finish the race without having to puke or poop (sorry to be gross, but this is marathon running for real, folks!), and I know that a stop to do either will jeopardize my goals. My fellow runners tell me to keep going, and that I look super strong, which I do (below is a rare race picture of me smiling).

kate smiling?

Me and pacer Karen. Feeling much better than expected!

At the half-way point, I open a GU and decide to take it little by little. I am surprisingly on pace, even on the uphills. I am quite proud of myself. Normally, when I have no pacer, I either start going 7:30s or 8:20s. At mile 15, Liz lends me some gummies which are easier to get down than my GU. I figure one GU and 2 gummies will be enough to get me to mile 20 and then I will re-evaluate and take in more toward the end of the race when the fear of a bathroom stop starts to wane.

By mile 16, I realize the hills are getting to me. I am on pace, but its harder. “If only this was flat!” are my words for the next three miles. I decide to keep going by effort, slowing down on the uphills and taking advantage of the downhills to speed up.

Mile 19- the calf injury rears its ugly head. My ankle really hurts. One of my online running buddies felt the calf issue had to do with ankle mobility- I realize he is probably right! This mile also has a climb in it. My pace slows to 8:15. I start to worry that if I keep slowing, my B goal will slip away. I keep telling myself. “You knew this wasn’t going to be a PR anyway. Just focus on Chicago. Work for it. You can still get a Chicago qualifier and register this week. That will be fun.”

My pace stays between 8:10-8:20 and I am working at my B goal. I then meet a woman named Lisa at mile 20. I tell her that I am now working on my B goal, and she tells me not to give up on A. Another runner who is a friend of hers says she will pace us to the end. I try to keep up with them, but cannot quite do it. However, I keep them in sight and stay as close as I can. I decide to not push it now, and to save my ankle and my energy for mile 23 when the rail trail and the downhill start.

I get to the rail trail and my ankle is starting to hurt less. I am down to 8:10 again. “Let it rip!” I say, only 3.5 miles to go. I have the most energy I have ever had this late in the marathon. It is the first time that I am not bonking from hunger (maybe the extra food was a good thing after all) However, the mud is even worse than it was the first time around. I speed up to 7:30, then suddenly go down to 9:40 when my feet get stuck. My pace ends up still averaging to 8:10s and 8:20s, even though I feel like I am flying.

At mile 25, I am tired and hurting, but I have it in me if there is a chance. I yell to Lisa’s friend, “do I still have a chance?” She says that I do and encourages me to keep going. I pass them, I fly, I am letting it all out. My watch says the PR is over, but I know it started late, so I figure I need to still give it my all. I want my A goal. I know I am close to it. I am no longer satisfied with just sub 3:40.

However, as much as I fly, the split ends up 8:30. If you look at Strava, you can see how I am weaving between 7:15 and 9:15. It’s crazy.

I see Bryan at the finish. I anxiously await his words. If I can still make it, I know that he will be screaming at me to “hurry up!” I get upset when I notice he is not moving or trying to run with me. He is just standing there with his phone. I know something must be wrong. Instead of “hurry up!” like I got for my first two marathons which were both BQs, I get “Go Kate! Go Kate!” Not what I want to hear. With Bryan being so nice, I know the goal must be gone.

mud

If you want an idea of the mud, here it is….

I look at the clock. It is past 3:30. I cross the finish line and all that “I just want to qualify for Chicago” stuff goes out the window. As one of the volunteers places my medal around my neck, I start to cry.

“Why are you crying?”

“I’m sorry, I just wanted to go to Boston in 2020 so bad. I just wanted it so bad and I was so close. I’m sorry, I know I’m being silly here, I was just so close.”

Then a hand touches my shoulder. It is Lisa, she has finished just a few seconds behind me. She holds my face in her hands and makes me look into her eyes.

“You will be in Hopkinton at the starting line with me in 2020.”

This lady must be nuts or else she thinks I am 35. “I won’t! I didn’t make it! They changed the standards. It’s not 3:30 anymore, its 3:35! I didn’t make it. I’m not 35 yet.”

