After my graduation from Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School in 1990, I started my college career at Boston College. It wasn’t without great debate. I had my heart set on a university that I didn’t get into. Then, I sent my deposit to another university that was out of state. After a few weeks, I chickened out about going out of state and was able to secure my spot at BC. I was pleased with this outcome and felt good to be attending school with a number of my friends from L-S.
Boston College is a very popular school and has often been challenged to accommodate its entire freshman class with on-campus housing. I am not sure what the story is now, but back in my day if your family home was within a 30-mile radius of campus, you were not given priority for on campus housing. Our alternatives were to commute from home or to live in an off-campus apartment. Since commuting from home did not sound like very much fun, I elected to shack up with my dear L-S friend, Erica Verville Mawn.
Erica and I found a great 3-bedroom apartment on Crosby Road, a side street adjacent to campus. We were able to secure other freshman roommates, most importantly our forever-friend-to-be, Heidi Burr Thomas. By the time school started, Crosby Road was fully rented, furnished and ready to go!
Freshman year is a big transition for most 18-year-olds and it certainly was for me. Living off campus was not all it was cracked up to be. Despite having off-campus friends in other apartments in the area, my Crosby Road roomies and I felt out of the loop from the other on-campus freshman and found it challenging to make important early connections. Even though my family was 45 minutes away, I was homesick. For better or for worse, I made many trips to and from Sudbury which may have affected my ability to settle in to my new college home. And I certainly wasn’t killing it academically.
The long and the short of it is…BC just wasn’t for me. Or Erica. Or Heidi. Once the doors closed at Crosby Road after freshman year, we all eventually found different alma maters for which we were better suited and were better suited for us. I definitely left BC with a bad taste in my mouth.
When I ran my first Boston Marathon in 2008, I was unfamiliar with the race route as I hadn’t lived in MA for over 15 years. I knew it started in Hopkinton and ended on Boylston Street in Boston, but had little awareness about what I would pass on my way. As I trotted along, I recognized different spots and landmarks. The Framingham train station. Speen Street in Natick. The Gap in downtown Wellesley. As I got closer to Newton and turned onto Commonwealth Avenue, a pit grew in my stomach as this is the road I traveled so many times from BC to home and back again.
Commonwealth Avenue (Comm. Ave.) is also home to the Boston Marathon’s infamous Heartbreak Hill. It is the last of Newton’s four hills, which begin at mile 16 and end at mile 22. I had been anticipating these hills with much anxiety. It’s not that I am uncomfortable with hills--I run a lot of hills throughout my training. But tackling hills this far into a run is a challenge. I put my head down and eyes to the ground; not daring to look ahead for fear that the hills would never come to an end.
Finally the pavement flattened out. Spectators were wildly cheering and waving signs saying, “You’ve reached the top!” I raised my head and wouldn’t you know it? I was smack dab in the center of Boston College. I passed the Crosby Road street sign. I saw the prestigious campus to my right. I saw thousands of enthusiastic BC Eagles enjoying themselves on the sidelines. I had made it! Relief. Pride. Satisfaction.
I have run this race 4 (almost 5) times. I am now familiar with the course and know what to expect along the way. I can anticipate the parts of the run that are harder for me than others. Now, when I turn on to Comm. Ave., I am filled with determination and adrenaline, not sour feelings and dread. For the first time in 20 years, Boston College brings me feelings of great joy and accomplishment! In the language of social media, I “like,” BC. (Thumbs up emoticon).
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