Two weeks ago, I ran the 2015 Boston Marathon, a dream come true. And three months ago I finished my BSN here at JHUSON. It took me five years and ten marathons in three different countries to qualify and get to Boston, and almost ten years to get to nursing school. Both accomplishments had much in common: a dream, a plan, obstacles to overcome, training, patience, hard work, and supportive friends and family along the way.
The 119-year-old Boston Marathon brings together over 30,000 runners, including elite runners from around the world. Since the 2013 bombing, the Boston Marathon is now a symbol of hope and perseverance recognized by millions.
Running alongside survivors of the bombings, I was humbled and inspired. They are testament to the strength of the human spirit to conquer and confront tragedy. This year, we dealt with rough conditions – cold temperatures, heavy winds, and rain – but were supported along the 26.2 mile route by a million spectators cheering us on.
Umuntu, ngumuntu, ngabantu
Marathons exemplify one of my favorite South African proverbs: “Umuntu, ngumuntu, ngabantu”– We are people because of other people. The spectators make this race so incredible. The outbursts of cheering from strangers make it possible to push through when you are feeling tired, weak or in pain. I was in need of the additional support at mile 20 when I reached “Heartbreak Hill”, a half-mile hill that is known to make or break runners. I was fortunate this year to have those I love dearly at places along the route cheering for me, including “Heartbreak Hill”. I was able to make it up the hill with their words of encouragement giving me strength to push through with tired legs and reach the top, and continue to the next hill, and all the way to the finish line.
I’m often asked why I run, and I think my answer is similar to many long distance runners. I do it as a form of therapy, a way to stay grounded and be mindful of the present. Running is the moment of my day where I let go. I am physically reminded of my body, and my mind is quieted as I focus on my surroundings.
The Boston Marathon was particularly emotional for me. With my endorphins flowing, memories of recent friends who have died flashed across my mind as well as thoughts of where I have been over the past 10 years. I reflected on what it has taken for me to get to nursing school and all the places I have lived, and I kept reminding myself how hard I had worked to train for this particular day. It was a great feeling to put to practice what I had worked so hard for.
Throughout nursing school, and life in general, running is important to help me deal with the physical and mental challenges that nursing school and every day life can bring. Almost every day in nursing school feeling out of my comfort zone, I often felt like I was running a marathon with the intensity of the academics and clinical practicums. Nursing demands both physical and mental strength to work with people when they are at their most vulnerable. I think that the strength I have gained as a marathon runner knowing the importance of running your race and the equal importance of the support of those around you can be applied to my work in nursing. The Boston Marathon brought together over a million people to run, inspire, encourage and be reminded that we are all people because of the people around us, and “we run together”.
How I approach running a marathon reflects how I approach life. What I put into it is what I get out of it. I give my all when I run, and face obstacles and challenges, but have finished every race on a positive note with a sense of accomplishment. Crossing the finish line of the Boston Marathon, I burst in to tears, joyful ones mixed with a little bit of pain. I was able to take 13 minutes off my time for a personal best of 3 hours and 20 minutes. I could not have done it without the people I have surrounded myself with, because while I was the one running the race, I was carried by those that love and support me, and continue to do so in all that I do, and for that I am able to keep on running.