Running the Boston Marathon on the Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team for the past 5 years in memory of my mom, Patty Shields and my buddy, Jonathan Smyth has added so much depth and meaning to my life. Year after year, I lace up my sneaks right before Christmas to begin my 18 week training schedule. Through the winter, often icy, snowy and cold, I hammer away the mileage suggested to train for the 26.2 miles trek to from Hopkinton to Boylston Street. Each time I cross that Finish Line, I am filled with gratitude, excitement, love and pride.
And the incredible urge to take the next year off.
When the team registration email came my way this September, I passed it over in my inbox. “This will be such a relaxing winter,” I thought to myself. Through the early fall, the DFMC team began posting team updates on my Facebook timeline. I often caught myself looking at the posts with a heavy heart. “2016,” I reassured myself. I let Marie, Jonathan’s mom, know of my intentions so that the family could be matched up with another runner this time around.
I really need this year off. I think.
In November, Katie Smyth--Jonathan’s big sister, my 2014 DFMC teammate but most importantly, my friend--came to Philadelphia to run the Philly Marathon. We met up for lunch and I listened to her talk excitedly about her place on the 2015 DFMC team. “So, you are definitely not doing Boston this year,” Katie asked. As I said the words, “Yes. I really need to take a year off,” I was overcome with regret.
And panic. What am I doing?? Year off, my foot! Within 24 hours, with the blessing of my husband, I was in touch with Jan Ross, the team coordinator, and I was back on the team just as the final spots were being filled.
We all spent the summer taking the Ice Bucket Challenge inspired by Pete Frates, a former college athlete now paralyzed by ALS. In November, I watched an ESPN E:60 special called “Catching Kayla” about Kayla Montgomery, a young female track star suffering from MS who breaks records and then collapses in her coaches arms because running makes her legs numb. Jonathan Smyth spent 1/2 of his life fighting neuroblastoma rather than playing baseball and golf and watching the Red Sox.
When my mom was 42 years old, she was diagnosed with cancer. Five years later, she was gone. I am 42 years old and I am healthy, strong and CAPABLE. I have decided that I will run on the DFMC team each and every year because I can.
Life is too precious and too short to take a year off.
Please consider supporting my run to help me reach my fundraising goal of $15,000! www.runDFMC.org/2015/amym