Lisa smiles. “Yeah, I know that. I know there is no way you are 35. But you will be there. You had so much more in you today. Imagine what you would have done on a flatter course without all that mud. See you in 2020!”

When we get inside, Bryan is hugging me and telling me how proud he is. We go and check my official time. 3:31:56. My heart sinks. I realize how greedy I am. Just 40 minutes ago I was begging God to just get me to sub 3:40, and now, here I am, so close to my BQ and so disappointed. He makes me change out of my wet clothes. He keeps trying to encourage me to sit down, but all I want to do is ruminate over what I could have done differently. I’d gladly do-over the last two miles right now if I could!

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In the end, sometimes you just gotta laugh. Here is my “I missed my BQ by 2 minutes face.”

I do cheer up when we notice that I am second in my age division. Since this marks the last year of me being in the 19-29 age group, I am pretty excited to have beaten a lot of younger runners! When we go to pick up my age group award, we realize it is not a medal but a bunch of random gifts. Bryan is trying so hard to make me feel better, that he oohs and aahs over each item as it is pulled out. “OMG, Kate- I’ve always wanted socks like that!” “OMG, I love this glass, I want it, this is so cool!” They actually were some pretty neat and useful gifts. Besides the warm socks and glass, I got an LED light for running in the dark and a tote bag which I have actually been using to carry around my students’ midterms this week!

age group award

Me with all of my awards. I couldn’t carry everything. It was pretty fun just getting handed a whole bunch of stuff.

Finally, it sinks in that my time is my time and overall, it still went better than expected. I may not have reached the level where I hoped to be, but my finish time indicates that I am at least back to the level I was at before all of the injuries, and the stress of defending a dissertation and planning a wedding. That gives me a good boost of a confidence as I start to prepare for the next training cycle. When we get in the car, I finally feel up to talking to people and we call my parents and Bryan’s parents. I realize that although this marathon is not a PR, in many ways, it was one of my best performances. My parents cannot believe the race is over because I sound really coherent and upbeat. It then occurs to me that this is the first marathon I have run where I have not needed medical attention at the finish. Unlike my previous marathons, I am also not hungry. I did not bonk at mile 23 from nausea or worry about passing out. I sip on electrolyte water and nibble on some small snacks until we get home, knowing I need to get stuff in me even if my body does not think it wants anything.

In the midst of this, I also forgot to mention that Bryan ran his half-marathon in 1:52:53, not a personal best (but close), but way better than he expected after a tough training season. I am so proud of him!

with gobbo

Husband and wife running team!

Hunger finally hits after I shower. Bryan tells me we can go wherever I want for dinner, and he makes early dinner reservations at The Stockyard so I can get a rack of ribs (and unsurprisingly, also finish half of his ribs). We toast to Bryan’s successful half and we toast to Chicago, which I sign up for the next morning.

kate ribs

A post-race favorite

Overall, this race is one that I do not regret for a second nor do I regret how hard I tried for my A goal (I would never know how close I am if I did not go for it). The very next morning, this race helped me explain to my students how to maintain belief in God in light of modern science and the suffering that surrounds us. God does not answer prayers by coming down to us and just fixing things. When I said, “God help me,” during the race (which I said a lot by the way), God did not ease my queasy stomach, God did not clear the sticky mud from the rail trail, God did physically push me so I could fly to the finish line. God certainly did not change the clock to read two minutes faster. In one sense, one could say that God was not listening. God wasn’t there. But God was there. God did listen me, but instead of coming down from the sky and overturning the laws of nature, God worked through other people. When my stomach could not handle the gels I had on me, God worked through my buddy Liz who reached over and gave me some of her gummies to get something in my stomach. When my calf injury was acting up, God worked through the people in the crowds who cheered me on and made me feel like I was kicking butt, even though I knew I had slowed down. When I reached the finish line, God worked through Lisa, who held my face in her hands, made me look her in the eye, and told me how amazing I was, how many obstacles I overcame both before the race and during the race, and how she would see me in Hopkinton 2020 because I have so much more in me and am not going to give up. God worked through my husband, who I found out after the race, lied about not needing his ear warmers and extra pair of gloves so that I would take them and not feel cold during the race, and who let me submit my time to the Chicago Marathon the very next day. God brought me new training partners with similar paces and goals, who I cannot wait to run with and get to know better. God even worked through social media, sending me messages through online running buddies who sent me words of encouragement, and who are giving me lots of advice for Chicago in October. Opportunities to be the presence of God in someone’s life are constantly presenting themselves to us. I hope that when they come to me, I take them and I hope that in future races, I can give back just half of what the running community has given me. See you in Chicago, folks!

