I am so excited to be running the Boston Marathon on April 20, 2020 with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester team. I'm assuming that if you're here you know at least a few bits and pieces of my story, but I wanted to take a few minutes to tie it all together and explain to you why it's so important to me.
Why Run Another Marathon? Wasn't One Enough?
I'm a full-time student, I work two jobs, and have an intensive clinical internship. Most people look at me and ask how I even have time to think about running a marathon (or a mile). I come from the camp of, "if you don't think you have time to train for a marathon, that's how you know you need to do it." Actually, I'm pretty sure they said that about meditation, and I may be the first person who was bold enough to say the same thing about running a marathon, but I'm definitely not the first person who's thought it. Why? Running is guaranteed time for self-care. I'm not about to go run a marathon without adequate training (again...I learned my lesson the first time), so I know that having the goal will hold me accountable to run (which is highly therapeutic and meditative, at least for me), and having a goal bigger than myself, raising money for a cause that I believe in, adds to the challenge - and to the accountability. I usually run for myself and no one else (although it probably benefits everyone around me) - this time I'm running for the kids too.
Does anyone really need to explain why they're seizing the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon? I'm not a fast runner - so I basically just thought I'd never have the opportunity to run Boston, at least not in the next 50 years. When running for a charity team became an option, I thought maybe it could be possible, but the idea of fundraising was beyond overwhelming. Yet, over the course of the past couple of years, especially returning to distance running this past year after a bit of a break, the idea of running a marathon became increasingly appealing. As much as running is a source of self-care and strength for me, the city of Boston represents a similar concept in my life. Boston, like running, taught me that there was more to life, and more to me, than I ever had imagined. Boston was a place of healing, of strengthening, of tapping into resilience I didn't know that I had. Discovering Boston, and a few years later, discovering running, allowed me to begin to believe that I was capable of more than I had previously believed. It allowed to challenge myself not just physically, not just mentally, but also gave me the ability to realize that I had both the passion and capability to go back to school to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner. 15 years ago, I would tell you I was not a runner or an athlete, I did not know how to study or understand science. I knew I was smart and probably capable of something but I had no idea how to learn my outer limits, even stretch them, and work hard. One month after I cross the finish in Boston, I will be crossing the stage receiving my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Columbia University. I know that all I have gained through Boston and through running has helped me to get to that point as well, and running the Boston Marathon on April 20, 2020 is a perfect way to celebrate.
Why Run for the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club?
There are lots of organizations that offer spots for runners to raise funds for their organization in order to run Boston. It's not a small undertaking, though, and it is important to find a good match because energy, emotion, and passion need to go into the fundraising process. Raising funds for an organization with a great mission that just doesn't light your soul on fire has got to be even more difficult -- you need that soul fire in order to be invigorated, creative, and successful. At least, that's what I've learned about life. If you can keep your soul lit on fire, you can do just about anything. When I spoke to a representative from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester and learned more about their goals and the programs they offer, I literally felt that soul fire and knew that this was the cause that I wanted to support - the cause that I could support with my genuine energy and passion. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Dorchester offer programming to children from toddlers to teens. It's more than just after school enrichment -- it provides kids with a community, with exposure to arts, music, athletics, health, tutoring, mentoring, and socialization. It builds character and resilience. Why is that so important to me, though? As most people know, I have spent the bulk of my career working within child and adolescent psychiatry/mental health. While there's a definite biological basis to many mental health conditions, building resilience and having consistency & support during the early years can offset some of that genetic loading. It can act as a buffer for a less-than-ideal home life. It certainly won't eliminate the risk of mental health issues, but it provides the opportunity for kids to build a firm foundation so that when they do struggle, whether with difficult life circumstances or clinical mental health issues down the road, they have positive experiences and a sense of resiliency to draw upon and use towards their recovery. I was thrilled to learn that the BGCD is astually taking a step past primary prevention and is even integrating mental health clinicians into their programs, ensuring that early intervention is possible, and helping to decrease the stigma of receiving mental health services. For those who aren't so passionate about youth, keep in mind that resilient, supported kids become the adults who impact and change the world. Running as a celebration of my own growth, resilience, and change, while simultaneously working to ensure that the next generation develops the foundation they need to realize their own potential too, is nothing short of ideal, in my mind.
How Can You Help?
The easiest, most straightforward way, is donating right here. Any and every contribution is accepted. I also would appreciate sharing this with your family and friends, as I know that I need to reach out beyond my immediate network in order to achieve my goals.
There's a more fun way to help, too! And you can do both :) I plan to have a fundraising party, or two, or three. One will likely be in New York in the next month or so. I'm hoping to have another in the Boston area, since many of my good friends are up that way, and it'll be fun to get psyched for the Boston Marathon actually in Boston. As we approach the deadline, which coincides with the weekend before my 34th birthday, I am hoping to have a final celebration & fundraiser back down here as well. All will be welcome and I'll share information as things occur.
I will also be selling some fun homemade (by me!) goodies like bath bombs & cookies over the next few months, so look out for info about that.
Thank You for reading all of this! If you know me, you know that I've never been a person of few words, since the day I learned to speak. I hope you're feeling inspired to contribute and/or celebrate, and if you have questions about anything, I am so much more than happy to talk more!
Check out the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club, in the links above as well.
* Photos are a mix of DBGC & BAA photos combined with my own running photos and photos of various Boston adventures that have contributed to my passion and excitement about this race and this cause *