One of the 26,000+ runners lining up on the start line of the venerable Boston Marathon next Monday, Ashley Shaddy, a 35-year-old mother of two, stands out because of her bright smile, generous spirit, strong faith, and warm friendliness. I've been fortunate enough to stand at a few start lines with her, and she (along with an awesome group of running moms in Vancouver, Wash.) has been instrumental in organizing a few local events for Run Like a Mother. She's awesome, and I can wait for her to shine on Monday on the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Copley Square.
Best Recent Run: After having a nasty chest infection that held on for a month right in the middle of my Boston training, I had a 20-miler on my training schedule haunting me with all kinds of self-doubt. A new, amazing running buddy of mine (Megan), who has run Boston, committed to doing 15 miles of the run with me and took me on a new “kick butt” hill route. It was such a selfless act from a friend: She had no reason to have to run THAT far and was giving up precious fuel for a race she had the next week. Her encouragement during that run was the point I got mentally back in the game for Boston. I remember coming to the top of a really hard hill and her saying, “That hill was harder than Heartbreak Hill and you just did it.” Thank you, God, for running buddies!
Boston bound: I am on a roller coaster of emotions with less than a week away from Boston--excitement, fear, anticipation, doubt (knowing I had some obstacles during my training), but mostly feeling blessed to be part of such an amazing race. A few years ago the Boston Marathon wasn’t even on my radar of adding to my running accomplishments. Honestly, I am lucky to be distracted by my “to do” list I have to get ready to leave the kiddos behind. My husband (the best cheerleader ever, even when he holds up signs asking if I pee’d myself), dad, and stepmom are coming along!!
A friend indeed: Julie--my best running buddy, my BFF. I didn’t know friends like this existed. When we became friends, we immediatelyconnected on many things and soon found out we both wanted to run our first half marathon. So we did it. Since then, life and running has brought us closer than ever. The day before we ran our first half, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Julie ran beside me that day and in the months and years to follow. Her beautiful daughter was born on the day my mom passed, which can only be one of those incredible timings God had planned. Boston will actually be the first race I have done in years without her. I look forward to our future finish lines together--running and otherwise!
Miles for mom: Strength: I didn’t know the true meaning of the word until I walked beside my sweet mom during her battle with cancer. In life, as with running, our finish lines are not always as we dreamed they would be. When her battle ended a few years ago, I gained new perspective and inspiration. I carry my many beautiful memories of her, her determination, her joy for life, her love, and even her stubbornness on every mile I take on. I learned I can either use a loss like this to halt me, or to grab onto the pieces of it that make me a better person, that give me inspiration and strength--and keep on RUNNING. What better way to honor such an amazing woman?
Miles with dad: I am, and forever will be, a daddy’s girl. My earliest memories of running are with my dad around our neighborhood. He has been one of my biggest fans and was running by my side when my first marathon (Seattle Rock n Roll) last year ended at mile 25 in the medic tent due to hyponatremia. I think my dad’s heart was more broken than mine, but I still knew he couldn’t have been any prouder. So a few months later, when he and my husband got to watch me cross that finish line and tell me I qualified for Boston, oh, what a moment!! [EDITOR’S NOTE: Ashley needed a 3:45:59 or better; she ran 3:43:25.] We are appropriately running the Vancouver USA half marathon together on Father’s Day.
On the way in from Hopkinton: My approach to this race is different because I feel the pressure of not truly knowing if I will ever be back on the Boston course again. I can tend to get in a zone but I really want to take it all in, even the hills: I think being a little distracted by all that is going on during this race will be well worth it. Life threw a few kinks in my training plan this time around, so I am going to take a more conservative approach to my pace. Music is certainly a motivation that I use during races, but I am planning to turn it off several times during Boston to hear the excitement of the day!
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