She had been training to run the Boston Marathon for months, and it seemed as if nothing could go wrong. She had already trained so hard and pushed herself past her limits in preparation for the race on Marathon Monday. But Kathryn Lieder, MCAS ’18, incurred a knee injury about a month ago that forced her to temporarily halt her training.
This unexpected occurrence presented a major hurdle to Lieder as the date of the Marathon approached. But if she has learned anything through her training, it is that she must not let obstacles prevent her from achieving her goals.
She has adapted well to her injury by working with a physical therapist and cross training on the side. She also believes that the energy of the day will push her through the race.
“Sometimes things get in your way, but I’m still so excited to run,” she said.
For Lieder, the glass is always half-full, for her unwavering positivity allows her to overcome whatever challenges come her way. As the Marathon is only a week away, Lieder cannot help but feel grateful for the opportunity to run and proud of how far she has come.
She began her running career in high school, performing on her school’s track team in short distance events, like the 4×400 meters relay. Nonetheless, she did not begin running long distance until the midst of her college years.
Freshman year, she was in awe of the marathoners whom she witnessed running down Commonwealth Ave. in the rain. Prior to this experience, she believed that only a certain type of individual could run a marathon. She now realized that many of the people running Boston hardly fit the image of a marathoner that she held. They were people of all ages—young and old—who were alike in their tenacity and determination.
“I realized how much more mental running is than physical,” she said. “If these people could run a marathon, I figured I could too.”
At the beginning of her sophomore year, she signed up for the Newton Chilly Half Marathon, inspired by the long-distance runners she saw, and decided to fundraise for the Boston College Campus School. She incrementally built up mileage, eventually running 11 to 12 miles. She then ran the half-marathon with flying colors, achieving her goal time and successfully fundraising for the Campus School.
Because of her success, she developed an insatiable passion for long-distance running that motivated her to be on the other side of the fence on Marathon Monday. She began thinking about running the Boston Marathon last spring and later applied in the fall through the Mission, a charity out of Fairfield, Conn., equipping young cancer survivors with the knowledge of how to lead healthy, vibrant lives.
The Mission initially began as a yearly bike-riding fundraiser to build the organization’s current cancer survivorship center. Lieder has established a personal connection to the charity, having ridden in the annual fundraising event since fourth grade.
More specifically, she is working with a program within the charity called the Adventure Project, which aims to provide young cancer survivors with individual and group physical training to help them re-strengthen and gain confidence in their physical abilities.
The charity was started by Jeffrey Keith, BC ’84, who has never let obstacles slow him down, be it having cancer as a child or enduring a leg amputation at the mere age of 12. He played Division I lacrosse at BC and became the first man to run across America with a prosthetic limb after graduation.
Lieder finds that his story puts everything into perspective for her. His perseverance shows her that she can push herself much further than she thinks, and her limits are just a roadblock she has to pass on her path to success.
She is running in honor of Ryan, a 14-year-old cancer survivor who continually inspires her through his endurance and motivation. Ryan, who wishes he could fit in with kids his age, wants to play sports but is not strong enough to do so. Nonetheless, the Adventure Project gives Lieder the chance to participate in Ryan’s physical training. As such, she has seen firsthand his admirable work ethic and tenacity, which have helped him come such a long way in regaining his strength.
Lieder started training for the Marathon over Winter Break, following a loose training plan and performing incrementally longer runs overtime. Along with her training, she also has to meet a fundraising goal for the Mission. Although balancing fundraising with her other commitments is a challenge, she stays on top of it by gathering financial support from friends and family and even selling Marathon Monday t-shirts.
Running for a cause has changed her idea of what it means to run. On the one hand, she uses running as a stress reliever and a way to energize herself and feel present. On the other, Ryan has kept her motivated throughout the entire process. A marathon is the ultimate test in perseverance and drive, but more importantly, it is a chance for her to serve others.
Featured Image by Francisco Ruela / Heights Editor