Today’s post is from Alison. She is training and fundraising for LLS as part of our Boston Marathon Team! We can’t wait to see her rock 26.2 miles on April 15th for LLS!
I was 5 years old when I first saw the finish line at the Boston Marathon. No, I wasn’t a child running phenom, although I’m honored you thought that … My neighbor Pete Gill, who lived through the woods behind our Burlington, MA house, was running. My parents and I, along with our next door neighbors, Bob, Carole and their sons, went to cheer him on.
We went to the finish line for years, long after Pete and his family moved away. We didn’t go to see the Elite runner, but the Unexpected Finisher – you know, the marathoner who was making it that last .2 miles on sheer will and determination alone. That person whose relieved smile revealed he/she needed that cry of “You can do this!!!” the most.
This year, I will be that person. And I, 35 years after my first visit to the Boston Marathon finish line, will rely on, and relish, every single cheer.
Sadly, one person who was with me on that first day won’t be there to see me finish. But he will be with me – in spirit – every step along the way. It is my next door neighbor Bob – he passed away from Leukemia on October 28, 2012. He was my “Italian dad” and my parents’ best friend; husband of Carole; father to Anthony and Robert; and proud grandfather of four.
The last time I spoke with Bob, he was in the hospital. My mother said he’d had a rough go and wasn’t really in the mood for visitors, but when I rang his room, he answered. He genuinely sounded as pleased to hear from me as I was to talk to him. After joking about the food he used to force on me as a kid, and still did as a visiting adult, I told him I was hoping to run the Boston Marathon for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the upcoming year – and would he mind if I did it in his honor.
He got quiet and said he was honored I’d think to do that. I said I expected him to be out at mile 16 with salad sandwiches (aka his favorite food to force on me) and he said if he could, he would.
Two weeks later, my mother called crying. Bob had passed away.
I am running the 2013 Boston Marathon, and raising $4000 to find and fund a cure for blood cancers, so no one has to receive a call like I did on October 28th. I am running the Boston Marathon to give every person battling this awful disease one more month/year/decade to spend with their loved ones. I am running the Boston Marathon because I told Bob I would…and I can…so I will.
Check out Alison’s fundraising page! http://pages.teamintraining.org/ma/boston13/aobrienmlj