I don’t know that I ever fully understood or appreciated the term, “closure” in regards to having to find a solution to or obtaining peace of mind from, until running the 2014 Boston Marathon. I also will never really understand how fate works, how you can end up in any place at any time and encounter incredible sets of circumstances that can irrevocably transform your life in an instance. One such occurrence would be the moment I was bit by an infected deer tick that carried Lyme disease, Babesia and Bartonella, changing my life in ways that I could never have anticipated. A second occurrence while battling Lyme disease, making a conscientious decision to run a marathon that would qualify me to run the Boston Marathon.
(View video highlights of the journey to the finish line of the 2014 Boston Marathon below).
Qualifying to run the Boston Marathon
I have, in the past referred to the Boston Marathon as the “Mecca” of all marathons. There are two ways to enter into it; qualify to run it via running a fast enough marathon to qualify for your age group, or, run for a charity. That’s it. No lottery, no ballot. So, in my humble opinion, this makes Boston quite possibly the hardest marathon to gain entry into.
Lyme Disease and my Boston Dream
In 2007 I was struck down with Lyme disease. I went from being a very active mum and okay athlete to becoming a near invalid in the course of only 3 months. I have rebuked myself over the years for not knowing anything about Lyme until it happened to me. How could I live in a place where it is endemic and yet not know anything about it? But that aside, when I was at the point where I couldn’t walk let alone run, and yet I was refused any care beyond the CDC recommended 3 weeks of doxycycline, I vowed I would do something “incredible” to help others with Lyme disease gain the hope I so badly needed AND at the same time, raise awareness about the disease. The only thing that I could think of at the time that would have that much impact was to train for and run a marathon that would qualify me for Boston… the only problem was that I had never run a marathon before. In fact, the furthest I had ever run prior to Lyme was a 10K.
The Marathon Bug and the Running Philosophy
Well, Boston wasn’t exactly the first marathon I thought about. The first marathon was the NYC marathon which I trained for and ran in 2010. My goal at the time was just to live through it. I knew so little about running long distances, I thought that marathon running meant risking your life via the exertion of every milie of the run. But, of course, once I had completed it, I was hooked; all I wanted to do was run more, and THEN I wanted to qualify for Boston. The thing I’ve noticed about runners and the running community is how supportive they are of all folks. Runners run for all sorts of reasons; personal and esoteric, to helping others out. The camaraderie runners show others is second to none. So, yes, when I ran the Hartford Marathon in 2012 to qualify for the 2014 Boston marathon and was successful, I knew that what I had to do was to give back to the community; I had to volunteer to help out those who would be participating in the 2013 marathon before I took from the race in 2014.
Volunteering at the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon in 2013
I don’t think there is any greater experience you can have as a runner than helping out other runners achieve their personal goals and being there to support them along the way. So many runners helped me over come Lyme disease. So many helped me go from a 45 minute mile to a 6:50 min mile. Without them, I might have given up, but there was always someone there to help me out along the way. It was my turn to give back. It was with that spirit in mind that 6 of us all volunteered and were positioned at the finish line in Sector 6, for the 2013 Boston Marathon. The day was perfect; the weather was grand, spirits were high, the crowds were wonderful and runners were finishing to cheering crowds and volunteers who wanted to share in their accomplishment! At 2:49 the unthinkable happened; 2 bombs went off shattering the spirit of the day and creating fear and chaos in a once tranquil and triumphant atmosphere. Being caught up in the ensuing moments thereafter were moments where I experienced fear such as the likes I’ve never known, yet I also witnessed the most incredible acts of bravery, courage and compassion. However, I was faced with a dilemma I could have never anticipated before that very moment: would I want to ever run a marathon again and would I want to run Boston in particular?
Resolve and Strength
I cannot imagine what it was like to be the victim of a senseless act of violence. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a loved on to such an act In the weeks following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, I felt nothing at all except a sadness I could not control, life seemed meaningless and empty and I had a hard time just functioning. I guess you could call it post traumatic stress disorder. Life seemed surreal, my job meant nothing to me, and all I really wanted to do was hold my children, cuddle and hug them and my husband, reach out to my family and friends and tell them how much I loved them. But thankfully the BAA was there to help and for the families involved in the tragedy, the One Fund was started up, the city of Boston and the world rallied behind them, and purpose once again came back into my life. Strength from the running community and all communities poured into not only Boston, but any community that needed a lift. Running the Boston Marathon in 2014 became something more important to me than I had ever imagined it could or would be. It would become my tool for healing yet again, this time, not from physical wounds, but from mental scaring. I would run with the city of Boston, I would be Boston Strong, I would be Lyme Strong, I would find closure not only for me but for the families affected by the bombings. I would survive and give courage, hope and inspiration to others.
Marathon Day 2014
On Marathon day I returned to the city of Boston ready to be a part of a celebration of love over fear, of courage over cowardice, of determination and resolve. I was ready to give back to the community who gave so much to me in my battle to beat Lyme disease. I was ready to be a part of a movement that would not be hindered, harassed, intimidated, stopped. I ran with the memory of the victims of the 2013 bombings in my heart, I ran with those I know who have Lyme disease and have not recovered like I have, in my soul. I ran strong and proud and determined. I ran #Bostonstrong and #Lymestrong and was truly humbled to be a part of a day of healing that did bring closure to my year and I hope brought closure of sorts to others who were impacted by the events at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Please view the video of the day as posted above. If you were there both in 2013 or 2104 or both, I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a note and let me know your thoughts on the day.
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