#neverstop Believing

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Erica's Story

By Erica Nash

February 19, 2012 was a day that changed my life.  It was the day I ran my first marathon in Birch Bay, Washington, and qualified for the Boston Marathon.  Ironically, I didn’t realize I qualified for Boston until two months after my momentous run.  Most people who BQ, train for it, attempt it several times and celebrate the moment they make it into the historically elusive race.  As a slow runner with Cerebral Palsy, Boston was my “forbidden fruit, ” as qualifying in my age bracket would be impossible. To my delight, though, I learned that the BAA has a Mobility Impaired Division, and my marathon time of 5:49:54 granted me an official BQ.

Now, with April 21st in sight, I keep thinking back to the elation I felt when I realized that I would have the chance to run the Boston Marathon.  Simultaneously, I wonder if this moment was worth it.  After all, if I hadn’t been running in Boston on April 15, 2013, my family wouldn’t have been terrified as they prepared to meet me at the finish line, I wouldn’t have spent 3 days at Mass General Hospital and I would not be living as a slave to PTSD.  I’m anxious and nervous for the race.  I want to run, because I want to be done.  I want to be a Boston Marathon finisher.  Ultimately, I realize that going back to Boston this year marks the opportunity to fix the horrifying ending to what should have been a fairytale experience…and it is a gift of healing.

Re-training for the Boston Marathon has been a real doozy of an experience, and much harder than I ever imagined.  As a mobility impaired runner, I had been running for nearly six hours when we were stopped at mile 25.7.  The sudden stop and lack of recovery supplies, combined with my Cerebral Palsy, caused me to experience convulsive spasms.  Unfortunately, the strength of the spasms caused severe muscle tearing in my calves and shins.  As if that weren’t bad enough, the pairing of injury and PTSD led to significant weight gain which, in turn lent itself to more injury, exhaustion, and self-doubt.  This cycle controlled me until about two months ago, and was the toughest barrier to my successful return to complete the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014.

I usually live life with a “#neverstop” attitude.  From the time I was diagnosed with CP in 1979, and my parents were encouraged to institutionalize me, I learned that NOTHING is impossible.  “Achieve the impossible” is my mantra in life.  Nonetheless, training to run Boston this year required extra motivation.  Perhaps my motivation came from my desire to change the end of the story, to honor the memories of lives lost or to express gratitude for the support of friends and family.  Undeniably, I would not be able to return to the Boston Marathon without the encouragement of yurbuds and my teammates Ryan, Ginger and Julie.

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