You heard it all over Boston, “Thank you for running”. Everywhere people are thanking us for running the Boston Marathon. It’s even on the signs at the airport. I’ve never been thanked so much for running a marathon. I just thanked them in return for their support, because this year, we are all Boston Marathoners!
Coming to Boston this year was important to me for so many reasons. I wanted to show the American people and the world that in the face of heartbreak we are courageous people and recommit to hope and possibility when things are the hardest and that’s exactly what we did. The tragic events last year were horrible, but the coming together was beautiful.
Talk about beautiful, to remember those whose lives were taken, brave responders and those still recovering from the tragedy, The Old South Church in Boston put together the Marathon Scarf Project. The scarves are a labor of love by artists across the World. 7,300 scarves were passed out to the runners with a this blessing: “May the scarf warm your spirit, as you maneuver a new city, as you carry the weight of a somber anniversary year, as you look down 26.2 miles with resolve.” Wow!
I knew going into the race, this would not be my fastest race and wouldn’t be my slowest. It wasn’t about my time, it couldn’t be. This was something much, much bigger. Along with being a part of the race of the century, my dedication remains true to my cause, fighting pancreatic cancer. I received a message a month before the marathon about a woman battling pancreatic cancer, her name is Amy McDonough Vaughan. Amy is from Boston and I met her last year at the Unite to Fight event. This couldn’t be a more perfect race for me to dedicate to her. Amy is so awesome, she was going to meet me at heartbreak hill but wasn’t able to make it. Sometimes a fight or life can be compared to a marathon. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other, you keep going and you never quit. But the marathon is easy compared to this beast she is fighting. I was struggling on heartbreak hill but all the while thinking of the battle Amy is going through, made me suck it up and continue to forge on even when I wanted to walk. She told me to run my little tush off ☺ her funny sense of humor always shines through everything she does, I love her so much. I truly believe that her attitude is helping her heal. So I did, the best that I could, with the limited training that I had. The struggles that I faced on race day were nothing, compared to the courage and bravery she is showing in this fight. Monday was also 1 year since her father had passed. Amy is an only child, so this was a tough day for her. I was honored to be able to bring a little love and light to her world. I also got a medal for her. Sending it to her today. She is the real hero in this battle.
The Boston Marathon was like no other, heading out to our corrals and the start line, I couldn’t hold back the tears. When we finally took off, I was feeling united, strong and fast. Well, the fast didn’t last much longer then 6 miles, and as each mile went on I knew I better just settle in for the ride. The experience was epic and wouldn’t trade it for the world. The crowd support was off the charts. Sometimes, the competitive runner in me has a mind of it’s own, but I quickly realized to be a part of something that is uniting the world, how could I let the time on the race clock dictate my feelings? I don’t want to make excuses, sometimes life gets in the way of training. I know what it takes to qualify for Boston and I’ll try again next year. But as soon as my mind goes back to the clock, I was given another message from an amazing friend I met in Boston, Michelle Rubin. I met her through Molli Serrano, the amazing, young, beautiful, mother, wife, friend and IRONMAN who passed from PC last year ☹ She said, “Julie, your mission is way more important than a Boston qualifier”. Thank you Michelle and thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Whether I qualify for Boston again or not, my mission remains true: With passion, love and determination, we can do anything we put our minds to, including finding a cure for pancreatic cancer.
Running for the Lazarex Cancer Foundation and Team for Life also gave me a new sense of purpose. I am so grateful to be extending my reach to ALL types of cancer patients (including pancreatic) helping those in need, find a cure NOW. Knowing that the money that I am raising is going directly to these cancer patients and helping them LIVE longer and maybe even save their lives through clinical trials warmed my heart.
Thank you for Running, for cheering, for supporting and being a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. We are Boston Strong!!!
Meb Keflezighi 2014 Boston Marathon Champion