 

 

Finish Though Your Legs Are Shaking, Finish Though Your Heart is Breaking- the 2018 Boston Marathon

As many of you know, it was a dream of mine to someday run the Boston Marathon. When I first started training for the marathon distance in summer of 2016, I had no clue what to expect and thought my road to Boston would be much longer than it actually was. When I BQed on my first marathon in October 2016 (thanks to my fiancé, you should check out that story), it was only -1:33. It was not enough to get in but enough to give me the confidence to know I could do it. I ran another marathon in May 2017 for a -4:28 to squeak in by just a little over a minute.

I was euphoric when I got that e-mail from the BAA that I was officially registered in the 2018 Boston Marathon. I decided not to do a fall marathon in 2017 and start training earlier than I typically would. Big mistake. I think I put way too much pressure on myself for Boston, and it ultimately lead to too much stress and a decline in my performance.Image may contain: one or more people and text

Throughout most of my training, everything pointed to me being able to hit my goal of sub 3:30. Besides a one-week bout with the flu, I was hitting the right paces on my workouts and my “easy pace” got faster. Five weeks before race day, I did a 20 miler on the course with the last 5 miles at faster than marathon pace and felt like I still had more in the tank. I did not do any other races during the cycle, keeping my sole focus on a PR and BQ at Boston.

March 21- the morning of my dissertation defense- BAM! I was doing a 7 mile tempo run at half-marathon pace, a challenging workout but nothing I had not already done in training. After the tempo portion, I felt a sharp pain in my butt and hobbled home. I passed my defense, officially becoming a PhD, but I was in pain. The next day I woke up crying that “Boston was over.” Not healed by that Saturday, I had to miss my 22 mile long run. To make matters worse, my 22 miler was going to be done with friends and I had been looking forward to it for months. It was hard to not board the bus to Hopkinton that morning.Image may contain: Kate Mroz, smiling, standing and indoor

I was diagnosed with SI joint dysfunction. Both my PT and doctor assured me that I would still run Boston, but it was hard to believe them especially as the healing took longer than even they expected. I was out of running for two weeks, though doing some intense work on the recumbent bike- who know how good of a workout you could get on that thing?

At one appointment, my doctor told me that I could try running again on Easter Sunday. As a theologian, I got excited and joked that the waiting to run part was my Lenten penance. However, I was not really joking. I woke up on Easter Sunday with a lot of hope and went into a very dark place when I was not able to run that morning. To make matters worse, the gym was closed so I had to skip biking that day. My fiancé had to force me to go to church. I was a mess. I felt that God had abandoned me. After all this work, why would I get this freak injury out of the clear blue on the day of my defense of all possible mornings? As some of you may know, I dealt with some pretty bad anxiety and depression while finishing up my dissertation, and marathon training really helped with that. Everything on my Facebook and in my house reminded me of Boston- it felt like the world was mocking me. Every morning when I woke up in my pain, it seemed like I would get another e-mail update about Boston.

Finally, shortly after Easter, the pain did go away and I was able to return to running. My doctor gave me a cortisone shot. Even as he was giving me the shot, he said “You are going to PR this thing!” He insisted that the biking kept up my fitness and that because I was already through two marathons, I would be fine. I was skeptical but decided that if he believed in me, I would not give up. I got in some runs before the marathon. The first two were bit shaky, but I started getting my groove back after that.

I set two goals for myself. 1) Still run the sub 3:30 if possible. 2) If I was not feeling a sub 3:30 and knew it was not going to happen, to just enjoy the race, shake hands with spectators, kiss my fiancé at his viewing spots, take selfies, and just savor the course.

I reached neither goal. But God was in this crazy mess, and I did take something important away from this race.

