by Lauren Kaskey
I trained for the 2014 Boston Marathon with FHR, but also with my mentor and friend, who was running for a different charity. Although she lives across the world (Somerville), we were able to meet on the marathon course on a semi-weekly basis. Two or three hours of running together allowed us to have those expansive conversations that are so elusive when you’re surrounded by gadgets and responsibilities. Sometime around the 11th mile of a particularly numbing training run, we started talking about races. Why is it so important for us to sign up? What do we get out of a race that we can’t get out of a morning run?
She and I agreed that we probably wouldn’t be testing our speed, running hill workouts, or getting up at 4:45am on a Saturday if it weren’t for the marathon. But here we were doing things we wouldn’t normally do, all because of a decision that we had made—would keep making—to sign up, and to show up
Races give runners a chance to claim their community. Races are a time to stand up and be seen—to be measured, yes, but also to belong to a group of people working hard to (beat each other soundly and) push their physical and mental limits. From the pre-race anticipation to the post-race snacks, there is so much joy to be found in engaging in a shared goal with community. The hard work and pain that are inherent in the process only add to that beauty. On the day of the marathon, I was certain that my entire city was cheering for me. When I was struggling, I knew that the whole crowd would cheer my name if I just put a dang smile on my face. Heartbreak hill was a beast. I visualized the training I’d done over the winter, pretending I could see the fast group from FHR waiting for me as I pushed up the J-Way to Perkins. So maybe my mantra was “chase those hotties!” for a little bit. (I mean it in the least objectifying way possible, because lets be real, you [FHR] are all hotties.) I got a hug from a friend on Heartbreak Hill, and busted right through the wall that had been slowly forming in front of me. This is why I race.
I knew that the marathon would be my last race until I got out of the limbo that was long-term post-grad school unemployment. I also realized that the things I seek from racing could, for the most part, be found by diving deeper into FHR. I felt so lucky to be a part of a community that did not require my fast dwindling savings, but inspired me on a daily basis. Running with the group and hanging out with speedy people has re-invigorated my competitive edge, both on the road and in the rest of my life. I didn’t totally get it when I saw that FHR’s mission statement included competition as a priority, and I’m still working on owning that part of myself again. But I know that it drives me to run, that getting faster has become my inspiration, and that knowing FHR will be at Stony Brook is one of the best feelings in the world.