#neverstop Serving

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Julie's Story

By Julie Benson

As marathon day approaches, I am mixed with a myriad of emotions. My journey back to the starting line began the day the bombs went off when I, along with 5700 others were stopped from crossing the finish line. Since that day, I have #neverstopped focusing on what it would take to return to this year’s historic event.

Last year’s marathon meant so much to me. It was my second marathon, and after the challenges of long-distance training, it was supposed to be my last. I was excited to end on the “high” of running one of the most famous marathons in the world. Being a full-time working mother of two young boys (ages 3 and 6), the demands of marathon training took away from precious time with my family. I was also deeply affected by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut that occurred around the time my training began,  so I decided to make this race even more meaningful by fundraising for the Sandy Hook PTA. Running Boston was going to be my opportunity to feel empowered in helping when I felt so helpless for the grieving families and their community. I ordered green and white running clothes to honor the Sandy Hook school color, had a race tech shirt that said, “Sandy Hook” on the front and “26 miles for 26 lives” on the back.  Little did I know at the start of the marathon that a new tragedy and more violence awaited at the finish line. My marathon time last year was incredibly slow for what I was capable of doing. I believe in my heart that the Sandy Hook angels were pushing the wind against me, holding me back from the minutes away I was from the finish line when the bombs went off.

I am motivated this year to also run stronger and faster than ever before. Anticipating the fear I could face of once again toeing that starting line, building myself up emotionally and physically is what I believe it will take to face my fears. To prepare physically, I have hired a talented coach, James Petersen from Nor’Easter Triathlon to customize a challenging, PR setting training plan for me.  Emotionally, I remain focused on positive visualizations. Visualizing being brave, strong, powerful, chasing a marathon PR and most importantly keeping the thoughts and prayers of all those affected by last year’s tragedy with me.

The hardest part of my journey has been once again juggling the busy lifestyle of a full time working mom training for a marathon. There is no “easy way out” to train, do it well, and remain injury free. In my mind, it’s either “all in or all out”. The sacrifices such as waking up at 4:30am, disappearing away from my family for long runs on the weekends, and staying committed to each and every workout, is what it takes to #neverstop. This past year, there has not been a single workout where my thoughts have not reflected back to April 15th, 2013. It is what drives me to not skip a day, to nail every tempo run, to finish the 20 miles set out in front of me. There are no excuses. I will #Neverstop.

I return to Boston this year with my heart full of gratitude for this experience, for appreciation to the brave First Responders and individuals who helped save lives, to the running community who has bonded together and helped me move through this year through the ups and downs of training, life, and the emotions that returning to Boston will bring.

Follow Julie for more updates on her training. 

Follow yurbuds for more updates on the Boston Marathon. 

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