The Samaritans 2020 Boston Marathon team is off to a record-breaking start, with more than $151,000 raised toward our team goal of $180,000 and 67 days to go! The 14 dedicated runners on this team are loss survivors, volunteers, and folks who have benefited from our programs and services. Each month leading up to the big day, we’ll be highlighting members of our outstanding team. This month, Caroline, Casey, Doug, and Jacqui share their experiences preparing for the 2020 Boston Marathon.
Everyone on the team this year is running in memory of a loved one lost to suicide. Could you share a story about the person you are running for?
Caroline: Since I’m running in memory of my mom, she’s present in just about all of my childhood stories, from my very earliest memories until I left home for college. Rather than a specific story, I think that whenever I am reminded of the small stuff — the things that tend to fade over time after losing someone — is sometimes the most bittersweet. Recently, I was driving my 8-year-old niece somewhere and I found myself reach back at a red light to give her knee a little squeeze just to say hello. It was something my mom used to do to me as a kid on long car rides and I had completely forgotten about it until I found myself doing the same exact thing. It brought back such a small but vivid memory of my mom. I think it’s the little reminders like that which feel so rare and out-of-the-blue, but so special to remember.
Casey: My father took his life when I was seven, so most of my memories are faint. I remember him as kind and light hearted. He was a musician, and he would play for us a lot. I recall me and my sisters begging him to perform Suzie Q for us over and over again, and my recollection is that he never disappointed us. I have memories of him taking me to the recording studio, and letting me watch as he played. He would sit on his stool in the studio with headphones on, and he would occasionally bend down and pick up a repurposed Motts Applesauce jar filled with water and take a gulp in between songs. My last memory of him was the last time we saw him. He visited us on my older sister’s birthday. He brought each of us gifts of things he had found on the beach; an old bottle covered in barnacles, a feather, and a deer’s antler he picked up are some of the things I remember him giving us.
Doug: I am running on behalf of my wife’s mom, Kathy Mongeau, as well as our entire family who have supported Samaritans’ Kathy’s Team at the annual 5K for years. We have had several different generations in the family run the Boston Marathon, and I’m hoping to keep up the tradition!
Jacqui: When I was a senior in high school, I was in Haiti on a school trip during the time I was also waiting to hear back from colleges I’d applied early to. Before leaving on the trip, my brother Alex and I were talking about how I might not have internet access in order to check to see if I got in. We came up with this plan that I would give him my log-in information so he would be able to check the portal when I was away. Then, we planned that when he picked me up from the airport, he would signal to me to let me know what the result was. We decided that if I got in, he would bring Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets but if I didn’t get in he would bring me a chocolate milkshake. That way, no matter what the result was, there would be something good to come of it. It turned out that I was able to check the portal in Haiti and call him from there, but we did end up getting Chick-Fil-A the night I got back anyway.
What helps motivate and push you through the toughest moments of your training?
Caroline: Training for this marathon has felt like a very personal pursuit for me in memory of my mom, which is what motivates me most during the toughest moments. The endurance of the training runs feels like my way of trying to say that I would have always been there for her, no matter how hard things got. It’s about proving to myself that strength can be found in the toughest moments, and that the toughest things are worth pushing through, even if for nothing more than to be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.
Casey: I am very motivated by the support of my family and friends. It means a lot to me when they ask me how my training is going, or how a particular run went. I’m training by myself, so it can get lonely, especially on the long runs, so having people interested in what I’m doing is very helpful. My go-to source of inspiration when things are really tough is to think about my father. I was young when he died, so I never really knew what his pride in me would feel like. On these long runs, when I am out for hours, I’ll imagine I’m having a dialogue with him, telling him about all of the things I’ve done in my life; about my wife and kids, my career and hobbies. It’s more of an inventory for myself, but I feel as though my pride in myself is fueled knowing that he would have been proud as well.
Doug: Definitely want to finish my first marathon. I turn 50 next month and trying to stay healthy isn’t so easy with all the training miles. Each week’s long run is the longest run of my life, which is pretty cool. Having battled a stubborn calf injury and then the flu hasn’t made the training easy, but looking forward to completing this event.
Jacqui: When I’m really tired or sore or just don’t feel like running because it’s so cold outside, I like thinking about Alex running with me. The summer before my freshman year in college, we would run together if we were in the same city. And, when we were in different places, we would share our runs over the Nike running app. It was always a good way for us to be together, even when we couldn’t be.
How is training in a New England winter?
