Running the Boston Marathon had always been on Claire Floyd’s bucket list, she said, but it being her senior year at BC, she felt it was the most opportune time to accomplish that goal.
Floyd, CSON ’22, ran this year’s virtual marathon on Oct. 8, the Friday before Marathon Monday.
She said that she had always been drawn to the idea of running a marathon because she loved the idea of setting small, weekly goals in pursuit of a larger goal.
Floyd ran cross country in high school, and prefers to run long distances at a slower pace. Running the virtual marathon suited this preference, she said, as she didn’t feel any pressure to match the pace of other runners.
“It was kind of a cool experience to be able to be just racing against myself and really like in the mindset for that, and that’s always kind of been what running is to me,” she said.
Floyd mainly trained over the summer at home in Seattle, Wash., which had perfect running weather, she said. Training became more difficult after returning to BC, as the landscape is hillier here. She said that she trained with one of her best friends—who also ran the marathon—and they helped each other with finding routes to run.
Floyd said she found difficulty in balancing school and training. Finding time in an already-packed schedule with classes and homework was not an easy task, she said.
“You really don’t realize how much of a commitment it is to carve out, like, a three-hour run in the middle of your Tuesday,” Floyd said. “So, really realizing that it was like a part-time job along with school was really difficult, and then being exhausted after some of those long runs and still having to go to school and go to work and study and everything was really difficult.”
Despite these difficulties, Floyd said that one of the most rewarding parts of the training process was seeing people continue to donate even after she had already reached her fundraising goal. Virtual runners didn’t have to fundraise, but Floyd still chose to.
Floyd ran and fundraised for the Seattle Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Cancer Immunotherapy Research Fund. She was drawn to this research fund because she worked at Seattle Children’s Hospital this summer, and she worked with several pediatric cancer patients. She surpassed her initial goal of raising $10,000.
She said that fundraising and running the marathon were two separate goals, but they often intertwined. When fundraising was difficult, Floyd told herself that if she can run a marathon, she can reach her fundraising goal. When she needed a mental boost during the marathon, she pushed herself by reminding herself of the amount of financial supporters she had.
Floyd said that she chose to run the virtual marathon for two reasons. She was uncertain whether or not the in-person marathon would occur when she signed up last March. Additionally, Seattle Children’s is not listed in the Boston Athletic Association’s official charity program, but she still felt drawn to run and fundraise for it.
“I really felt a personal connection to Seattle Children’s, and I felt like I knew a lot of other people who felt that connection who would be willing to help me and support me in this cause,” she said. “So, it really just, like, all fell into place for me to run for this charity and the virtual marathon allowed me to do that.”
Once it was time for her to run the full 26.2 miles, Floyd said it wasn’t quite as lively as it was on Marathon Monday, but she still appreciated seeing marathon signs and other runners who ran the same day she did.
“There weren’t, like, crowds lining the streets, but I had an overwhelming amount of friends who set up like a fake Marathon Monday set up on Mile 21,” she said. “Just like when I got to the top of Heartbreak Hill, I could hear everyone screaming, and then they all got in their cars and raced to the finish line to be there, so it was pretty amazing.”
Floyd said that seeing her friends and other familiar faces along the way was especially meaningful to her because she ran the virtual marathon.
“It was so meaningful in another way because, unlike like running by so many strangers, I really saw people from, like, all walks of life who had showed up there, who I wasn’t even aware that they knew I was running,” she said. “So, it was a pretty amazing experience. And especially because … BC comes at such a unique spot in the course because it’s right after like the hardest hills, I probably like hit my hardest breaking point around mile 20. So, it really like gave me that push to finish off, which was amazing.”
Floyd said that from the experience as a whole, she learned that, with enough motivation, she is capable of anything.
“From the beginning, when I thought about running a marathon, it seemed like something really … unattainable,” she said. “And I think more than anything I learned that progress is a very gradual thing, and as long as you commit and hold yourself accountable … you can achieve things that maybe you never thought you could.”
Photos Courtesy of Claire Floyd
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