Race weekend was a lot of fun. On Saturday, my fiancé and I went to the Expo and had an amazing time. We tried so many delicious samples. I ended up buying a Roo pouch to carry my gels and phone during the race (great decision). Bryan also bought me a Spike the Unicorn stuffed animal, which I have wanted for a very very long time!No automatic alt text available.

On Sunday, we went to the Blessing of the Runners at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, which brought me some calm and comfort. When we got home, I spent hours agonizing over what to wear on race day. I tried on about 100 different outfits. Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and outdoor

On race morning, I got to take a private bus to the Athlete’s Village, thanks to a running buddy, Mark Sekelsky. I sat next to another running buddy, Erin Cheyenne Staker, on the bus. It was a great group and talking to everyone calmed my nerves. As we kept looking at the weather report, I was more and more at peace with my #2 goal, thinking that would still give me a 3:40ish marathon.Image may contain: 1 person

Walking to the starting line from the Athlete’s Village turned out to be total chaos. Veteran Boston Marathoners assured me this was not normal. We were packed like sardines for 45 minutes, barely moving. When I finally got the starting line, it was after my scheduled 10:50am start time. I kept waiting to line up with my corral but never got the chance. I did not realize I was supposed to start running. I flipped out and a volunteer helped me get off my extra clothes.

The weather was thankfully not so bad in the beginning. I was going pretty fast. I forced myself to slow down to save energy for the later parts of the race. I had to keep pushing through other people since I did not start with my corral and no one around me was running my pace. I kept asking if anyone was doing “7:50-8:00 minute miles” and everyone just looked at me like I was crazy. I felt sad that I had no one to run with, since I normally start marathons talking to the people around me. Slightly before the half way point, I noticed my splits dropping but figured I would make them up on the downhills.

By the half way point, I felt a slight ache in my hips that I at first though was the injury but that my doctor and PT think was just the cold.  I knew a PR was over but I was determined to make goal #2 happen.  Then around mile 15, I just knew something was terribly wrong. The rain got heavier and my clothing was soaked. My splits dropped dramatically. It was incredibly frustrating. I tried to just enjoy the crowds, but I was so cold that I could not even muster a smile or high five for anyone. Cardiovascularly, I was not even tired but my legs were so cold they would just not move any faster.

By the time I saw my fiancé at mile 16, I knew I was going super slow, so I decided to take a few minutes to stop and get a new pair of gloves from him. He caught this on video and watching it again now, it’s pretty funny!  He was standing with a volunteer who was incredibly kind. I was sobbing. The woman he was had a warm smile and kept telling me “we’ve been waiting for you! You are doing great!”

Me: “I don’t feel good. My time is going to be terrible.”

Bryan: “That’s OK. Just take your time.”

Me: “I am going to finish”

Volunteer: “Of course you are!”

Bryan and the volunteer (I wish I knew her name, she was truly an angel) helped put the new gloves on my hands. We were all so cold and disoriented that I noticed when I got back on the course that Bryan had given me two different gloves! Thankfully, my hands were warm. They were the only part of my body that was!

I sped up slightly after seeing Bryan but then slowed down dramatically again right before the Newton Hills. I kept getting text messages from Bryan, who knew something had to be terribly wrong. Even on my easiest easy runs (think like, the day after a 20 miler), I was running at least 1-2 minutes per mile faster than the pace I was now running. During training, I could not even have run this slow if I tried!

“Kate, are you OK?”

“Please drop out, this is not worth it.”

At this point, Bryan started alerting some of the other people tracking me that something was wrong. “Kate dropped to a 9:49 pace. Her last marathon was an 8:00 pace. Something is wrong- I hope she stops.”

I kept going. The Newton Hills were a blur. I stopped looking at my watch. My teeth were chattering and my legs felt frozen, I could not move them any faster. But I refused to walk. I knew that if I walked, I would just feel colder.

When I got to Heartbreak Hill, I cried. I cried because I felt so awful and the medical tent looked so tempting. I also cried because I run up Heartbreak Hill all the time. I was so prepared for this part of the course and my legs would not move. I used to joke all the time during training, “Heartbreak Hill isn’t going to break my heart!” And yet, here I was on race day, the day that mattered and I was literally stuck in that nightmare a lot of runners have where you are at the race and your legs feel like they are moving through quicksand.