Caroline: I feel pretty lucky to be training from DC where I live (despite being a Boston-native!). It’s definitely a milder winter here and I have a lot of respect for my Boston-based teammates who are fearlessly braving the cold. I’ve also been traveling a bit during these past few months, which means I’ve been able to do some of my training runs in Boston, NYC, Colorado Springs, and Amsterdam, and I’ll be doing a couple more long runs in New Orleans and Providence before race day. It’s been such a fun way to explore these other cities!
Casey: I live in Pittsburgh, so it’s probably a bit different. It’s been a fairly mild winter here. I’ve had one day running in 16 degrees, and a handful in the 20’s, but most of my running has been above 35 degrees, with only two days of light snow, so far. Pittsburgh is very hilly, so I have been making sure to always finish my runs going uphill.
Doug: Wow, it’s cold and windy and hilly. We’ve been pretty lucky this winter with very little snow, so not great for skiing which I love, but reasonable for training. I grew up in Norfolk, Virginia where running in the winter was actually pleasant.
Jacqui: It definitely gets tough at times to run outside in Boston! I don’t even mind the cold as much as the ice on the ground because I get scared to slip. I’ve recently been running along the Charles which makes the runs so beautiful.
What is your go-to running song on your playlist?
Caroline: I don’t have one good go-to running song yet! I usually listen to a Spotify playlist called Run Wild. It’s a good mix of songs that aren’t *too* fast-paced so it helps me keep a slower pace that I can maintain even on the longer runs.
Casey: My favorite song on my running playlist is Roadrunner by the Modern Lovers. I left New England twenty eight years ago, and while I’ve lived in a lot of great places, I’ve always loved Boston. I can absolutely relate to Jonathan Richmond’s passion for Massachusetts in that song. I too like 128 when it’s dark outside.
Doug: I’ve never run with music, and many friends ask how I don’t get bored. I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors, and being able to engage with the sites and sounds of downtown Boston is still relaxing. Over the years I’ve found I’ll work and sometimes solve problems while running which is fun.
Jacqui: Turbulence! My best friends from high school and I had a tradition for many years of listening to it before any sports game. I have so many memories dancing, singing (screaming) with my closest friends and feeling like I could do anything.
If someone was considering applying to run a Marathon, what advice would you give them?
Caroline: I would give them a heads up that the marathon will definitely take over their lives (in a good way!) for a few months. It’s constantly on your mind, whether you’re thinking about how to schedule time to run, stretch, strengthen, foam roll or whether you just want to chat about it because you’re excited for race day. I would also say to be prepared to listen to your body a lot in order to make sure you’re getting the right care, nutrition, hydration, and sleep that you need!
Casey: Do it! This has been an amazing experience, and I’m so grateful that I’ve chosen to challenge myself with this. Running is mostly a mental game, and while building strength, and listening to the physical messages that your body is sending you is important, the perseverance and dedication to achieve the goal is the hardest part. When you are truly committed to going out day after day, and putting the work in, especially when you don’t feel like it, you’ll come out a stronger person, and you’ll know a lot more about what you are capable of than you ever did before.
Jacqui: Listen to the podcast Stuff You Should Know on marathons. The two guys who run it are so funny, but more importantly it gives a lot of cool, weird background facts on marathons. I feel like I know so much more about this running trend after listening—like that marathons used to be only 25 miles!
How do you think you will feel crossing the finish line in April?
Caroline: It’s so hard to say! I think about it a lot though. Proud, grateful, and humbled I hope. Having grown up hearing about the Boston Marathon, I don’t think I ever thought that I would run it one day. It’ll be an amazing feeling to finish the marathon and know that I did it for a really important and personal cause.
Casey: I’m certain I’ll be exhausted, mentally and physically, but I also know I’ll feel elated. There is so much work that goes into preparing for this race, and I go to sleep at night picturing the moment I cross the finish; being handed the medal and putting it on, walking through the chute with all of the other runners, all feeling the magnitude of the moment. I expect finishing the marathon in memory of my father will be highly emotional, and I’m sure when I see my wife, mother, and sisters, I’ll probably be sobbing, and in need of many hugs.
Doug: Hoping to finish my fundraising goal of $25,000 before I start the race, and I hope to finish strong coming down Boylston Street in under 4 hours!
Jacqui: Many of my friends from school are planning on meeting me at the finish line in April! I can’t wait to celebrate with them, and my parents, knowing that it will have taken a lot of hard work to get to that point.
To support the 2020 Marathon team and learn more about each runner’s story, please visit our team’s CrowdRise page.
Leading up to the big day, the runners are hosting a number of fundraisers which can be found on the Upcoming Events section of our homepage.
Our Marathon Team is raffling off two incredible trips for a photo safari in South Africa. You can enjoy the trip of a lifetime and be amazed by the beautiful nature and majestic animals that South Africa has to offer. Find more details and purchase a ticket