April 15, 2013 was a beautiful day for a run in Boston. In fact, tens of thousands laced up that day to run in the world famous Boston Marathon. Among those runners was Kara Deschenes from Land O’ Lakes.
Deschenes has two regular features in Women’s Running Magazine.
“I write two inspirational profiles every month for the magazine, and I also do a lot of writing on their rave races,” said Deschenes.
She was not always a runner, but she always wanted to be.
“I would see runners running on the sidewalk, and I would think that’s what I want to be. I want to be like those women running,” said Deschenes.
After many failed attempts at becoming a regular runner, her husband encouraged her to get a heart rate monitor. This device helped her to monitor how hard she was pushing herself, and it finally allowed her to run long distances.
She ran her first 26.2 mile marathon in the Gasparilla Distance Classic. Then, she set her sights on Boston.
“For a runner, the Boston Marathon is like the pinnacle of marathons,” said Deschenes.
In 2012, Deschenes and her husband trained hard, traveled from Florida to Boston and lined up at the starting line. That year, race day was unusually hot. Her husband even spent time in the medical tent while running the race. They finished, but their time and the experience was not what they wanted.
They felt like the famous Boston Marathon course beat them, so they vowed to go back. The next year, they trained hard for several months. The weather was perfect and for Deschenes, it was nearly a perfect race, nearly.
“About mile 22, a man ran up to me and said we’re not going to make it to the finish line,” recalled Deschenes.
Since she did not have a phone, and the police along the route did not seem alarmed, Deschenes kept running. At mile 25, just one mile to the finish line, her race and the world stopped.
Runners were confused and information was slowly trickling back to the stopped runners along the course.
“At the time, I had no idea the magnitude of what was going on,” said Deschenes. She vividly remembers a woman standing next to her who did not speak English breaking down and panicking. The other runners tried to calm her down. The runners were getting cold, and that is when Deschenes saw beauty in that terrible day.
People who lived along the race route rushed to help.
“They were giving all the runners food and water and clothing,” said Deschenes. They were letting the runners use cell phones to contact loved ones.
After a few hours, the stopped runners were funneled into to the family meeting area. That is when Deschenes started scanning the ground for her husband’s bright shoes. She recalls the embrace when she finally reconnected with him.
“I never had that panic. It wasn’t until I started talking to my family and my friends, and I realized the panic they experienced for me,” said Deschenes.
That day, Deschenes made one more vow. She wanted to lace up again for the Boston Marathon. The race was not going to beat her again.
In 2014, she trained for the race, but the experience was quite different as she ran those 26.2 miles.
“I just decided to soak it all in. I took my phone. I took pictures along the way,” said Deschenes.
Because sometimes just being in the race means you won.
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