Featured Story

Emma Majernik

As a native of Wellesley, Mass.—the halfway point of the marathon—Emma Majernik, MCAS ’22, has aspired to run the marathon her whole life. Seeing several family members and friends run in the marathon helped Majernik realize that this goal could be a reality. Majernik said watching her first Marathon Monday as a freshman is what really set the gears in motion.

“It was really like freshman year doing Marathon Monday here,” she said. “I was more invested in the runners. I was like, ‘I want to be that,’ so that’s sort of how it started.”

Majernik had trained and fundraised for the 2020 Boston Marathon, but after its cancellation, she restarted the process for the 2021 marathon. Because this marathon took place in October, runners had to train in the summer heat, which can be more difficult than training in the winter months for the typical April marathon. Majernik did the bulk of her training while studying abroad in France this summer.

“I was really nervous there wasn’t gonna be a running culture and that it was gonna be really weird that I was out running,” she said. “[But] where I was staying with my host family was close to a walking, running park area, so I was, you know, able to run there and find the trails nearby …  It was a great way to explore … I got to literally see places I probably wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t been running, which is really cool.”

Majernik continued her training after returning to BC for the fall semester, likening it to an extra class. As the fall semester began and the marathon approached, she said that training became more mentally taxing.

“Mentally, it was a lot tougher for me,” she said. “Like getting towards the end, I hit the point where I was sort of like, ‘Okay, I’ve been working for this for two years like, this is really hard, like, I just want to do it.’ The month before, I was like, ‘I just want to run it now, like I’m done training.’”

Juggling the mental toll and schoolwork was tough, Majernik said, but she had supportive professors who helped her manage her school in conjunction with the training.

The week leading up to the marathon, Majernik said she slowed down her physical training, focused on stretching her muscles, and only went for a few short runs. She took that week to hone in on mental preparation, rather than physical preparation.

“I was just like really sort of mentally preparing myself for what was going to come on Monday, and I—since I live locally—I went home Thursday, and I spent the weekend at home to rest with my family, sort of separated myself from, you know, like the going out scene and all that sort of stuff just to like really recuperate before I ran on Monday,” she said.

When it came time for the actual marathon, it had been the first time Majernik ran its full course. Growing up in the area, the sights of the course were normal to her, she said, but running the marathon let her see these familiar places in a different light.

“The course was awesome,” she said. “… I felt so much love, like it was just so cool, running through and seeing so many people show up for, you know, like people that they know and care about, or don’t even know at all. … It made me love Boston so much. I was like, ‘I just love the city.’”

Majernik said she felt prepared to tackle Heartbreak Hill—one of the marathon’s most infamous features—because she frequently trained on that hill, as BC’s campus is at the top of it. She purposely trained on it so she could remind herself during the actual marathon that she had already ran it several times before.

“Even for my short runs, just to literally be like, ‘Okay I know that house, like, I know how far I am from BC or … markers that I could, you know, like latch on to and be like, ‘Okay I know where I am. This is familiar. Like, it sucks, but I’ve gotten to the top of it a bajillion times. I can do it again.’”

As Majernik approached BC and the crowds of students, she said, she felt chills throughout her body. Especially being right after Heartbreak Hill, she felt a runner’s high passing BC. Majernik said seeing her close friends—in addition to fellow BC students she doesn’t know—cheer her on motivated her after passing mile 21.

“I got so much energy from the crowd,” she said. “I was so excited to see my friends. I felt so much love and gratitude, and it … made me love BC so much. I was like, ‘This is why I go to this school.’ … It was incredible.”

Majernik ran the marathon for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a team that raises funds for innovative cancer research. She said that she chose this charity because cancer has negatively affected her family. She initially joined the team when she planned on running the 2020 marathon.

Fundraising, she said, felt like a job. She reached out to donors, wrote thank you letters to donors, and continually kept those who were following her up to date on her training process.

Because Majernik was supposed to run in 2020, the elongated training and fundraising process for both marathons has taught her how to remain determined, she said.

“I found out that I was running in 2019,” Majernik said. “I started my training in 2018, so it was like two years of, like, waiting for this. And so like the mental stamina that it takes to go through that was really difficult, but I learned so much, like it’s so much more a mental game than it is a physical game, and your mind will give up before your body does. And so I just learned … how much I can do and then how strong my mind is.”

Photos Courtesy of Emma Majernik

October 24, 2021