That sentence still doesnâ€™t seem real to me. Iâ€™m not sure when exactly it will sink in â€“ maybe at the starting line? Running a marathon is something I never in a million years thought Iâ€™d be able to do or have the desire to do. And it probably still wouldnâ€™t be if it werenâ€™t for the members of the Genzyme Running Team (GRT).
I started working with them last February, coordinating the annual Rare Disease Day Relay Run. At that point I was not a runner by any means, but somehow they convinced me to run the last leg of the relay, a 5k. Though I couldnâ€™t consistently run the full distance in the few practice runs I went on, Â I managed to run the 3.1 miles without any trouble on Rare Disease Day. That was the first time I realized the adrenaline and energy from a group of motivated people running for a cause greater than themselves can push you to accomplish far more than you think you can.
I helped them organize fundraiser events and other projects leading up to the Boston Marathon â€“ the biggest being a dinner the Saturday night before the Marathon, hosting the runners and their families, patient partners and their families, and a few members of the Senior Leadership Team. Some members of the GRT gave remarks before dinner. I wouldnâ€™t consider myself an emotional person but I found myself getting choked up as they spoke about Â their fellow runners, their relationships with their patient partners, their experiences with the rare disease community, and the overall mission and accomplishments of the team. Thatâ€™s when I realized the magnitude of what the GRT does and how it extends far beyond running 26.2 miles.
On Marathon Monday, after an early breakfast with the runners and patient partners, I wished the team good luck and headed back to my apartment close to the route. After plugging everyoneâ€™s bib number into an iPhone app to track where they were in the race, I walked down the street with my boyfriend and roommates to cheer at Mile 22. Growing up along the route, I had cheered on Boston Marathon runners since I was little, but Iâ€™d never known so many people running it or felt so close to the cause they were running for.
As each GRT bib ran past, I cheered, clapped and yelled for them whether they heard me through the crowds or not. After about half the team had run by, I saw 2 GRT bibs coming towards me on the same side of the street I was on. It was Phil,the founder of the GRT and ultimately the push I needed to start running, and Shane, a rare disease patient and GRT community partner. Phil gave me a hug and the waterworks started again. My boyfriend looked at me and asked why in the world I was crying. I couldnâ€™t quite put it into words but thatâ€™s when I knew, even before the tragedy at the finish line and scramble to account for everyone, that I had to be a larger part of this team.Â Never in my life have I met a more motivated, dedicated and inspiring group of people. I believed strongly in what they were doing, witnessed the positive impact they were making, and couldnâ€™t settle for being a sideline cheerleader in 2014.
So that is how I got here. To waking up at 5 am to run in the snow in single digit weather (in a Santa hat, no less). To going back the gym after not having touched a treadmill in literally years. To anxiously waiting to find out who my patient partner will be. To figuring how to best leverage my birthday party to turn it into a fundraiser. To being a member of the 2014 Running for Rare Diseases Boston Marathon team.Â It might be the most challenging thing Iâ€™ve ever done but I think itâ€™ll be equally as rewarding. So let the training begin (and get the tissues ready)!