Back to Boston: Six Runners Share Their Stories
Today marks the 118th running of the Boston Marathon and this year perhaps more than ever, the race is about people. We thought long about how to cover this particular marathon here on Q. Runners, and marathon runners in particular, have many needs: pacing strategy, gear recommendations, sources of nutrition, recovery secrets—all subject matters that we cover, and with gusto. But for this particular marathon, we wanted to share stories of the amazing people of the Boston Marathon. We wanted to give those runners the floor.
It was important to us that the stories we feature come from Bostonians. This race is a global event watched and revered all around the world. But it is also very much a Boston event—businesses close, schools break, the Red Sox even bump up their game time to share the limelight. Last year's tragic events only reinforced the pride that Bostonians take in this race, in their town and in each other. They are Boston Strong.
We are so grateful to the six amazing runners featured here in the slideshow. Equinox members Karen Teller and Mary Marshall are quite the pair of running buddies—funny, supportive, and together through it all. Ali Baldassare, group fitness manager at Franklin Street, will be running her third 26.2 and second Boston Marathon today, which is no small feat. Greg Cartin, a member and sports psychologist, had put off signing up for a full marathon year after year until he was inspired to run in honor of those affected. And group fitness instructor Rebecca Pacheco and her boyfriend Dan Fitzgerald, who coached almost 300 runners to the starting line, share those intentions.
Click through the slideshow to read their incredible stories.
To Karen, Mary, Ali, Greg, Rebecca and Dan, we are rooting for you and for all of the Boston Marathoners today. Have a wonderful race.
Karen Teller, Bib 25894
<p><strong>Last Year:</strong> "We were seated in the VIP seats watching my <a target="_blank" href="http://www.redcross.org/ma/boston/team-red-cross-2014">Team Red Cross</a> runners finish. I heard the blast then turned and saw the flame going up from the sidewalk in a big V. Very large pieces of glass were blown out of the windows and went high up into the sky. I couldn't look down as I knew they were going to land on people. The smoke was coming over to our side of the street quickly, and then we heard a second blast. I was looking right at my friend Mary Marshall [<em>next slide</em>] who said, 'We have to get out of here.'</p>
<p>My team was meeting at the Westin, but Mary said she wasn’t going to let me head back in that direction. So we went into Equinox to see if we could find out from the TV screens what was going on. Runners were just coming back from showering and had no idea that something bad was happening."</p>
<p><strong>This Year: "</strong>This training season in Boston has been the toughest I have experienced. It’s been cold, windy, snowy and plagued by the ultimate runner's enemy, black ice—and did I say cold? But having a charity that I believe in helps me keep going when I really wonder why I'm out there running for hours and hours, day after day. This will be an emotional year for everyone running, cheering, and volunteering. However, we will all be even more proud of this great day and this great marathon and we will all achieve our independent goals as well. We are runners." </p>
<p><em>Click <a href="http://raceday.baa.org/individual.html" target="_blank">here</a> to track Karen throughout the race. </em></p>
Mary Marshall, Bib 25886
<p><strong>Last Year: "</strong>I was in the stands just across from the first bomb blast with my dear friend Karen Teller [<em>at left, and previous slide]</em> and other supporters. It was just horrific, stunning and scary, and odd how you can just react without thinking—only to be overcome later. I have run, volunteered for and cheered spectators at the marathon since growing up in Newton at the base of Heartbreak Hill. It is something that is intrinsic to what is wonderful about the towns along which the marathon route travels. Everyone comes out to cheer you on—old, young, runners, beer drinkers, kielbasa consumers. It is a rite of spring and rebirth." </p>
<p><strong>This Year: "</strong>Both Karen and I have no business running for a host of orthopedic and musculoskeletal issues, but we decided we would do it together in order to do something positive in light of last year’s events. In a sense running and running for a cause is a way of making a statement and making a difference. I meditate on the ability to just put on shoes, stretch and get out the door and breathe the air. Others, especially those who have lost limbs or mobility, cannot do that. I am not going to take it for granted, and am determined to give back."</p>
<p><em>Click <a href="http://raceday.baa.org/individual.html" target="_blank">here</a> to track Mary throughout the race. </em></p>
Greg Cartin, Bib 25955
<p><strong>Last Year: </strong>"I was at the finish line last year with my 3-year-old son, my neighbor who is also running this year, and her 3-year-old son. We were standing on the other side of Boylston from where the bombs went off at the Lord and Taylor building, but thankfully we had started to make our way home before everything happened. It was hard to imagine that something so devastating had taken place just a few feet from where we were. I was consumed with the stories of those who suffered loss, and I continue to be inspired by those who were both physically and mentally affected and continue to persevere." </p>
