|Frontrunners Rhode Island|
I want thank you for supporting my 41st marathon, my 21st consecutive Boston Marathon and of course, the charity I chose to raise money for... Squashbusters. (Warning: This is a long note, but I hope you take a chance to read it).
Any marathon training season has its ups and downs, its victories and challenges, its hills and valleys, but just like everything else in 2020, this one was unprecedented .
The training started on fairly easy roads, a mild winter allowed for pretty easy running in January and February... but then March came around and so did COVID-19 and the inevitable announcement that the marathon would be moved to the middle of September. My training slowed but never stopped and a new schedule of runs were planned. Then as spring turned to summer, a new announcement. The race, that has gone on every year (except for one year during WWI where it was turned into a relay race) was CANCELLED. It was a hard but necessary decision.
The Boston Athletic Association, that organizes the marathon, gave runners two options: 1) get your money back and cross your fingers that the 2021 race would happen with no harm to my streak or 2) take part in a virtual marathon. That means running 26.2 miles at one time between a window of 9 days in September. A virtual marathon in September meant training at the peak of summer. With COVID-19, it meant training almost entirely alone and without the support and camaraderie of my running clubs. It also meant running a 26.2 mile race alone (something I've never done) void of the excitement, energy, cheering crowds and celebration that you would see in a normal Boston Marathon.
It would have been very easy to choose option 1, but marathoners have a way of moving forward no matter what bump (or this this case EXTREMETLY giant mountain) gets in the way. Add to that decision, ALL OF YOU who supported me... I couldn't let you down. So I trained, mostly alone, my long runs were generally in a quiet park in Hingham after work on Fridays, other runs during the week in Providence and West Roxbury.
If there's a plus side to running a virtual marathon... it's that you choose your day, your time and your course to run. Running the Boston Marathon course was a no brainer for me. As for time and date, I chose that first Sunday, and being that I'm not generally a 'morning person' I thought a great sleep, a relaxing morning coffee and breakfast in bed and an 11am start time would be perfect for 'my race'.
Have I told you that sometimes I don't make the best decisions....
By the time I started it was nearly 80 degrees with a bright-beaming sun, the Boston Marathon course roads are wide and don't allow for too many shady spots, midday. It was an absolutely beautiful September day to do anything... other than run a marathon.
I ended up running my slowest time every... I suffered from horribly painful heartburn by trying to say ahead of the heat and drinking too much Gatorade (and having that big breakfast in bed) which led to me drinking less and suffering from pretty significant dehydration.
But one step in front of the other... I finished. No regrets at all.
But here's the real victory. Because of YOU, I was able to raise OVER $7200 for my Boston Marathon Charity, Squashbusters. WOW!!!
The following weekend, Squashbusters put on a fun, socially-distant relay. 2 teams of 13 people made up of runners, staff and Squashbusters students. Each person ran 1/2 mile twice to cover 26.2 miles total. It was the first time that many of the students and staff had seen each other face to face since March. The energy was wonderful.
I had a chance to talk for a while to the founder and CEO of the organization, Greg Zaff. He told me that during these last 6 months, there were no layoffs, staff worked virtually and kept in close contact with students not only discussing the sport but keeping up with tutoring, SAT prep, College applications and so much more that they do. He said that 'it was because of the money we raised from our runners, that we were able to do all of this"
Any donation to any organization 'makes a difference' but this year making a difference meant so much more. Squashbusters is a small organization and being my 2nd year raising money for them, I've grown very attached to the group.
So thanks so much!
Who knows what's next, I will continue my training until it's safe to race again.
Stay safe, stay strong and once again my deepest appreciation.
Congratulations to Elyssa Sykes Bidwell who won the 2019 Frontrunners Race Series. She ran the most races among 15 runners! Elyssa shares with us how she got started with running and how she keeps going!
1. How long have you been a runner and how did you get started?
Believe it or not, not that long (in my opinion). I started in February of my sophomore year as a group exercise session, and then I started keeping up with it more as a stress reliever. I started with C25K (couch to 5k) and just kept going around the track when I was able to. During the more substantial breaks, I used my neighborhood as a track.
2. What is your favorite race distance and why?
I like the 5k for the short accomplishments, and the 10 miler for the longer accomplishment. Both I think are great milestone distances!
3. Do you have any future running goals?
I'm currently training for my first full marathon, which right now the goal is to cross the finish line. My future goal is to run the same marathon next year, and qualify for Boston or New York.
4. Do you do any other sports to keep fit?
I'm trying to incorporate more weight training at the moment, but I have played outdoor volleyball and flag football in the past. I am looking into joining a softball league in the future because I miss playing ball.
5. What advice would you have for any new runner?