I remember being at the top of Heartbreak Hill during training and saying, “Let it rip!” After Heartbreak Hill, the course is mostly downhill. Its where you can let it go and give it your all. Cardiovascularly, I wanted to start sprinting but my legs still wouldn’t move faster even as I went downhill. I could not bear to look at my watch, now registering splits that were so slow they set new records for “personal worsts.”  If this happened on a training run, I totally would have given up. However, before the race, I remember telling my family that if I got to the top of Heartbreak Hill, I would finish no matter what. I kept saying out loud “I’m gonna finish. I’m gonna finish.”

I knew my running club, the Brighton Bangers, was going to be at mile 22. However, I had thought that perhaps since I was going so much slower than expected, they might have been gone by the time I reached Cleveland Circle. Not the case! As I sobbed, shivering and soaking wet, while running down Chestnut Hill Ave, I heard people yelling “Go Kate!” I turned to my left and they were holding a sign that said “The Wizard of Mroz.” Surprising myself, I managed a big smile and a wave.No automatic alt text available.

By mile 23, I was frightened that I might pass out before reaching the finish line. “I’m so close. I’m so close. 5k. You can run 5k in your sleep.” My teeth could not stop chattering. My heart broke as I saw my watch reach my original goal time, 3:25, only at mile 23.

People still cheered for me like I was a rock star. In the middle of torrential rain, the crowds did not stop. I wished I had the energy to look at their signs and smile at them, but at that point, I could barely think.

At mile 24, I began the Our Father and realized I had forgotten the words. I just counted on God to finish the prayer for me, and to know what was in my heart.

For the entire last two miles, I felt so confused and cold that I kept reminding myself of my name. “You are Kate Mroz and your fiancé is Bryan Weinstein. You are Kate Mroz and your fiancé is Bryan Weinstein.” I figured that if I at least could remember that, it would be OK.

I had dreams of the iconic turn “right on Hereford, left on Bolyston.” It was nothing like what I dreamed. Confused and disoriented, I did not even hear or see my fiancé scream to me right before turning on Hereford.

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When I finally crossed the finish line, I just started crying. My body was shaking uncontrollably. I kept looking behind me to make sure I actually finished- with how bad I felt, I was so afraid I only imagined stepping over the mat. One of the medical volunteers grabbed me immediately and I was put in a wheelchair and moved into one of the medical tents. My legs were shaking violently and my teeth would not stop chattering. The doctor asked if anything hurt and surprisingly, I had no pain or soreness at that point, just immense cold and confusion. They took my temperature and it was 92 degrees. Normal is 98 degrees, and anything under 95 degrees is considered hypothermia.

My hands were so shaking so much that I could not do anything. A few female volunteers helped me get my wet clothes off and texted my fiancé to tell him where I was. They wrapped me in warm blankets and also had me hooked to a heating machine. Even though more runners were constantly being brought in and many were more ill than I was, I never felt neglected. I was really scared, and one of the nurses was sitting with me and holding my arm and telling me that it was going to be OK. When I was feeling slightly better but still shaking, I suddenly got upset asking if I had actually finished and if I would get a medal. One of the nurses went and got my medal for me and put it around my neck.

When my hands stopped shaking and I could maneuver my phone, I checked my official time. 4:02:49. Over 32 minutes slower than my previous marathon. My heart sunk. I remember saying before the race, “if worse comes to worse and I’m not feeling it, I’ll just finish under 4 hours, I can totally do that!” Of course, I would have been under 4 had I not stopped for those gloves, but not by much! My parents called to see that I was OK and I remember crying into the phone, “I didn’t even break 4 hours. We all said that even in the worst conditions, I’d still break 4 hours!”

