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If I Only Run One Marathon In My Life, I'm Glad Boston Will Be It

It's the cheering, not the training, that will push me to the end.

When the American Liver Foundation handed me my training schedule in November, I started to laugh. Then cry. Was I insane?

Running 26.2 miles, one time, for the Boston Marathon, okay. That's an accomplishment. But 17 miles on Feb. 12? And 21 miles on March 26? That's practically the whole race. What did I sign up for? The first time I ran 14 miles, I came home and slept for three hours, praying there would be no breaking news in Back Bay that I'd have to go cover.

Then, it started snowing. I don't need to remind anyone that it was one of the worst winters in recent memory. There's a poster on the T that I want to steal. It's of a man running along the Charles, flakes blowing around him as he treks through a white, frigid blizzard. I have been there. For any Bostonian racing this year, the poster is a very accurate depiction of what we endured.

What the poster doesn't show are the monstrous, traffic-obstructing snowbanks, or the ice-covered sidewalks on Beacon Street where I slipped and scraped my hand (whew, only my hand) and bled through my glove onto my brand new, white, mid-layer jacket.  I'm not being melodramatic here. I mean, I still have a scar.

Slowly things started to change. Thirty degrees and sunny became a beautiful day. I'd catch myself saying sickening things like 'Yeah, we only did 15 today.' After my 21-mile run - the longest I've ever gone - I went out to dinner with a friend. And, because he loves his new iPad, he Google mapped my route.

Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, Boston. Before I started training, I'd never run through one town, nevermind eight. Seeing it displayed in walking directions on the screen really put the distance into perspective. And I started wondering that customary, perplexing question everyone asks: Why?

It's hard to say, but there's something about not just running a marathon, but running the Boston Marathon. If I only do one in my life, I wanted this one to be it, and I'm honored to be raising money for a charity that's helping to save lives. 

I made the decision last year. I remember leaving the house to watch the race, as the elite runners were crossing the finish line on T.V. My friend Amy was racing, and it was the first time I had someone to cheer for. I met a group of friends in the Kenmore area for a different kind of marathon, and when Amy went by I yelled her name.

Then when she was almost out of earshot, I ran after her, cheering and dodging people along the sidelines. I finally lost her at the Mass Ave. bridge, but in that short amount of time I felt like I had witnessed, and briefly participated in, something spectacular. I ran cross country in high school and college, but this was no road race. This was an entire city, united and excited, and screaming madly for 20,000 strangers to make it across that finish line. I wondered who everyone was, and what it took to accomplish something like that. And then and there, I made a promise to myself that next year, I would find out.

So look for me in my bright orange Run for Research singlet on April 18, and please cheer for every person you see. I know that no matter how much I hurt and want to stop, as long as there are people yelling my name I'll keep going. And maybe next year it will inspire someone else to run.

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