It is with great excitement that I begin my journey to Boston on behalf of Project Just Because (PJB). PJB, for those who don’t know, is a nonprofit organization in Hopkinton, Ma, that works hard to meet the needs of those in the community who might not have the financial means to meet their own. PJB focuses on the most basic and essential needs that we all have: primarily access to healthy food and warm and respectful clothing. They target those with low income and those who are facing tough times and their door is always open to those who need help.
Just a couple months ago, I was able to volunteer at PJB with several of my colleagues at work, and we witnessed firsthand the business PJB does for those in the community. The team had hundreds of brown bags lined up, each packaged with unique contents that were specific to the families that would be coming to pick them up later. PJB works hard to maintain a robust inventory of all sorts of clothes for any size, occasion, and time of year, so that no individual needs to be without proper clothes. Part of our task that day was to organize new donations of clothes into sizes, type of clothing, gender, and season, and we got to work with the incredible people that run the organization.
PJB also work to keep a pantry stocked with basic and healthful foods for those who might be struggling financially. The organization also offers resources for those who are facing domestic abuse and need help. They do all their hard work through love for those around them, ensuring that every man, woman, and child that comes through their doors is met with welcome arms. To be able to run for such a great cause and help bring in funds that will be used to help so many people struggling in the community is an honor and it is one I take very humbly. As we come together to raise $5,000, I know the money will be used for those who truly need help. It is easy to focus on our own needs, especially in the cold winter, but running for PJB is already opening my eyes to the harsh reality that some folks simply don’t have the food and clothes and other resources they need for every day life, and I’m excited to help make a dent in solving this crisis.
As I begin my training for Boston, I also can’t help but think of the phrase I’ve heard so many times – “All roads lead to Boston.” It’s one you’ll hear if you live near Boston as April 15th draws near. For me, this road to Boston has already been long underway. About two years ago in 2016 I ran my first marathon in Newport, RI, with my brother. We ran for fun (or simply because we were crazy), and we were met with Hurricane Matthew, which gave us the joy of running 26.2 miles in pouring rain and crazy winds. I’m not sure why I ever wanted to run again after that day, but that race changed my life and I’ve since developed a huge love of running I didn’t have before. Not long after the Newport Marathon, I set my eyes on Boston, thinking it would be such an awesome experience to run the greatest race in the world.
In 2017, I trained for the Wineglass Marathon in October, thinking I could use this race to qualify for the Boston Marathon. For those who don’t know – you can get into Boston through one of two ways. Either you run a marathon prior to the Boston Marathon and finish within a certain time frame set forth by the Boston Athletic Association (for women my age, we need to run 3:30 or better), OR you can get a chance to run Boston through a charity, which often are also hard to get accepted into. I focused that summer on getting into shape for a 3:30 marathon so I could qualify for Boston. Unfortunately, six weeks out from my target race, I experienced a serious foot issue and dropped out. It would be months before I was finally diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.
The following spring, I was back in gear and decided to target a race in September in order to get into Boston 2019. I spent the summer training, waking up at 4 am to get those long runs in before work, and running through some very humid, long heat waves. I was in shape for a Boston qualifying time and I was ready to get that ticket to Boston 2019. This past September, I ran the Charles River Marathon in Boston, but that day, my body had other plans, and after being on a good pace for the first half of the race I quickly developed crippling leg cramps that almost led me to drop out of the race entirely. I came in 24 minutes too slow to get into Boston, but in all honesty I was just happy God got me to that finish line that day.
Since September, I’ve continued to run for fun, thinking I’ll try again in 2019 to run a race worthy of Boston. I figured I would just keep trying on my own to get in. But when I received the email from PJB – seemingly randomly – that they were looking for a runner to run Boston in April for them, I KNEW I had to jump on the opportunity. This email was no coincidence. This is a race I’ve been chasing for years now, and the fact that I’m running for a charity, and not just my own personal best time, gives the race so much more meaning. This race isn’t about me trying to finish as quick as I can, alone; it is about bringing a community together to help those in need through raising funds for PJB. I can’t wait to toe that start line in Hopkinton knowing that so many lives are going to be impacted over the next few months.
For those curious on my training – I started officially training 1/15/19 and I often post about my training on my Instagram account (@k_giat). I’ve drafted my own tentative training plan, with about two days a week focused on speed training, and one day a week (usually Saturday) focused on long runs, which will be anywhere from 10-22 miles. On several of those long runs I plan on practicing Heartbreak Hill, and I’m excited to see the community of runners out there also training for Boston on the course. This is a race that is entirely about community – training with a community, working with my own community, to raise money for an even bigger community. To say I’m excited is an understatement!
Please feel free to reach out to me with questions regarding PJB, the Boston Marathon, my training, or anything else. I have one request that if you work for Dell EMC, please donate through the Dell fundraising page (link coming soon!) as Dell will match your donation.
Thank you for all the support I’ve already received and thank you for helping meet the needs of those in our community through Project Just Because. Together we can make such a big difference in the lives of others and I’m honored to be running for such a great organization!