Friday, April 11, 2014

Dear Friends,

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you for your unwavering support during my training and fundraising process. You'll see that I just topped $12,000, which I honestly would have never thought possible. But you all made it happen! Another $500 to go, and I will have hit my new goal. At our team potluck last night, the staff from Samaritans expressed how absolutely impressed they are with the marathon team's record fundraising this year, and how incredibly important it is for the year's budget. Thank you so much.

I have a sad story to share.

Last Saturday evening, as I was puttering around my new apartment in my compression socks before bed, I took a bad step coming down our metal spiral staircase. My left foot took the brunt of the fall as it hit the railing, with the bar coming right in between my big toe and the one next to it. After an incredibly sleepless night, x-rays at Mt. Auburn Hospital confirmed what I had been dreading: that my big toe has been fractured. Two separate podiatrists, including a friend of Dr. Hagan who treats the Boston Celtics, have informed me that given the diagonal nature of the fracture, it is at risk for displacement. Additionally, it extends into the joint. With the race coming up on the 21st, there is not enough time for it to heal. I cannot run.

For the past 5 months, I have lived and breathed nothing but this marathon. I have prioritized training over my work, over my search for new jobs, over my social life, over sleep. Because I loved every minute of it, and because I knew that at some point it would pay off when the big day came, hard as it was to imagine when I was slogging along in the dark through the snow and ice and 5 degree wind. There has been nothing that I have worked for so hard and so long, nor something that I was more honored to take part in. To me, it would be my greatest accomplishment thus far in my life. There are no words for this kind of devastation, for how bitter a disappointment it is to have this taken away.

I am trying to my best to stay positive, but it is not easy. The warm weather has come swooping in to Boston right on cue for April, and spring has suddenly sprung. With it has come once again the memory of April three years ago when Nathaniel took his life. I have realized that I had been using the marathon as a replacement for my grieving, and it has helped me battle through a lot of emotional upset, both recent and old. To let that go merely days before the anniversary of his death feels like losing a piece of Nathaniel all over again. Nathaniel was always my main emotional support, as I shared with him all of my hardships and relied on his advice. Ironically, when he died, I needed his shoulder to cry on more than ever before. But I couldn't. Since his death, running has become my new way of coping with pain, and there is nothing I need more right now than to hit the road, breathe hard, and run out the pain of this loss. But I cannot, nor will I be able to for 6 to 8 weeks.

With the doctor's instructions to not work for 2 weeks, I have already had a significant amount of time to sit with my leg up and try to adjust to idea of cheering on my teammates from the sideline instead of running myself, as I had visualized it for many months. It is heartbreaking, but I am so thankful that I was at least able to do the 21-miler from Framingham, and how incredibly well it went for me. I am thankful that this injury will ultimately heal, and I will run again in time. I am thankful that I had such inspirational teammates to run with all winter, to keep me company and motivate me. I am thankful that I got to do almost all of the training, which is 99% of the experience anyway. I am thankful that I had this wonderful goal to get me through the winter much more gracefully than last year. But I really, really wanted to cross that finish line. I felt so ready. I WAS ready. Possibly more ready than I have ever been for anything in my life. Who knows, perhaps I will have it in me to train through another winter and try again next year, if I am given the opportunity.

I will leave you with a poem that my Aunt Pat sent to me last Christmas, which I have hung on my wall above my dresser to look at when I feel low. Thanks for your support, everyone. You all have been amazing.

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you've held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

    - Ellen Bass


  1. I goggled Boston Marathon blogs and yours came up. I'm sorry that your not running the marathon and hope that your foot heals quickly. I'm running Boston for the first time, for Dana Farber. I'm a Bostonian currently living in Seattle and a breast cancer survivor. You and Nathaniel will be in my thoughts on my run.

  2. Thank you so much, Bethany. I will be at the Samaritans tent at mile 17 to cheer you on. I checked out your fundraising page--you are doing an amazing thing for a very meaningful reason. Good luck!!

  3. I am teary with reading this. You write beautifully. I am so sorry you can not complete this heroic effort. This year. Next year, next year my money is on you.

  4. Caroline, I was at Westtown this morning so your not has particular poignancy. As we search for meaning in the chaos of our lives, your reliance on your own resilience and the love of others and your commitment to others seems to me the recipe for the meal we want everyone to have. (I got to hug your Mom today!l)

  5. I have been following your training and it broke my heart to read of your injury! I'm so very sorry! I am running my first (and probably only) Boston next week. I will be thinking of you!