Unfortunately, after I felt better, it took a while for me to get released. My clothes were in bag check and the BAA did not want to release them to Bryan. It took almost an hour to finally get my clothes to the medical tent. Once I got dressed, one of the physical therapists made me walk around with her holding my arm. Unfortunately, due to the hypothermia, I did not follow proper post marathon protocol, which is 1) walk around after crossing the finish line 2) get some nutrition right away. Thankfully, we had to walk a bit to catch an Uber which helped flush out the lactic acid build up in my legs.

I did not get to go to any post-race parties as I had originally planned. There are a lot of online training buddies that I missed meeting. I am telling myself that I need to get back to Boston another year because I still owe my dad a picture of myself in the Boston Red Sox dugout wearing a Yankee shirt and a medal!

I did not eat any of the snacks Bryan packed for me except for my Muscle Milk Protein shake. It was so late that we decided to just go straight to dinner after showering. We enjoyed some ribs at Stockyard Bar and Grill. I wore my celebration jacket. Due to the hypothermia, I was a lot hungrier after this marathon than previous ones. My metabolism was in an elevated state for the entire week after I finished the race.Image may contain: Kate Mroz, smiling, sitting, table, food and indoor

I am not going to lie and say that I do not feel bad about how this race turned out, I do. My heart is broken. I battle the voices in my head that ask why my body gave out in the cold and other people’s bodies did not, why I was not strong enough.  However, this race tested my strength as an athlete in ways it had never been tested before.

It also made me realize how much support I have, even though I often think I am alone.  When I was struggling with my injury: my fiance, my parents, my doctor, and my physical therapist became “Team Get Kate to Boston Healthy.” I spent a lot of time crying over what I thought would be a DNS, and they comforted me and told me to stay positive. Before the race, I received tons of text messages and Facebook posts (both private and on my timeline) wishing me the best.  Friends and family that I had not heard from in a while contacted me after the race to tell me how proud they were. Lots of people expressed amazement that I finished my PhD and the Boston Marathon in the same year. People could not care less about my time! People have treated me like a rock star, even though I do not feel like one and that is a beautiful thing. I am going to do my best to accept it and enjoy it.

As Edward Schillbeeckx said, “God is new each moment.” I am amazed at how throughout my life, I have often felt like God is absent, and then I have come to feel God’s presence in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways. God was there in the midst of this hypothermia- inducing marathon. It was not the day I dreamed about, but I discovered some beautiful surprises nonetheless.

 

A Prayer for Squeakers

Hi everyone! It is Squeaker Monday! I’m sub -4:28 here and incredibly nervous, and so many of my running friends are feeling the same.

For those of you who do not know, Squeaker Monday is the day that all persons who are less than 5 minutes faster than their Boston Marathon qualifying time can register for the Boston Marathon. Due to not enough space, in recent years, not all persons who qualify for Boston are able to gain entry. In 2016, entrants had to be 2:28 faster than their qualifying time. In 2017, it was -2:09.

When I am nervous, I like to pray. The communion of saints is one thing I truly love about Catholicism. People who have gone before us are praying for us, encouraging us, and inspiring us. This is true of both, officially recognized saints, like St. Sebastian mentioned below, and all those who have died. Since I am known as “Running Theologian,” I figured I would compose a prayer to the patron saint of athletes, St. Sebastian.

St. Sebastian, often known as the saint who was martyred twice, lived in the third century during the persecution of Christians by the Emperor Diocletian. Sebastian joined the Roman army, disguising himself as a noble pagan, so that he could minister to persecuted Christians. It is said that Sebastian converted many prisoners of the Roman army, and was also a gifted healer. When he was eventually caught, Diocletian ordered that Sebastian be shot with arrows, but miraculously, the arrows did not kill him. The Emperor then ordered that he be beaten to death. His feast day is January 20. Sebastian is known as the patron saint of athletes because of his physical endurance and bravery.

A Prayer for Squeakers

St. Sebastian,

Through strength and perseverance, you endeavored to spread the Gospel message, undeterred even by the threat of death. As the patron saint of athletes, I ask that you pray for us squeakers, as we register for the Boston Marathon so that we get the opportunity to run this April. Pray that we may always run with a purpose, and use our sport to benefit not only our own minds and bodies, but those of others.  Help us never neglect to remember God’s blessings and to use our running as opportunity to see God in new places, people, and things. Amen.