Sometimes life is about survival. To back things up.. In February, I was pacing Uncle Steven in The New Orleans Marathon and we were spot on for a Boston Qualifier, when we hit mile 22 he collapsed. He was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, it was exceptionally hot and he suffered. That same day we lost his mom, (my grandmother). Two days later, I developed an unbearable pain in my calf during a track practice. I went to my doctor, and learned it was a 3rd grade tear in my calf. What in the world was happening???
Fast forward two weeks, Steven was going to give this another shot, and finish his first marathon in hopes to qualify for Boston, but really our goal for him was to finish, and I was not missing it for anything. We headed to Austin Texas to give it our all. We woke up marathon day, and It was hot and 95% humidity.. We did everything right, we studied the course, we were hydrated, stretched and foam rolled, and ready to tear down the streets of Austin, despite the obnoxious hills (don’t mess with Texas). At mile two, my calf was shot, and I knew I had a very long day ahead of me. “Steven Go, I’m in trouble!” He went, but nothing was going to stop me from finishing. Jenny forfeited her race time to run with me and make me laugh and to be there for me. Im not sure how I got so lucky to have such an awesome friend I don’t know what I would have done without her. We joked that we were house shopping as we ran by the houses for sale, as we loved Austin! The people, the food, the corn hole, the gelato, the no snow, etc! We laughed at the “Trump has wall issues too” signs (for the marathoners hitting the “wall”) and “walk if you voted for Trump” signs on the course. Austin has a sense of humor. My sister Lauren took one for the team, and ran 13.1 miles with my Uncle so he would not be alone. This was her longest distance in years, we pulled it together and were truly a team that day. Whatever it took to survive and get Steven across the finish line safely. Joe knew I was in trouble, and he had Taylor on Skype as I was running by, and it meant everything to me. She told me how proud she was of me, she showed me her unicorn stuffed animal, and we laughed, said our “I love you’s, blew kisses, air “hi-fives” and I kept chipping away at the miles! She did not know I was in distress. My amazing friend Carrie ran with me for 6 miles giving me a rockstar tour of Austin. We caught up to Steven at mile 18, and ran him to the finish, taking one mile at a time, fist pumping down Congress Street to the finish. We did it!! Watching a stranger hug my uncle as he placed the medal around his neck, made it all worth it. We hugged and hugged just so proud of each other for triumphing. No BQ but Stevens first marathon under his belt. Was it the smartest decision to run through pain? NO. But coming home without a medal seemed at the time a lot more painful to me, given it was Stevens first marathon and I knew he was going to finish and that he’d be so hurt for me if I didn’t. Also, I needed to check Texas off my states list, which marked my 29th marathon state! We ran the Texas marathon for my grandmother, Yia-Yia. Who has taught us that if at first you don’t succeed, TRY TRY again!
Boston Marathon was next for me. Boston Marathon, my absolute favorite day of the year. This year the John Hancock included me in the ambassador field and it was truly the most incredible experience. Hanging with my idols, running on the Red Sox Field with Tay, VIP bus to Hopkinton start, athletes elite village, speaking to Hopkinton middle school, to name a few, it was all so AWESOME!
Saturday we ran the Fargo Marathon in North Dakota. (Fargo Marathon rocks– FYI truly a hidden gem marathon) I knew that on a fast, flat course Steven would qualify and he was in no way shape or form giving up. It was important to him so it was important to me. Again, we hydrated and studied the course, and did everything right. We had a plan. We were spot on with our splits the entire time, and we ran the perfect race, including negative splits. I knew that when he was singing out loud at mile 2 that it was going to be an awesome day. I could feel his energy and confidence, but all guards up until we crossed the finish line. We crossed the finish line inside the Fargo Dome, holding hands and we both ugly out loud cried and he picked me up at the finish. BQ with 17 minutes to spare! I felt like I had won the Olympics it meant far more to me than any race I had ever won or PR I ever hit.
Uncle Steven cheered me on in Miami during the World Marathon Challenge and told me THAT DAY he would run the Boston Marathon and I believed him. I inspired him that day and he inspired me back 1,000 times harder..
This photo above is special to me. Pictured: Dave McGillivray (director of the Boston Marathon) who encouraged me to go for it when I asked him for advice when I ran the World, and he is actually running the World Marathon Challenge this January, and Uncle Steven is running Daves race… Boston 2018! The irony! We LOVED Dave’s motivational talk, especially his quote “Your mistakes are not failures, they are learning experiences”. Yes they are! Go see Dave speak, we were totally moved!
What did I learn over the past few months? If/when life knocks you down. Get up, dig deep, and do not EVER give up. “Keep truckin” as my dad always says to me. Believe in yourself, pace yourself and take chances.