Boston Marathon Training Currently in Session

RIM Associate Editor Jamie Coelho is blogging about training for the Boston Marathon while fundraising for charity.

Last April, I cheered for the runners at the Boston Marathon finish line on Boylston Street as hundreds of people crossed the 26.2-mile marker. I witnessed expressions of elation, determination and extreme pain. I saw some sprint to the finish like they’d just sprouted wings; others hobbled in as if wounded in war. Young, old, thin, plump; people from all different walks of life were lifted by such a rewarding accomplishment. I was moved to tears as a troop of twelve soldiers dressed in army fatigues and steel-toed boots and wearing heavy backpacks ran in formation and crossed the finish line together.

As I watched, I thought about what it would be like to run a marathon myself. I had always been a runner. I ran four to eight miles a few days a week, and I had completed a half-marathon several years before. But did I have what it takes to run 26.2 in one stretch?

The answer was yes. That spring, I read expert distance runner Hal Higdon’s “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide,” and I began following his program. In October, I ran a full marathon, the Smuttynose Rockfest in Hampton, N.H. (You can read about that experience here). After feeling the pride of crossing the finish line, I couldn’t believe that I did it. Then I realized I was hooked.

A few weeks later, I decided I wanted to apply to run the Boston Marathon for a charity. Various non-profits get a certain amount of marathon numbers for runners who are willing to raise a minimum of $4,000 for their selected charity. I realized this would be a huge undertaking, but I was up for the challenge.

I researched charities, and I found one that related to me on a personal level. I was accepted to run for ReadBoston, a non-profit children’s literacy organization that organizes reading initiatives at inner city schools, family centers and summer programs. The money I raise will go toward the Storymobile program, which will distribute free books to children at seventy-eight sites over seven weeks this summer. As an avid reader, and an editor and writer for Rhode Island Monthly, it’s a cause I feel strongly about because many of these kids may not have the same experiences that I did growing up. My parents read to me nightly and there were always books around the house. Many of these children have never been given a book, or maybe they don’t have anyone at home who can help them practice reading. Part of my commitment includes reading to these children in person and hopefully I’ll also serve as a role model for them. Here's a link to my fundraising page in case you're interested in learning more.

There are many other charities that are accepting donations for runners. There’s a list of them here. It would be great if everyone could take a look at the charities, select one that matters to them, and support those runners who are giving their time and training their bodies for such worthy causes.

I’ve already been out training along the official marathon route in Newton and Wellesley on several different weekends. That involves getting up at 6 a.m. on Saturdays to be in Newton in time to start an 8 a.m. run with my training group, which includes lots of other runners who are representing other charities like the Alzheimer’s Association and G-ROW Boston. I’ve run Heartbreak Hill twice already, completing a twelve-mile run and a seventeen-mile run. I have about two months to go until April 16, and I feel like I’m on my way to my best performance yet. And the fact that I’m doing it for such an important cause makes it even more rewarding.

Over the coming months, I’ll be writing about my training and sharing my experiences with you. Please come back to often to see how I’m doing.

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