Have you always wanted to run a marathon?
Martin Connolly: Yes! I’ve always wanted to run Boston. It probably has to do with growing up here. My father ran long distance track at NYU so I felt a strong desire to emulate him and run.
Kathleen O’Shea: I fondly remember going to watch the marathon with my dad as a kid and then going to cheer on my brother and sister for many years when they ran Boston during our college and post college years. I always admired the runners, especially the many like my siblings who ran without numbers. Back then many people ran without bibs after the qualifiers went out. Cheering on the underdogs was so amazing. Those days made me hungry to run and I believed that I would complete that goal by age 50. That didn’t happen.
Do you have any favorite childhood Boston Marathon memories?
MC: Not really. We never went to the marathon as children, but I always remember watching it on TV as a child.
KO: I was in college and I remember driving my brother, Kevin, to Hopkinton. I got as close to the center of town as possible and he jumped out on the highway to hoof it to the starting line. I was at the finish line when he completed his run and found him curled up in the corner of one of the buildings shivering and sick. It was awful and amazing rolled into one. I vaguely remember driving him home and thought for sure he would never run again. I was wrong, he ran two more times. Watching my sister, Christine, run was also a highlight.
Why/how did you pick your charity?
MC: The managing partner at my firm is on the Board of Trustees at Horizons so his connection got me connected. Once I visited their facilities and learned about their mission it was an easy choice to join their team.
KO: In August I was asked to run Boston wearing a former student’s number. Leo was waiting with his dad for his mom to cross the finish line when the bomb went off. Leo suffered head trauma and was rushed to Children’s Hospital. His dad, Steve, lost his leg and was rushed to Boston Medical. I picked Spaulding Rehab Hospital because that is where Steve received all his rehabilitation. I had watched a video of Steve being interviewed for Spaulding talking about life after the bombing and how important Spaulding Rehab was to his recovery. Spaulding is responsible for getting Steve back on skis, his bike, and enjoying family life. I knew the money I raised would help others heal and begin to live a full life again.
Talk about your training.
MC: Woof! It was tough! I did all the Saturday long runs, starting out at 2-4 miles and working up to 20 miles a few weeks before race day. I mixed in shorter interval runs during the week and always focused on running hills around my house.
KO: Spaulding gave me a training schedule to follow. It kicked off on December 7th with a team run in Charlestown. I met a few teammates who became lifelong friends and Saturday morning running partners. I met them every Saturday in Boston for the long runs and we ran different parts of the course. Despite the age gap (they realized I was their parent’s age) our runs were full of conversation and the miles passed quickly. As the months passed I continued to try balance Crossfit, yoga, and work but found that it didn’t always go according to plan. The mid-week runs in the cold and dark were challenging. Nights were freezing cold and the runs were lonely. I quickly discovered why I had stopped running. I do not like to be alone and really enjoy talking while exercising. For me it is social. Sadly, I was sick for the last three weeks of the training and my training was cut short. I felt great running the 21-mile run and ran 13 miles the following week, but then my training dropped abruptly because I was sick.
How did your CFCA training help your marathon training?
MC: It’s a great baseline! Without CFCA, I don’t know if I would have been able to run the marathon. CFCA provides a great starting point to pivot to another type of athletic training, whether that be long distance sports like marathons or something else.
KO: CFCA gave me the confidence to believe I could complete a marathon. The love and support from start to finish was beyond amazing. The cross training certainly made me stronger. My whole body felt stronger when I ran, and I had endless energy during my training runs.
It’s Race Day! How was that experience?
MC: Amazing! From start to finish. I woke up race day and it was pouring rain, but by the time I was on the bus and heading to Hopkinton it stopped. The excitement before the race was palpable, and I had some nerves, but once I started running the nerves faded and I soaked in the experience. The crowds are unbelievable, so loud and so encouraging, it really gives you a lift. Seeing my father on heartbreak hill was awesome, he gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going (very tired at that point). Then the final stretch from Kenmore Square to the finish line was so loud that I got another adrenaline rush and I think those were my two fastest miles of the marathon.
KO: I woke up on Race day like a kid at Christmas! I could not believe that the day had finally arrived, but I was disappointed that I wasn’t feeling 100% healthy. I felt like a sick kid at Christmas but was determined to embrace the whole experience and enjoy it from start to finish. We had our names printed on our shirts and felt like celebrities when spectators called us by name. At about mile 15 (the details are a blur) I stopped to use a bathroom because I was sipping water at each water station and a teammate stopped with me. The next 3 miles weren’t pretty. When I hit the hills, I gained new excitement. I had trained on those hills for months and just wanted to run to the top of each one. Surprisingly, I was greeted by many CFCA supporters, friends and family on the hills. I loved the interactions and was feeling so much better. I took in the crowds, signs and endless chain of policemen. I know I was discouraged because my running was not like my training runs. The crowds carried me and before I knew it I was on Boylston and the finish line was in sight. As I crossed the finish line the flood gates opened. I was quickly reminded of why I had run The Boston Marathon. I ran for Leo and his family. I ran to raise money for Spaulding Rehab so those who can’t run hopefully will be able to in the future. My dream of running Boston was accomplished and it was time to get my medal and celebrate!
Favorite Race Day memory?
MC: Definitely a tie, seeing my father at Heartbreak Hill and my wife at the finish line.
KO: So many great moments! Here are a few: CFCArs scattered throughout the course with signs, hugs, smiles, treats, and words of encouragement. Honestly, the love from this community warms my heart. THANK YOU!
*High fiving so many little kids’ hands
*Kissing some girls Wellesley (why not?)
*Seeing my brother, sister, and two nieces at BC
*Having my husband, daughter, son and step son at the finish line
MC: Maybe some half marathons this summer/fall and I would like to kayak the Blackburn Challenge.
KO: Get back to CFCA on a regular basis. I missed Ladies Night and Saturday morning team so much. Enjoy yoga, runs and walks with friends. Never thought I would say it, but the thought of running again next year is being entertained. My mind is open.