Growing up, I always enjoyed being active. You could usually find me outside in the backyard kicking a soccer ball or swinging a bat. But one thing you would rarely catch me doing was going for a long run. Even as a kid, I would get shin splints or cramps from too much running. Even though I was usually the fastest kid on my team or in my class, I never really enjoyed distance running.
That started to change a bit in my adult life. I started doing some short runs in my 20s, and in my later 20s, I started doing longer runs. My then-girlfriend (now fiancée) got me into running road races, and as I was able to slowly accrue more distance, I signed up for a half-marathon. A half-marathon was something I never envisioned myself doing, and at the time, I was nervous about whether or not I would be able to complete it. I surprised myself by running with a split time that even today as a more accomplished runner would be very satisfying to me.
With this newfound resolve – and by virtue of running enough qualifying races – I found myself qualifying for the 2020 NYC Marathon. As with the half-marathon, this was a new endeavor that I thought was impossible for someone like me. You need to keep in mind that even at the age of 34, I have had various injuries (primarily to my lower back) due to being one of the tightest and least mobile people for someone my age, so running long distances just is not kind to my body. But, I had grown up watching the Boston Marathon and I had shown myself that the impossible could become possible if I had the right mindset, so I was excited for the challenge.
The pandemic put a crimp on those plans and the race was postponed to 2021. While I was training over the summer for the race, I got an email that the Boston Police Foundation was looking for fundraisers for the Boston Marathon, it too postponed from earlier that year. Since I had grown up watching the Boston Marathon and had some sort of attachment to it since I lived near where the marathon bombings occurred back in 2013, I jumped at the opportunity, figuring it was a month before the NYC race and that I could kill two birds with one stone.
With a lot of support along the way from friends and family, I successfully trained for and completed my first marathon in October 2021. However, it was not without drama. In Mile 11, I developed a rare condition called rhabdomyolysis, which led to the most intense muscle cramps I have ever felt in my life. I had dealt with this issue a couple times before, just without realizing what it was. In any event, rhabdomyolysis is quite serious and it can even be fatal. I gutted through it (although in retrospect, now that I know what it was, I should not have). To say it was the most intense mental battle of my life would be an understatement.
What pulled me through along the way was a combination of knowing how hard I had worked in my training, not wanting to let myself or others down, and perhaps above all, the screaming crowd and supporters. It’s impossible to describe the feeling of running a marathon with an avid crowd. Bostonians love the marathon and truly show out for it. In fact, Boston has its own special holiday in April for it called Patriots’ Day. So even though I cried in relief when I finished the race, I knew almost immediately that I wanted to do it again.
My rationale for wanting to run again was not simply because the experience was addictive. It was also because I just did not get to enjoy the experience as much as I could have because of my injury. Yes, marathons are painful for almost everyone. But this was a very rare and severe type of pain, and instead of really taking in the atmosphere, I was mostly in my own head for most of the race figuring out what my body could handle and whether I needed to call it quits. With the learnings from that experience, I would like to run “my” race; that is, one where a truly severe limiting factor is not occupying my headspace.
Fortunately, I was accepted to fundraise again, this time for a different charity: The New England Patriots Foundation. My friends know that I am an avid Boston sports fan. I’ve been to three Super Bowls, and even though the Patriots are not my #1 favorite team (that honor goes to the Boston Bruins), they are very high on my list of priorities in life. I am a big fan of the Kraft family and all the great things they do for our local community. Myra Kraft – whose Community MVP Awards Program is the one that the funds are earmarked for – was a great philanthropist who mattered a lot to my community. To be able to carry on her legacy in some small way has a great deal of importance to me, and I hope that others reading this (who very well may not love the Patriots) will see the Foundation’s work as important and tremendously beneficial.
Please, if you can, consider supporting me in this effort by making a donation. No amount is too large or too small! I have a very short window of time to raise the funds and I will do everything I can to do you proud if I can get back to the starting line.