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A Boston Marathon Virgin

I am running my first Boston Marathon on April 15.

Okay, I know that seemed kind of obvious by the title bbuutttt it still shocks me every time I say or write it.

I find myself cracking a small smile each time my brain says: “You know you are going to be a Boston Marathon Finisher in less than a month, right?

Eeek!

Let me back track a little here for you.

I was NEVER a runner. I mean growing up I HATED running and avoided it at all costs. I mean I wasn’t a softball catcher for nothing.

But, then things changed in January 2005 and I finally gave running a shot.

Why?

Because I was ready to burn calories faster and speed up some much needed weight loss. Well, I started and caught the bug. All of a sudden I did my first 5k (March 2005), my first half marathon (February 2006) and my first full marathon (September 2006). Then I simply stopped.

A Boston Marathon Virgin

Following the first marathon, I was hurt and overweight and done with running…

… until 2011 that is.

Following back surgery for a herniated disc, I was determined to try running again once I was cleared to return to activity—and I did just that.

In January 2012, my wife and I decided to make the move back to Boston and with a new career as a Weight Watchers Leader (after shedding 63 lbs with the program), I’ve found plenty of time to run and race.

A Boston Marathon Virgin

So I decided that THIS was the time to try and run The Boston Marathon, which my dad had run as a bandit in the ‘90s.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to qualify since my marathon PR is 3:58:49 (set November 2012), so I started looking into charity teams to apply to.

Let me just say the application process for a bid to a charity team felt like trying to get into college mixed with online dating. It was stressful, yet paid off.

I was chosen to be a member of Tedy’s Team, founded by former New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi, in honor of the American Heart and Stroke Association. I wanted to run for this team in particular since both of my grandparents were Stroke survivors.

Being a member of a charity team has been a wonderful experience. I LOVE the group run aspect. Every Saturday morning, a bunch of charity teams meet and train along the actual Marathon course.

It’s great having people to run with, but we’ve also run Heartbreak Hill about eight times already so I am feeling familiar with what we will face on race day.

Plus, it’s an amazing sight seeing hundreds of runners out on a Saturday morning all training for the same race and putting in hours of training to support a wide array of charity causes.

But, the pinnacle will be race day.

I can’t believe I will toe the same Start Line as legends Bill Rodgers, Uta Pippig, Joan Benoit Samuelson, John J. Kelley and the Hoyts, as well as, my own family members and friends.

While I am a bundle of nerves, I also can’t wait to experience my first Boston Marathon. Here are a few things I’ve been told to think about/look forward to:

  • Headphones: people have their own thoughts on this conundrum, but I at this moment I am thinking no headphones so I can really soak up the sights and sounds of the day.
  • Wellesley: I’ve heard the volume of the crowd at this point in the race is one that is unparalleled at any other race. You can apparently hear them from miles away.
  • Don’t obsess over a PR: I want to enjoy every step of the day so I am trying not to focus too much on a specific finish time, but rather I am hoping to finish sub 4 again.
  • Downhill: I have to remind myself and other first-timers that the race starts on a downhill so we need to rein it in at the beginning as to not burnout.
  • Heartbreak Hill: I learned through training that Heartbreak Hill is actually a series of hills that span a couple miles of the course. So rather than navigating a large hill about 16 miles in, you instead get to navigate three hills with the steepest at the end.

So with these tips in mind, I know my No. 1 priority will be to freakin’ enjoy the ride.

How can I not?

I’m going to be running THE Boston Marathon!

Dani Holmes-Kirk

About the author:
Dani Holmes-Kirk

Dani, who has shed over 80 pounds, is a Weight Watchers Leader, a runner, a newly-turned triathlete and blogger in the Boston Area. You can check out her blog and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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