<p><strong>This Year:</strong> "I am a resident of the city, we live in the South End. It was amazing to me that in light of such a tragedy, the city was able to come together in such an inspirational way. I developed an even stronger sense of pride telling people that I was from Boston. I couldn’t think of a better time to run the Boston Marathon and committed to finding a number. It’s a small way for me to honor the victims, the injured, the first responders, and all of those whose lives were changed last April. To me, now, the marathon represents that sense of pride and is an event that shows just how strong this city is."</p>
<p><em>Click <a href="http://raceday.baa.org/individual.html" target="_blank">here</a> to track Greg throughout the race. </em></p>
Ali Baldassare, Bib 17832
<p><strong>Last Year: "</strong>I was on the train on my way home with a few friends who came to cheer me on. As we approached the Government Center MBTA station, we heard an announcement over the speakers saying that everyone must evacuate the station immediately. I walked into my apartment, turned on the TV, sat down on the couch in my running gear, salty sweat still running down my face and my arms, my finisher’s foil draped around my shoulders, my medal around my neck and I didn’t move. My eyes welled up with tears as I thought, 'I was just there. In that very spot.' That whole week, I was glued to the news coverage, still in disbelief."</p>
<p><strong>This Year: "</strong>This marathon has brought out a level of strength, determination and courage in people that most never knew they even had. People who never considered themselves runners have now trained and are running their first 26.2 miles because they can! Those who were injured who never thought they would walk again are making a remarkable comeback to standing up and walking. This marathon takes fear, doubt, and hostility and throws it all to the wind. There are really no words great enough to describe what it means to me and Boston in general except to say, it’s going to be a marathon that will go down in history in a good way!"</p>
<p><em>Click <a href="http://raceday.baa.org/individual.html" target="_blank">here</a> to track Ali throughout the race. </em></p>
Dan Fitzgerald, Bib 1233
<p><strong>Last Year: "</strong>I was at my store, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.southendathleticcompany.com/tag/heartbreak-hill-running-company/">Heartbreak Hill Running Company</a>, which is located on the marathon course at mile 20 in Newton. It was a great day until I checked Twitter and saw the first news of the attack. I hoped it was fake. The police shut down the course shortly after. We tried to help family members connect to one another with our land line. We were quickly shuffled out because there was a suspicious package across the street from the store." </p>
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<p style="background-color: white;"><strong>This Year: "</strong>I'm so excited to share in the experience as a participant. I coach the teams for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Mass General Hospital, and the Red Cross (330 runners in total). Many of the runners did all of the work last year but didn't get to finish the race. I cannot wait to see them cross the line this year. </p>
<p style="background-color: white;">The events of last year haven't factored into my training at all. Training is training. Where that will factor in will be on race day: When I think about how I got to the starting line, all of my athletes who worked so hard to get there, all of the survivors, all of the connections between all of us...I know a lot emotion will well up. I'm hoping to keep it at bay, run a smart race through 21 miles, then let the emotion carry me through a strong finish. I can't wait!"</p>
<div><em>Click <a href="http://raceday.baa.org/individual.html" target="_blank">here</a> to track Dan throughout the race. </em>
Rebecca Pacheco, Bib 25857
<p><strong>Last Year: </strong>"I was at Heartbreak Hill on a day that broke our city’s heart. Within seconds, Dan [<em>Fitzgerald, her boyfriend, previous slide</em>] and I went from enthusiastically cheering dozens of friends to frantically locating them. I fielded calls and texts from worried family and friends all over the world. Parents wandered into Dan's store asking for help in calculating their adult child’s time of finish. They couldn’t get in touch. Many runners didn’t have phones, and even for those who did, cell coverage soon went down."</p>
<p><strong>This Year: "</strong>In 2009, I chose to run the Boston Marathon. This year, the race chose me. I think many of us had similar thoughts in those tough training moments this winter: There are people who would love to be able to run in any condition right now. We owe it to them to keep going. There’s a lot of pride in this year’s race because, as a city, we’d like it to be a day of collective healing. We’d like to honor the lives lost, survivors, and their families. There won’t be a runner, volunteer, or spectator who won’t be holding them in our hearts on race day."<br />
<em>Click <a href="http://raceday.baa.org/individual.html" target="_blank">here</a> to track Rebecca throughout the race. </em></p>