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Finding My Run: My First Boston Marathon

I originally started running for the same reason that a lot of people do—because I was coerced.  In my hometown high school back in rural upstate New York, choosing not to participate in organized sports essentially branded one as an outcast.  Since I wasn’t coordinated enough for anything besides running, and since the cross-country team needed warm bodies (apparently because the prospect of running through the woods until you either vomited or went blind from tunnel vision didn’t have people lining up to join the team)—well, my fate was pretty much sealed.

Fifteen years later, I would find myself living as a graduate student here in the metro Boston area.  I would also find myself 60 pounds heavier, due to a combination of age, stress, inactivity, and the ready availability of excellent burrito places in Harvard Square.  I’d tried running again at various times over the years, mostly because—just like in high school—I didn’t know what else to do.  It never really stuck, though.

Winter Running 2015

It was then that one of my old cross-country buddies introduced me to Runkeeper. Being re-connected with my high school friends who were scattered around the country, I felt like part of the old team again.  Each of us could see when the others ran (as well as notice when we weren’t running), and leave encouraging comments.  Watching the miles pile up, seeing the progress I was making, and being reminded when it had been too long since my last workout all helped me to finally make running a regular part of my life again.

Finding My Run

Still, in those days the idea of running a marathon was out of the question.  (I can look back at my old Runkeeper activities and see that I thought “a very long run” was 6 miles.)  However, in the weeks and months after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, as my friends and colleagues shared their thoughts and feelings about the experience, I came to realize how important our culture around running and the Marathon was to our identity here in Boston.  I knew then that I would have to run a marathon—and eventually, to run the Boston Marathon—if I ever wanted to really understand the complete Boston running experience.

philly 2014

With my family, after running my second marathon in Fall 2014, the Philadelphia Marathon.

Getting Ready for Boston

I decided to join the Boston Children’s Hospital “Miles for Miracles” team as a charity runner, to raise money for an amazing institution that has helped not only our own children, but also the children of so many other family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.  (Donate to my fundraising campaign here!)  The road to Hopkinton has been quite an adventure already, especially the part where I was training during one of the worst winters in Boston history.  I can’t believe Marathon Monday is only a week away!

training 2015

Training in Boston’s crazy winter of 2015!

I’ve learned a lot of things from my marathon journeys so far.  I’ve learned how if you take care of your body correctly, it will give you that extra mile when you need it.  I’ve learned that no matter how busy you are, you can always make time on fitness, because that time spent will always come back to you, often with interest.  I’ve learned that friends and family want to see you try do something challenging, and they’ll support you and cheer you on when you do.  I’ve learned you can listen to a lot of audiobooks while running 30 to 40 miles a week.

To quote Simon Wheatcroft, Runkeeper ambassador and ultramarathoner, I believe that “everyone has a marathon in them.”  I hope you decide to go out and find yours!

Nick Arcolano

About the author:
Nick Arcolano

Nick is a Senior Data Scientist for Runkeeper whose work combines two of his greatest lifelong passions: running and spreadsheets. You can reach him on Twitter @arcolano.

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